Fibreculture Journal: Issue 11

mccawimage003.jpg[Image 3: ZeroG SkyDancers poster by DC Spensley] Fibreculture Journal: Issue 11 – Digital Arts and Culture Conference (Perth): “[…]The eleven papers presented here from the perthDAC (Digital Arts and Culture) 2007 conference offer a broad spectrum of perspectives on the future of digital media art and culture, speculating on recent trends and developments, presenting research outcomes, describing works in progress, or documenting histories and challenging existing paradigms of digital media use, creation and perception. They range in topic from the participatory culture of Web 2.0, video art and electronic literature, biological art and emerging art practices in online environments, to the compound relation between art, data and computation, the gendered poetics of game space and evolving character of game culture…” From The Futures of Digital Media Arts and Culture by Andrew Hutchison and Ingrid Richardson.

Axel Bruns – The Future Is User-Led: The Path towards Widespread Produsage

In the emerging social software, ‘Web2.0’ environment, the production of ideas takes place in a collaborative, participatory mode which breaks down the boundaries between producers and consumers and instead enables all participants to be users as much as producers of information and knowledge, or what can be described as produsers. These produsers engage not in a traditional form of content production, but are instead involved in produsage – the collaborative and continuous building and extending of existing content in pursuit of further improvement. This paper examines the overall characteristics of produsers and produsage, and identifies key questions for the produsage model.

Mitchell Whitelaw – Art Against Information: Case Studies in Data Practice

This paper makes a critical analysis of new media art working with data interfaces and visualisation – data practice or data art. Pursuing the distinction between information and data, it is demonstrated that data art often turns away from information in an attempt to present the data itself. In the process, data art constructs figures of data as unmediated, immanent, material and underdetermined. A critical analysis of these figures underpins reflections on the wider significance and potential of such data practices.

Jim Bizzocchi – The Aesthetics of the Ambient Video Experience

Ambient Video is an emergent cultural phenomenon, with roots that go deeply into the history of experimental film and video art. Ambient Video, like Brian Eno’s ambient music, is video that “must be as easy to ignore as notice” [9]. This minimalist description conceals the formidable aesthetic challenge that faces this new form. Ambient video art works will hang on the walls of our living rooms, corporate offices, and public spaces. They will play in the background of our lives, living video paintings framed by the new generation of elegant, high-resolution flat-panel display units. However, they cannot command attention like a film or television show. They will patiently play in the background of our lives, yet they must always be ready to justify our attention in any given moment. In this capacity, ambient video works need to be equally proficient at rewarding a fleeting glance, a more direct look, or a longer contemplative gaze. This paper connects a series of threads that collectively illuminate the aesthetics of this emergent form: its history as a popular culture phenomenon, its more substantive artistic roots in avant-garde cinema and video art, its relationship to new technologies, the analysis of the viewer’s conditions of reception, and the work of current artists who practice within this form.

D. Fox Harrell – Cultural Roots for Computing: The Case of African Diasporic Orature and Computational Narrative in the GRIOT System

Cultural practices and values are implicitly built into all computational systems. However, it is not common to develop systems with explicit critical engagement with, and foundations in, cultural practices and values aside from those traditionally privileged in discourse surrounding computing practices. I assert that engaging commonly excluded cultural values and practices can potentially spur computational innovation, and can invigorate expressive computational production. In particular, diverse ways of representing and manipulating semantic content and distinctive relationships between humans and our (digital) artifacts can form the basis for new technical and expressive computing practices. This idea is developed using the example of the GRIOT system. GRIOT is a platform for implementing interactive and generative computational narratives. Its underlying theoretical bases are in algebraic semantics from computer science, cognitive linguistics, and semiotics. Initial systems built in GRIOT enable generation of poetry in response to user input. GRIOT is deeply informed by African diasporic traditions of orature and socio-cultural engagement.

Caroline McCaw – Art and (Second) Life: Over the hills and far away?

This paper will consider possible connections between the emerging art practice, environment and economy of DC Spensley (aka Dancoyote Antonelli) working in Second Life, with particular colonial art histories documented over the last 150 years in order to consider emerging features of new spaces for art.While the main centre for development and discussion surrounding Second Life appears to be San Francisco, USA, this paper considers how examining an online art practice may provide a tool to better understand the role of artists in new places. Can emerging art practices in online environments such as Second Life point out gaps in the ways that we think and talk about art? Or are traditional theoretical and methodological values surrounding art reproduced?

Scott Rettberg – Dada Redux: Elements of Dadaist Practice in Contemporary Electronic Literature

The Dada movement was a multimedia avant-garde art practice that began in Zurich during World War I and flourished in Berlin, Paris, and New York from 1916 until 1920. Beginning as a disgusted response to the war and the blithely nationalistic bourgeois attitudes the Dada felt were at the root of the conflict, the Dada developed and refined the notion of “anti-art” as an expression of dissatisfaction with the dominant contemporary ideology. Although the period in which Dada was an active organized cultural movement was quite short, its legacy is widespread and profound. Through readings of works of electronic literature, the essay argues that while techniques have been adapted to the media-specific affordances of the networked computer, many of the practices popularized by the Dada during the early twentieth century form the basis of methods utilized by new media artists and writers today. By comparing the art and activities of early Dadaist artists to the work of contemporary digital writers, the essay advocates a critical approach to new media writing that both accounts for the specific properties of literature produced for networked computer environments and also examines these artifacts within the contextualizing historical framework of the avant-garde.

Simon Penny – Experience and abstraction: the arts and the logic of machines

This paper is concerned with the nature of traditions of Arts practice with respect to computational practices and related value systems. At root, it concerns the relationship between the specificities of embodied materiality and aspirations to universality inherent in symbolic abstraction. This tension in embodied in the contemporary academy, as embodied arts practices interface with traditions of logical, numerical and textual abstraction in the humanities and the sciences.

