THE INTER-SOCIETY FOR THE ELECTRONIC ARTS ISEA NEWSLETTER #72 June- July 1999 ISSN1488-3635 _______________________________________________________________ * CONTENTS * * Editorial * ISEA News * Contact Zone Colloquium * * Feature Articles * Event Reports * _______________________________________________________________ *Une version francaise est disponible. Contactez le secretariat pour l'obtenir* ************************** EDITORIAL ************************** The Board meeting in early March was my last trip to Montreal. Compared to the snow of winter, Montreal spring in May this trip showed a completely different city - festive and alive with people, music, culture, activity in the streets. The ISEA agenda began, however, before my arrival in Montreal. The Board was already in its bimonthly "virtual board meeting" organized on the net. We were trying to iron out decisions on membership, branch offices/student chapters, ISEA2000, a move to new offices, and a search for a new Director. What is clear is that ISEA operates on a complex dynamic: balancing the identity of the Symposium with the human-network of the InterSociety, validating the headquarter's Montreal presence through local activities while maintaining an international profile, and creating an effective work dynamic between the dispersed nomadic board and the local staff. As an example of this: ISEA presented a colloqium on April 23 as part of its ongoing special project, Virtual Africa, this time in conjunction with the Vues d'Afrique Festival in Montreal. The project is an example of how ISEA fulfills it cultural diversity mandate and creates activities that are both international and local in scope. Though I am not directly involved in the project, I have a personal aside to give. One of the speakers, the Algerian/French musician Camel Zekri, is an old acquaintance and colleague. I didn't know he was part of the colloqium panel, but before my arrival in Montreal, I ran into Camel at the Musique Action festival in Vandoeuvre France. After the initial surprise, we got to talking about ISEA. To Camel, this was a new world, however one that he knew I was very much involved with. However he didn't know I was on the board of ISEA. I was equally surprised in the opposite way. Although I had played numerous concerts with Camel, including network concerts, I had not expected to see him in this milieu. It was rather nice that this was the result of coincidence rather than cronyism. I was enthusiastic about the cultural and musical viewpoints that an artist like Camel could bring to ISEA. Camel was excited to discover that an organization like ISEA existed that could possibly help to structure his projects between France and Africa. This is how ISEA should operate - as a human network, broadening horizons for artists, bringing our field to new places, and even to help us re-meet those we know in new ways. Another example of ISEA's complex dynamic in action awaited my arrival in Montreal. In my computer, the Board was still in virtual meeting in email, weighing the financial costs against potential benefits of a move to new offices. In the physical reality of Montreal, the office was already in boxes and the move was taking place. The new office is in the Ex-Centris complex (http://www.ex-centris.com) - a brand new building conceived, financed, and built by Daniel Langlois, founder of SoftImage. The building is an imposing granite edifice along the rue St. Laurent, the axis that divides English-speaking west Montreal from French-speaking east, the heartbeat of culture and nightlife in the city. The office is modern, fully furnished, quite deluxe for ISEA. I'm not sure we need the executive furniture provided as part of the high rent, but we benefit greatly from a 1Mbps internet connection, and this alone brings an improvement in our working style. The staff are motivated by the new surroundings, finding new context for their work. At the opening cocktail for Ex-Centris, a counselor at the Ministry of International Relations approached ISEA Special Projects head Eva Quintas to say that being in Ex-Centris helps to validate ISEA's cause at the government's various ministries. The overall impression of ISEA in its new office is positive. This being said, the building itself has the problems that always accompany any project founded on the sole vision of one person. Daniel Langlois is Quebec's first technology-millionaire, and is a generous supporter of the arts. Ex-Centris is Langlois' castle, and the structure and high security belies this. There is gratuitous use of technology that goes against some of our visions of the democratizing humanizing force that technology should represent. Time will tell how successful Ex-Centris will be in mobilizing a technology culture in Montreal, and in creating an international position for itself. The opening gala was a big affair as things go in this realm. Langlois borrowed not only the security system from SoftImage - he also knows how to throw industry parties for the likes of Siggraph, and this was in full display opening night. There was some mumbling among my artist friends in attendance about how jet-set it was, but this is where Montreal is forever modest and friendly - by Parisian or Tokyo standards, it was still low key and pleasant. The Belgian performance troupe, Urban Sax marched through the crowd and performed as Langlois watched alone from a high mezzanine. The opening week continued with an impressive screening of films and four evenings of musical concerts programmed by ISEA's own Alain Mongeau (director of new media for the FCMM festival with offices also in the complex). All events were free and sold out, as the annual sidewalk fair on St. Laurent was in full swing. After all the fun had ended, one realized that we had just inaugurated the opening of a new media complex by watching old Godard films, seeing a performance art group from 20 years ago, and listening to concerts of music. It is clear that the technology art field is still finding its voice and just starting to create