[-empyre-] panelism and conferencism

somaya somaya at criticalsenses.com
Thu Sep 22 09:14:29 EST 2011

hi cynthia and all

i'm appreciating whatever moments of discussion about ISEA i'm able to peek
in on, on this list. unfortunately i can't be there in istanbul, altough
i've been to the city several years ago and fell in love with the place (and
that was completely without any event being on there at the time).

i think cynthia paints the picture well here, of the struggle of keeping
many arts-related events of this nature, and what usually goes on behind the
smoke and mirrors.
i know nothing of ISEA as a broader organisation, or the organisation of the
symposium this year in istanbul.

having co-directed a media arts festival in australia for 2 years, and
production managed another international music festival in australia last
year, i can truly say that pulling these events off has more to do with a
will to make the show happen, than actual realistic support of such an event
(and they rely on a great deal of inkind). in addition, often a small number
of individuals (those on the organising committee) pay the price afterwards
- whether that is with their health, their personal bank accounts or their
personal or social lives. or making unreasonable demands of friends,
associates and even brand-new acquaintances. melinda rackham herself helped
me out immensely when i was running a festival a couple of years ago, and
basically i could barely offer her anything in return. running these kinds
of events without real support/resources/infrastrcture means taking the hit
somewhere else. the in-kind support i recieved was extraordinary, and i
still owe thousands of beers in exchange to people who i'll probably never
be able to thank in full.

i'm neither defending nor patting the back of isea this year - i'm not
there, and am about as far away from that beautiful city (not by choice) so
can't really comment in depth. for whatever reasons, the organisations have
had to make decisions about who to partner with in order to pull off their
event. these are not necessarily easy ones. i've been around community
organisations since the mid-90s and there are always discussions about
ethical partners and where to draw the line. i'm sure marcus westbury could
speak about this in the context of running renew newcastle/ renew australia.

what i'd like to emphasise here are cynthia's comments about other modes of
presentation and discussion. while those that are supported by universities
to attend these events, will need to earn their brownie points with referred
and published conference papers, for those who don't have any support to
attend such events, are there other modes of interaction and participation
that a) don't cost a great deal to host and b) are affordable to potential
attendees without institutional backing?

how can these events be made affordable - to both the potential
audiences/participants that are struggling to pay their rent each week as
well as the organisation committee (who are probably struggling just as
much)? how can the focus of an event such as this be shifted to ideas and
solutions and ways of existing in a social system that doesn't work for so

if anything, i'd like isea 2013 in australia to be able to be as accessible
to those that have the support, right through to those who barely have a
cent to their name.

enough of me now. thanks for listening to my 2-cents-worth rant. i'll go
back to lurking...


On Thu, Sep 22, 2011 at 8:03 AM, Cynthia Beth Rubin <cbr at cbrubin.net> wrote:

