[-empyre-] -empyre- a digital unconscious?

Timothy Conway Murray tcm1 at cornell.edu
Sun Feb 4 05:08:47 AEDT 2018

Hi, all, it’s very interesting to think about the duration of –empyre- and the particular intervention of the listserv.  Next fall, I’ll be moderating a month on “Duration: Passage, Persistence, Survival” in conjunction with the Biennial for the Cornell Council for the Arts, which I’m curating on the same theme.  While the CCA Biennial will be slanted to addressing the emergencies of duration now facing us -- immigration, ecology, sexual difference, politics – the notion of ‘staying with’ –empyre- over the fifteen years of its duration is certainly central to my thinking of the durational possibilities of digital communication.  One of the things that’s fascinated and encouraged me and Renate as she’s worked tirelessly to continue invigorating –empyre- over recent years has been the surfacing – sometimes almost out of the blue – of subscriber voices whose participatory mode has been one of lurking.   When this happens, it’s like an energetic spark that disrupts the comfortable discourse of –empyre’s-s more habitual participants.  Somewhat like the role of our accumulating archive as described by Theresa, these surfacings suggest, indeed, that the conceptual and affective threads of –empyre- are marked by both passage and persistence, and serve the individual participants in tremendously unique and particular ways.   Some of this is no doubt due to the listerv’s particular modes of address.  Unlike a blog, it doesn’t require polished writing and doesn’t wait for habitual users to call it up, but it summons and hails the participants through the antiquated mechanisms of email and impromptu thinking  to attend to threads coming into their boxes or to guard them as durational for later reflection if not dialogue.   Maybe, I’m thinking of –empyre- as serving  as something of a digital unconscious that can surface at any moment to intervene in our conscious conversations.  Just some thoughts jogged by Theresa and Renate.

Happy arrival of February (it’s cold and snowy but beautifully sunny in Ithaca, New York, today).


Timothy Murray
Director, Cornell Council for the Arts and Curator, CCA Biennial
Curator, Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media Art 
http://goldsen.library.cornell.edu <http://goldsen.library.cornell.edu/>
Professor of Comparative Literature and English
114 West Sibley Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, New York 14853
2017-18 International Sea-Sky Scholar, School of Architecture and Fine Art, Dalian University of Technology, China

On 2/3/18, 12:27 PM, "empyre-bounces at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au on behalf of Renate Terese Ferro" <empyre-bounces at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au on behalf of rferro at cornell.edu> wrote:

    ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
    February 3, 2018
    Hello Theresa, 
    Your comment echoes what Tim Murray, our other long -term moderator here, and I have been hearing from so many of our subscribers.  The tempo of the listserv can move exceedingly too fast.  We all can acknowledge that there are times we just don’t have the time to open and read posts carefully let alone respond to them.  The bio-artist Paul Vanouse shared with me his frustration that he had intended to respond to a fascinating post and by the time he got to writing a week had passed and he felt that his comment was not timely. Alternatively, there are other times when it moves at a snail’s pace or simply remains silent.  Over the years we have become quite comfortable with the pacing that is so inherent in a listserv which is so directly related to the ebbs and flows of those who are participating.  That is also why we often take the months of August and December completely off.  
    I want to add that the anxiety of some over responding to a post later in the week or month is not a problem.  Take a look at our archives and you will see that the discussion is organized according to SUBJECT, AUTHOR, THREAD, or DATE.  The THREAD organizational tool allows a reader now or later or organize posts and responses to posts that are delayed.  The only caveat being that we cut off all posts not related to the topic at the end of the month. All of our subscribers are encouraged to respond to posts at any time in the month just be sure subject line in the email is identical to the thread it is in response to.  
    You wrote
    I prefer Empyre as a listserve. I have gone back through previous
    discussions and looked up artists, followed threads and ideas when I
    had time. I've gone deeper; the list moves fast for me.
    I think that everyone agrees that our archive is the jewel of our online community.  
    Since 2002 the University of New South Wales in Australia has generously hosted our history thanks to Melinda Rackham.  Tim Murray and I are also suggesting to our Editorial Board that in the coming year we archive the site at Cornell University as well within the Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media Art.  –empyre- soft-skin space reflects the emergence of technology and how artists and writers use and think through technology.  One of the things our Editorial Board will also be working on is a KEYWORDING system that searches the entire eighteen years of discussion topics and is not just monthly.  
    You mentioned FACEBOOK.  To subscribers not following us on Facebook here is the link.  While it is public you must request to actually post directly.  
    And on Twitter
    Just a reminder that although  snip its of posts and photos are launched through Facebook and Twitter, the full discussion and its archive can only be accessed by becoming a subscriber through our website.  
    Thanks Teresa for responding about how slowness even works today. 
    I am about to post a bit about the nuts and bolts of Melinda’s early coding of –empyre-soft-skinned space in a few minutes. 
    Renate Ferro
    Visiting Associate Professor
    Director of Undergraduate Studies
    Department of Art
    Tjaden Hall 306
    rferro at cornell.edu
    On 2/3/18, 11:39 AM, "empyre-bounces at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au on behalf of Theresa Ramseyer" <empyre-bounces at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au on behalf of tlr280mp at gmail.com> wrote:
        ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
        My computer-internet connection is still dial-up. It is unusable for
        the moment, for various reasons. My phone is now my main connection,
        but I can't get everything. Instagram, for example, is always a blank
        page. Many times I'll click on a link and get nowhere.
        I prefer Empyre as a listserve. I have gone back through previous
        discussions and looked up artists, followed threads and ideas when I
        had time. I've gone deeper; the list moves fast for me.
        It's much easier to find a post on gmail or yahoo than to dig through Facebook.
        I know Empyre has a Facebook presence, and Facebook is easy to reach
        on my phone. But besides the searching difficulties, Facebook changes
        their algorithims so often that I keep lists of my "must read" pages
        and communities. It's annoying, to say the least.
        Theresa Ramseyer
        empyre forum
        empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
    empyre forum
    empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au

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