Re: [-empyre-] liminal filters

Greetings all.

I was going to spend part of today seriously responding to some serious
responses from earlier this week, but it seems time and circumstance (once
again) have conspired against me once more and I am (once again) under the
gun, running at full speed just trying to stay in one place, so I will be as
simple and direct as possible, for brevity's sake and my own constraints.

I think the term New Media is not a good one. However, we have hashed that
to bits, and I don't see it going away next week, especially as there
doesn't seem to be any other candidates waiting in the wings to accept the
flowers and crown and a walk down the glittering sidewalk of history.
Personally, I have been considering the idea of "New Media", nebulous as it
is, as part of an even more ethereal sense of "Interdisciplinary Art", where
"New Media" is a kind of a technological subset of that broader grouping, so
as to distinguish, for example, "someone (A) who generates images for the
internet that are generated by data input by a site visitor, that can be
printed and framed, etc." ( brewed up in JAVA, for example) from "someone
(B) who sings songs in constructed environments" (say, made of forest

Artist A sits in front of her computer getting RSI from typing her code, and
ends up with reading glasses by the time she's 30. Artist B - he spends a
lot of time shrieking in the woods, scaring the squirrels and ends up with
recurrent bouts of poison oak. They're both "Interdisciplinary Artists", but
A is the New Media Artist and B is more of an Installation / Performance
Artist. They are polar opposites - right now A is listening to Oval or
Venetian Snares or agf on iTunes, B is practising his Tuvan Throat Singing
technique and worrying his neighbours...

Thus, all grass is green because all ravens are black. But both are living

So, the question is: Most everybody lies somewhere in between or outside the
extremes of interdisciplinary work, and that's where it gets itchy and
messy. And interesting. And most valuable. It seems clear to me that as new
devices occur in time, art will find a use for them. Today, everybody's all
aflutter about the computer. A while back it was the electric guitar, but
the judge and the jury (12 members of the jury) of technology and cultural
fashion dictates (Branca notwithstanding) sent it off to Jailhouse Rock, and
now it's being virtualised by Gibson and intensified by GarageBand. Before
that it was the Camera. Etc.

I've owned a computer since 1986, and have worked with them since 1979. My
work requires computers. I was a Scientist / Engineer at Apple for 2.5 years
(worked on Final Cut Pro) All that said, frankly, so far, I'm not impressed
with computers. I'm more impressed with how people adjust and find ways
around their shortcomings to make interesting work than what the machines
themselves are "capable" of.

And it is statements like this that make me most itchy:

>The term isn't necessary for everyone: if the computer is just a tool,
>platform, or means of delivery to you ("or is it simply just another
>mechanism?") rather than a new way of thinking, presenting simulated
>worlds, and connecting and computing upon media in radically different
>ways, you may be more interested in the fruits of the new media field than
>in participating directly in the investigations, explorations, and
>discussions that are taking place.

Where we have here a 1:1 definition of (New media) and (art made with
computers). It is just this kind of blinkered thinking that I find mostly
objectionable, and this is where the statement:

>> There are some core power dynamics being played out here ... on this
>> list as well as elsewhere in this nascent field.

Has some really scary truth to it, because in the single > arrow statement
the writer specifically infers that those people who don't see New Media as
a computer driven "new way of thinking, presenting simulated worlds, and
connecting and computing upon media in radically different ways" would be
best advised to sit on the sidelines of New Media and not participate
"directly in the investigations, explorations, and discussions that are
taking place."

Now, if there has ever been a statement that arrogates power over a range of
activities in art and privileges one narrow set of activity (working with
computer machines) over another and says that these others have no place at
the table, well, I'm sorry, I just can't hang with that, and that makes the
insight in the double >> arrow quote all the more accurate and poignant.

If New Media is only computer media, then New Media's already done - stick a
fork in it. If New Media includes work done on a computer (and can be solely
that but isn't limited to that) as well as other ways of generating image,
sound, and event, then it has somewhere to go, because the brain is
analogue, not digital.

Art in the age of Petroleum. What a pain. Especially as it is being
swallowed whole by the entertainment industry... but that's an ugly argument
for another day.

I wish everyone the best here on this fine list, one of the few rays of
light in a world of darkness and many changing shadows. Here in SF, just a
few hundred feet west of Twin Peaks, nestled up in the eucalypts and pine,
near a prison filled with children, and a hospital filled with ancient
disabled vets, it is cold and grey. My knees predict rain in a day or so.


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