THE INTER-SOCIETY FOR THE ELECTRONIC ARTS ISEA NEWSLETTER ISSN1488-3635 #77 April - May 2000 _______________________________________________________________ * CONTENTS * * Editorial * ISEA News * News from Members * * Feature Articles * Event Reports * Calls for Projects * _______________________________________________________________ *Une version francaise est disponible. Contacter le secretariat pour l'obtenir* ************************** EDITORIAL ************************** SPRING INTO THE FUTURE While we celebrate and look back on the last decade of ISEA history, we must also keep our eyes on future developments in new media and the electronic arts. With spring bringing warmer climes (to the Northern Hemisphere at least!) and thoughts of renewal, the time has come to consider the hosts and sites of the next series of ISEA Symposia: ISEA2002, ISEA2004, ISEA2006. At last year's Montreal Board meeting, it was decided that the ISEA Symposium would return to the biennial format, reflecting an adaptation to the ever-increasing number of international new media events around the world which has created a very active and exciting -though at times crowded!- calendar. In line with numerous other efforts to diversify our networks and the electronic arts community more generally, ISEA is particularly interested in hearing from potential ISEA2002 candidates outside of Western Europe and North America. For further information, please see the full Call for Symposium Bids below. Detailed information is also available on the ISEA website: http://www.isea.qc.ca/symposium/information.html Katarina Soukup ************************** ISEA NEWS ************************** ISEA2000 SUBMISSION DEADLINE EXTENDED The deadline of the ISEA2000 Call for Papers and Participation has been extended to April 30, 2000. Please see INL#76 for the full details of the call, or consult the ISEA and Art3000 websites: http://www.isea.qc.ca/symposium/2000frame.html http://www.art3000.com ****** OPEN CALL FOR BIDS TO HOST ISEA2002, ISEA2004, ISEA2006 The Board of ISEA is now accepting bids for future symposia in a series known as the International Symposium on Electronic Art These symposia bring together artists, scientists, and theoreticians involved in the electronic arts for a week of workshops, exhibitions, performances, panels, roundtables, and other related events in different venues around the globe. Each Symposium is organized by an independent agency, in cooperation with the Inter-Society for the Electronic Arts. ISEA and the Symposium are dedicated to the interdisciplinary and cross-cultural communication/ cooperation between the arts and the fields of technology, science, education, and industry. ISEA and the ISEA Symposium create platforms for : o the exchange of ideas and critical discourse o connecting communities and facilitating access o research, presentation and exhibition ISEA will realize this mission through organizing international symposia and local events, developing partnerships, implementing culturally diverse initiatives, and through publishing and archiving. ISEA is committed to collaboration, membership participation, creation of new work, and multilingual communication. Through these means ISEA and the ISEA Symposium both shape, and are responsive to, the evolving nature of the relationship between the arts and technology. ISEA is particularly interested in candidates outside of Western Europe and North America for ISEA2002. ISEA Symposia have taken place in the following cities: 1. Utrecht, Netherlands (FISEA, 1988) 2. Groningen, Netherlands (SISEA, 1990) 3. Sydney, Australia (TISEA, 1992) 4. Minneapolis, USA (FISEA, 1993) 5. Helsinki, Finland (ISEA94) 6. Montreal, Canada (ISEA95) 7. Rotterdam, Netherlands (ISEA96) 8. Chicago, USA (ISEA97) 9. Liverpool & Manchester, UK (ISEA98) 10. Paris, France (ISEA2000) - 10th edition Potential hosts are strongly encouraged to visit the Symposia archives and to carefully read the Symposium Guidelines. This information is available on the ISEA website: http://www.isea.qc.ca/symposium/information.html LETTERS OF INTEREST ISEA currently invites those interested in hosting a future ISEA Symposium to manifest their interest. Letters of interest indicating location, host organization, year, and (if possible) dates of the proposed Symposium will be accepted from April 1 to May 31, 2000. Symposium bids will be accepted from: Category 1: (Educational) institutes (universities, art schools, museums etc.), (artistic, cultural scientific) organizations, government bodies, etc.; Category 2 Congress organizing bureaus; Category 3 Umbrella organizations created for the purpose of hosting an ISEA Symposium. >From this pool of bids, potential host organizations will be invited to submit a more detailed dossier, and will be guided through the Symposium submission process. Final dossiers must include: o Creative vision for the particular event o Business or operational plan, including a financial plan o Draft event program which should include the following: -An academic three-day Symposium -Workshops -An Electronic Art Exhibition -A Film & Video Show -Performances/Concerts -At least one Publication, also accessible to non-participants -PR activities -An Inter-Society General Meeting FINAL SELECTION Potential Symposium hosts will be invited to make a presentation during ISEA2000, 10th International Symposium on Electronic Art in Paris, France (December 7-10, 2000). The Board of the Inter-Society is responsible for appointing the successful candidates. For more information, please contact ISEA HQ: firstname.lastname@example.org ***** DIGITAL CREATIVITY: A NEW MEMBER BENEFIT! ISEA is pleased to announce a new member benefit: The international journal Digital Creativity has generously granted ISEA members a 25% discount on annual subscriptions. The journal, which is edited by Colin Beardon (UK) and Lone Malmbourg (Sweden), carries articles, tutorials, personal viewpoints and reviews of books, conferences, exhibitions, etc of relevance to those involved in art and design at higher education levels. It covers all the traditional sub-disciplines of art and design (fine art painting, printmaking, sculpture, graphic design, illustration, photography, textiles and fashion, 3D design, product design, jewelry, ceramics, furniture) as well as the performing arts (theatre, dance, music). It also covers the newly emerging disciplines that are based around digital technologies as a medium (digital art, web-based art, computer-supported collaborative design). http://www.swets.nl/sps/journals/dc1.html Please contact HQ for details: email@example.com ****** TRANSLATION ISEA is currently seeking bilingual members (English-French) who would like to volunteer to do translation work for the ISEA newsletter. To offer your services, or for more information, please contact ISEA HQ: firstname.lastname@example.org ************************** NEWS FROM MEMBERS ************************** DIANE GROMALA'S article 'Re-embodiment Dancing with the Virtual Dervish: Virtual Bodies' was published in the new issue of Riding the Meridian: Women and Technology. It is available online at: http://www.heelstone.com/meridian/ DIANE GROMALA and KATHY RAE HUFFMAN participated in a the Sins of Change: Media Arts in Transition, Again conference at the Walker Art Centre in Minneapolis, MN (USA). The conference is a follow-up to the 1983 conference of the same name. The 2000 version of Sins of Change brought together curators, academics, and artists from around the world to share their perspectives on the issues underlying the state of media arts. KATHY RAE presented on a panel dedicated to audiences and the politics of access. DIANE participated in a panel examining the rhetoric of visual display strategies in cinema, virtual environments, installations, and the museum. http://www.walkerart.org/salons/sinsofchange/ ************************** WELCOME TO NEW AND RENEWING MEMBERS ************************** Welcome and thank you to the following new and renewing members: Norma Wagner Anna J. Bonshek Jan Schuijren Grace Quintanilla Pascale Malaterre Evelise Anicet Ruthschilling Katherine Liberovskaya Hans Mittendorf David Tomas Bill Vorn Rene Beekman Stan Bowman Philip Galanter Virginie Pringuet Sue Rees Elisabeth Sweedyk Michel Charles Therrien *********************************** MEMBER CALL FOR PARTICIPATION *********************************** ISEA member Wilfried Agricola de Cologne invites contributions from other ISEA members. Call for Participation addressed to visual artists, institutions in the field art, culture and sciences and public relevance, authors in the fields of art, culture and sciences, interested individuals Art Project "A" Virtual Memorial - www.a-virtual-memorial.de Memorial project against the Forgetting and for Humanity Author and artist: <mailto:email@example.com>AGRICOLA de Cologne Subject: Remembering (Commemorating) -Repressing-Forgetting A counter point for the fast running and changing environment of the Internet will be created, intending to provoke starting an (artistic) discussion about essential questions of human existence. Starting point: Guilt and flight from responsibility are often enough reason for repressing problems, forgetting means elimination of being (and vice-versa), remembering: the chance for sorting oneself out Certainly one of the most insisting examples represents the Holocaust, whether from the view of the victims, the culprits, the fellow travellers or the outsiders or the latern born; not comparable in their dimension, but comparable in the consequence of human behaviors, the genocide in Kosovo, civil war in Angola, the situation of the homeless people here an anywhere; but in the same way in the daily life and the human interrelations the same repeating rituals happen; countless examples in the Past, Present and certainly Future, as well. Forgetting and repressing are the basis of the publishing media and public meaning, the latest news are old and worthless while being published, human destiny only relevant if the viewing figures are on the highest level, and only, when connected with material profit. The heart of a computer is called memory. The mass of continuously upcoming information and data are beyond the limits of the available capacities. Data have to be deleted. The dimensions may be small connected to the PC at home. What's about the coordinating points where the relevant decisions are made in matters of administration, sciences, politics or economy. Who is allowed to decide, what or who worth is to be saved or to be alive, or what or who has to be changed or manipulated, or has to be deleted or exterminated because it is not worth to be saved or to exist. What's about all those people standing outside of that kind of responsibility. Remembering-Repressing-Forgetting