[-empyre-] the media lab environment

Anna Munster A.Munster at unsw.edu.au
Fri Aug 29 09:22:00 EST 2008

Hi Johannes and Marc and others - thanks very much for the great post  
about the work of your interaction media lab. I think what this really  
brings to the foreground are the questions of temporality and  
complexity and its relation to media/new media art and production. As  
you say, what you are doing is about interaction not interactivity as  
such (although this might be one interface).

The focus on technology per se ( interactivity, for example), feeds  
into a form of temporality which is immanent to contemporary techno- 
capitalism and its old historical roots in military research and the  
command-communications-control model- 'click-response' - which Paul  
Edwards has written so well about. Following that kind of trajectory -  
whether it is in terms of making an 'interactive artwork' or whether  
it is educating students/future artists/ workshop participants with a  
skill set for the 'industry' – always ends up locking one into a 'just- 
in-time' mode of producing, acting, consuming.

But as you have suggested 'interaction' is something entirely  
different...involving a complexity of elements -social, technical,  
local, regional, size etc. Dealing with this complex of elements, each  
with its own set of potentials and constraints, and then what the  
interactions of these bring to each other, is really time consuming!  
So I admire the fact that you have pursued such a project over a  
period of time and that each iteration you try to do something  
different and to take account of the differences and problems you  
encounter. It sounds really interesting and I hope that you eventually  
produce not only a manifesto but a kind of process documentation where  
we see these iterations emerge over time.

I think this kind of thinking and working is now moving through a  
number of different areas/labs etc that are not just confined to media  
art but often incorporate aspects of it. I am thinking here of the  
events that have been ongoing formations of the The Senselab (http://senselab.erinmanning.lunarpages.net/web-content/ 
), which is initiated by Brian Massumi, Erin Manning and others in  
Montreal. A kind of performance-media-thought space and event now  
going over a number of years that tries to do a kind of 'lab' thought  
experiment. Another place I believe this kind of process and thinking  
about the complexity of interaction takes place is at SIAL in  
Melbourne Australia (http://www.sial.rmit.edu.au/) where projects are  
iterated and allowed to emerge through difference and repetition.  
Actually I think this question of temporality feeds directly into the  
problem of sustainability...it might be that these kind of projects,  
labs, interactions end up being more sustainable (what do we mean by  
that? sustaining what? for me it's about sustaining the 'life' of  
thought, art, care, sociability) because they take the time to  

Johannes - could I ask you to give me a link for the Arnolfino project  
done in conjunction with Oz media centres? I wasn't aware of that.

The other thing you mention was a site that traces and links media  
labs/festivals etc . I am not aware of this outside people's blogs.  
But what a great idea! I may be working on a project next year that  
lends itself to doing something like that so I will let people know of  
its progress.


> 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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