[-empyre-] Week 3:Welcome back Melinda Rackham.

Melinda Rackham melinda at subtle.net
Wed Feb 25 15:29:12 AEDT 2015

hi all at -empyre-

Thanks Renate for that intro and thanks so much to all who have posted so far this month for the provocative conversations and great links .. 
They have sparked many mental threads - which I may be able to weave some into an intro post - and if not, later.

What has struck me most of all is the conceptions and construction of what is a tool. In a world where tools are designed to be  quickly superseded by a new one, simplicity is often most effective tool. The only sustaining tool I can think of is a stick which which commincates by drawing in dirt, feeds by knocking fruit from a tree, and  protects  by being wielded against an aggressor.
I would say my most precious and useful tools are curiosity, open mindedness, and humility. 
They are not new but I have to renew them constantly as they get muddied !
Firstly to get a little historical.. -empyre- forum emerged as part of my PhD, when in January 2002 when I invited artists, poets, videographers, bloggers, roboticist, thinkers, tinkers, technicians, writers, curators and cultural workers from around the world who had some interest in the construction of virtual realities, to participate in open non competitive discussion of where their thinking or projects were at. It was never intended to be an academic forum, but a wide community platform where many voices and perspectives had equal weight.

Empyrean was a multi-user interactive "artistic" virtual community mostly hand coded in VRML2 -  sounds crazy -  designed to play in the non-proprietary environment of VNET,  a VRML and Java based 3D Virtual World client/server system, then freely available under the GNU Public Licence. Empyrean.alpha, the initial single user web site, premiered in September 2000 at la Biennale de Montreal at the Centre International d'Art Contemporain de Montreal (CIAC).

15 years ago virtual space was far more experimental than it is today.  Construction and evolution of virtual spaces was taking the same road as every other technology .. many many small players, interesting niches, community developments, different software solutions.. Then in mid 2003 Second Life - which was sort of the money laundering Facebook of VR, appeared on the scene and almost levelled that experimentation and difference. 

Promising "Enter a world with infinite possibilities and live a life without boundaries, guided only by your imagination"  It had what the discussion has already flagged- easy access, low level of tech knowledge to use, instant fun avatars. The result however  is that imaginations got narrower.. and the resultant space is just a recreation of reality. Ben wrote a few weeks ago “We make reality, and reality remakes us. Reality makes us, and we remake reality.” The soft spaced world now seems to be a replicant of the hard bodied world, but we were idealistic think otherwise.

More later on the cyclical nature of tools and technologies.


> On 25 Feb 2015, at 1:23 pm, Renate Terese Ferro <rferro at cornell.edu> wrote:
> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> I would like to introduce Melinda Rackham back to the -empyre list.
> Melinda as 
> many of you know was the innovator of our list-serve back in 2002.
> -empyre soft-skinned space
> was a research forum for her  PhD research at the College of Fine Arts,
> UNSW, 
> Australia. Structured as an experimental peer arena, the community has
> continued to grow exponentially to its present 2000 subscribers. Looking
> forward to not only hearing about Melinda¹s current research but also a
> bit about new tools
> and technologies that she incorporates into her cross-disciplinary
> practice.  
> The technology of the list-serve is an interesting one I think.  Melinda
> back in 2002 social media
> certainly was not as ubiquitous at it is now.  In fact many of us recall
> the old dial-up interfaces and
> slow speeds that were so characteristic of the internet at that time.
> Multi-authored blogs were certainly not
> very prevalent. Facebook was launched a couple years after -empyre in
> 2004.  Our moderating team
> has often discussed the efficacy of -empyre as a blog rather than a list
> serve but all agree in the end that
> the archival history of -empyre and its moderated and curated monthly
> themes are still preferred.
> I am thrilled you have decided to join us for a couple of days this month.
> A warm welcome.
> Renate
> Melinda Rackham has worked in the arts and new technologies arena for
> thirty years, with an international career as an internet-based artist and
> scholar investigating intimacy and identity in human and machine
> relations. In the past decade she has been actively
> engaged as a curator and writer across the broader spectrum of
> contemporary art, craft and design practices.  As her early network art
> finds a new generation of viewers, Melinda¹s focus has shifted to writing
> - personally in memoir, and professionally on the processes of artists and
> artworks.
> Find out more at : www.subtle.net <http://www.subtle.net/>
> Renate Ferro
> Visiting Assistant Professor of Art,Cornell University
> Department of Art, Tjaden Hall Office:  306
> Ithaca, NY  14853
> Email:   <rferro at cornell.edu <mailto:rtf9 at cornell.edu>>
> URL:  http://www.renateferro.net <http://www.renateferro.net/>
>      http://www.privatesecretspubliclies.net
> <http://www.privatesecretspubliclies.net/>
> Lab:  http://www.tinkerfactory.net <http://www.tinkerfactory.net/>
> Managing Co-moderator of -empyre- soft skinned space
> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu/
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu

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