#090 Nov/Dec 2002


ISSN 1488-3635 #90 December 2002 - January 2003


* REFLECTIONS ON ISEA2002 by Cynthia Beth Rubin
* EDITORIAL by Special Guest Editor Gunalan Nadarajan
* NET CULTURE IN INDIA By Nancy Adajania

In a separate attachment: * Conferences/Symposia/Workshops/Festivals 
* Exhibitions * Calls * Jobs * Lists/URLs/Newsletters *

By Cynthia Beth Rubin (ISEA Board Member)

Turning the Tables on Diversity

Culture. Geography. Economics.  These are the seemingly separate categories that 
academics use to understand our societies.  

Presumably ISEA falls into the Culture category, positioned at the forefront of 
evolving artistic culture.  ISEA's mission, however, "advocates a culturally 
diverse community, which stimulates a global promotion and development of 
electronic art practices."

The push for Cultural Diversity within ISEA takes many forms.  We want to make 
participation in ISEA more available to more people.  To this, we know that we 
need to address not only Culture, but Geography and Economics as well.  The 
Cultural Diversity Committee has been discussing how to address these issues, 
with a flood of good ideas, and hopefully with a burst of energy.

As we work for more inclusion, we need to take a moment to understand what this 
first Asian ISEA did to expand the cultural understanding of those of us who 
have had the privilege of being involved in ISEA for many years.

ISEA2002 gave me the gift of other. In Japan, I experienced being 'other' for 
the first time in many years.  My previous travels,  from Siberia to Morocco, 
had only taken me to places where I could blend in, where, until I uttered an 
accented word or struggled with language, I could pass as local. In Japan, I was 
always an outsider, always on the edge, knowing that even if I broke through 
language that I would never pass as a local because of my looks.

ISEA2002 challenged my ideas of place. Before and during ISEA we heard criticism 
that Japan was too far for 'most people'.  Since demographically Japan is 
exceptionally crowded, with many highly populated countries nearby, who are 
'most people?'  I saw the world literally from the other side.  My stop in Hong 
Kong, combined with visits in Japan, reminded me that this side of the world is 
filled with exciting evolving culture just as much as my side of the world.  It 
made me think: Maybe there is another side of cultural diversity. Maybe there 
are ISEA like organizations in Asia that would reach out to people like me.

ISEA2002 still suffered from economic problems.  We live in a global economy, 
and as the wealth of empowered nations slipped, the ripples were felt by the 
ISEA2002 organizers, who had to give up hope of being able to subsidize artists 
from other parts of the world.  Rather than sympathize with the enormous 
volunteer effort that our hosts put into organizing this event with limited 
resources, many people who were not able to come blamed this on cultural 
insensitivity.  We might see this from the other side.  Our Japanese hosts 
opened the door for more global communication.

The art exhibition at ISEA2002 was a wonderful mix of Japanese and International 
work. While it is regrettable that there were not more opportunities for panels 
which included both Japanese and non-Japanese presentations, the exhibitions 
attracted many Japanese visitors.  Wandering the exhibition floor I truly felt 
the pleasures of sharing of the experiences of absorbing new ideas in a
cross-cultural context, by exchanging casual glances with many visitors from the 
Nagoya public.  The concert that I attended, on Tuesday evening of ISEA2002, was 
similarly played to a wonderful mixed audience.  

ISEA still has a long way to go in developing strategies to becoming a more 
inclusive organization.  ISEA2002, however, taught me once again that my world 
view is not the only one, and that Diversity is a multi-faceted issue, or at the 
very least, a two-way street.


In a special elections edition of the ISEA Newsletter that has been sent to you 
this month, you have been introduced to the 10 candidates for the ISEA Board of 
Directors. At the end of that document, you will find a ballot with which to 
cast your votes for the 4 candidates you most feel would bring vision, dynamism, 
and a commitment to furthering the goals and mission of ISEA.