its best works. But it also becomes clear that even a new center like this is still only equipped to a limited extent, both structurally and in content programming, to bring about the evolution it is meant to facilitate. ISEA can benefit enormously from being in its new environment. But it must establish and execute its own sovereign agenda if it is not to be co-opted by the entertainment industry vision imposed on the complex. At the same time the new offices give ISEA a kind of credibility in the eyes of the public and the local government, there is a danger of simply disappearing into the megacenter. Case in point: a security oversight made ISEA's name not appear on the main list at the reception. I was left stranded, not allowed to enter the offices of an organization where I serve on the Board. As much as it is a new media center, there are no production facilities, and no artists' spaces that ISEA can benefit from or help to administer. This is the state of ISEA as it starts a new chapter. The new office is the container out of which we will operate. A new director will hopefully bring renewed energy and visions. The board represents the whole history of ISEA, and will provide a continuity. The staff is dynamic and enthusiastic, eager to be the conduit of action that ties these elements together. The last piece in the puzzle is you, the membership body. After all, ISEA is a member organization. Your involvement as members is not only welcome, it is vital to our existence. ISEA was there in the beginning to help establish technology arts within the western European traditions. Now as the field grows beyond these privelaged origins, ISEA itself will evolve to fulfill the needs of artists and organizers coming from a wider base of practices, cultures, and geographies. Here then, a call to action to contact us and communicate amongst all of us, who we are, what we can do, and what we envision. Atau Tanaka ************************** ISEA NEWS ************************** MOVE TO EX-CENTRIS As promised in Newsletters past, ISEA has finally arrived at the brand new Ex-Centris Complex (see Atau Tanaka's editorial above). More information about Ex-Centris can be found at <http://www.ex-centris.com>. To see photographs from the grand opening party on June 1, 1999, consult the Flash News section of the ISEA website <http://www.isea.qc.ca/inl/newsletter> in the coming days. The new ISEA HQ address: ISEA/Inter-Society for the Electronic Arts Complexe Ex-Centris 3530 boul. St-Laurent, #305 Montreal, Quebec H2X 2V1 CANADA tel: +1.514.847.8912 fax: +1.514.847.8834 The website and email addresses remain the same. CARTOGRAPHIES: THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY ON MEDIA ART As mentioned in the last newsletter, ISEA is launching Cartographies: The General Assembly on New Media Art, a pan-Canadian event with international guests which will take place at the newly opened Ex-Centris Complex October 12-14, 1999. This event occurs in partnership with and just before the International Festival of New Cinema and New Media of Montreal. A call for proposals was sent to 250 groups and artist-centres working in media art across Canada, and a listserv was created to get the debates and discussions going. If you would like to subscribe, send a message to <email@example.com>. The first day of the General Assembly, Zone Zero: New Media Before and Beyond, will feature conferences and testimonies on the emergence of new media art in Canada and in other locations around the world. Presentations will be made by key players and institutions, as well as by leading artists and projects. The second day, Tactical Zones, will explore how artists and art centres are interfacing present structures with the challenges of digital culture. Presentations from Canadian artist-run centres will be paralleled with other international models. The final day, Mobile Zones, will open new territories to confront and redefine in the field of new media art. Emerging artists, practices, and languages will be represented. If there are specific issues you feel are vital to drawing up a new media cartography in Canada, please send us your comments!
MEMBERS Since we are currently expanding the content of the ISEA Newsletter, we would like to extend an invitation to members who are interested in writing articles or editorials on an area of art and technology that you feel passionate about or which is in your field of expertise. We are also very open to any members who would like to take on a special edition of the newsletter as guest editor. Editorials should be approximately 500 words. Articles should be between 1000 and 1500 words. If there are important topics you feel should be covered, please do not hesitate to let us know. We would also be delighted to accept reviews of new media art events, books, CD-ROMs, and exhibitions. Reviews should be between 500 and 750 words. Of course, you are also most welcome to send information on your own news and events, which we will publish in a special section of the Newsletter. The recent of addition of the Flash News page on the ISEA website <http://www.isea.qc.ca/inl/newsletter> will permit us to integrate more multimedia material, so photos and sound clips from your events can be showcased. And don't forget about your member portfolio page <http://www.isea.qc.ca/members/rep.html>! The ISEA Board has just approved a reduction in membership fees. The new fees will be as follows: Individual: $50 CDN ($35 US) Student: $30 CDN ($22 US) Institutions (includes 3 memberships): $200 CDN ($142 US) Members who have just joined ISEA will be advised of a possible extension of their membership as compensation. For any questions relating to ISEA membership, please contact Natalie Melancon at the usual email address: < firstname.lastname@example.org> SIGGRAPH 99 We would like to invite all members to an ISEA meeting taking place during Siggraph99 at the Los Angeles Convention Centre, in Los Angeles, California August 8-13, 1999. This year's meeting will be hosted by ISEA Board members Cynthia