[-empyre-] answers and comments

marc garrett marc.garrett at furtherfield.org
Tue Aug 26 02:33:48 EST 2008

Hi Anna,

Thank you for your response,

 >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

I think that this is the key.

 >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 think what was interesting about Node.London, which was an amazing 
learning curve but also a painful experience at the same time, was that 
it was far too large. Even though there was much networked, connections 
and distribution happening through the month with over 150 projects, and 
40 nodes across London - in reality there was a centralized attitude and 
organisational hub of people, amounting to about 30 organisers at the 
most. Everyone else got involved but more as node and regional spaces, 
consisting as partners. These partners were institutions such as the 
Tate, The Science Museum, the ICA, Birkbeck University, which offered 
their venues for conferences, on-line discussion and as meeting points. 
The smaller organisations such as us at the gallery space (which is 
really a garage), The Limehouse, Eventspace, MediaSpace, Area10 and 
loads more...

The main problem was that this was quite a new territory for us all. For 
such a thing to work better, I feel that it would have to be 
infrastructurally diverse, with nodes connecting with each other all 
year round. Continuously sharing resources and sharing information and 
ideas in how to maintain a less centralized hub. I think that it would 
have to be a more naturally informed process that allows things to 
develop at different stages at different times, locally. This would 
include ecological and alternative use of technology as a mutual drive, 
skills shared and paid for accordingly. Ideas more open and meetings 
every now and then that deal with local needs rather than overall aims.

 >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 money!

I am feeling quite positive about the possibilities in how connections 
can be made to be more functional, practical and accessible between fine 
art and media art practice. The ecological issues and climate change are 
at the forefront of many people's minds, and reaches everyone whether 
they are artists or academics. More are aware of the problems now, 
because of individuals such as Al Gore with an 'An Inconvenient Truth', 
and other news companies accepting that it needs to be considered as 
real. The Internet of course has been one of the main factors in getting 
this message out there, with many independent groups and blogs 
discussing the problems themselves.

 >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.

Regarding hegemonic, there is a good example on wikipedia that I warm to...

"The processes by which a dominant culture maintains its dominant 
position: for example, the use of institutions to formalize power; the 
employment of a bureaucracy to make power seem abstract (and, therefore, 
not attached to any one individual); the inculcation of the populace in 
the ideals of the hegemonic group through education, advertising, 
publication, etc..."

I feel that certain institutions silently position themselves with 
hegemonic stances by investing complicitly in behaving as such, but not 
openly. With a conservative, even modernist and some with an extreme 
capitalist agenda. They may even think that they are being critical or 
liberal in their thinking and approaches but they sustain their power by 
using the same protocols and infrastructures so to remain dominant via a 
hegemonic process. And this is why how they survive.

As ever things are not as black and white. Which can mean that things 
are not as simple, and there are various enlightened individuals from 
within some the more powerful institutions, who are making radical 
changes, I would say both. Of course, some of these changes are small 
steps regarding changing the mannerist tendencies of a powerful animal 
that likes to be in control and consume everything it can have whenever 
it wants - cherry picking items from within certain cultures that it 
deems fit or relevant for others to observe and consider is a process 
that hopefully can be re-evaluated.

Again, I feel that it can be confusing, one can confuse a traditional 
institution with an organisation whom is involved in exploring new 
pastures yet is perhaps as culturally influential as an institution. 
They are different creatures, if a group happens to be is well connected 
through building grass root networks that are more socially and 
contextually connected with communities through hard slog, then you have 
built yourself a neighbourhood of shared interests, which are effective 
on many different levels, but not necessarily as an economical franchise 
or model as its main purpose, behaviour or function for existence.

 >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.

It depresses me when visiting a large festival and the work is presented 
like some corporate showroom. Which of course sometimes it is. Too much 
hype around the technology itself distracts from the context and 
concepts of the work itself. Although there are artists who are happy to 
play this game. And they seem to believe that the critical element is in 
the tech-side mainly, as if they are showing the latest upgrade of a BMW.

 >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 money!

We have been really interested in gaming because I personally view some 
break through in this practice with artists such as Entropy8Zuper. Who 
have moved away from making net art and are making games now. They seem 
to be asking questions around violence by creating real-time on-line 
games where users' avatars are as deers. You may know if this already - 

We've curated a few game exhibitions, our latest which was last year and 
it was called Zero Gamer - http://www.http.uk.net/zerogamer/

Zero Gamer dealt with the self-playing game, which is hinted at in the 
name of this exhibition. This springs from a technical term that 
describe self-playing games, simulations or demos; the zero player game. 
Once an initial seed state, premise or scenario has been selected, a 
zero player game runs itself with no user interaction. Anyway, it was 
interesting, not just because of the show and work, but also because 
since then we have a whole new audience who come to see the rest of the 
shows in our space now, which are always media art exhibitions and 
events or similar, such as the ecological projects that we are about to 

 >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 ;-)

No, I appreciate your tone here, I think that furtherfield's aims are to 
at least have a go at changing things in some way that offers models of 
value alongside new adventures, that expand beyond being reliant on history

ourselves are trying to expand on not being reliant on the history 
itself to justify our present existence, but to incorporate the skills 
that we have learned so to introduce something which is more expansive, 
that allows more possibly of meaning, culturally with a sustainable 
legacy, possessing the same in spirit of what we originally got involved 
in all this stuff in the first place for...

wishing you well.


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