Remember, as members, this is your opportunity to be a part of shaping the 
future development of ISEA. We greatly look forward to hearing from you!  You 
have until December 10, 2002 to send us your completed ballot by fax or by 
email. Thank you all for your participation! 


ISEA would like to welcome and thank its over 50 new members for joining the 
ISEA network. During our recent membership drive, we have seen a huge rise in 
membership, both from those taking advantage of our special associate membership 
offer, and those joining as individual, student or institutional members. We 
would like to thank everyone that has shown support for ISEA - please keep 
spreading the word! 

Please note that the above mentioned membership offer is valid until December 
31, 2002.


The art world has its centres and peripheries - the centres generate the primary 
discourses and practices that determine the trends and parameters of the 
possible and the significant while the peripheries reflect their anxiety about 
the centres by blindly mimicking them or vehemently rejecting them. And in some 
cases the peripheries just do not know of and therefore care about their 
peripheral status. Globalization however has, some argue, complicated such 
distinctions and made them difficult to sustain. It has been argued that 
there are no centres and peripheries in a globalized world as geographical and 
cultural distinctions have been made irrelevant by radical developments in 
transportation, communication and information technologies. While it is tempting 
and sometimes even useful to assume such effects of globalization, it has been 
obvious that the globalized world is not one without centres and peripheries but 
one where these notions operate differently. The notions of centres and 
peripheries are nowhere more apparent than in the art world where the exhibition 
circuits, curatorial leverage and artistic discourses and practices issue from 
and are sustained by certain geographical areas and cultures. The new media 
arts, being technologically intensive and relatively new, symptomatize this 
tendency. The fact that those countries that have come to occupy more central 
roles in the creation and critical discussion of new media arts have relatively 
little knowledge of what goes on in this field in other more peripheral parts of 
the world exacerbates this tendency. This newsletter on the Asian new media art 
scene seeks to redress this situation by providing an initial foray into the new 
media art scene in Asia. 

While the idea of the newsletter was to provide as comprehensive a picture of 
the Asian new media scene as possible, it was also important to acknowledge the 
fact that at least one Asian country, Japan, has traditionally occupied central 
position within new media, while some others like Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam and 
Cambodia have primarily because of economic underdevelopment not effectively 
entered the scene yet. Though countries like Thailand and Indonesia do have some 
interesting practitioners in new media it was not possible to gather adequate 
information for the country reports. The Indonesian new media scene is 
especially noteworthy insofar as there has been a major annual video and 
new media art festival held in Bandung. The Malaysian new media artists have 
played a leading role in the Southeast region but due to unforeseen 
circumstances it was not possible to get the report from them on time for 
publication. In this newsletter thus, there are several country reports from 
namely India, Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore and Philippines. The idea of the 
reports was not to provide readers with a comprehensive historical survey of the 
development of the new media scene in each country but to provide a brief 
overview of the new media scenes there based on specific reference points, 
media, events, institutions and/or movements involved since the developments in 
new media arts have always been scattered, multiple and rather non-linear.  

The newsletter thus presents the diverse approaches and peculiarities of new 
media art developments in these societies so as to enable a better appreciation 
of their aesthetic, socio-cultural and technological concerns. The new media 
practitioners of Asia are, it seems, ready and able to move out of the 
peripheries and inject fresh conceptual and cultural insights on the emerging 

New Media Art in Korea
By Eunhye Chung

South Korea is one of the most technologically advanced nations in the world. 
The rate of its broadband connection and mobile phone subscription are among the 
highest in the world. Until recently, new media art has had a fairly low 
presence in the arts scene, but there are many moves towards imbuing this rich 
context with rich content. 

There are a few art galleries regularly hosting new media art exhibitions. Art 
Center Nabi (www.nabi.or.kr) in Seoul specializes in new media art with a 
mandate to bring together art and technology.  In September 2002, Nabi hosted an 
international symposium entitled, <Extension: Wireless Art and Culture> along 
with an exhibition of Maurice Benayoun's first wireless art piece, <Watch Out>. 
In 2001, Lee, Zune led a group of 12 artists and engineers to create an 
ambitious interactive installation entitled 'Trialogue' 
(http://www.nabi.or.kr/e/). In this work, the artists attempted to have a 
dialogue between three subjects; the human, the natural, and the virtual. 

