[-empyre-] cyber time and space possiblities
>From Valerie LeBlanc after re-reviewing the entries of the
I am well used to communicating through e-mail on a daily
basis and one of the most noticeable characteristics of the
digest seems to be the non-instant quality. Sending
commentaries based upon what has passed through, and the
response time of having those comments bounce back, while
others send comments based upon what has passed prior adds
a new perspective for me.
Rather than trying to retrieve the current thread, I would
like to break in by saying something about the Atlantic
Cultural Space Conference. Because my previous send
responded to Gair (the MOD invasion), Mark?s (Relational
Aesthetics - what I might loosely interpret as
clarification on the ethics of curating and the necessity
of flux ? please correct me if I am way off the thread here
Mark), and Lea?s introductory references to Bourriaud et
all, and Christine?s internet usage percentages, and the
curating question as a whole, I would now like to interject
some comments about the Moncton Conference.
When Lea first contacted us (Daniel Dugas and myself), I
asked a lot of questions to feel out her points of view and
her intentions. She offered a lot of space in terms of
interpretation of presentation. I found her methods open
to contemporary flux and felt a freedom to propose the
wireless webcam voyage. As interdisciplinary artists,
Daniel and I work in a variety of media. Generally, we
start with the idea and then decide upon the method of
presentation. As luck would have it, the techniques
required often vary and usually require a lot of research
and development into new areas. The suitcase gets bigger
as it goes, and we usually have the necessary tools of
investigation but are often forced by desire to sift
through new technology to carry the ideas through.
The projects that we take on in the realm of the out of
doors (and often far from the gallery setting ? except for
some printed sponsorship material serving as reference
point) start with the tension of all of the pre-planning,
and proceed into the fun of (mildly) disrupting pedestrian
traffic. Something that we enjoy by inviting the public to
interact in projects, is the gift of giving people a chance
to enter into conversations that would not arrive in the
?normal? everyday environment. Whenever we stand out there
with high-end equipment, sometimes with the trunk of the
car open, we are conscious of our own vulnerability, and
of the trust required of the public to share in the
All of that aside, the rewards of interaction are very
satisfying. We are willing to take the risks, but feeling
support of the Curator gives a context, almost a legitimacy
to the exercise. We always felt that Lea?s support was
there, and were encouraged in the process of testing the
willingness of the public to participate in going online,
and giving permission to archive their comments on the
In the creation of artworks, the time varies greatly.
Sometimes labouring long hours over work is required, and
sometimes (it seems more rarely), it is possible to present
a simple but good idea very quickly. It does appear that
the cyber time and space are currently open to us, and that
the costs of presenting remain affordable. It seems to be
a time for some projects that rely less on the construct of
marketing philosophy, and more on the strength of
experiment. And yet, the promotional machine maintains a
fixed focus on brand names.
By diversion from what I call ?the aesthetics of
oppression?*, I am happy to have been introduced to the
Clemente Padin sites. I do not speak Spanish and lose the
intonation of the word poetry but gain a lot from the
visual presentations. The music site give me a feel for
countries that I know only from the media of my
environment; television, movies, newspaper headlines, and ?
from meeting political and economic refugees to this cold
land, Canada, and to the U.S. since the early seventies.
In particular, the music reminds me of Christmas night in
1995 when Daniel and I were invited to look after a house
that had a 100+ channel satellite dish. Often owning a tv
but no cable service, we were used to the usual 2 or 3
channels and appalled at the prospect of all of those
additional channels. We soon discovered the limited fare
presented there. The majority of stations were playing
re-run Hollywood Christmas movies. In scanning through it
all, we found 2 very inclusive broadcasts.
One was from a small community in the Canadian Arctic.
There were about one hundred people: men, women and
children assembled in a Quonset hut community centre for
the evening. A band was entertaining, people were being
invited to take part on the small stage if they wished.
One older man appeared wearing sunglasses and a wig by way
of assuming artistic licence. He was very nervous to begin
and his delivery was rough. As he gained confidence and
got used to being ?the front man?, he relaxed and sang his
stories well. No one was very dressed up, many were
wearing jackets with hoods to keep warm, but all seemed to
be enjoying to participate in the show and the party. It
was mediated and awkward, but more importantly, it was
live, Real, and warming.
The second show was from Puerto Rico. It looked like the
whole town was gathered in the central square to celebrate
the nativity. The competition for control of the microphone
was more tight than in the north. The stage was full, the
standing audience was singing along, and dancing, and
everyone was smiling. After a few minutes, the attention
of the camera focused in on one middle aged woman. She was
noticeably much smaller than those surrounding her. By
western tv standards, she would never have been given a
major role. The woman, standing among her friends and
neighbours, had a strong and sweet voice that exuded joy,
she had the voice of an angel and everyone appreciated that
she was sharing it.
