Thursday, August 30, 2007


The archive for the "Disrupting Narrative" symposium that took place at the Tate Modern on July 13, 2007, is now online.

What became of it?

(Notice how, in the image, my shirt quite literally becomes branded with the TATE logo. Does this in any way increase the value of my digital art persona and does this event turn Tate into a kind of PR "enabler"? Institutional clout leveraged as another form of political capital, one that is hyperconsciously aware of its role in making history? [What's an archive for?] In my keynote, I ended by saying: "This morning, I have been tracing one version of my pseudoautobiographical narrative for everyone here in the auditorium as well as everyone who is watching this live over the Web ((not to mention the vast majority of viewers who will see this much later, as part of an archive, as part of -- what? Would you call it art history? Whose art history?)). Sometimes I feel we are all just working for Google.")

The symposium, generally considered a successful event, would not have been possible without the vision of artist Kate Southworth and the curators at Tate (Kelli and Marko). The best part for me was hearing the presentations from my colleagues Alex Galloway, Andrea Zapp, Paul Sermon, Kate Rich, and Kelli Dipple (they are all archived at the link above).

If anyone is interested, here is another major conference I have been invited to deliver the keynote for next year. I'll post details later, but in case you want to participate in the event, here's the most recent call:
Visionary Landscapes: Electronic Literature Organization 2008 Conference

Thursday, May 29-Sunday, June 1, 2008
Vancouver, Washington

Sponsored by Washington State University Vancouver & the Electronic Literature Organization

Dene Grigar & John Barber, Co-Chairs

Producing a work of electronic literature entails not only practice in the literary arts but sometimes also the visual, sonic, and the performative arts; knowledge of computing devices and software programs; and experience in collaboration, interdisciplinarity, and hybridity. In short, electronic literature requires its artists to see beyond traditional approaches and sensibilities into what best can be described as visionary landscapes where, as Mark Amerika puts it, artists “celebrate an interdisciplinary practice from a literary and writerly perspective that allows for other kinds of practice-based art-research and knowledge sharing.”

To forward the thinking about new approaches and sensibilities in the media arts, The Electronic Literature Organization and Washington State University Vancouver’s Digital Technology and Culture program are inviting submissions to the Electronic Literature Organization 2008 Conference to be held from May 29 to June 1, 2008 in Vancouver, Washington.

“Visionary Landscapes: Electronic Literature Organization 2008 Conference” is interested in papers that explore forms of digital media that utilize images, sound, movement, and user interaction as well as––or in lieu of––words and that explore how we read, curate, and critique such works. Topics may include:

• New, non-screen, environments for presenting multimedia writing and/or electronic literature
• Research labs and new media projects
• Strategies for reading electronic literary works
• Curating digital art
• Innovative approaches to critiquing electronic literature
• Emerging technologies for the production of multimedia writing and/or electronic literature
• Building audience for new media literary works and writing
• Digital, literary performances
• Publishing for print or electronic media connecting literature and the arts through common archiving and metatag strategies
• Artistic methods of composition used in intermedia storytelling (improvisation, collaboration, sample and remix, postproduction art, codework, hactivism, etc.)

In conjunction with the three-day conference, there will be a juried Media Arts Show. Along with prizes for the most notable work, selected artists will be awarded bursaries to attend the conference featured at the show. Submission guidelines will be posted beginning August 15, 2007 on the conference website.

Deadline for Submissions for Presentations: November 30, 2007

Notification of Acceptance: December 30, 2007
More info here.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007


My blogroll, to the right of these entries, needs updating. It's just the sort of thing that always gets pushed back and never makes its way to the top of the "to do" list.

One blog I will not be taking off the roll is Pinocchio Theory. Shaviro's wonderfully rambling homage to Antonioni is just one of the recent examples of why I always go back and read his blog, even when I really don't have time to read (information gather, yes, always, but read? Seriously, though, I exaggerate. I have just finished two great books, totally different in their style and intent, but that are also very indicative of where my head is at these days: Rings of Saturn and Herzog. Go figure.)

Here's an excerpt from the PT blog entry on Antonioni:
I may not be remembering these scenes quite accurately; it’s too long since I last watched any of them. But even if I have distorted them in my mind, the very fact that I am groping after them like this, that they have the sort of insistence they do in my memory, and that my remembrance of them, however inexact, stirs up all sorts of emotional currents, is a testimony to how visionary a filmmaker Antonioni was — meaning this word in the literal sense of ‘having visions’ as well as in the sense of an obsession with the visual, with the visible (and the invisible)[...] Antonioni shows us the world — sometimes the “natural” world, but more often the human-built world, including the human beings who are figures in that world — as we scarcely ever see it: he shows us the world as image, the world retreated into its image, the world “made image” (in precisely the way that the Word is “made flesh”). Which is why one gets the vertiginous sense, watching Antonioni’s films that what we are seeing is not the least bit objective, since everything we see is inflected, affected, by the characters’ catastrophic subjectivity, by their narcissism, their neuroticism, their (yes) ennui and anomie; and yet, at the very same time, that what we are seeing is entirely separate from human subjectivity, that in fact we are seeing inhumanly, from an entirely alien sensibility, as if the camera were a being from another planet, for whom human behavior is as distant and enigmatic as insect behavior is for us. It’s the impossible combination of a subjectivity so excessive as to be sick unto death, and an inhuman distance so great as to defy explication, that makes Antonioni’s films so compellingly enigmatic, so alluring for their surfaces or their look.
And then this about A. being the cinematic artist of the "body":
Antonioni is also — paradoxical as this may sound — a great poet of the body. As Deleuze says, Antonioni is very largely about “the immense tiredness of the body”, as well as other “attitudes or postures of the body.” In these attitudes or postures, Antonioni portrays “no longer experience, but ‘what remains of past experiences’, ‘what comes afterwards, when everything has been said’.” (Cinema 2, page 189). Antonioni gives us the vision of what is stirring when nothing has yet appeared, and of what remains when everything is gone: and this vision is embedded in the flesh, or at least in a certain sort of flesh, in attitudes and postures which are devoid of consciousness, and perhaps entirely inaccessible to thought. That is to say, Antonioni is a poet of the body, because he shows us what cannot be said, captures on screen what the body feels but does not know.
Can capturing what "the body feels but does not know" be transmitted over the Internet? Can it be experienced by watching vids on Youtube? Probably not. But what will the Youtube aesthetic of the future (even ten years from now) look and feel like? I'm trying to steer clear of VR/immersion theory and instead wonder if it's possible for what we might call Antonioni's visionary "enframework" to survive a post-arthouse cinematic culture and if so, how? A convergence of the auteur and the amateur (in the best sense of both of those words?)?

I'm working on that stylistic "convergence" with Immobilité but it's very difficult and, for now, requires a great deal of self-effacement while engaging in the postproduction process.

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