Re: [-empyre-] PRNMS

The most significant moment of the summit for me came at the end of the second day, following Raqs' presentation and associated discussion. A conflict emerged over the style of discourse occurring in the meeting; anxiety was expressed that while a certain kind of "poetic" language was valuable, it needed to be "recognisable" to others and to have more "political content". I think that some of those expressing this anxiety would probably look at the Pacific Parables in print and see that there was no shortage of political content, but perhaps it made visible the many types of "political" that we find in life.

The conversation made me feel very aware of the limited capacities we have to identify "the political", and also the limited scope of "the political" that is customary in English-speaking new media discourse. So, for example, the politics of who gets to attend new media events becomes less political than "war", or questions of language become less political than "the economy", and overall, people are more comfortable talking about something "political, out there" than the openness of their hearts and imaginations to other possibilities in front of them. So, for example, empyre this month (always one of the most enjoyable spaces for new media language diversity IMO) is filled with silences and unsayables, whereas the iDC list is alive with discussions about why there wasn't more work addressing the war. Personally, I can't imagine work a North American new media artist might create that would transform my view of the war - rather, it would probably function to guarantee my presence in a "radical context" where I know that the others with me oppose "war". Fine, but so what? I could have known that by looking at the registration list.

It feels more critical than ever to me to pull apart narrow shared understandings of the political and to narrate the politics of how we come to those understandings. These are, simply, our own stories, our ability to listen to the stories of others, to allow the stories of others to transform our own, and to understand the limits of our ability to tell, limits that are inextricable from the social/ economic/cultural locations we inhabit. (And yes, those limits include the presence of violence and death, but whose deaths, from when? The geopolitics of significance seems unbalanced). If we're telling stories where the politics are worked out "in advance", where the political effectiveness of our gestures is somehow guaranteed, I think we're in a space which is unable to grow its imagination, and such a space will ultimately be hostile to the creation of art.



On 21/08/2006, at 3:11 PM, Danny Butt wrote:

I'll try and post something more evaluative about the Pacific Rim New Media summit later, when I leave the centre and get back to my part of the rim next week.

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