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New Media Arts

Exploring Spatial and Geospatial Art

The day five session at ISEA 2008 continues with Greg Giannis. He presents his work through a mapping interface he's been working on for some time; the aim here is to engage in subjective mapping - which maps media objects (texts, images, sound, video) captured live while moving in the physical work onto a map operated through an experimental Website. Display on the Website uses what Greg calls semantic zooming - more information from captured objects is revealed as the user focusses on them by zooming in.

Such mapping aims to investigate our sense of place, and there is currently something of a crisis in the cartographic community, Greg suggests, driven by changes in approaches to mapping; the community is looking towards artists to help them develop new approaches to cartography, and this is similar perhaps to the crisis in art as it emerged with the advent of photography. What's especially interesting here is the possibility of collective mapping (which can also serve as a form of collective resistance against the increasingly engineered sense of individual subjectivity).

Locative Media: Futures for Web and Cinema

We had the closing ceremony last night already, but there's still a final day of ISEA 2008 papers to go. The morning session this Wednesday starts with Tristan Thielmann, presenting on geomedia as a potential Web 3.0. He describes this as a shift towards WWWW (who, what, when, where), and points to Google's shift towards a more strongly map-based service (which on Google Maps itself combines photos and Wikipedia content with map information, for example). Flickr, too, has announced that it will georeference all its content in the future.

Locative Media, Interactive Maps, and Radio Transmissions

The session here at ISEA 2008 continues with Drew Hemment, who reflects on his experience running the Futuresonic locative media festival in the UK. Of particular interest here is the contradiction between the excitement of locative media practitioners and the concerns around privacy which such media forms also highlight. Our locative devices trace our movements.

What art forms are intrinsic or unique to locative media, then? This was explored through the 2004 Mobile Connections exhibition. Such locative art can be understood to be the art of mobile and wireless systems, and it is possible to develop a taxonomy of locative media art works (works which are realist, figurative, or social on the one hand, and/or engage in mapping, ambulation, or geoannotation on the other). Many locative media works continue to show little or no engagement with lived spaces and social contexts, however.

Urban and Locative Art

The post-lunch session on this fourth day of ISEA 2008 starts with Daniel Sauter. He begins by noting the interdependent relationship between architects, artists and designers which has emerged in recent years - a media architecture or mediatecture driven by a number of significant practitioners. Daniel's focus here is especially on the model of site-specificity in this context.

New York's Times Square or Tokyo's Shibuya are important sites for such work, but there are also other venues which function differently and move beyond anthropomorphic dimensions. One such venue is the Victory Media Network in Dallas with several large movable video screens; another is Federation Square in Melbourne, which hosts the third Urban Screens Conference this year; Kunsthaus Graz is an art space which works in a similar space - a vaguely zeppelin-shaped building clothed in a skin of several hundred lightbulbs which can be manipulated. Chicago's Hyde Park Art Center has a digital facade, and something similar has been designed for the Beijing Olympics multifunction arena and the CCTV Broadcast Headquarters in the same city. Further, in Dubai the Dubai Pearl will be developed - a glowing pearl-shaped space suspended above Dubai.

Place, Space, and Imagination in Second Life

Up next in this Second Life session at ISEA 2008 is Bjarke Liboriussen, whose interest is especially in the process of building structures in SL. How does this process reflect users' understanding of their (physical as well as online) worlds? Bjarke points to Annette Markham's idea that online technologies are seen by users generally as either tools, places, or ways of being - and historically, initially perhaps as tools, more recently as ways of being, and even more recently as actual places. This latter view asserts that places have important features that affect social interaction.

Life and Art in Second Life

The day four morning session at ISEA 2008 starts with Martha Carrer Cruz Gabriel. Her focus, and the focus of all other papers in this session, is on virtual worlds and Second Life. She begins by noting the evolution of virtual worlds from Dungeons and Dragons offline roleplaying games to MUDS and other basic computer and online computer games, through to modern MMPORGs such as Ultima Online, Everquest, and World of Warcraft. More recently, games such as The Sims, ActiveWorlds, and Second Life have acted more broadly as life simulations rather than games. (Giga OM research provides some useful statistics on the population of such worlds.)

Interdependence and Interactivity in New Media Art

The post-lunch session on day three of ISEA 2008 continues with Rosanne Marshack. She begins by outlining the Buddhist idea of interdependence, where the existence of certain conditions brings about the existence of other conditions. All things are interconnected, in other words - and all phenomena are perceptual, based on previous experience.

Cause and effect can apply to different types of conditions - conditions of physical objects, living things and heredity, the workings of the mind, and behaviour and ethics. Rosanne's work with Rick Valentin explores such cause-and-effect chains. One such project was Eggpass, asking participants to pass on twelve numbered eggs from one to another, and the life stories of these eggs are on the Eggpass Website (one even has its own Friendster page).

Blurring Physical and Digital Spaces

The post-lunch session on this third day of ISEA 2008 starts with Anke Jakob, whose interest is in the synthesis of digital image and physical space - one hot area for this at the moment is the visualisation of data in tangible objects, for example. Such approaches are hybrid, ambiguous, inconsistent, and equivocal; that is where the interest lies.

Anke now notes a number of examples for this - including the Galleria department store in Korea, whose entire facade acts as a large video screen; the facade of Moorfields Eye Hospital in London with its multicoloured lighting on myriads of aluminium louvres; and the facade of BIX at the Kunsthaus Graz, resembling something like a giant illuminated zeppelin. Further, clothes which act as wearable video displays fall into this category as well.

Collaborative Art and Its Limitations

The day three morning session at ISEA 2008 continues with Kate Southworth, who begins by noting the material impact of the network and its logic on everyday life. Some artists are now devising relational frameworks within which participative activities take place - governed by protocol and rules of engagement. Protocol is synonymous with the network itself, and there is no escape from it. Protocol has no interest in the content of the network, on the rules of exchange.

Collaboration in Place, Communication for Change, Creativity and Notation

Day three at ISEA 2008 starts with a paper by Nedine Kachornnamsong, who has developed an art installation for Copenhagen airport. She begins by reflecting on the purpose of such an installation - most travellers are likely just to move quickly and painlessly through the airport space, rather than linger and appreciate the art. What is the sense of place that exists in an airport?

Copenhagen is a hub for Scandinavian air travel, and acts as a transit airport for transfers into the nordic countries. It incorporates a great deal of Scandinavian design (including significant use of wood in interior spaces); for an airport, it's a very pretty space, but this may remain secondary to many travellers for whom the airport remains simply a transitional space. What is remembered, mostly, are the bad experiences travellers may have - delays, lost luggage, unfriendly staff.


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