Beth Rubin and Kathy Rae Huffman, and will include the participation of several other "sister" groups. An announcement of the precise date, time, and location will be published in the Siggraph Programme. HQ will also send an announcement by email as Siggraph approaches. More information on Siggraph 99 can be found at: < http://www.siggraph.org/s99> Hope to see you there! ************************** CONTACT ZONE COLLOQUIUM ************************** Report on the Contact Zone Symposium Montreal, 23 April, 1999 By Sylvie Fortin, event curator http://www.isea.qc.ca/africa It is important, first of all, to contextualize this conference. Contact Zone is the second part of a two-fold project. The conference follows in the wake of DAKAR WEB (see p. 3 of ISEA Newsletter #71) by enlarging the theoretical parametres and presenting the practices of African artists who either already use digital technologies in their work, or integrate them in their repertoire of materials and modes of production. Bringing together eight international conference participants who maintain a diversity of relations with Africa, the goal of the Contact Zone conference was to create a site of exchange and discussion around the impact of digital and electronic technologies on the creation of African artwork. It is important here to reiterate that the objectives of the conference were rooted firmly in the field of contemporary art and its diverse forms of expression. It is also important to reiterate that the the expression "Contact Zone" signifies a space or a zone for the meeting of various discourses and practices where it is possible to produce a new kind of discourse. It does not, therefore, imply merely a superficial adaptation to one proposition or another, but a profound reformulation of those discourses. The conference participants were selected on the basis of complementarity and equilibrium. Certainly, the development of the conference was subject to a few unfortunate cancellations. The discussions would have therefore followed a different course, related to differences in point of view, fields of interest and expertise. I nevertheless have the pleasure to report that the conference surpassed its expectations in organizational and artistic terms. For even if all of the participants approached the subject at hand through the prism of their own practices and opinions, this undertaking revealed a diversity of ways of employing and conceptualizing new technologies. This exchange was, in my opinion, the principle and essential contribution of the conference. From the "bricolage" of Fatimah Tuggar -a work process which testifies to what Ioan Davies calls "the culture of the everyday"(1)- which is the translation of a political position shared by numerous "children of independence", to the multidisciplinary infiltration of the media by Iké Udé, and the "Afrofuturism" delineated by Franklin Sirmans, we see just an example of the number of encounters between contemporary African art practices and the recourse to digital technologies. Although sometimes so divergent that the points of intersection were difficult to detect, the participants as much as the public nevertheless had access to a multiplicity of view points testifying, in my opinion, to the vitality of contemporary African art practices, and to the multiple ways of conceptualizing and employing new technologies variously as a tool, a means, a material. Therein lies the pertinence of the colloquium. The first session, skillfully moderated by Salem Mekuria who is an Ethiopian film-maker and professor currently living in Boston, USA, was able to mark out, in broad terms, the theoretical and philosophical stakes of the debate. The presentation of New York-based African-American critic and curator Franklin Sirmans delineated a historical and conceptual field from which to discuss the contemporary practices of artists of the African Diaspora living the United States and Europe. His discussion of "Afrofuturism" presented technology in its broader sense, as a means, which is important and strategic since Africa is still often pigeon-holed in the "primitivism" of the collective Western imagination. The presentation of Iba Ndiaye Djadji, author and critic from Dakar, Senegal, testified to the prospective and realistic contributions which new technologies can make. Anchored in a discussion of an artistic "African-ness", and more specifically in terms of the visual arts, Djadji chose to position his presentation as a theoretical and philosophical exposition on the impact which digital technologies could have in the future. This was a justified point of view given that the influence these technologies have had on the Dakar art scene in Senegal is still quite limited. Finally, Camel Zekri, an Algerian musician living in Paris, outlined the ideological and artistic parametres of the Festival de l'eau ("The Festival of Water"). Modelled on a traditional and interdisciplinary cultural practice (the Diwan ceremony into which Zekri was initiated during his childhood in Algeria), the first edition of the Festival de l'eau in 1996 brought about an exchange between international artists and villagers along the banks of the Niger river. With interdisciplinarity and improvisation as the necessary conditions for each encounter -a meeting of equals determined by mutually-defined parametres- the Festival de l'eau in its second occurrence, slated for January 2000 in Burkina Faso, will have an important technological dimension. The second session, moderated by Akram Zaatari, a Lebanese videomaker and founder of the Beirut-based Arab Foundation for the Image, opened up the floor to African artists having, as is often the case, diverse geographic ties to the continent of Africa. Nigerian artist Fatimah Tuggar (who currently lives in New York) launched this session by presenting her work which combines photography, sculpture and installation. Through her practice, Tuggar proposes a new paradigm of cohabitation: of images, objects and traditional African and Western technologies Her works