Re: [-empyre-] belatedly introducing Danny Butt (and wrapping up)

Thanks Melinda - I wasn't a particularly good guest but it's nice to be here
in what is usually one of the most convivial lists on the net!

Before I sent the generic bio I should have thought to mention a few things
that are a bit more relevant to new media arts. I moved to NZ (Dunedin to be
precise) from Australia in 1993, and did music and publishing work with some
great people who have been here (Caro, Susan), and some who should be
(Honor). Through that community got involved in the visual arts and new
media. In 1994 Michael Morley and I established GDV, a contemporary art
venue (in MM's warehouse) and publishing group and also AFAIK the first
venture in NZ to treat the web as a space for art projects (rather than the
documentation of art projects), with some good ones by Giovanni Intra, John
Nixon, and Julian Dashper among others. In 95-97 I was running a project
called Codec (badly archived at -
some of the Java seems to no longer work on Keri's great project.), which
organised 4 artist-run spaces around the country to commission artists and
coders to collaborate on the production of new web works, and produced a
publication of commentary which is available on the site. Also 97-ish I
collaborated with Mediatrix and Seductor Productions on "Missing", a CD-ROM
work that was included in the show Electronic Bodyscapes at Artspace and
also showed at the Physics Room:
Around 97 I moved to Auckland and like many in the field gave up the
sacrificial labour of new media arts for a while to pursue a
not-exactly-lucrative career as a dotcommer, beginning with a successful
e-commerce site for an Auckland pharmacist remarketing hair replacement
products of dubious legality to Japan. Last year I was involved in my first
new media arts production for a long time, as part of the Intranation
residency at Banff <>, collaborating on a DVD
prototype with Hemi Macgregor <> and Natalie
Robertson <> which investigated the dynamics
of settler culture [we're currently working up proposals for other locations
if anyone's interested, it's got great potential :7]. I was also observing
at the Open Networks meeting in Delhi a couple of weeks back that followed
up the Helsinki expert group meeting at m-cult. So it's funny, the last year
or two I've been involved in a lot of reconnecting into new media arts, and
it's been fun, there are just so many excellent people here.

Melinda asked for some closing remarks, I think from the off-list
conversations this has been a strange experience for many in Aotearoa, a
collective improvisation on geographical identity that for me highlights the
variously strained vocabularies available for negotiating these
relationships to New Zealandness. At a deeper level I guess I don't know
what we're doing here as performing monkeys. I look at the conversation and
I don't like myself in it at all and hold myself responsible for some of the
worst bits, and I get the feeling no-one was at their best. On the other
hand, it's nice to see everyone and be in touch with people I haven't
connected with in a long time. And to feel that someone like Sally Jane
Norman on the other side of the world is also working through feelings of
longing and identification/non-identification that also preoccupy me and
that I think make this a rewarding place to live.

Aotearoa New Zealand is a small place, and nothing here is significant in
scale in the international scheme of things. There are certain types of
interactions that I think are distinctive and valuable but difficult to
expand upon in this kind of textspace. Over the course of the month I've
maybe been able to trace outlines of the difficulties in doing that more
clearly. As a friend recently pointed out, the friendliness of Aotearoa is
also bound up with a particular settler do-it-yourself culture that is
suspicious of specialisation and feels free to speculate in a very general
way on just about anything, unintimidated by the passions or expertise of
others. [See for a great art magazine
that I think embodies the kiwi spirit admirably]. While this is also me to
an extent, it also drives me nuts. There is a level of informality that can
easily be read as complacency. Which reminds me of how artists generally
tend to give themselves absolute license to pursue particular thematics in
an amateur way, with minimal formal regard for the work of others. After
five years of research training I've just about had that spirit knocked out
of me. I can't tell yet if it's a good thing or not. I think part of the
reason I stay close to the arts is because I suspect it isn't. And maybe
that's part of the reason I've stayed in NZ too, on top of the more obvious
things like relationships to people and place that can't be maintained from

Anyway, ka kite ano, look forward to seeing you out there, or here in real


--  <<-- NEW!

#place: location, cultural politics, and social technologies:

[ Lilith] laughed bitterly. "I suppose I could think of this as fieldwork -
but how the hell do I get out of the field ?" (Octavia E. Butler, _Dawn_)

On 1/27/05 8:29 PM, "Melinda Rackham" <> wrote:

> Danny Butt is an independent consultant and
> researcher in the new media, arts and education fields. Previously, he was
> founding Director of the Creative Industries Research Centre at the Waikato
> Institute of Technology, Hamilton, where he lectured in digital media and
> established the Digital Media Design programme. His publications cover the
> information society, new media arts, and cross-cultural research; and he
> convenes the #place mailing list on location, cultural politics and social
> technologies.
> Before working in the academy, he held a range of positions in the music,
> publishing, new media, contemporary arts, and advertising industries,
> including consulting and strategy work for leading Australasian media
> companies such as The Radio Network, Saatchi and Saatchi New Zealand, and
> the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. He is the only New Zealand member
> of ORBICOM - the UNESCO Chairs in Communications; and is New Zealand
> representative on the Panel of Authors for the UNDP¹s Digital Review of Asia
> Pacific.
> For a number of years he was on the facilitation board for Fibreculture, the
> Australian network for internet research and theory. His research interests
> centre on thesocial impact of new media technologies, colonisation and
> settler culture, and the development of the creative industries sector in
> the Asia-Pacific region.
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum

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