Re: [-empyre-] unstable ground, Bushwacking, and pedagogy

It was very heartening last night as I watched Bush openly declare his war
to know that Empyre is just one small community on the web whose
participants can rely on the net for open and informative discussions of
this world event and, in the case of the Sydney Opera House, its artistic
reponse.  I am extremely thankful to all of you who posted your concerns
during the day of "No Business as Usual."  So many of us have had direct
and indirect exchanges over the years thanks to exciting and energizing
artworks and critical projects in new media.  To have us now pool our
sensibilities for commentaries on this crucial moment of contemporary
history is a testimony, as I see it, to the critical productivity of new
media and its community of artists, curators, and theorists.

The strange American custom of turning aside from dissent during a time of
war is gearing up with the CNN news readers openly condemning Senators
Daschle and Byrd (the lone voices of criticality in the US Senate these
days) for condemning the Bush admnistration for wrecking the channels of
diplomacy.  But in my area of Upstate New York, which has had a long
tradition of activism, from the underground railroad to the antiwar work of
the Berrigans in the 60s and the feminist antinuclear movement out of
Seneca Falls in the 70s and 80s, there has been a sudden resurgence of
civil disobedience.  Two activists have been arrested for splattering their
blood on the windows of a military recruiting center, and the advertisement
for the National Guard on the billboard across the road from my house (on a
country highway) has been defaced with the rejoinder "Kills Iraqis."  So
the tensions over free speech promise to grow more strained, particularly
in this rural area of New York, the kind of place from which so many young
soldiers are recruited fresh out of high school with enticing promises of
exotic travel and high tech education (the irony is that, in essence, so
many of these economically challenged, rural soldiers go into the military
business in search of the very same professional pleasures from which we
all benefit).

Amanda you weren't alone in finding comfort in Melinda's posting of the
Opera House picture gallery.  For me, the Opera House stands a symbol of
the cultural productivity of the Australian art world which, as evidenced
by Empyre, has been responsible for such much of what we know of the art
and theory of new media.
Perhaps it is extremely appropriate, then, that we will now be turning our
attention to the pedagogical project between Ithaca and Sydney that Norie
and I engaged in this fall.  Even when speech in the public sphere of the
media is in peril, the classroom and museum and cultural institution can
continue to set aside space and time for critical reflection on world
events.  In our case, the experimental innovations of new media artists and
theoreticians led us to contemplate broad areas of artistic intervention,
from digital terror and mnemonic trauma to military tracking and corporate

Norie will be posting a brief report on our efforts that we hope will
expand our consideration of the unstable ground of "curating."

Yours in peace.


Timothy Murray
Professor of Comparative Literature and English
Director of Graduate Studies in Film and Video
Curator, The Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media Art, Cornell Library
Co-Curator, CTHEORY Multimedia:
285 Goldwin Smith Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, New York  14853

office: 607-255-4012

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