exist, therefore, through a bricolage to which new technologies are subjected -as much in the production as in the presentation of the work. Bili Bidjocka, a Cameroonian artist living between Paris, Brussels, and New York, created a situation completely in line with the content of his presentation of a passionate discussion. Projecting live images of the audience, he modestly discussed his own work philosophy and expressed his own apprehensions regarding new technologies and the rigid definitions of "Africanité". In so doing, he clearly articulated the principle, which in his opinion, is fundamental to the success of an artwork: that of the Event. His presentation was in fact, one such event: a pause for interrogation produced by some sort of situation (the encounter before a canvas/the museum confronted by a presence/a performance such as Bidjocka's intervention). The Nigerian New York-based artist, Iké Udé, chose to present his work "by-proxy" through the presentation of Lauri Firstenberg, an independent critic and curator based in New York. Lauri Firstenberg's presentation, which explored the way in which Udé`s creative practice and images elude categorization, interrupt legibility, was thus very appropriate. Udé participates in a session of artist presentations by dispatching a curator/critic! In his digitally manipulated photographs, Udé articulates a digital transvestism through which he affects a "queering" of the image and makes use of "corporate queer". What is important to remember about this session, are the different modes of expression each African artist chose. From the artist talk, to the performance, and finally, the delegation of a Western representative, we see the numerous forms of expression deployed in order to activate a discussion about the impact of digital technologies on contemporary production. It is important to recall here that the term "digital" suggests a multiplicity of technologies and practices which pluralize and question our ways of defining a medium on the basis of format or system of distribution. Finally, it seems crucial to me to welcome a multiplicity of perspectives, beyond the usual African/Western dichotomy which does nothing but repeat the old colonial models. Since Africa is the most racially, linguistically, religiously, and culturally diverse continent, it is just as criss-crossed with complex relations as the West. The task at hand is, therefore, a matter of inscribing Africa in a much larger discussion where participants come from different cultures. Emerging thought from contexts as diverse as the Middle East, Latin America or the urban zones of America and Europe can have a lot to offer and a lot to learn from their extensive exchanges with Africa. In the wake of this conference, it is important to create a platform where other discussions can be pursued, just as it is important to follow-up on training and networking activities. To this end, a listserv discussion group, to which you will be invited, with be launched soon. Events such as ISEA 2000 in Paris and the Francophone Games (les Jeux de la Francophonie) in Ottawa/Hull in 2000 could also be opportunities to for encounters and further dialogue. 1. Ioan Davies. "Negotiating African Culture: Toward a Decolonization of the Fetish," The Cultures of Globalism, eds. Frederic Jameson and Masao Miyoski, Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 1998. p. 139. *********************************************************** FEATURE ARTICLES: SPECIAL DOSSIER ON TRASH TECH/LOW TECH ************************************************************ LOW TECH MANIFESTO By James Wallbank The Lowtech Manifesto was first presented at The Next Five Minutes conference in Amsterdam, Spring 1999. "Lowtech" means technology that is cheap or free. Technology moves on so fast that right now we can recover low-end Pentiums and fast Macintoshes from the trash. Lowtech upgrades every year. But we don't have to pay for it. Lowtech includes hardware and software. We advocate freeware and low cost software. We particularly advocate the use of low cost, open source operating systems. High technology doesn't mean high creativity. In fact sometimes the restrictions of a medium lead to the most creative solutions. Independence is important. Don't lock your creativity into a box you don't control. Access is important. Don't lock your creativity into a format we can't see. High tech artworks market new PCs. Even if they aren't meant to. Artworks that make use of new, expensive technology can't avoid being, in part, sales demonstratons. Part of the message of an online video stream, whatever its content, is "Hey, isn't it time for an upgrade?". Communicators concerned with the meaning and context of what they do may want to avoid this. We're sceptical about the consumerist frenzy associated with information technology. Lowtech questions the two year upgrade cycle. A lot of people say that new media is revolutionary. They say the net is anarchic and subversive. But how subverive can you be in an exclusive club, which has a $1000 entrance fee? Lowtech counters exclusivity. Lowtech is street level technology. Text is great for communicating. Write down what you want say. Make it clear and simple and non-exclusive. Email is still the "killer app". Fast, low cost global communication for the ordinary citizen is genuinely something new. HTML is good for lots more than web pages. Now you can author all sorts of graphical stuff with a plain text editor. Use the web for plain text and images. It's simple and cheap and quick and it works. <http://www.lowtech.org/projects/n5m3> James Wallbank is founder and coordinator of Redundant Technology Initiative <http://www.lowtech.org> a group of artists in the UK who create using zero-cost computers. ************************** A SHORT HISTORY OF VINYLVIDEO A Collective Memory VinylVideo is a fake archeological relic of media technology, a revision in the record of technological progress that bridges a gap in the history of consumer technology while it provides a unique new viewing