Also in Seoul, Ilju Art House (http://iljuarthouse.org) has a media gallery, 
archive, editing studio and a theatre with a focus on video art and independent 
film. Also notable is ArtSonje Center (www.artsonje.org), a contemporary art 
gallery which has recently exhibited a successful exhibition of Tatsuo 
Miyajima's new media works. 

Two examples of the City of Seoul's initiatives include <media_city Seoul> 
biennale (www.mediacityseoul.org), and the Digital Media Seoul Project 
(http://www.dmc.seoul.kr/english), which is to be constructed on the ground of 
2002 Korea-Japan WorldCup Stadium area.  Under the theme of Luna's Flow, 
<media_city Seoul> brought 79 media artists including 37 Korean artists and 42 
international artists, and 50 web artists. The website of <media_city Seoul> is 
designed by Kim, Suzung, one of the most important Korean digital artists who 
has also exhibited on Nabi website, 
(http://www.nabi.or.kr/e/exhibitions/online/grids.html). The piece, entitled 
'Grid' is a simple and poetic set of interactive digital piece all based on the 
same rectilinear grid. Other notable Korean artists presented at media_city 
Seoul include Hong Sung Chul (http://www.sunghong.com/) and Codi Choi. 

Although there are growing numbers of new media works and exhibitions, the 
growth is dwarfed by the ratio of new media technology saturation in everyday 
life. Art remains somewhat separate from the lives of average Koreans, whereas 
digital experiences are abundant and everyday. Throughout the city, one can find 
PC rooms, game rooms, people speaking into their mobile phones, thumbing away 
their text messages. 

The situation in Korea is unique owing to high broadband and wireless 
penetration combined with the nascent and yet dynamic new media art activity.  
This unique situation in Korea challenges us, those who are working in the field 
of new media art in Korea, to find creativity and artistry not only in the art 
fields, but in-between where art, technology and culture meet. 

Eunhye Chung
Art Center Nabi, Seoul, S.Korea

New Media Art in the Philippines: the Bend in the Road
By Fatima Lasay

>From the spirit of the avant-garde in the late 1950's to the apparatus-related 
and electronic experimentation in the 1970's, a few Filipino artists took the 
turn towards the digital computer beginning in the early 1980's in the 
investigation of human-computer interface issues and developments. Some of the 
first public displays of analog and digital computer graphics were 'Wege zur 
Computerkunst' at the Heritage Art Center and an exhibition of mathematical art 
at the Ayala Museum. 

In the late 1980's, computers began to become tied into networks, finding places 
from businesses to a few homes. Notable venues for the production and 
distribution of digital art then were the bulletin board systems (BBS's). These 
small electronic communities also allowed programmers to touch base with a few 
artists in the initial exploration of computer code as expressive medium in 
literature, music and the visual arts. As command-line interfaces gave way to 
graphical user interfaces, more artists entered the realm of computers. 

With Internet access in 1993, artists and programmers worked together to put 
some of the first virtual galleries online. Initiatives came from San Carlos 
University in Cebu City, and in Manila through the pioneering efforts of 
technology enthusiast Jim Ayson. Independently, young artist Dino Ignacio 
unveiled 'Bert is Evil,' winning in the Weird Category of the 1998 Webby Awards 
and earning a cult following on the Internet.

Museums and galleries also began showing digital works, notably the inclusion of 
Al Manrique's laser prints in Limbag-Kamay (hand-printed) '400 Years of 
Philippine Printmaking' at the Luz Gallery in 1993. Young artist Ricky Aragon 
presented vector drawings in a solo exhibition at the Ayala Museum in 1995. 
Since then, a number of established painters began including digital works in 
their exhibitions, and younger generation experimentalists pushing code, form 
and genre. 

