[-empyre-] on feminism and the cyclical nature of tools and technologies

B. Bogart ben at ekran.org
Thu Feb 26 11:17:23 AEDT 2015

Thanks to Renata and Melida for the extra context around empyre's
history and the motivations behind it. Looking at the archives I've
kept, it appears I've been lurking on empyre since 2006, which would
have been the year I started my graduate studies. I see I first
participated in 2008 and off and on since then. In the spirit of
vulnerability I admit I've been quite intimidated by the list, largely
because of the academic language and references I have not read. I was
at ISEA 2011 but did not have the guts to come out to the empyre
get-together in person. I can't quite explain my recent and consistent
burst of activity on here, perhaps my own language has changed and I've
become that which had intimated me so. This certainly involves an
interesting question of access, not just in terms of tools and technical
requirements, but also in terms of knowledge and language.

I really appreciate the mailing-list format for a lot of the motivations
that have been mentioned, access and openness outside of a corporate
context being the most important to me personally. If this was a
facebook group I would not be involved. While I have been eroded to a
degree in terms of my participation on social media, but still find it a
problematic space for many different reasons and certainly can't say I'm
committed, let alone addicted or dependent.

I used to be on the Art and Robotics Group, a listserv hosted at
Interaccess in Toronto that focused on robotics, but also electronics,
video and other technically oriented art practises. It seems to have
started around 1998, and looks to have ended in 2008 or so. Looking at
the archives
it's quite an assortment of the whose who in electronic media art in Canada.

Randall Packer wrote:

"That said, the tools available today are far more favorable for
discussion revolving around new media art and theory, in which examples
of work can be more integrated and woven into the discourse."

I don't think hyperlinks are a significant barrier to the incorporation
of new media art on a mailing-list. I think they give more control to
the reader by giving them a choice to follow links or not. At least for
me, who keeps his machines for as long as possible, it's nice not to
have to deal with an unrequested barrage of images, video and animated
GIFs. As I have already said, I think we can attain some virtuosity in
older tools, and perhaps we can only understand their implications once
they are old or "obsolete".

There is also an interesting question of identity here. We talked about
gender identity in terms of disclosing one's gender online, but then
there is also the question of naming. Do we use our "real" names? Do we
have to? I wonder about this mailing-list as an outlet for a particular
aspect of identity (e.g. the art scholar persona) that may not exist in
other spaces, online or offline. On the question of anonymity, what
would a 4chan for media art discussions look like?

Randall, I do think the proposal for a RSS network of wordpress sites is
a interesting idea and I also think that if empyre did need to
transition away from a mailing-list, that such an approach would be a
promising direction. I suppose there is one potential issue with empyre
and that is its hosted somewhere centrally, its not distributed across
the world the way a network of sites could be. Interaccess no longer
seems to have any reference to the Art and Robotics Group on its
website; if it was not for archive.org, that history would be lost
(except in the the memories of the members). So what is the role and
importance of the empyre archives, what is the role of centralized
archives and management?

Aside: The machine I'm typing on right now is from about 2003, As the
years go by I forget to update its age in my mind. In fact, it's so old
that others are throwing away (hopefully recycling) computers that are
faster than this one. The greatest strength of using an old machine as
your primary computer is that the newer machines always feel new and
fast. It's like getting a new computer every time I turn one of the new
machines on. I think this keeps me humble. Of course this is feasible
because I use GNU/Linux and not stuck on the continuous upgrade train
Microsoft and Apple depend on.


On 15-02-25 01:41 PM, Renate Terese Ferro wrote:
> Our current moderating team has discussed the possibility of transitioning
> -empyre- over to a blog based site.  We have collectively decided thus far
> to keep it as a list serve for the many reasons you list but safety was
> not one of them. Many of our subscribers are avid readers but choose to be
> lurkers and do not post because they fear being judged or perhaps they
> feel that more responsive writing and discussion may be held against them
> at some point in the future.  Our mission remains though as often as
> possible to curate a wide-variety of viewpoints and topics and to be as
> inclusive as is possible. We encourage all of our guests not to post
> previously published papers or long written conference papers so that
> discussion is welcomed and anyone who feels up to it will join in the
> discussion.   The hope for a space that can and will work out new
> potentials is a utopia but I think most of us do not want to let go of
> that ideal. Our own list-serve acknowledges that the tension between
> writing as a performative gesture and one that is conversational, probing,
> vulnerable or giddy provides an interesting interstitial space. A space
> that can be informative but also one that is inquisitive and questioning.
> To manage -empyre- is a tremendous amount of work and we really do hope
> that younger ­empyreans will step up to take over some of the logistics of
> running the list-serv.  Melinda is -empyre- the longest-running list-serve
> on new media and networked culture?

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