[-empyre-] can we avoid the corporate pyramid scheme model: independents

Julian Oliver julian at julianoliver.com
Thu Sep 22 01:13:10 EST 2011

With high entrance fees and neither flight or accommodation covered,
'independents' such as myself will always be discouraged from attending. I know
many people that would've liked to contribute and/or visit ISEA this year but
without a university or media-lab covering costs they simply cannot justify the
personal expense.

Independent makers and thinkers are not merely those /without/ institutional
affiliation; rather they're often practitioners that consciously operate
outside an institutional frame. Such people are great in number, authoring some
of the most rigorous electronic art and theory today, celebrated in books,
festivals and museums worldwide. They may have day-jobs or merely live on a
very small budget, relying entirely on artist fees, talks and the occassional

If ISEA's economic model cannot assist and/or make it easier for independent
contributors (let alone lower costs for attendees themselves), it is in no
place to claim canonical representation of the state of electronic art today.
Leave that to other festivals. Rather, ISEA would better be cast as an
instititional meet-and-greet or forum for pursuing professional agendas.

A little imagination wouldn't go astray here: with such stunning weather
wouldn't it have been great to have the festival under large canopies or tents
down on the water side? Perhaps it could've been smaller and more tightly
curated such that it could fit in a smaller venue.

Parallel talks and panels are always frustrating, especially given the complex
social relations and critical interests endemic to conferences and festivals.
It is sad for a conference schedule to propagate as stress within what is
otherwise a warm and stimulating gathering of minds. A festival that makes it
easy for people to meet, demonstrate and discuss is, in general, a cherished


Julian Oliver

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