This call is addressed to visual artists, who are invited to make an artistic statement to the subject by creating an object of art in form of a webpage, or submit already existing projects or webpages related to the subject. In principle, all submitted homepages will be included in the project by installing a link to (including a reciprocal link from) the respective homepage. Further more, www.a-virtual-memorial.de will function as a server and will be able to integrate homepages directly, already existing or created for the Memorial project, under certain selecting terms. Sufficient saving capacity is available. Ask for terms and details. Authors from the field of art, culture and sciences and persons of public relevance, who are invited to make statements to the subject under certain aspects, which will be integrated to the TextObjects section. Institutions in the fields of art, culture, sciences and public relevance, who are invited to cooperating, networking and supporting. Visitors of the website who are invited to give live their personal comments to the project and its subject The website of the memorial project will be a forum the exchange of the variety of collected information and associations intending to create an image or memorial inside the viewer or visitor. Further more, it is the author's intention, to realize the project at a later, progressing state in a real exhibition environment, as well. Finally, the project is open for the Unexpected, new developments and perceptions. For more information, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org www.a-virtual-memorial.de *********************************** FEATURE ARTICLES - SPECIAL DOSSIER The Real, the Virtual, the Auratic *********************************** ART AND NEW TECHNOLOGIES: THE REAL, THE VIRTUAL, THE AURATIC Introduction by Ernestine Daubner As part of the celebration of its 25th year of publication, Concordia University's Journal of Canadian Art History, along with the Art History Department, sponsored the conference, ART AND NEW TECHNOLOGIES: THE REAL, THE VIRTUAL, THE AURATIC. Held at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, February 11th 2000, this event proved to be one of those occasions where, by taking a step back, one was able to see afresh. This was not a forum on futuristic techno-utopias, and it certainly did not herald any impending apocalypse. Instead the four artist-presenters, Margot Lovejoy, Bill Vorn, David Tomas and Andra McCartney, provided us with (un)familiar vantage points from which to consider not only new media art but one's perceptions and conceptions of "reality" and "virtuality." In diverse ways, each of the presenters invited us to encounter the real in the virtual or to recognize the virtuality inherent in the commonplace, in our memories, in our historical constructs, and in those fluid spaces where one negotiates meanings. Margot Lovejoy "salvaged" for us the historical concept of the "aura" in its current manifestations, exploring how, in the age of electronic media, we are witnessing the decline (of what was surely always the virtual illusion) of a fixed point of view. In her interactive installation, Salvage, she situates the participant in a dialogic space where fragmented and moving dialectical images trigger, and collide with, one's personal memories. Punctuating the auratic, such an interactive space makes visible to us, the participants, the complex processes of mediation involved in the construction of meanings. From a different perspective, David Tomas also focussed on the convergence of history and the present. Introducing us to his internet/CD ROM book entitled "The Encoded Eye, the Archive, and its Engine House," Tomas situated the digital book within cultural and historical contexts. Clicking through his virtual book, one can encounter recurring circular structures related to reading (The Circular Reading Room) and to technological progress (The Circular Engine-House). Historically serving as storage, retrieval and distribution systems for books and for locomotives, these circular signs pertaining to knowledge and information, as well as to (loco)motion and progress, also operate as models for the digital age. By envisioning the present in light of the past, Tomas prompts one to recognize how memory and historical structures virtually construct perceptions and conceptions in and of the present, and how the "encoded eye" color(ed) histories of the future. In contrast to such virtual memory spaces, Andra McCartney shared with us her aural and auratic encounters of the here and now, her soundscape recordings providing, electronically, heightened sensorial experiences of the real and of the commonplace. Through the amplification or distortion of fleeting and sometimes barely audible sounds recorded in the course of walks through familiar places, McCartney brings to our consciousness the extraordinary that inhabits the ordinary, and invites us to witness the virtual in the real. If McCartney's soundwalks exalt and virtualize the "real" sounds of our everyday experiences, Bill Vorn's robotic installations do the opposite. Inhabiting an artificial environment of violent sounds and flashing lights, his animated, often menacing, automatons create a virtual danger. Charging towards us, the life-like creatures are capable of charging us with anxiety. Though they evoke certain reactions, we also recognize their