[-empyre-] ISEA - we're going to do what?

Ruth Aylett r.s.aylett at hw.ac.uk
Fri Jul 26 06:11:52 EST 2013

Trying to kick off this week's discussion then as suggested by Simon. And here is an attempt at provocation..

While there were lots of cool projects and people, I was also struck by a curious passivity at ISEA. 'Resistance is futile' was, if not surrender, then irony, both in my view poor substitutes for anger and engagement. Of course my view was a partial one, but I saw very little of either. Sure, Julian Assange was an invited speaker, but this seemed a case of radical credentials rather than radicalism. Have we all been bought? Are we all just part of the great commodification of everything that lives and breaths? 

Artists are losing their funding and coming under attack from politicians as frivolous users of limited resource; but fellow humans are losing their livelihoods, being demonised as scroungers or immigrants, depending on food banks to eat,  being found fit for work a few months before they die. Or in the Australian case, for having the wrong nationality and ethnicity, being allowed to drown at sea or being deported to New Guinea. And we focus on technology as if this was the only story in town?

Yes, there is Art and there is Politics, and they are not the same thing. But time was when there seemed to be much more effort among artists to build some bridges and communicate outside the small coterie of art-lovers and rich patrons. 

Of course I exaggerate for effect. But not all that much in my view..

Ruth Aylett                                   Professor of Computer Science
Mathematics and Computer Science, Heriot-Watt University
Edinburgh EH14 4AS, UK      Tel: 44-131-451-4189     Fax: 44-131-451-3327
http://www.macs.hw.ac.uk/~ruth/                      "Life is beautiful"

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