Both tv shows remain in my mind for being more than the top
entertainment of Christmas night, both made me feel a rare
happiness; to be in the position of receiver. As a creator
by vocation, enjoying to be in the position of receiving
through television media is rare; twice in one evening was
Aside from opening up a well of anecdotes, Clemente Padin?s
site entry: the 8.
Process/Poem: Mathematical Language
to offer alternate wording to my own take on creation. I
look forward to further exploring the works cited by Lea.
- Valerie LeBlanc
P.S. I am not able to download the DAT format spam files
form Mr. Padin.
* Following is a brief essay (without footnotes) on recent
encounters with big artists who shall remain nameless for
the moment. (optional reading)
BIG ARTISTS DEFINING AN UNCOMPROMISING WORLD (the
I have, in a relatively short period of time ? a little
over a year, had the opportunity of attending presentations
of 2 ?WORLD CLASS ARTISTS.? These have both been artists
whose exhibitions embody large scale, pared down ideas (the
synthesis of volumes of thought reduced to phrases or
slogans through modern technological aesthetics), indeed ?
skimmed down versions of what many artists and thinkers
would like to rise to say more clearly, and yet, in both
cases, these ones held high above our heads (I almost wrote
herds in typographical error), show a distinct lack of
wanting to engage in a ?give and take? with the communities
inviting them. I have experienced a lack of what we might
call ?the will to not be intervened upon? extended to the
point of not permitting the ?on-site audience? gathered to
be presented with documentation of the works, the chance to
?enter into the conversation.?
In both cases, there has been a distinct line drawn: ? I am
the one giving.? (of my genius) ? You must take it without
compromise, without smearing the aesthetic with
demonstration of your acceptance (of my didacticism) ? I am
uncompromising, inflexible, and untouchable. And I ask
myself (and my Students) ? Do you want to be at the top of
your field, or would you like to live among others. ? and
count yourself as human.
At various points in life, each person, artist or of other
occupation is faced with forks in the road. And so, as
artists, do we set ourselves apart from the world, to be
acknowledged, or do we sit among the peers of our time to
throw our work out, and to accept the level to which it is
In a sense the conceptual / minimalist artwork engaged
during the 1970?s is the parent of today?s art world, as is
all that has led us here from the political, social,
economic, technology, and its combined histories world.
The rise of ART in the seventies ran parallel, and as
result of the equal rise of advertising and media tools.
Aided through public exposure to mass media audiences,
cultural boundaries opened and disappeared. The rise of
the pop star spilled over to the artwork, creating
personalities not bound to live within previously
prescribed social norms. Class systems became somewhat
compromised through publicity. A kind of chance
opportunity opened up the odds of the fame lottery. In a
sense, ART STARS became ?demi-gods? and ruled the scene.
Around the same time, persons not interested in buying
into the new system dropped out and retreated to the soul
nourishment of a ?back to the land mentality?. That is to
say, as the bigger systems transformed themselves into a
tighter, more oppressive model, a segment of the population
who saw the future already written on the wall, dropped out
At the same time, a new higherarchy began to develop.
Today as networking gets more close-knit, we see a new a
class system in the art world. The holders of the
knowledge, enlightenment, and culture show us how to think
and how to feel.
Suddenly we are thrown back into that same old perpetuation
of class system under the guise of cultural enlightenment.
A few witnesses have been installed, they are the spokes
persons of enlightenment, they are the big artists, and
they are the big box store brands with the indisputable
pedigrees penned by Curators.
They are a bigger part of the problem, ?the aesthetics of
oppression? hired to show us the way. And if catharsis is
served up by the ?paying community;? the corporate world of
big institutions, it is as if those in power have ?done
their share? toward charitable donations for the year. By
paying for the entertainment, the quota has been met. And
when the newspaper coverage is thrown out, conditions
continue, as before, but maybe it is worse because everyone
is convinced that they took part in acknowledging
What else can we do? What about giving the oppressed a
voice and some power in the management. What about just
giving a forum along the way?
And yes, in spite of the low wage scale of Artists on the
whole, what about putting a small percentage of the money
directly into the problem? And if none of these questions
can be addressed, would it be better if the BIG ARTISTS
stay home to create?
- end of transmission ? Valerie LeBlanc ( October 16, 2002)
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