virtuality. As illusory life-forms, we know that, once the electric current is cut, they die. Bringing us to the very limits of the real and the virtual, the living and the non-living, Vorn's reactive environments, like the sonar places of McCartney, situate us in that experiential space where one negotiate the two. With hindsight, I realize that the day of the conference was itself quite auspicious. As is quite usual in mid-February, Montreal had, overnight, become blanketed in a thick layer of snow, slowing down considerably the usual quick pace of the city. Heading towards the museum, one encountered long trails of swollen white automobiles with slowly blinking wipers. Like harmless robotic creatures sapped of energy, they seemed to be slowly dying. It was one of those sunny winter days when the snow gleamed very brightly, casting a spectacular light on the familiar. The usually sedate and elegant Sherbrooke Street was transformed, assuming the air of a playground as scarved and parkad pedestrians climbed clumsily over huge snow banks or inched their way in single file over unplowed sidewalks. Memories of many special "snowdays" flooded my mind, and images of winter cityscapes painted, over the century, by prominent Canadian painters colored my vision of the scene. This was the same (but different) snow-covered Sherbrooke Street that Hugh MacLennan's protagonists walked along so many years ago. I wondered about the very thin line between the real street underfoot and the one constructed, in my mind, by fictional characters, by Canadian painters, by historical accounts, and by my own personal memories. Perceiving the present through these virtual spaces, I listened to the snow crunch with each step, I heard my breath amplified under my scarf and the muffled sounds of the city around me. Conscious of my "aural" and auratic experience, I recognized how my perceptions were negotiated in the space between past and present, between the ethereal and the material, between the virtual and the real. What did all this have to do with the presentations on art and new technologies heard that day at the museum? For me, everything. The artists Margot Lovejoy, Bill Vorn, David Tomas and Andra McCartney have provided their own written accounts of their respective presentations and artworks. Certainly their words will trigger very different readings and insights for each of you. Ernestine Daubner, who organized and hosted the conference, teaches in the Art History Department of Concordia University and is an ISEA member. http://art-history.concordia.ca/ ***** NEGOTIATING "AURA" IN INTERACTIVE MEDIA by Margot Lovejoy Questions (which prompted this paper) arose for me about the construction of meaning when I was creating SALVAGE, my first programmed interactive installation. How can meaning be negotiated in such a work? Can aura be related to digital art works ? The decline of an artwork's aura was first discussed by Walter Benjamin in relation to the age of mechanical reproduction seventy years ago.1 Aura refers to a work's origins, its source, its uniqueness. Benjamin maintained (amongst other claims) that when an artwork is reproduced, its function and value is changed. It becomes more important as a form of communication rather than as an object. Because today's interactive forms now make use of electronic forms of communication themselves to create art, I felt that a review of Benjamin's writings on aura could be useful in thinking about the construction of meaning in interactive new media. While many theorists argue that Benjamin's position of the "decline of the aura" means a disappearance of it, others (Didi-Huberman; Bhabha) argue that "decline" does not mean its death and refers to the development of Benjamin's thinking about aura in several of his other writings as art's phenomenon of remaining "uncompleted and always open". Here, he discussed aura -in the sense of its power to "return our gaze" and to provide an experience which may result in insight or meaning at the level at which feeling emerges into consciousness. Benjamin also refers to the "dialectical image" as existing in a "noisy labyrinth of mediations" as a form of negotiation --as a "breach between experience and knowledge." Benjamin pointed out that the fullest extent of aura is felt when "the person we look at or who feels he is being looked at, looks at us in return. To perceive the aura of the object we look at, means to invest it with the ability to look at us in return"2, an interactive process. The "power to return our gaze" of an art object is an aspect of its power to provide an essential experience or level of feeling which may later translate to conscious insight or meaning. The experience of aura in a work is then transposed from the look of the eye to the eye of the mind. Here, a response of aura becomes established between an artwork similar to that which has the ability to look at us in return--to the aura as the experience of returning the gaze. We can say then, that aura is connected to a dialogic process which occurs between viewer and artwork where meaning may be negotiated. Critical to this endeavour is the artist's position as a maker--based in the NOW as the work's auratic origin. The artist must produce new work that is an essence, a dialectic outcome of dealing with the contemporary--not based on another point in history. If up to now, art has had the ability to "return our gaze" and to bring out in us the desire or "interest" to participate in negotiating meaning, new interactive technologies have heightened the means for communication in artmaking. Now the artist creates a work where its means are specifically dedicated to sparking exchange and participation with the public. Here the artist while still making the work, gives up total control (as its author or producer) and becomes rather its agent, overlapping with the intrusive one of the spectator/participant as mediatory agent in a "speaking between". The openness of an interactive work can be discussed in another of Benjamin's descriptions of aura as not the source, "but a whirlpool in the river of becoming that pulls the merging matter into its own rhythm." This is a form of connection to contention, a place for seeking --the initiation of communication. It is this very "speaking between," the social relations in the positioning of both agents that can clarify the effect of interactive forms. SALVAGE (created with Miles Dudgeon) was my first attempt to deal with the poetics of meaning in an interactive work and raised for me many questions. The theme of SALVAGE is an exploration of the power of memory to affect and heal the present. By interactively searching through the hidden debris of the past, viewers connect with avenues of contemplation and possibly, transformation. The work was created in three parts, Probe, Myth, Salvage. These projected elements slide, move, and are displaced variably in relation to each other according to the actions of viewers within the multi-user environment. Viewers may follow their own individual search paths by touching mounted sensors. When one of the projected segments is accessed and explored, the others may remain still, unless they, in turn, are activated by viewers. The work is meditative and slow. Participants tend to stay with it to explore its outcomes. Questions remain for me about the quality of participants' ability to construct personal meaning in the process. The artist must construct the work as an open one with an interface which challenges a potential range of experiences where a "speaking between" can take place with one or more participants at a time . The work may foreground events which intensify the desire in the participant to probe the parameters of the exchange in order to initiate communication. This position of "making" is very different from traditional artmaking because it alters relations between artist and spectator. Such a work significantly changes the role of each. To create the interactive work, the artist must become its mediatory agent. The work becomes an encounter that has no shape in its final configuration and is meant to be a place for persuading the initiation of communication. The greater openness of such an interactive work both challenges the concept of aura we have been discussing and affirms it as a "whirlpool" of interactive contentions--a dialectic space of awakening to meaning. Yet embedded in the social agency structure of making the technological artwork, is a possible way of coming to insight and meaning through an intermediary process--one we can describe as an auratic process because it brings the spectator agent "by an unknown way" through a process where meaning can be constructed. The greater intermediary role of the artist places him/her at the site of a web of communication and community as an agent for a "speaking between" with the human position of the viewer/participant. While interactive work may reveal its creative agency, its significance is tied to its "interests" between spectator--an "in-between" of the type located in action and speed we experience in negotiating the reality of the world we visibly share. We can call this reality "the web of the human condition." The interactive work is incomplete without the human position of the spectator participant who, as Bhabha states: "cannot transcend the process of the artwork but is placed in the "in-between", in the midst of his or her own production as agent, in the very interstices of intention and interpretation."3 A work created as a dialogic interface capable of multiple outcomes does not arise from the legendary "flash of inspiration" of the traditional work. It must be constructed along lines designed to persuade communication through participation. However, it may still arise as a narrative important to the artist from personal experiences deemed to be universal. Such experiences offer the potential for making connections about the human position. In this cultural translation, the artist is not, however, author, but an agent that produces stories --possibly without intentions -- which can reveal a path of connections. Aside from the participant/agent located at the interstices between the artist/agent's process and the interpretation of the work, is the role of the curator who seeks to evaluate and choose which to exhibit from the many works available. Curators are asking serious questions about the seriousness of new interactive works. Do interactive works, configured to challenge wide-ranging public encounters (with no final outcome), lose depth? Are cultural products mandated under the rubric of postmodernism no longer meant to do anything more than merely confront, stimulate and entertain--a removal of any essential ground for exploring poetics in any way? Are they too gamelike--mere