The computer may be viewed as the reification of a rationalist world view in that the hardware/software binarism, and all that it entails, is little but an implementation of the Cartesian dual. Inasmuch as these technologies reify that world view, these values permeate their very fabric. Social and cultural practices, modes of production and consumption, inasmuch as they are situated and embodied, proclaim validities of specificity, situation and embodiment contrary to this order. Due to the economic and rhetorical force of the computer, the academic and popular discourses related to it, are persuasive.

Where computational technologies are engaged by social and cultural practices, there exists an implicit but fundamental theoretical crisis. An artist, engaging such technologies in the realization of a work, invites the very real possibility that the technology, like the Trojan Horse, introduces values inimical to the basic qualities for which the artist strives. The very process of engaging the technology quite possibly undermines the qualities the work strives for. This situation demands the development of a ‘critical technical practice’ (Agre).

Brian Degger – Technology transfer present and futures in the electronic arts

We are entering an era where creating the fantastical is possible in the arts. In the areas of mixed reality and biological arts, responsive works are created based on advances in basic science and technology. This is enabling scientists and artists to pose new questions. As the time between discovery and application is so short, artists need imaginative ways of accessing new technology in order to critique and use it.

These are the new paints that the majority of artists cannot afford or access, technology to enable cloning of DNA, to print channels on a chip, to access proprietary 3G networks. Currently, partnerships or residencies are used to facilitate artist’s access to these technologies. What would they do if technology was available that enabled them to make any art work they so desire? Are the limitations in current technology an advantage rather than a disadvantage in some of their works? Does interaction with technologists make their work more robust? Are there disadvantages? How do they get access to the technology they require? Open source or proprietary? Or have they encountered the situation where their vision is greater than technology allows. When their work breaks because of this fact, is their art broken? Blast Theory (Brighton,UK), FoAM(Brussels, Belgium and Amsterdam, Netherlands), SymbioticA (Perth, Australia) are organisations pushing technological boundaries in the service of art. This paper addresses some questions of technology transfer in relation to recent artworks, particularly I like Frank in Adelaide (Blast Theory), transient reality generators (trg) (FoAM) and Multi electrode array artist (MeART) (SymbioticA).

Tracy Fullerton, Jacquelyn Ford Morie, Celia Pearce – A Game of One’s Own: Towards a New Gendered Poetics of Digital Space

The techno-fetishism of computer game culture has lead to a predominately male sensibility towards the construction of space in digital entertainment. Real-time strategy games conceive of space as a domain to be conquered; first-person shooters create labyrinthine battlefields in which space becomes a context for combat. Massively multiplayer games offer the opportunity for non-linear exploration, but emphasize linear achievement within a combat-based narrative. In this paper, we argue for a new gendered, regendered and perhaps degendered poetics of game space, rethinking ways in which space is conceptualized and represented as a domain for play. We argue for a more egalitarian virtual playground that acknowledges and embraces a wider range of spatial and cognitive models, referencing literature, philosophy, fine art and non-digital games for inspiration. Reflecting on a variety of sources, beginning with Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own and Bachelard’s Poetics of Space, feminist writings of Charlotte Gilman Perkins, Simone de Beauvoir, Hélène Cixous, Judith Butler, Janet Murray, and including contemporary game writers such as Lizbeth Klastrup, Mary Flanagan, Maia Engeli, and T.L. Taylor, we will argue for a new gendered poetics of game space, proposing an inclusionary approach that integrates feminine conceptions of space into the gaming landscape.

Jaakko Suominen – The Past as the Future? Nostalgia and Retrogaming in Digital Culture

Digital culture of today is becoming increasingly a field of retrospection. James Newman draws attention to this issue in his recently published textbook on digital gaming (2004). In a chapter on future gaming he mentions three modern trends in gaming: mobile games, on-line games and retrogaming. Newman refers to retrogaming at two levels: firstly, retrogaming means present-day gaming with the genuine, 1970s, 1980s and the early 1990s game devices and applications. Secondly, it means the use of emulators in playing the games. On the other hand, Petri Saarikoski (2004), who has studied the history of computer hobbyist cultures, defines retrogaming somewhat broader as a general term for subcultures that appreciate old computer games. This phenomenon includes the collecting of old games and game devices as well as their active playing. Both scholars see retrogaming as a form of gaming culture that is partly marginal but which is becoming more common. Typically current retrogaming refers particularly to the use of game devices that were used before the PCs (common since the early 1990s). In this paper I will seek answers the following questions: Does the change in computer user groups explain why retrogaming has become more popular? Has retrogaming had an influence on the contents of contemporary games and the appreciation of gaming? What sorts of different hobbies are associated with retrogaming? How has the increased interest in retrogaming been used, then, to benefit financially? Finally, I conclude and discuss how familiarity and nostalgic interests in “older” technologies are incorporated to technological change and innovation.

Kenneth J. Knoespel and Jichen Zhu – Continuous Materiality Through a Hierarchy of Computational Codes

The legacy of Cartesian dualism inherent in linguistic theory deeply influences current views on the relation between natural language, computer code, and the physical world. However, the oversimplified distinction between mind and body falls short of capturing the complex interaction between the material and the immaterial. In this paper, we posit a hierarchy of codes to delineate a wide spectrum of continuous materiality. Our research suggests that diagrams in architecture provide a valuable analog for approaching computer code in emergent digital systems. After commenting on ways that Cartesian dualism continues to haunt discussions of code, we turn our attention to diagrams and design morphology. Finally we notice the implications a material understanding of code bears for further research on the relation between human cognition and digital code. Our discussion concludes by noticing several areas that we have projected for ongoing research.

Feb 28, 16:28
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