:: Monday, May 24, 2004 ::

ORIGINAL POST: Saturday, May 15, 2004
BY: Garrett Lynch

Well, I guess all reviews can't be positive, but, at the very least, they should be constructive. The following fits into this category. Me and Billy Bob, a hybrid video installation/net-art work by Jillian McDonald, is a work that discusses "misplaced Intimacy...a symptom of our heavily mediated culture."

On arrival to the site, we are “treated” to one of Jillian's objects of affection, the actor Billy Bob Thornton and his talents, a dirge sung by the actor/singer/songwriter (etc. etc. etc.) entitled Starlight Lounge. This immediately sets the mood for a downbeat narrative and we enter Jillian's world, seemingly her computer that’s complete with Billy Bob desktop images and icons.

The site contains nothing other than short extracts from films starring Billy Bob, romantic scenes in particular, in which the love interest is played by Jillian. Both male and female gaze at each other in strange combinations of love and sadness with no resolve. The clips, while interesting in technique and idea, seem far too short and poor in quality. Not only do the desires of the two protagonists remain "unconsummated, looping infinitely," but the users time and effort to download the clips also remain ungratified.

"MeandBillyBob.com masquerades as a fan site, leading the visitor into position as voyeur. Rather than promoting information about the star’s personal or professional life, the focus is my romantic obsession. Bordering on mania and inciting curiosity, the ultimate goal of the website is, of course, to attract its very subject."

Yet, this fan-site has neither the look nor feel of a fan-site and one wonders the relevance of it being an installation piece. Fan-sites tend to have memorabilia, desktop images, and icons you can download, not just the semblance of them; and where are the updates, news sections, the forums, and chatrooms? While I appreciate what Jillian is attempting to do—to focus, through one narrative, on modern culture’s obsession with the gaze—to me, it seems too diluted in its approach and presentation.

For futher information on the work, please see Jillian's principle site here.

ORIGINAL POST: Monday, May 17, 2004
BY: ana boa-ventura

The Plannetarium Collegium -- (at last) a fresh concept in graduate programs in Cyber Arts

This year, the CyberArt Festival in Bilbao, Spain included a very interesting and new (as a collective) group of speakers. This piece is not so much about the conference itself, which was a success (as it has consistently been since 1995), but rather about the Plannetary Collegium. This is a group of doctoral and post-doctoral researchers doing advanced inquiry in the subliminal space between the arts, technology, and the sciences, with consciousness research as a core component of the work.

The genesis of the Plannetarium Collegium is connected to the successful CAiiA-STAR (the Centre for Advanced Inquiry in the Interactive Arts established in 1994, at University of Wales College Newport; and STAR, the Science Technology and Art Research centre, established in 1997 at the University of Plymouth). The group of doctoral and post-doctoral students includes names such as Eduardo Kac, Char Davies, Thecla Schiphorst, Marcos Novak, and Yacov Sharir. Very recently, the Collegium opened a new node in Zurich (the Z-Node). It will be based in the Hochschule fuer Gestaltung und Kunst. The Director of Studies of Z-Node is Jill Scott, PhD of the Cultural Studies Institute at HGKZ.

Upcoming, the forum “Consciousness Reframed 2004” will take place in Beijing, China, from 24 to 27 November 2004 (http://www.planetary-collegium.net/conferences/
). This symposium is convened by this group of researchers in collaboration with the following Beijing Digital Arts Programs:
The Digital Media Studio, Central Academy of Fine Arts,
The China Electronic Music Center, Central Conservatory of Music,
Department of Digital Art and Design, School of Software, Peking Univ.
The Institute of Digital Media, Beijing Normal Univ.

As Brenda Laurel proves in her most recent book, Design Research : Methods and Perspectives, there is a need to rethink research in the field of what I will here vaguely label as "digital media." The Plannetarium Collegium is a new approach to what a doctoral program in the field should be: aimed at researchers who have already proven themselves in the field but are too busy doing wonderful things--things that teach so much to so many of us--to think of their own academic careers.


ORIGINAL POST: Monday, May 17, 2004
BY: Eduardo Navas

As the term "new media" gets tossed around quite a bit these days (at least in the emerging technologies field), we find that it is much more slippery to define than expected, mainly because its definition relies on the word "new." Whatever the term may mean in the end is actually contingent upon what particular history of media is used to contextualize technology's influence in art; for Lev Manovich, in particular, it is the history of Cinema. It is safe to say that "new media" implies media that is constantly changing; and so, what new media may mean today is quite different from what it could have meant in the first half of the twentieth century. The term was actually not used then, but development of new technology at that time allows for this retrospective extension of the term to be used, at least in relation to artistic practice.

Take the history of radio broadcasting, for example, which precedes the development of current emerging technologies and artistic manifestations like internet art and software art. The radio came to be used by artists to make radio art. This becomes obvious in "New American Radio and Radio Art,” an essay written by Jackie Apple for New American Radio works online. In her essay, we discover that during the seventies artists developed projects specifically for radio broadcasting analogously to how video artists developed projects, also in the seventies, for independent broadcasting, and how net-artists currently develop projects for online exhibitions. But it was in the eighties in which radio-art projects were more specifically developed. To preserve this tradition, New American Radio currently offers 110 radio programs, mainly produced during the nineties, archived for online listening. So log on and learn more about the history of an "old" media that at one time was "new."