> Hi Tracey, Melinda, and all:
> While I agree that is at the tipping point,  the issue may be more one of
> "panelism and conferism" than of organizaton.
>  ISEA is a facade, not a behemoth. There is no ISEA budget.  There is
> barely an ISEA organization.  There is a very part-time director who is paid
> in release time by her University.
> Each ISEA event is organized independently, and each ISEA event has to come
> up with its own funding, and then pay a small "tax" fo the organization,
> which covers minor office costs and publicity.  I am not on the Board now,
> and cannot say how much this is, but it is tiny.
> Fees go to cover the actual ISEA. If there is other funding, great.  If
> not, then people have to pay.  There is no overflow from year to year.
>  Unless people decide to work on fundraising, there simply are no funds.  In
> fact, it is more lightweight than ANAT is, I believe, "heavier" than ISEA,
> so I am confused by Simon's post on this.
> The discussion on panelism is more interesting.  Many people I spoke with
> submitted papers in the most traditional format - just as a way to come and
> participate.  Do we need people presenting papers?  What about brainstorming
> sessions?  Organized discussions?
> I loved each of the keynote presenters - but they are "expensive" - they
> expect expenses to be paid.  They are not necessarily a big draw - it is the
> chance to network and discussion that draw many of us here.  This year I
> participated in a great AR workshop led by Hana Iverson and Sarah Drury.  I
> met one attendee who reported that she only participated in workshops - that
> she never made it to Sabanci Center because the activities at the Sabanci U
> Communications were so great - workshops every day.
> What if we all came here not to show off what we do, but to learn?  To take
> workshops, collaborate on projects, and actually make work by the end of the
> week?
> And if we did that with more local artists?
> Cynthia
> On Sep 21, 2011, at 7:36 AM, Tracey M Benson wrote:
> > Well said Melinda,
> >
> > For me I have found some the most interesting discussions have come
> > via lists like -empyre- as at the conference there has not been much
> > of an opportunity as time has been so compressed
> >
> > I have had a great time at ISEA and think that some of the challenges
> > in getting to venues illustrates the complexity of Istanbul, you have
> > to go with it :-)
> >
> > What I feel I missed was a strong sense of the Turkish media arts
> > community - I would have loved to see more Turkish work and discussion
> > on local/regional issues. BTW - if anyone has the name of the artist
> > who presented on the boat please let me know (he did the lovely
> > projection work onto historic buildings).
> >
> > The organisers did a great job in pulling together a mammoth event
> > despite all the challenges, and were very responsive to people
> > concerns about the fees by lowering the pass price for non presenters
> > (there was quite a bit of posting on nettime about this some months
> > ago).
> >
> > I didn't get to catch up with half as many peeps as I wanted to and
> > only about a quarter of the presentations.
> >
> > The big question - will people be attending future ISEA events? For
> > sure! Well at least I will be :-)
> >
> > Cheers
> > Tracey
> >
> >
> >
> > On Tue, Sep 20, 2011 at 4:59 PM, Melinda Rackham <melinda at subtle.net>
> wrote:
> >> hey all,
> >>  ISEA is a behemoth-
> >> it has its geographic and cultural specific issues each year
> >> and there is discussion, and there is new set of issues the next year
> >>  and ISEA ferrys continue to sail on..
> >>
> >> however it appears to me ISEA is at a tipping point- it may collapse
> under its own weight with the  the most problematic and unsustainable issue
> is the  coprorate model of "panelism and conferencism" that lucas eloquently
> described.
> >>
> >> the issues are not cultural difference, submachine guns, water qaulity
> etc  etc etc , but how we route around entrenched outmoded corporate modes
> of being to find a useful way to really communicate ideas and engage with
> each other.
> >>
> >> best wishes
> >>
> >> Melinda
> >>
> >> Melinda Rackham
> >> melinda at subtle.net
> >>
> >> ~~
> >> Craftivism is a way of looking at life
> >> where voicing opinions through creativity
> >> makes your voice stronger,
> >> your compassion deeper, &
> >> your quest for justice more infinite.
> >> ~~ Betsy Greer.
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >> On 18/09/2011, at 1:47 PM, Lucas Bambozzi wrote:
> >>
> >>> Hi all,
> >>>
> >>> I am a lazy lurker and did not follow the whole discussion. But for me
> it seems that the model of panelism and conferencism adopted by ISEA and
> other related meetings does match the model of Sabanci Centre and commonly
> lacks the vibrant life outside there. Sao Paulo, a city where I live would
> not survive without the hundreds of corporate driven conferences filling up
> expensive hotels and feeding business tourism. I am not sure to which extend
> ISEA is able to create a model apart from this.
> >>>
> >>> Hope the drinks at Nuru Zya will last enough to refresh some
> discussions around this topic.
> >>>
> >>> BEst
> >>>
> >>> L.
> >>>
> >>>
> >>>
> >>>
> >>>
> >>>
> >>> Lucas Bambozzi
> >>> mobile: +5511 91892338
> >>> www.lucasbambozzi.net
> >>> www.artemov.net
> >>>
> >>>
> >>>
> >>> On 18 Sep 2011, at 05:24, Joseph Delappe wrote:
> >>>
> >>>> Hello all!
> >>>> Simon, I hope to see you in Istanbul!  I leave tomorrow.
> >>>>
> >>>> Fascinating exchange here regarding ISEA.  Istanbul has been