One of the earliest efforts to organize artists using computers in art and 
advertising were the IdN Club in 1996 and eArt Philippines in 2000. Annual 
expositions such as Graphic Expo in Manila, and others in Cebu and Baguio City, 
highlighted creative developments in the use of digital tools in film, 
animation, video and music. 

In 1995, the University of the Philippines, College of Fine Arts introduced the 
use of digital imaging software, artificial intelligence, and algorithms to 
produce music and images. Today, a number of educational institutions, like 
Lasalle-College of Saint Benilde, offer multimedia arts as fields of 

National art competitions such as those sponsored by Shell Philippines and the 
Art Association of the Philippines (AAP) also started accepting digital works. 
The Instituto Cervantez's 'Letras y Figuras' (letters and figures) would 
likewise begin considering digital works in the annual painting competition 
focused on a unique art form from the mid-nineteenth century. 

New media has also enlarged the audience and the disciplinary repertoire of the 
Filipino artist. In 2001, fineArt forum hosted 'Geocentricity', a web-based 
exhibition by seven Filipino digital artists working with scientists at the 
Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology. 'Geocentricity' is now part 
of the Leonardo On-Line Gallery (MIT Press). The same year, 'Gimokud, the 
Melting Soul' was completed, a wholly Internet-based project that depicted the 
ancient Philippine myth of the interrupted existence of the soul. "Gimokud" 
comprised fifty-two digital works by thirty-two Filipino digital artists in 
collaboration with twenty-three artists and writers from ten different 

In 2000, the UP College of Fine Arts launched Digital Media Festival (DMF), 
establishing links with international new media practitioners Takahiko Iimura 
and Nisar Keshvani, and events such as Multimedia Arts Asia Pacific (Australia), 
fineArt forum's Travelling Screening Programme, and 2 Mostra Interpoesia 
(Brazil). DMF2002 took new media further in an installation work that 
investigated archaeological studies with artists Noell El Farol and Roberto 
Feleo. DMF was initiated to promote a pluralist perspective towards the use of 
technologies in artistic work. 

New media as indispensible design and production tool has been well established 
in the country but remain marginalized in the literary and arts sector as 
expressive media. Nevertheless, a few artists continue to express themselves 
with the new technologies, journeying towards interdisciplinarity and meaningful 
interactivity to enable the participation of society at large in the genesis of 
new forms of expression worldwide.


Fatima Lasay <fats@up.edu.ph> obtained her BFA (Industrial Design) and MFA at 
the University of the Philippines College of Fine Arts where she currently 
serves as assistant professor. Lasay's new media projects include 'Manipulation' 
(2000, Galeri Situ, Manila), 'Geocentricity' and 'Gimokud the Melting Soul' 
(2001, on-line) and 'DMF2000-2002' (Corredor Gallery, Manila). Lasay's wesbite 
is at http://digitalmedia.upd.edu.ph/digiteer/

Net Culture in India
By Nancy Adajania

I will cast my discussion of Net culture in the context of Indian art in the 
form of a prognostication, rather than a description of current events. Although 
very few Indian artists have engaged meaningfully with the resources of 
cyberspace, there are incipient signs which suggest that virtual art practices 
will undoubtedly play an important role in future cultural production in India. 
I am convinced, also, that they will transform the way in which the Indian art 
world is structured, changing the profile of its constituency, and bringing it 
into relationship with seemingly unrelated fields such as those of quantum 
physics and political activism. Critically what this means is that art in 
India will no longer be only a consumerist  aesthetic product of the gallery 
cocoon, but will extend itself through the Net as a radical political practice 
in the public sphere.

The Net best serves as a site of political and cultural resistance, when allied 
to real-world bases of resistance. I would therefore draw attention to the 
subcultures and venues from which Net-based art practices may emerge: new online 
and offline communities of users, viewers and players, including computer nerds, 
animators, architects, designers, cultural theorists and political activists, 
groups outside the traditional community of academy-trained fine artists and 
art-gallery viewers. These telematic subcultures may well produce a new 
democratisation in the realm of art.

