[-empyre-] empyre intro.

Title: empyre intro.

The Atlantic Cultural Space: New Directions in Heritage and the Arts was organized by the New Brunswick Arts Board in conjunction with the arts councils of the other Atlantic Provinces. From May 21 to 24, 2002 artists, curators, architects, academics, officials and private sector representatives gathered in Moncton, N.B., for an interdisciplinary conference charting new directions for Atlantic cultural development.

In the context of this conference, I curated and coordinated the e-lounge, an event comprising web screenings and presentations, a panel discussion regarding the web and curatorial processes, and a round table about Canadian content on-line programs. Artists were invited to discuss their research in digital and new media, present their work or engage in interactive performances in situ or on line. Artists and theorists from the Atlantic perimeter (the Maritimes and from abroad) gathered to share their perspectives and their views on technology with respect to traditional art practices, the dynamics of proximity and distance, periphery and center, as posited from a geographical location in/on the Atlantic. The Atlantic Cultural Space Conference provided an apparatus for the translation of all texts and presentations delivered in English and French, the proceedings of which are to be published later this Fall.

Central to the e-lounge was the idea of a collective viewing of (and listening to) web-based art. As opposed to individuating the participants at stand- alone terminals we sought to create a more fully dialogical space. By dialogical we mean 'presencing' in real-time. The notion of geographical periphery often connotes isolation, being outside of. The positioning of (or the location of) a periphery, while displaced and fleeting within virtual maps, remains anchored in the physical process of individuation.

Although the ergonomics of the web apparatus appears to collapse space-time scales, in reality it engages with the user from where and when s\he remains. As a dialogical in situ event, the e-lounge at once redefined the physiological frame of reception and presentation of works-from the individual to the collective. It did so by means of two large screens, and the collective apprehension of visual and aural documentation. The space allowed the presenters to interact in real-time, on line and/ or in situ, with their own work and with the other presenters.

Dialogical space and relational esthetics: These terms help describe the oscillating paradigm that emerged from the e-lounge, located as it was in the midst of an interdisciplinary conference. They loosely trace lines or concentric circles from well-known concepts such as Bakhtin's 'dialogism' to contemporary notions such as Nicolas Bourriaud's 'relational aesthetics.' These offer a ground that may be further explored in the forthcoming exchanges:

As Bakhtin writes:
The idea lives not in one person's isolated individual consciousness-if it remains there only, it degenerates and dies. The idea begins to live, that is, to take shape, to develop, to find and renew its verbal _expression_, to give birth to new ideas, only when it enters into genuine dialogic relationships with other ideas, with the ideas of others. Human thought becomes genuine thought, that is, an idea, only under conditions of living contact with another and alien thought, a thought embodied in someone else's voice, that is, in someone else's consciousness expressed in discourse. At that point of contact between voice-consciousness the idea is born and lives.

Nicolas Bourriaud, in this translation from French, takes this idea as the site of negotiation:

So reality is what I talk about with a third party. It can only be defined as a product of negotiation. Escaping from reality is "mad". Somebody sees an orange rabbit on my shoulder, but I can't see it. So discussion weakens and shrinks. To find a negotiating space, I must pretend  to see the orange rabbit on my shoulder. Imagination seems like a prosthesis affixed to the real so as to produce more intercourse between interlocutors. (Bourriaud, p. 80, Relational Aesthetics, Les Presses du Réel, 2002.)

The e-lounge continues to be a dialogical space in retrospect of the event itself. The forthcoming discussions will include Gair, I-am-static (Ron and Randy),  Saoirse Higgins and Clemente Padin,  I suggest that what may appear to be monologic (i.e. one voice bound to each text) in their respective performance, prose, poetry and texts-on the screen-is (was) in effect dialogical. What I am getting at is that time-based poetry rendered through flash or other on-line animation is processed in the manner of the spoken word, retaining something of orality expressed in real time.
There is something here of Bakhtin's notion of personification, or the "ascription of agency to inanimate ideas and objects."

From the tradition of the oral originates the potentiality of the voice as plural or as of the acousmètre (Michel Chion). Valerie LeBlanc and Daniel Dugas, equipped with wireless technological gear, touched base with the e-lounge from undisclosed locations in cities. They engaged in unrehearsed dialogue with flaneurs and scheduled e-lounge presenters and artists.

So the goal of art is to reduce the mechanical share in us. Its aim is to destroy any a priori agreement about what is perceived (Bourriaud  p. 80)

This is where we start. . . .
Gair, I was mostly thinking of the writing on the prisons' walls.
Could you elaborate on this?


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