[-empyre-] Layers of ISEA2011: Corporate/Financial

Nicholas Knouf nak44 at cornell.edu
Sun Sep 18 05:52:15 EST 2011

The issue is not one of exoticism.  In each of the binaries you mention
below, I would chose neither: I'd rather have public transportation than
cars, no x-ray machines and metal detectors (I could care less what they
are wearing), non-profit conferences (ISEA is a non-profit, if I
remember, and I have posted many times on this list regarding my
distaste for ACM conferences), and a non-militarized presentation
location.  Perhaps this is cultural insensitivity; on the other hand, I
consider it necessary for the construction of a more sustainable and
more just world, and I am unclear about how Mercedes and financial
conglomerates contribute to that.

Tim's description and comparison of things is quite apt; thanks for the
detailed observations.  After
returning from both the Modern and the Biennial I was struck by exactly
the things Tim mentioned: the simultaneous lack of security (in the
Biennial, at least) and the
digital.  This contrast is something we ought to ponder carefully.

I have immensely enjoyed my time in Istanbul, my concerns regarding ISEA
notwithstanding.  From finding an anarchist-run cafe, to discussions
with artists involved in the Gun project by Claudia Pederson and Arzu
Ozkal, to the pleasure of good conversation and excellent food, Istanbul
has been wonderful.  But this shouldn't prevent us from continuing our
discussion of the problematics of ISEA this year and its resonances (or not) with the Biennial and/or global capital.


On Sat, 17 Sep 2011, Cynthia Beth Rubin wrote:

>  HI Nick and all
> Thanks for posting and for opening up the discussion to include the layers
> of meaning of simply being here. Thinking of the experience itself as
> layered, I find your description of the experience of being in Turkey to be
> more problematic than the actual experience.
> We are in another culture.  Think about the semotics of the elements of this
> experience.
> We are in a culture in which the expectation is that office workers and
> staff members wear "business attire".  Many of the people guiding us around
> are students.  You might be more comfortable with the student volunteers at
> SIGGRAPH and other North American conferences, who dress in the right
> balance of grunge and hip, but you are not in that culture.  You might
> prefer security screeners who wear ordinary street clothes.  But that is not
> done here. We are in Turkey.
> We are also in a culture in which business contributions do not get filtered
> through a heavily bureaucratic government system of taxes and then metered
> out by a minister of culture, or one in which corporate sponsorship is
> filtered through foundations which are regulated for conflict of interest. 
> Sabanci Holding donated the use of their meeting center for ISEA, and since
> we are in Turkey, we may take note of the way in which funds for academic
> "non-profits"  reach their destination.
> We are in a culture in which driving a Mercedes is an important sense of
> pride, and where the semiotical meaning of driving the equivalent of a
> Toyota Prius might be very different from what it is elsewhere.
> I am not there yet in my learning about and understanding of Turkish
> culture.  I do find it interesting that so many people consider
> "contemporary" and "modern" to be a full adaptation of global mainstream
> culture. We come here looking for difference in the bazars, the historic
> mosques, the food.  But when we find difference in modes of dress, in what
> is considered the best way to fund academia, or in how successful business
> people choose to spend their money, we feel uncomfortable. 
> Do Turkish cultural differences have to stay on the exotic side?
> best wishes,
> Cynthia

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