[-empyre-] empyre intro.
Title: empyre intro.
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
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:
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.
in this translation from French, takes this idea as the site of
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.)
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.
This is where we start. . . .
Gair, I was mostly thinking of the writing on the prisons'
Could you elaborate
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