(May 2003 - March 2007.) Tama's thoughts on the blogosphere, podcasting, popular culture, digital media and citizen journalism posted from a laptop computer somewhere in Perth's isolated, miniature, urban jungle ...

Feeling Parochial

Friday, October 08, 2004
Perth is feeling very parochial today as I keep seeing exciting events in the world that are too far away for me to attend. Perhaps tomorrow's election will cheer me up (finger's crossed), but today I'm running with my negativity. Two very strong arguments for living in a capital city with a more developed new media cultural centre.

[1] Argument one, Melbourne and the ACMI:

GameTime sets out to provoke questions about game culture at large and invites audiences to engage, critique and play!

Symposium convened by Anoanetta Ivanova,Novamedia & Josephine Starrs, Sydney College of the Arts.

October 15th & 16 at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image
Federation Square, Melbourne.
Keynote Speaker Friday, October 15th 6pm

Tetsuya Mizuguchi from Japan, creater of REZ and Space Channel 5 will speak on
Emotional and Invisible Game Design

Other speakers include :
Katie Salen, USA
Game designer, writer and Director of Graduate Studies in Design and Digital Technology, Parsons School of Design

Ken Perlin, USA
Director of NYU Media Research Laboratroy and Center for Advanced Technology.

Isabelle Arvers, France
New Media consulting curator for Centre Pompidu in Paris, specialising in computer games, web animation and digital film.

And many more! Further details.
Having recently read Katie Salen's amazing co-written guide to games, Rules of Play , I'm very sad to be missing the opportunity to meet her and immerse myself further in Australia's emerging academica gaming hub.

[2] Argument two, California and the UC campuses and The Global Interface:
The Global Interface

The purpose of this workshop is to bring together new media scholars across a variety of disciplines to investigate the global distribution of information technologies and to explore the possibilities for cultural production through the interface between human and computer. The interface serves as the nexus between artist, viewer, programmer, technology, and industry. It is the site where production and reception intersect. The click of the mouse on the web acts as a form of production, be it ideological, economic, or political, at the same time that it marks the subject’s reception of networked information. For example, the number of people who follow a link to a website (artistic, commercial, or personal) generate the site’s information capital, or "hits", which in turn translates into ideological significance, economic value, and position in Internet hierarchies. As subjects "surf" the Internet, they experience the possibility to perform alternate identities in virtual worlds as well as the prospects of participating in transnational communities that attempt to overcome restrictions of physical space, financial constraint, and varying political ideologies. While the global interface serves as an overarching theme of the workshop, our sessions will focus on such issues as post-human embodiment, online communities, digital art and narrative, and networked cultural production.

The timing of this workshop comes at the opportune moment when UCR is building a strong scholarly foundation in new media. The University is currently in the process of recruiting a new senior hire in Digital Media and Digital Arts, who will further support the development in this burgeoning field. According to the position description, this new hire will be “central to shaping the development of undergraduate and graduate programs for the study of digital art/media technique, execution, and critical analysis in collaboration with the U.C.R. Bourns College of Engineering.” One key goal of this workshop will be to create a forum to foster dialogue among the diverse voices currently working in new media, but in dispersed fields across campus, including dance, music, art history, visual art, literature, computer science, and film.

This critical collaboration across the disciplines of the academy mirrors the dispersed interconnectivity of the global interface itself. Mark Poster outlines how digital technologies like the Internet can traverse the limits of traditional communication models, such as print and broadcast, as follows:

1. Enabling many-to-many communications;
2. Enabling the simultaneous reception, alteration, and redistribution of cultural objects;
3. Dislocating communicative action from the posts of the nation…
4. Providing instantaneous global contact;
5. Inserting the modern/late modern subject into an information machine apparatus that is networked. [2001]

Humanity is no longer constituted by clearly bounded subjects, but instead begins to function more like a network, in which individuals act "as a point in a circuit" (Poster). The global interface serves as the site where this post-human transformation occurs.

Just as there are compelling potentials introduced by the global interface, there are also certain critical problems that the workshop will explore. While the technological interface has seemingly infinite possibility, "reality" and the physical body introduce certain material restrictions. Since Donna Haraway's seminal work on cyborg subjectivity, "The Cyborg Manifesto" [1985], the transforming status of the body at the human-computer interface has become an influential topic of debate. While Haraway formulated “the cyborg” from the perspective of global feminism, Allucquere Roseanne Stone [1991] takes up the issue of the transgendered virtual body. Margaret Morse [Virtualities 1998] argues against allowing virtual embodiment to obfuscate the material conditions of race, class, sex, et cetera borne by the physical body before the computer screen. Recently, James Tobias [2002] has argued that agency resides not solely in the virtual or the physical, but is produced between the two by the interface in a form of “medial agency.”

Additionally, economic conditions still shape who has access to digital technologies, and the influence of corporate capital has a persistent influence over digital cultural production. Artists in digital and new media must negotiate the conditions of capital in order to distribute and show their work. Recent work by Toby Miller and George Yudice on critical cultural policy confronts these artistic material considerations [Cultural Policy 2002]. These issues include how are digital artists trained and paid? Where and how does their work circulate? Who owns it? What are the interfaces with art spaces? What sort of system -- corporate, NGO, state-sponsored -- is the cultural production embedded in? For example, corporations invest in the academic field of game studies, focusing on mass marketed video games, while smaller scale works of net art and electronic literature lose institutional funding and often, critical attention.

Given the importance of digital technologies and the global interface in our daily lives, and UCR's current developments in new media, this workshop will take up the much-needed critical work of exploring the possibilities of community, embodiment, and cultural production enabled by digital mediation, as well as the restrictions of mediation presented by economic, material, and social conditions of existence.
Noah at GTxA has already posted notes from N. Katherine Hayles' keynote session which sounds like it was amazing (not least of all for serious discussion of Greg Egan's work at Permutation City in particular). They're even using a blogger blog as the main discussion space ...

I supposed I should be thankful, at least, the Perth is sunny today...


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