entertainment? Such works raise perplexing problems in the existing vacuum which lies between representational traditions of the past and today's challenges to theoretical, institutional and artistic dilemmas. Although we have by now gone beyond painting and still images to include an aesthetics of the time-based imagery of cinema and video, western visual art still has no tradition of an aesthetic language delineating real time interaction. The challenges to creating meaning in such work will be pressing up against the issues we have been discussing. Notes: 1. Walter Benjamin, "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction", essay in "Illuminations", Schocken Books, 1968, New York 2. p. 188 Walter Benjamin, "On Some Motifs in Baudelaire", essay in Ibid. 3. Homi Bhabha, "Aura and Agora: On Negotiating Rapture and Speaking Between", essay in "Negotiating Rapture", Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago 1996 Margot Lovejoy is Professor of Visual Arts at the State University of New York at Purchase and author of "Postmodern Currents: Art and Artists in the Age of Electronic Media" (1997). She is also an ISEA member. http://margotlovejoy.com http://www.adaweb.com/context ***** ROBOTIC ART: CREATING THE ILLUSION OF LIFE... AND DEATH by Bill Vorn I have been involved with robotics since 1992, working on many different interactive robotic installations on a creative and artistic level. I use robotics and multimedia to pursue my research on reactive environments and the embodiment of life in inert matter. My goal is to present robotic machines not as virtuoso specialized automatons but rather as expressive animated works of art. I also explore the reformulation of sound and light applications by simulating organic and metabolic functions and by creating dynamic virtual architectures. I am interested into the subject of Artificial Life as a communication media. From complete abstractions to hyper-realistic animats, from dots on a screen to robotic machines, Artificial Life seeks to create the illusion of life. Through different means of representation (name, visual appearance, sound, movements, behaviors, etc.), computer and machine automatons become creatures. While artificial lifeforms seem to be very distinct from traditional modes of communication, messages and meanings appear at the crossroads of the creator's intent and the user's interpretation. Bill Vorn, who has exhibited his work internationally, teaches New Media at the Faculty of Fine Arts of Concordia University. http://www.billvorn.com ***** THE HISTORY OF THE FUTURE OF NEW TECHNOLOGIES: THE ENCODED EYE, THE ARCHIVE, AND ITS ENGINE HOUSE by David Tomas The traditional book is a manufactured object composed of a sequence of printed pages protected by more or less rigid boards. This portable, highly standardized object is currently undergoing a radical change in the context of digital media and the new distribution networks associated with the internet. The purpose of "The Encoded Eye, the Archive, and its Engine House" is to investigate the nature of the changes that the book as object can be subject to when it is translated through digital media and projected into a new kind of distribution space. However, "The Encoded Eye" does not focus on transformations in the book's textual presentation in the tradition, for example, of British Vorticist or Russian Constructivist typographic explorations and innovations in the spatialization of words. Instead, it explores the book's transformation as visual and cultural object in the context of a specific architectural model of storage and distribution while retaining a tension between the two-dimensional physical characteristics of the printed page and the computer screen. The Encoded Eye is based on a series of correspondences established between two key fixtures of nineteenth century London: The Circular Reading Room of the British Museum and the Camden Town Circular Engine-House, also known as the Roundhouse. The Roundhouse was designed by Robert B. Dockray and his assistant Mr. Normanville under Robert Stephenson for the North-West Railway. It was built in 1846. The Circular Reading Room was initially designed by Antonio Panizzi and was completed in 1857. These architectural sites were unique and yet remarkably similar solutions to the design of highly integrated archival or storage, retrieval, and distribution sites for the new artifacts or new concentrations of artifacts produced during the Industrial Revolution. The Roundhouse, the first circular railway shed, was designed for the storage and distribution of locomotives. The British Museum's Circular Reading Room was designed for the storage and distribution of print based knowledge and information. Although both sites were designed for different kinds of artifacts (books and locomotives) they were nevertheless linked by a common design and similar purposes. Since both designs provided similar solutions to the problem of storage and retrieval for an age that would radically redefine modes of transportation and communication, they stand as important historical references for any investigation of, or attempt to explore new modes for the storage and retrieval of information or large scale digital artifacts in a new information age. "The Encoded Eye" is designed to function as an interface between the past as represented by these two remarkably similar architectural sites and