> fascinating.  ISEA a bit problematic for sure, from the security checkpoints
> to the blocked internet access onsite.  Unbelievable from my perspective -
> donated spaces or not absurd to hold such a gathering in what is essentially
> a censored corporate environment - perhaps there might have been a workshop
> the prior week to develop a hack to share with all attendees to break
> through the great Sabanci Center firewall?
> >>>>
> >>>> There have been some great presentations although the physical
> location of the panels and paper presentations feel a bit more like small
> classrooms than proper spaces for true exchange - these rooms in the 2nd
> basement of the Sabanci are not set up for true panel presentations - there
> is literally no space for all the panelists to sit facing the attendees - as
> such, in the panels I've attended, and even on the panel I chaired ("If you
> See Something Say Something"
> http://isea2011.sabanciuniv.edu/panel/say-something), the cramped space
> has tended to hinder the exchange and discussion.
> >>>>
> >>>> I am perhaps less surprised by the security at the buildings having
> read prior to my visit to Istanbul of bombings as recently at 2010.  Each
> entry to the Biennial has the same metal detectors as the Sabanci center
> although not the xray scanners for bags.
> >>>>
> >>>> I had a very interesting experience at the Istanbul Biennial that I
> would like to share.  We wandered through both of the exhibitions spaces -
> impressed by some of the works but immediately struck by the absence of any
> digital work and scant attention to even video art.  Most astounding though,
> was that we somehow missed the text statements at the two spaces until
> finally exiting the larger of the two buildings.  Honestly I was quite
> shocked upon reading that the theme of the biennial was to address "politics
> and art"?  Was I missing something?  Yes, there were some politically
> oriented work for certain - most impressively the display of found objects
> taken from blown up Palestinian homes, Marth Rosler's classic Vietnam Era
> montage work, Group Material and 1980's AIDS themed artifacts and a few
> others.  Mostly however, the show seemed to be full of work that was less
> than "political".  Am I missing something here?  If this exhibition
> represents the best of political art
>  fr
> >>  o
> >>> m
> >>>> Latin America and the Middle East we are in deep trouble!
> >>>>
> >>>> Istanbul has been truly amazing however - a bit challenging to find
> the venues for the exhibitions - the map in the brochure for ISEA is rather
> useless to be frank. There is something to be said about distributing events
> throughout a given city but one of such immense proportions as Istanbul
> presents to serious challenges to visitors.  Nagoya ISEA provided a
> different model of centralized spaces just adjacent to the conference
> spaces.  Certainly more convenient while also creating a sense of a critical
> mass of events and energy.  This ISEA feels a bit dispersed on many levels.
> >>>>
> >>>> Lastly, it was a very bad idea to schedule ISEA across two weeks?
>  There are so many academics from the US in particular who are now two,
> three weeks into our teaching schedules.  This weekend represents a
> departure of a huge portion of the attendees to ISEA and the arrival of a
> second group.  We cannot take two weeks off from our teaching duties to
> participate in such a conference!  Thus the organizers have essentially
> chosen to bifurcate ISEA.  Very frustrating as our $500+ conference fee
> seems a waste for being able to participate in roughly 1/2 of a conference.
> >>>>
> >>>> All the best and hope everyone coming in this weekend or remaining for
> the full term of the conference h,
> >>>> Joseph DeLappe
> >>>> Professor
> >>>> Digital Media Studio
> >>>> Department of Art/224
> >>>> University of Nevada, Reno
> >>>> Reno, Nevada 89557
> >>>> 775-784-6624
> >>>> delappe at unr.edu
> >>>> http://www.delappe.net
> >>>>
> >>>>
> >>>>
> >>>> _______________________________________________
> >>>> empyre forum
> >>>> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> >>>> http://www.subtle.net/empyre
> >>>
> >>> _______________________________________________
> >>> empyre forum
> >>> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> >>> http://www.subtle.net/empyre
> >>
> >> _______________________________________________
> >> empyre forum
> >> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> >> http://www.subtle.net/empyre
> >>
> >
> >
> >
> > --
> > Dr Tracey Meziane Benson (aka bytetime)
> > Adjunct Postdoctoral Fellow || The Australian National University ||
> > School of Music
> > Visiting Scholar || The Australian University || School of Cultural
> Inquiry
> > You can find bytetime on twitter, delicious, scribd, flickr, linkedin,
> > identica, slideshare and facebook.
> >
> > websites:
> > www.byte-time.net
> > www.xconnectmedia.com
> > www.fauxonomy.org
> > blogs:
> > geokult.wordpress.com/
> > dorkbotcbr.wordpress.com/
> > mediakult.wordpress.com/
> > wiki:
> > mediakult.wetpaint.com/
> > _______________________________________________
> > empyre forum
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> > http://www.subtle.net/empyre
> >
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Somaya Langley

Audiovisual & Media
Archiving | Creating | Writing

Digital Preservation Specialist, National Library of Australia

somaya at criticalsenses.com
+61 401 025 224 (Australia)

PO Box 5113 Kingston
Canberra ACT 2604 AUSTRALIA

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