experience in the medium of video. In collaboration with Guenter Erhart, Martin Diamant and Best Before, the Austrian artist Gebhard Sengueller has created a technique for storing and reproducing conventional video signals (moving image and synchronized sound) onto conventional analog long-playing vinyl (LP) records with a running time of approximately 15 minutes per side. With the VinylVideo homekit, a "black box" that compresses the data and transforms the signal into a video signal, the VinylVideo picture disk can be played back on a standard turntable with an ordinary diamond needle and a conventional black and white television set. The black and white images of the VinylVideo disks appearing on the monitor are of reduced resolution and low frame rate while the synchronized sound is reproduced in almost its original quality. The resulting drastically reduced picture quality creates a new perceptual mode of accessing video works, creating a time-bound medium that both references the earliest television pictures at the same time as its uncanny combination of the familiar and the novel summons up fantasies of other possibilities in the continuum of technological progress. As a hybrid of different technologies, VinylVideo reveals and connects a variety of media history alignments, combining art, science and technology, low- and high-tech and analog and digital elements to create a new vision (a breaking-open) of the limits of a medium, of consumer technology and of the artifacts of everyday life that quotes the contemporary renaissance of vinyl as the same time that it questions the expiration of technologies. The historical background for this fictional video disk technology is the discontinuity in the development of electronic film technology. While the electronic transmission of images has been possible since the late 1920s . (FOOTNOTE: As early as 1927 John Loggie Baird invented an apparatus called "Phonovision"that recorded moving images on the wax plates that were then used for sound recording. He was unable, however, to play these recorded images. References to the age of wax plates may perhaps be found even today in names like "nightmares on wax"and "mo wax". The reproduction of such stored images only became possible with the invention of the video recorder in 1958 and recording for private use only became available in the 1980s with the mass introduction of the VCR). Playing the VinylVideo picture disk on a regular audio turntable results in an audio output that reflects the constantly changing visual content of the recorded video. VinylVideo thus encompasses contemporary forms of DJ-ing while at the same time making real video "scratching" available to VJs. The simple placement of the needle on different points on the record makes possible a random access manipulation of the time axis. The picture can also be manipulated by changing the speed at which the record is played. VinylVideo is an ongoing collaborative project. International artists are invited to produce works for the VinylVideo record edition. The artists engage and reflect on the specific qualities of the new medium using a variety of different artistic approaches. Consequently, while the resulting VinylVideo record edition has in common a curiosity about and a willingness to explore the possibilities of the medium, artists have chosen to engage aspects of the technology as varied as the interconnection between sound and image, the manipulation of the time axis, the use of VinylVideo as a VJ tool and the connection to the ASCII code. The VinylVideo record edition includes works by Heimo Zobernig, Oliver Hangl, Annika Eriksson, Monoscope, Harald Hund, Visomat Laboric / Gereon Schmitz, Cut-up/Geert Mul, Vuk Cosic / Alexej Shulgin, Andrea Lumplecker, Peter Haas, JODI, Lampalzer-Oppermann and Olia Lialina. For additional information please access <http://www.vinylvideo.com> or contact email@example.com. Vinyl Video is an Austrian cooperation between: Gebhard Sengmueller, an artist working with new technologies, Guenther Erhart, an information scientist, Martin Diamant, and experimental physicist, and Best Before, a curatorial collaboration by Rike Frank and Stefan Gyoengoesi. ************************** EVENT REPORTS ************************** EUROPEAN MEDIA ART FESTIVAL Osnabrueck, Germany May 5-9, 1999 http://www.emaf.de Some Reflections on the EMAF Exhibition in the Art Gallery in the Dominikanerkir Review by Michael Boyce At the EMAF exhibition, the Art Gallery in the Dominikanerkirche was devoted to five installations: System Maintenance by Perry Haberman Time Machine or The Present is an Accident Between Past and Future by Egbert Mittelstadt 200 Bells - Hyperscratch Vers. 9 by Haruo Ishii Scanner ++ by Joachin Blank and Karl-Heinz Jeron VinylVideo by BestBefore/Gerhard Sengmuller Flies by Michael van der Leest All of these pieces were interactive in both conceptual and tactile ways (with the exception of the Flies). They lent themselves to a coordination of both physical and mental engagements, and further, consigned nexus relationships between virtual and actual, organic and mechanical as well as abstract and concrete ideas and positions. This all proffered a broader understanding of technology in general and media technology more specifically -registering it with a sense of an aesthetic and philosophic disposition. The pieces could variously be received as installations, as games or even as experiments. Here, for the sake of brevity, are (just) two examples. System Maintenance, presented itself as a design installation to show three different aspects of furniture arrangement that at the same time reflected different perceptual engagements and tactile challenges. Furniture was available to be arranged on a platform in three different ways: 1) as large pieces of "real" furniture on a circular platform which could, with some push, pull, lift and shove, be moved around; 2) as plastic miniatures upon a smaller platform which could with considerably less effort be likewise moved around; 3) as graphic renderings in a 3D