It would also be of interest to speculate on how artists may deal with the 
aesthetic possibilities of virtual art while remaining conscious of the changes 
that the advent of the Net has triggered off in India's socio-cultural and 
economic hierarchies. Already we see how artists like Baiju Parthan and Shilpa 
Gupta and the Raqs Media Collective (Jeebesh Bagchi, Monica Narula and 
Shuddhabrata Sengupta) have variously used the protocols and the architecture of 
the Net as its medium. While Parthan and Gupta are both academically trained 
artists, Bagchi, Narula and Sengupta are new media practitioners primarily 
trained as documentary filmmakers. Raqs has initiated the Opus Project (An 
Open Platform for Unlimited Signification), an online space that allows for 'an 
extensible multiplicity of meanings and authorial agencies'. Opus questions the 
proprietorial intention of such arrangements as copyright and emphasises the 
creative role of collaboration. It is significant that many new media artists in 
India are able to connect themes and narrative devices from Indic culture with 
the fictive modes of global cyber culture: consider the epic principle of 
recension on which Opus is based and the morph as avatar and alias in the case 
of Parthan and Gupta.

However, while we celebrate the radical possibilities of Net art, let us recall 
that the mere fact of cyber-access and a nascent cyber-community do not 
translate automatically as emancipation, or a guarantee of democracy. This is 
the interface at which artists and theorists can work with technological 
innovators, in the future, as ethical and political agents of change. Together, 
they can set up counter-republics in virtual space, dynamising the dispersed 
cyber-community of the present into a coherent public force.


Nancy Adajania is a cultural theorist and film-maker, based in Bombay. She was 
Editor-in-Chief of the arts journal Art India from 2000 to 2002. Most recently, 
Adajania presented a series of lectures on new-media art in India and its social 
and political contexts, at the Lothringerstrasse 13 Laden, Munich (June 2002), 
the Transmediale Salon, Berlin (June 2002), the Zentrum fur Kunst und 
Medien/ZKM, Karlsruhe (July 2002) and Documenta 11, Kassel (July 2002).

The Challenge We All Have To Face
By Young Hay

Due to low taxation and relatively high living standards, Hong Kong people enjoy 
easy access to electronic technology and services. According to statistics, in 
June 2002, the population of internet users had soared to 4.4 million of the 7 
million residents. Audio-visual entertainment equipment are a necessary feature 
of most households. However this  does not mean that people here are receptive 
to media art, since a vast majority are still using technology as functional 
tools or home/office utilities, instead of expressions of humanity. 

Against this tide, consistent efforts have been made by a number of Hong Kong 
independent artists, art groups and institutions, who taking advantage of the 
easy access of information and technology, have activated new artistic spaces. 
Video art, since its first appearance in early 80s, has evolved to become the 
major media art genre. Some video artists later turned to explore other genres 
of media art. Videotage, directed by Ellen Pau, transformed from a video group 
to an active promoter of media art. Since 1996, the group has organized annual 
'Microwave International Media Art Festival', bringing a broadened review of 
international and local media art development. 

The shock of the 1989 Tiennanman Square Crackdown and the issue of 1997 
transition of political power have prompted an exploration of political and 
cultural space in Hong Kong. Many artists used installation, very often multi-
media, to define the relationship between the social space and the art space. 
Most of them later grouped together to set up alternative artist-run spaces. 
Among them, Parasite, Videotage, 1A Space, Z+, Artists Commune, and the short-
lived Oil Street, offered favourable environments for artists to experiment 
multi-media. At the same time, performances such as the theatre of Zuni 
Icosahedron, the dance of City Contemporary Dance Company, and the musical 
events of the Box, have been bold to incorporate multi-media elements in their 

Yet despite the ever-growing interest

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