[-empyre-] answers and comments

Anna Munster A.Munster at unsw.edu.au
Mon Aug 25 16:56:15 EST 2008

Thanks Marc for a really thoughtful post. I know we seemed to have  
strayed a little from questions of media centres to networks and  
sustainability (as Johannes reminds us!), but I think there are  
important connections. The connection really lies in what kind of  
media hub we want to build and imagine for a coming age where  
'technology' as we perhaps used and abused it during the 1990s is not  
so sustainable. This may mean that those 'centres' previously devoted  
to large-scale dedicated type projects will fade and smaller and more  
distributed nodes will become where it's at...although I didn't go to  
Node, I certainly followed its activities at a distance and I guess  
this was an early attempt at exactly this kind of thing.

I also don't want to abandon the whole skill, knowledge and community  
building that occurred as a result of the 1990s and of Internet-  
mania ;-). I think one of the interesting things to emerge more  
recently is that people are really thinking about what 'new media' has  
posed for them - in terms of networks, new modes of aesthetic and  
social organisation etc - but also how they might take this into less  
'energy-hungry' modes of acting. I mean that in terms of both actual  
technologies but also the intensive demands on people's labour time  
that all this networking outside of institutional structures demands. 
(ie voluntary immaterial labour)

Which also brings me to this interesting issue of 'hegemonic'. Do we  
mean this in terms of media form - as Johannes was suggesting –  or in  
terms of institutional organisation or both? Indeed there's still the  
feeling that new media - apart from a few pockets - gets curated  
outside the hegemonic structures of the art world, especially its  
biennale and festival circuit. But then I still see terrible curating  
of new media by new media types who continue to foreground the  
technology as the sustaining thematic of new media. So here different  
hegemonic structures are at work - the hegemony of art world  
instituions and/or the hegemony of certain fads and forms such as  
gaming. Although in the end both hegemonies are connected to issues of  

I too wonder what Sarah has to say about this question of curating  
from the media lab environment - in what sense might this challenge  
either of these hegemonic structures? How can and do media labs really  
offer something new rather than fostering the same old privileging of  
the technical as foremost in the art from?

On 23/08/2008, at 9:32 PM, marc garrett wrote:

> Hi Anna & Gabriel,
> I agree, just building a framework to measure up to an idea, is not  
> going to go that far. It demands much more than top-down incentives  
> or just technical know how to form a successful community. There are  
> those out there who expound that they are dedicated to sustaining  
> communities through their practice but are not really that  
> interested, and are much better at setting up systems or promoting  
> their ideas through these frameworks. Which is fine, but because of  
> this things get rather confusing for all involved.
> I have spent a lot of my life connecting with people, whether it be  
> on-line or off-line. One has to be dedicated in a way that allows  
> space for human complexity, plus a willingness to engage with others  
> at a deeper level. This usually takes time and does not always bring  
> back reward or measurable outcomes that literally spell out success  
> to more official organisations, who need more instrumentally defined  
> references. Some think that a successful community is about numbers,  
> this is not true, a successful community can be small or large. The  
> important thing is whether that community is being engaged in a way  
> that reflects their (shared) interests, and whether this can be  
> factored in somehow without loosing too much of one's own  
> intention(s) at the same time.
> Our own on-line and off-line communities were built out of  
> necessity. If there is a need for something to happen, the general  
> rule is that it is easier to get others interested in being part of  
> sharing these ideas and interests to co-create an agreed framework  
> to evolve.
> >I wouldn't be surprised if we all became a lot
> >less globalised in years to come due to resource
> >and energy issues. I don't think the 'digital
> >network' is the answer to all this - it's actually
> >part of the problem,
> Of course, many of us on here have lived through the Internet hype  
> and dot.com crash to realise that money plays a large part in  
> whether communities survive or fall. Yet, from my own position I was  
> happy to let others follow the money, and myself continue being part  
> of communities whether they be online or offline, because they both  
> offer different elements that can create circumstances to change  
> one's own life, as well enrich creative endevours. What lies behind  
> all of this is not whether it is digital or not, but whether people  
> genuinely wish to expand their horizons and connect with others.  
> Once this is considered other factors fall into place, the next step  
> is what to do about it.
> Dealing with ecological issues and how that influences our use of  
> technology and how we can move beyond it, is such an essential  
> question. We have been getting involved in various local projects  
> that ask these questions. It is not easy, we have scaled down the  
> use of electrical energy in our own working environment and are  
> researching different sources of ecologically conscious groups who  
> are also engaged in this. But if we are to move further,  
> collaboration and breaking through hegemonic frameworks is part of  
> the answer. Many artists who were once net artists have taken the  
> decision to move away from making work that is specifically for the  
> Internet, and have adapted their practice to reflect in their work  
> an ecologically conscious remit, as individuals or groups.
> The reason that I say that we need to break through hegemonic based  
> frameworks, is because we need to somehow offer alternatives that  
> create similar circumstances as what the Internet has offered us all  
> in the past, and still does in various cases. If we just slide back  
> into letting official versions of art history inform others what is  
> deemed as 'good' or 'the best' again, then we are in double trouble.  
> The Internet has been an amazing tool for breaking down gate-keeping  
> situations. It would be a shame to lose the potential of such an  
> agency. Although, I can see many possibilities that can arise out of  
> not being reliant on digital culture as an exciting avenue for  
> expression, and it would be a healthy shift.
> marc
> >>
> > Gabriel:
> >> Well, that's one situation in which digital communication  
> networks can
> >> allow us to work differently, and go beyond of (the bigger)
> >> institutions. To see other people's work (be it pictures of it or  
> the
> >> works/ processes themselves, provided that they are networked), I  
> only
> >> have to connect. The amount of resources needed to connect is much
> >> fewer than the ones needed to travel abroad, for example.
> >
> > I agree with you in some respects, in others I don't. From my long  
> term involvement with networks, they never sustain themselves  
> through a digital mode alone.
> > Unless people meet f2f in some kind of ongoing way alongside the  
> online network, things just do not work. The best networks use mixes  
> of communication forms - online/offline - one is not a substitute  
> for the other, Rather, this involves a kind of ongoing thinking  
> about augmentation in all its many forms.
> >
> > Additionally, while I am all for the distribution of as much stuff  
> through wired and wireless networks as possible, you cannot bit  
> torrent an installation or a sensor driven performance that is  
> physically site-specific. Sure, I can look at a documentation of  
> that but it's not the work. I have to go see the work itself if I  
> want to understand it. Similarly, I have great email, skype whatever  
> conversations but meeting up with people is different.
> >
> > I also believe this may have to do with local issues...if you live  
> in Australia, you have to travel - no questions about it. We just  
> don't get the kind of works and festivals etc that go on in Latin  
> America and/or Europe. We also have very expensive broadband. Having  
> said that, travel is probably about to become impossible on a  
> regular basis due to oil prices. On the other hand, it takes a lot  
> of oil to sustain computing... I wouldn't be surprised if we all  
> became a lot less globalised in years to come due to resource and  
> energy issues. I don't think the 'digital network' is the answer to  
> all this - it's actually part of the problem,
> >
> > cheers
> > Anna
> >
> > Dr.Anna Munster
> > Senior Lecturer
> > School of Art History and Theory
> > College of Fine Arts
> > UNSW
> > P.O. Box 259
> > Paddington
> > NSW 2021
> > 612 9385 0741 (tel)
> > 612 9385 0615(fax)
> > a.munster at unsw.edu.au
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > _______________________________________________
> > empyre forum
> > empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> > http://www.subtle.net/empyre
> >
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> http://www.subtle.net/empyre

Dr.Anna Munster
Senior Lecturer
School of Art History and Theory
College of Fine Arts
P.O. Box 259
NSW 2021
612 9385 0741 (tel)
612 9385 0615(fax)
a.munster at unsw.edu.au

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