perspective upon a computer monitor which could be moved about by manipulating a joystick. This method, of course, required the least amount of physical strength but demanded a kind of eye to hand coordination which took a little longer to facilitate than the miniatures did. There was a camera trained upon the miniatures that read their image upon the computer screen. Thus there were two sets of simultaneous images being displayed. One, the camera feed was static (until the miniatures were moved), and two, the computer graphics where mobile and could, if you liked, be perfectly superimposed with the camera feed. Now you could understand what their sense of correspondence was to be based upon in whichever way you liked. You could for instance look at any one as a simulation or quote of the other. But there was no explicit indication of this. Rather, there was an invitation to somehow coordinate - as in a game - the placement of the furniture at each station so that they matched. It didn't matter which you arranged first, so there wasn't any master layout that the others were to be replicas of. As a result, a range of different perspectives and skills where highlighted instead of an order of real to virtual verisimilitude. Instead of a utopia or distopia of replacement, there was a coincident play that revealed at each station a variable relationship between (an) abstract idea and (its or a) concrete execution. A certain displacement seemed to occur then, as could be said by way of a critical tangent, of contemporary assumptions about virtual orders and their lack of tactile quality; particularly with respect to a computer management of such and so-called a virtual "space". To wit, working with computers is not a non-tactile experience. Nor is it without its own management (or system, if you prefer) for realising an idea or manifesting intent. It (still) has, in other words, a relationship with theory and practice. Or in contemporary parlance, it works with/in its own dialectic of virtual and actual. The festival in general, it seemed, was taking to heart the more or less strict (if not common vernacular) sense of media as a middle quality or degree -a species of conduit or conductor (which should be read with some sense of impersonal agency). There was, actually, no direct address of agency. Rather, there was instead a consequential formal complicity between the user, the object, and to some extent (although not so much) the producer-engineer-artist. A complicity, then, to the very idea of - and possibly an investment in - the engagement with a system and its management. This piece is a neat encapsulation of the general idea. Likewise, with VinylVideo. Here was an interesting intersection between old tech objects and new tech ideas. They were married by way of a sell job which registered itself more as sell then as object. The aesthetic of the sell and its elements are put into relief because of the home-spun familiarity and established (user) friendliness of the object itself. It is an ideological aesthetic of novel technological facility. The installation is interactive, again, in a variety of ways. There is a small but comfy couch. An old black and white television set and an old style record player (with speeds variable 16, 33, 45 and 78 rpm) on small shelf stand level with the couch. A larger bookshelf with some 12 recordings displayed and stacked. The recordings are vinyl and each has a individually designed jacket with a recording artist's name, a recording name and a brief and oblique conceptual rendering of the recordings premise or interest on the backside. A little further off there is a computer set up on a column. The screen is set to an online web page advertising the VinylVideo system with links to specific artists and recordings as well as a company bio and history of the development of the system -framed as revolutionary and convenient. Beside it, on another column, is another old record player (with the same variable speeds) and a pair of headphones. Here you can listen exclusively to the audio portion of the recording (a repetition of a sequence of a few different tones). Beside it, on still another column, is a television monitor playing a testimonial video and an infomercial about the system. It lasts about 10 minutes and plays on a continual loop. The record at the turntable/television station plays back a combination of murky sound and video. Each track offers a slight variation in the sequence of video and sound/music. Both sides of the record play. The correspondence between the poetic descriptions on the back of the record-covers and the actual VinylVideo seem to be in sync with respect to their being equally oblique. It is their overall resonance which matters; their atmosphere, if you will. Interestingly enough, the only clues to the fancifulness of this installation lie in the apparent poor quality (measured against a criteria which by its very second nature belies a complicity to it which can only after the fact be displaced) of the product, and the comfortable familiarity of the play-back device, the viewer, the viewing setting and indeed, (with maybe the exception of the web page) the sell and the medium of the sell itself. In fact, the very idea of its convenience seems to hark back to another more naive era (i.e. the fifties), as though it were describing a household appliance. The contemporary sell on technology is not levied as convenience so much as facility. Nevertheless, it registers as a rather amazing thing. Video coming off the old record and off the old record player. It is a curious conjunction between old and new which precisely because of its apparent failure to meet up with current video technology (MPEG, DVD and web-casting, say) draws into relief the equal if not greater (under certain circumstances) value of the concept and ideal implication of the system which is communicated as and by rhetoric. Or, in other words, it is the orientation to technological advance which is as important or interesting as the actual development. It registers