the future as represented by the technical and aesthetic possibilities of the internet when conceived as a medium for the production and distribution of print and pictorial forms of knowledge. The choice of the Circular Reading Room and Camden Roundhouse as the visual references for an internet book was fortuitous, but also inevitable. I would like to think that it was as a bibliophile that I visited the Circular Reading Room on the last day that it was open to the public (the British Library having been relocated in a new building); and I would like to think that I visited the empty space to experience, at first hand, the visual texture of its denuded bookshelves and unoccupied tables in the odd, hushed atmosphere of a protracted state of momentous historical closure. Although this is partly true, my visit was motivated by the preexisting idea of linking the two sites under the common signs of storage and distribution. I can trace one of the idea's roots to youthful memories of attending prominent rock concerts in the Roundhouse's cavernous space and to the derelict site's transformation through the amplified sounds and visual grain of an efflorescent counterculture. This memory colored my visit to the Reading Room with the emptiness and deracinated experience of a key historical site left to drift in the crosswinds of history but also of its possible recuperation in the name of revolutionary change and the future. Thus it was that the Roundhouse fused with the Circular Reading Room's functions in a way that opened both to the possibilities of new visual forms and distribution networks, and in particular to those forms and networks most closely associated with the transformation of print-based knowledge in a digital age. David Tomas is a multimedia artist exploring the cultures and transcultures of imaging systems. Author of "Transcultural Space and Transcultural Beings" (1996), David Tomas is also Professor of Multimedia and Interactivity in the Département d'art plastiques at the Université du Québec à Montréal. http://www.er.uqam.ca/nobel/r23541/encoded.html ***** PLACING AND WEBBING WITH SOUND by Andra McCartney Two processes of placing and webbing with sound define my multimedia productions: processes that may seem initially to be working at cross-purposes. Yet despite or perhaps because of this tension between the implications of these two approaches that I call placing and webbing, they are both important to the way I currently want to work with sound. My multimedia pieces are based in my practice of soundwalking, the act of walking through some area in my immediate vicinity, and listening to what is happening there. In a soundwalk recording, I trace the sounds of everyday life in a particular place bounded by the limits of my walk: in a park, along a waterfront, through an industrial zone. These recordings then become the basis of an extended meditation on the sounds of that place, conducted over several months, which results in a multimedia installation and website that refers to that particular place, through many different mediated contexts. My approach to the recording of soundwalks is very much influenced by the work of Vancouver soundscape composer, Hildegard Westerkamp. She began to record soundwalks in different locations in the Vancouver area, sometimes doing readings during the soundwalk by writers such as Emily Carr, sometimes talking to the listener about aspects of the place that were not audible. She then played these soundwalks back to listeners on a community radio show at Vancouver Coop Radio called "Soundwalking," during the late 1970s. In a soundwalk recording, the movements of the recordist are audible, her presence is obvious to the listener. The recordist traces the sonic waves washing through a place, and constructs a particular representation of them. A soundwalk is an improvisation with the sounds of a place. When I am recording, it is partly how well I know a place that determines the success of a recording. Do I anticipate the weather? Do I know this sound environment well enough to plan my walk at a time when particularly interesting sonic juxtapositions may occur? And then there are the surprises: an unusual sound occurs, out of the blue. Am I listening carefully enough to respond to it? Can I let go of my pre-suppositions about this place and go with this new situation? The power and subtlety of a good soundwalk recording depends on my ability to respond to a sound environment as active and full of agency, and to remain in dialogue with it. Another aspect of placing with sound is that using focus and perspective, the recordist can alter the hierarchy of sounds within a place. The microphone's ability to amplify allows the recordist to discover and focus on the subtle sonic emanations of very small sounds, those too quiet to be heard normally, to elevate them into hearing range, to change their social place in a soundscape, to make their previously-masked sounds audible. As a soundwalk recordist, I thus record a very specific interaction with a place, in which I use the microphone to record and construct a particular experience which may alter the social places of various sounds, and within which my motion is traced as I go. My work takes soundwalk recordings of my experiences of different auditory environments, and transforms them into more distributed vir
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