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New Media Arts

Foregrounding the Implications of Technological Obsolescence through Ecomedia

There is another double-barrelled ECREA 2016 keynote session today, and it starts with Joanna Zylinska, whose interest is in technical obsolescence in media history. Media forms and devices emerge and decline again over time; Joanna is interested in a kind of shallow media geology that explores the various media pasts and futures at local, national, and global levels. This enables an exploration of the dynamics of the contemporary media ecology. In part this is also about the planned media obsolescence that is now designed into many devices.

Addressing Information Overload in Art

The next AoIR 2015 speaker is Stacey May Koosel, whose interest is in the temporalities of digital culture. She worked with articles to explore the concept of tl;dr (too long; didn't read) – in relation to our consciousness of time. Tl;dr is related to information overload, and emerged in 2003; it may point to decreasing attention spans, and show how we are overwhelmed by the information deluge we are now faced with. We negotiate it by employing pattern recognition.

Speculative Design for Marginalised Communities

And we're off! AoIR 2015 proper starts with a keynote by Micha Cárdenas, who begins with a choice: as the planet is dying, do we want to stay in hell or move to an ice planet? By popular vote, hell it is.

But hell is, well, hellish, and unbearable, and now we're offered a chance of the ocean moon or the ice planet – this time, we're choosing the ocean moon (and this is all highly interactive, with audience members literally racing up to the podium to choose our adventure).

The Evolution of Transmedia Fiction

The next speaker in this AoIR 2015 session is Linda Kronman, whose interest is in transmedia storytelling. She organised the Re:Dakar Art Festival, which emerged from a scam invitation to an "art festival" in Dakar – Linda and colleagues created fake characters who corresponded to the fake characters created by the scammers, and the interaction between them became a form of transmedia storytelling in its own right. Linda and colleagues created fake Facebook pages for their characters, as well as artworks which incorporated the material created by the interactions.

Transmedia storytelling itself emerged over the past decade or two, driven especially also by a number of major movies and other events; but the definitions of such approaches are still varying widely. Some of it links back to hypertext storytelling and digital fiction research from one perspective, hypertext fiction evolved into hypermedia fiction, cybertext fiction, and finally social media fiction. Recent social media fiction projects include The Big Plot and Grace, Wit & Charm, for example.

Creative Practice for Communicative Spaces

Next at Transforming Audiences is Nicola Kaye, who focusses on developing communicative spaces through her creative practice. This is in line with the idea that the role of the artist is now to construct the social spaces and constraints for the audience to co-construct the work, and builds on the increasing availability of digital, social, creative tools such as Flickr or YouTube while highlighting the as yet undecided power structures within such spaces. Creativity has an important role to play in examining the potential uses for such spaces.

Creating New Forms of Cultural Participation

The final speaker here at the Prosumer Revisited conference is Gerhard Panzer, whose interest is in the consumption of cultural goods. Such cultural consumption can be defined as the purchase and/or use of cultural works and services; these are objects that have specific embedded meanings, whose quality is realised through the process of reception. Their value is determined through attention and recognition; consumers of such objects are therefore co-producers of (the value of) cultural works.

Cultural producers, in turn, are also consumers of other cultural producers' works, and are influenced by their wider environment (competitors, financiers, publishers, audiences, etc.). This influence may have taken place against the wishes of cultural producers (where patrons or publishers altered works) or may have been specifically sought out by cultural producers (for example through live performance). Indeed, markets for cultural products are themselves also complex networks of institutions.

The Potential of Digitally Enhanced Theatre Performances

The third panellist at WebSci '09 is Olga Pozeli. She says that film appeared in the late 1800s, and was exhibited at first in music halls - the first properly exhibited movie was a comedy. Film and theatre have long been aligned, and film provides a magic spectacle. The use of technological innovations in film and theatre has been artistically and politically justified by many filmmakers and dramatists along the way, but there has also been criticism of this, arguing especially that technologically augmented theatre was in effect apologising for not being film.

Art in the Face of Technological Change

The next panellist at WebSci '09 is Michael Marmarinos, and he begins by presenting himself as 'a normal human being'. He notes the increasing speed of human communication as it is augmented by the Internet, the Web - and in the face of this, he feels awe, and the enthusiasm of the ignorant. Technology is in conversation with time, and as speed increases, we become smaller.

The speed of change is difficult to assess while change takes place - it may be amazing and scary at the same time. He suggests that the speed of change can be described mathematically as our ability to change divided by the range of possibilities which we can imagine, and this fraction tends towards one (if I've got this right - I do appreciate the live interpretation, but I wish the interpreter would bloody well sit still rather than noisily fidgeting about in her cabin, and chewing gum!).

The Digital Threat to Our Way of Life?

The cultural convergence session at WebSci '09 continues with a panel composed of Greek musicians, actors, and directors. Electronic musician Konstantinos Bita, who began his work on Ataris and Amigas, reflects on his introduction to digital technology, and the gradually growing importance of electronic networks - using modems at first, and then connecting more directly to the Internet. In the early days, access was often free, but then commercial interests began to build their walled gardens with the aim to enrich themselves; with Web 2.0, Konstantinos believes, a further change will occur which further isolates people and locks them into online pursuits without providing real sociality.

Cultural Convergence and Cultural Diversity in Digital Greece

Next up at WebSci '09 is a panel session on cultural convergence and digital technology, with representatives of the Greek creative industries sector. The first speaker is PASOK MP Maria Damanaki, though,who notes the importance of the Web and of digital technology for culture and creativity. Any form of human activity which is not expressed in a digital form could even be considered to be obsolete, she says, and there are new horizons for the creators of culture in this digital environment - namely, cultural convergence.


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