what you might call the complicit thrill of technological novelty and evolution. It is the very attempt to make apparent the dream of progress, even if it is truly a crass expansion of consumption and entertainment that doesn't even really deliver its promise, which is exciting and which invites participation. And that joy of participation, even its disappointment, is the sign of complicity. It is a complicity that is unheralded and perhaps unknown, yet nevertheless present to such an extent as to be taken as natural or organic. All these pieces possess and invite a kind of playfulness that at once occasions and displaces a philology of media. They are exemplary, also, of no necessity to re-inscribe the body into technological media. For, it is apparently participating already. And the meaning of that participation is no more settled than is the body's own relationship to its own mechanical operations and organic being. It is also already engaged with and complicit with a division between its abstractions and its concretizations. Dr. Michael Boyce is a philosopher, videographer, musician, video editor, writer and media artist living in Montreal. ************************** THE SCHOOL OF SOUND Held at the Ciné Lumi%#232re, in the Institut français London, England April 15-18, 1999 Contact: Larry Sider ( Epesound@aol.com ) Review by Amanda Aronczyk This year marked the second (and possibly annual) School of Sound in London. Promoted as a "unique symposium exploring the art of sound with the moving image", the School of Sound was a 4-day series of lectures and discussions, intended for both practitioners and students interested in working with sound. It was not a hands-on event with workshops and lengthy discussions of new software developments, but rather an opportunity for lectures, discussion and theory, intended to inspire. At any given time, only one lecture would be in session, and the 250 or so conference-goers would gather in the Ciné Lumi%#232re for the day, with our headsets in tow to hear simultaneous translations whenever necessary. The conference was primarily oriented towards people who work in film, reflected by the composition of the participants: largely film composers, sound editors and sound designers. Despite this, the conference still held appeal for those of us in other fields, and as the symposium continued you were likely to meet an assortment of artists, multimedia producers, academics, musicians, radio producers and others with related interests. The symposium began with a presentation of work where sounds can only conjure images - with radio producer, Piers Plowright. He excerpted several radio pieces including one that explored the Sufi tale of four blind people who discern what an elephant is purely by touch, and another somewhat humorous piece that centered around a visit to an undertaker. His discussion highlighted the experimental editing and layering explored in radio productions, and emphasized the narrative capabilities of a purely sound-based form. The first day also included a presentation by the Austrian experimental filmmaker, Peter Kubelka, of his works from the late 50s : Adebar (1957), Schwechater (1958) and Arnulf Rainer (1957). Kubelka discussed his retrospective analysis of these films, having not known explicitly at the time of making what the concepts were that he was grappling with, or of the similarities between these films. He remarked on the time and rhythm of images, contrasted by sound that is not exactly in sync - films where sound and image grind against one another. Other highlights included an improvised and entertaining discussion of the role of the body and live sound in theatre by Simon McBurney, co-founder and artistic director of the Theatre de Complicite in London; Theorist and electro-acoustic composer Michel Chion's analysis of changes in sound, music and image from the advent of the "talkies" to Star Wars and Bladerunner; and an overview of the work and techniques of Jocelyn Pook, musician and composer for film, theatre and television, whose work includes collaborations with DV8 Physical Theatre and O Vertigo, Derek Jarman and more recently with Stanley Kubrick. Concerns around multimedia development and sound were addressed on the final day, by representatives from Electronic Arts / Bullfrog Productions, as well as John Broomhall from Hasbro Interactive, all of whom develop soundtracks for video games. They presented a historical overview of sound for games, and considerations of the creative potential of sound design for this interactive, non-linear form. More experimental multimedia projects were shown by UK-based AudioRom, a cluster of artists-musicians-programmers and DJs, who demonstrated several of their projects, including a computer-network music installation called Sound Track, presented at ISEA '98. The four full-days of lectures were capped with film screenings in the evenings, which most conference-goers welcomed; having only seen film excerpts during the days, we were anxious to watch a film in its entirety. There was a rare screening of Siddeshwari, by film director and cultural theorist Mani Kaul, as well as Andrei Tarkovsky's Mirrors. Both films were accompanied by a lecture - the day prior to the screening of Siddeshwari, Kaul riveted the audience with music and a discussion of his work inspired by classical Indian music. To compliment the screening of Mirrors, on the last day there was a videotaped interview with Owe Svensson, known for his sound work with Tarkovsky, Ingmar Bergman, and Jan Troell, where Svensson examined the soundtrack to Tarkovsky's last film, The Sacrifice. The symposium sometimes provided us with a support-group feel , "we work in sound - and that's ok!", replete with concerns such as the oft heard remark "and directors never put enough time / money / thought / care into the sound track !" It is true though, it can get quite lonely and uncertain spending all of one's time alone in sound studios , so perhaps it is for the best that we can all gather together for four days of