Wednesday, May 31, 2006


My colleague Simon Mills from Nottingham, UK, used to edit the journal frAme (originally called Freebase) and has just launched the new framed website. framed is supported by Arts Council England and Nottingham Trent University. According to the home page:
Between 1995 and 2004 the frAme: Online Journal of Culture & Technology published a broad range of work by an eclectic mix of writers and artists who were working with new media.

This was a significant period in the history of new media. Internet usage, especially the world wide web, was becoming widespread and many were creatively experimenting with and discussing the implications of utilising the emerging networks and technologies.

As a site of dissemination of some of that work, frAme remains a record of the creative engagements artists were making during that time.

framed marks the closing of the journal and augments it as a record of this period by interviewing many of the artists and writers it published with regard to their practice, both past and present, and to enquire with them about the current state of new media art and writing.
The initial launch starts off with four interviews, including one with Matthew Fuller, one of the instigators of Mongrel, and one with moi. Says Matt:
I’m interested in the question of ‘Art methodologies’, modes of thinking and perceiving that had at certain times been peculiar to art, such as reflexivity; a certain kind of freedom, or the ability to take every part of an occurrence, an event, an object and the way it is viewed and used into account in its reinvention; attention to materiality; the commitment to experiment ‘live’, with life, rather than under lab conditions. These amongst others form art methodologies. What I can see occurring now more generally as a condition to be tested and used is that these have migrated from art practice specifically, into other parts of life. The media systems of art, such as galleries, user/audience networks, certain kinds of ways of looking and thinking, magazines and information circulation mechanisms, particular attention shaping devices such as press releases, books, ‘exhibitions’, and other formations are often retained as points of contact with the kinds of networks that they afford, but they are no longer the home-base or the capturing device for people operating with such art methodologies.
Hear ye, hear ye.

UPDATE: This, from Doug Kellner in the first issue (1998) of frAme, then called Freebase:
I now want to argue that in the contemporary high tech societies there is emerging a significant expansion and redefinition of the public sphere and that these developments, connected primarily with media and computer technologies, require a reformulation and expansion of the concept of critical or committed intellectual. Earlier in the century, Brecht and Benjamin saw the revolutionary potential of new technologies like film and radio and urged radical intellectuals to seize these new forces of production, to "refunction" them, and to turn them into instruments to democratize and revolutionize society. Sartre too worked on radio and television series and insisted that "committed writers must get into these relay station arts of the movies and radio" [...]

[...]Consequently, I would argue that effective use of technology is essential in contemporary politics and that intellectuals who wish to intervene in the new public spheres need to deploy new communications media to participate in democratic debate and to shape the future of contemporary societies and culture. My argument is that first broadcast media like radio and television, and now computers have produced new public spheres and spaces for information, debate, and participation that contain both the potential to invigorate democracy and to increase the dissemination of critical and progressive ideas -- as well as new possibilities for manipulation and social control. But participation in these new public spheres -- computer bulletin boards and discussion groups, talk radio and television, and the emerging sphere of what I call cyberspace democracy require intellectuals to gain new technical skills and to master new technologies.[...]
Of course, this was written before The Rise of the Blog and other forms of e-publishing. I would say blogging sites like Dailykos, Firedoglake, and especially Glen Greenwald are beginning to fulfill Kellner's vision in the netroots political space. And I have linked to others in the theory-crit "poly-ticks" space who take on contemporary political issues from a more nuanced perspective. This would include this site and this one as well.

More coming...

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