[-empyre-] about turbulence

Timothy Conway Murray tcm1 at cornell.edu
Mon Oct 12 03:12:27 EST 2009

>Hi, Helen,

Thanks ever so much for agreeing to position "Turbulence" at the center of
this month's discussion, as well as for your fascinating (and passionate)
account of its history.  I think it's very important to insist not only on
the initial novelty of the project, but also on its longevity and
elasticity.  While the initial impetus of Turbulence was to give a
networked place to New American Radio's work on sound (which remains to be
pioneering and exemplary in the US), you also took the risk of expanding
its parameters to address the needs of the emergent new media arts
community, which was experimenting with interactive formats on the net. 
And, now, you've again stretched those limits by providing an interactive
and collaborative format for critical writing about these same procedures.

Interestingly, I can attest to the difficulties of these latter aims since
I worked collaboratively with Arthur and Marilouise Kroker to produce
CTHEORY MULTIMEDIA at Cornell (providing a skeletal library framework for
what later developed into the Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media Art, which
is now partnering with Turbulence on an archival initiative).  Many of our
-empyre- readers are participating artists in this project, which produced
four volumes of conceptually based net.art--Digital Dirt (produced solely
by Arthur and Marilouise Kroker in Montreal) and three volumes produced by
the three of us at Cornell, Tech Flesh: The Promise and Perils of the
Human Genome Project; Wired Ruins: Digital Terror and Ethnic Paranoia;
NetNoise, the volume most in keeping with Turbulence's history).   What we
never managed to accomplish in this collaboration was the development of a
sustained project of interwoven writing on our net.art pieces in CTHEORY
MULTIMEDIA that would be published in the pages of CTHEORY, and ideally,
inform and dialogue with later net.art pieces in CTHEORY MULTIMEDIA.

I think that we all should take the lead from Turbulence's willingness to
use to interactive resources of web to expand the dimensions of writing
into a multimedia sphere--indeed, this seems to have marked the ethos of
the Turbulence commissions throughout.  As a result, we're now engaged in
a fascinating discussion of the fractal depth of writing
itself--something, by the way, that I think hearkens up back to the
complex legacies of early modern printing and illustrated books.

Thanks so much for your contributions and for your engagement in this
important discussion on -empyre-.


 In answer to Greg and Anna's requests for information about the name
> "turbulence"
> It was New York City 1995.    A few of us -- myself and several
> friends who agreed to help me  -- were sitting around tossing out
> names for the two websites we were in the process of
> creating, the one for the New American Radio series (1986-1998) -- a
> weekly series of  half-hour artist-created works (we called it "radio
> art")   produced for the public radio system --    the other for a new
> series  of artistic works for  the "new frontier" - the Web.
> The one was a waning project:   Public Radio, committed to becoming a
> news network and bottom-line business, was no longer interested in
> giving artistic work airtime.  It's audience, although very faithful,
> was simply not large enough.
> The other was the beginning of something new -- something I  hoped
> might be an alternative to the top-down governance of the public radio
> system, where artistic voices might be heard.
> We  gave New American Radio a location in this new world at
> "somewhere.org" .   The other -- a first of its kind, it turns out --
> was to be turbulent -- trials, errors, experiments in
> a new medium free from the top-down governance of broadcast systems.
> Fortunately turbulence.org was an available name.
> A parenthetical note:  I was personally insulted, laughed at, suffered
> some really painful stuff at the hands of people in the public system,
> so there was a strong element of turbulence in me as I turned the
> organization -- its name is New Radio and Performing Arts, by the way
> --  away from it and toward a more hopeful future.
> The question: what does it mean now?  Turbulence is not a fist-shaking
> site, but  in relation to the art world, it is still a disturbance in
> the system of how art work is made, exhibited and collected.
> I hope this answers your questions.
> --Helen
> _______________________________________________
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> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
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