discussion, networking and support. Related web sites: The School of Sound http://www.audioarts.com/schoolofsound/ Film Sound Design & Film Sound Theory http://filmsound.studienet.org/ Collection of articles on sound design in Hollywood & mainstream films http://www.egroups.com/group/sound-article-list/ AudioRom - sound and multimedia http://www.audiorom.com/ Amanda Aronczyk is a Montreal-based sound artist. ************************** 5TH ANNUAL FESTIVAL OF COMPUTER ART 5 mednarodni Festival racunalniskih umetnosti Maribor, Slovenia May 9-14, 1999 http://home.amis.net/mkc/5mfru/ Review by Kathy Rae Huffman MKC presented the 5th International Festival of Computer Art in Maribor, Slovenia, May 9 - 14, 1999. Located 16 kilometers from Graz, Austria, it is a city of approximately 160,000 inhabitants who live comfortably and far from the terrorism of NATO bombings or the political pressure to shelter Kosovo refugees. Although it was a peaceful location, hints of artistic reflection on the political situation in the South was apparent during the week, mostly in the works of young Croatian animation artists, and in the discussions with Gordana Novakoviæ from Belgrade, but currently living in exile in London. A wide spectrum of events was presented in various locations, and many media: electronic music, multi-media performance, animated computer graphics, video, installation, VRML, a symposium, an Internet radio drama and technoculture. Festival central was in the historic Cultural Center of Maribor, in galleries that were used during the 17th Century. The Maribor festival also scheduled events in nearby Ljubljana, the capitol city of Slovenia, and in Rijeka, on the coast of Croatia near the border to Slovenia. Between May 10 -14, a mobile exhibition was on view on the city bus of Ljubljana, in a project called Morfej: Neuropolitan Express - Mobilna galerija. This event started out with a DJ on board, performing a multimedia installation "I for an Eye". From May 12 - 21, an exhibition of Marko Rodosek was on view at the Galerija OK in Rijeka, with examples of the Maribor Festival posters of the past years and other techno computer graphics from this "self taught" young artist. The radio opera "Oppera Teorettikka Internettikka" by Igor Stromajer (in+ima.org) was broadcast via Real Audio on the opening night of the festival, and it was simulcast on local Radio MARS (the active student radio station for Maribor University). <http://www2.arnes.si/guest/mbrmars> Festival curators Marina Grzinic, Stelarc, and Igor Stromajer selected an international group of artists, and the topics of discussion. 70 artists were invited and attended. Many other artists were active remotely. Grzinic, who organized a Cyberfeminist seminar for the festival, also edited the book: "The Spectralization of Technology: From Elsewhere to Cyberfeminism and Back (Institutional Modes of the Cyberworld)" published by the festival. Texts by Cornelia Sollfrank, Helen von Oldenburg, Claudia Reiche (The Old Boys Network) <http://www.obn.org>, Eva Ursprung (artist and curator at the Forum Stadtpark, Graz), Kathy Rae Huffman and Margarete Jahrmann (pop~TARTS) <http://www.heise.de/tp/> presented the current and related projects of the authors, establishing the evolution of Cyberfeminism from an historical and theoretical review, to an overview of issues involving the body, to the future of 3D internet performance and representation of 3D space online. The book is available through MKC. Popular highlights of the festival included Stelarc's presentation of his latest project "Exoskeleton" <http://www.stalarc.va.com.au/>, which was produced in Hamburg in 1998. The work itself was to be demonstrated at the Terminal Bar, Prague, May 19 & 20, as an online performance. Dr. Rachel Armstrong, a physician who works closely with body artists such as Orlan and Stelarc, gave a remarkable presentation on the development of prosthetics, especially the work being accomplished in Leper colonies in India (primarily by the affected residents of the colony). Gordana Andelic Galic, from Sarajevo, presented her imposing iron sculpture "Kunst Macht Frei" a freestanding gateway, in the Culture Center's interior courtyard square, immediately adjacent to workers who were remodeling the building. Paraphrasing the Nazi slogan of the WWII concentration camps, Arbeit mach frei, this work called to question the current ethical and political problems that continue to plague the former Yugoslavia. Lisa Brandt, an Australian performance artist, presented the multi-media performing environment Techno Hell at the SKUC student center where she involved the audience in a series of interactions with news events and multiple television images of real war and movie war. Rainer Linz, a sound artist who has collaborated with Stelarc, presented a electronic micro-concert, using a miniature keyboard in an event that created a large impact. Linz's CD's were made available, including the recent release of Fractal Flesh, the sound elements of Stelarc's internet performance works. The 6th Festival of Computer Arts plans to convene in May, in the year 2000, with a collaborative program that includes local, national and international organizations and guests. To receive announcements, information and to order festival catalogues or books, contact Joze Slacek, director, at "MEDIA NOX" <firstname.lastname@example.org>. Kathy Rae Huffman is Associate Professor of Electronic Art at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (USA), and an ISEA Board member. ******************************* JOBS AND CALLS FOR PROJECTS WILL BE SENT AS SEPARATE EMAIL ******************************* ISEA NEWSLETTER =================================================================== Editor: Katarina Soukup / Translation: Natalie Melancon Collaborators: Eva Quintas, Atau Tanaka, Sylvie Fortin, James Wallbank, Michael Boyce, VinylVideo- A Collective Memory, Amanda Aronczyk, Kathy Rae Huffman. ______________________________________________________ ISEA, 3530 boul. 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