I presume that there are many Rhizomers who are planning on attending
ISEA 2011 in Istanbul this year. If you have not looked at the
registration fees for the conference, prepare yourself for some sticker
shock. The fees seem to be disproportionately expensive for a
conference hosted at a university. Student fees begin at EUR250, with
non-student fees beginning at EUR300---and both jump to EUR400 if you
don't register by Sunday May 15th. In comparison, fees for last year's ISEA were
EUR100 to EUR150 for non-VIP passes, and fees for ISEA 2008 ranged from
100 to 450 Singapore dollars (translating to, if I remember the
conversion rate correctly at the time, around US$70 to US$320), with the
highest-priced pass for presenters rounding out at around US$250.
As a graduate student I am most concerned about what appears to me
massive gouging of an already cash-strapped population. I do not
understand how an event for digital arts hosted at a university can have
registration fees that approach those of academic-corporate conferences
such as CHI. At least for CHI the cost is understandable, if
problematic, because of existing agreements organizations such as ACM
have with major hotel chains. In this case, I cannot see where a fee of
US$570 (if you don't make the Sunday deadline) is appropriate for
graduate students---or anyone for that matter.
This pertains to our shared concerns, namely more open access to digital
technologies and their use in new forms of expression. How can fees of
this sort enable any sort of open dialogue with people who are not
already attached to well-funded institutions? And even within the US,
as well as elsewhere, funding for the type of work we do has been
massively scaled-back in the recent years, making fees like this
prohibitively expensive even for those of us in the Global North.
I have my own thoughts as to why this has taken place this year, namely
ISEAs choice to be associated with the global art market via the
Istanbul Biennial. However that is only a supposition and I would
encourage anyone on the list affiliated with the ISEA organization to
chime in with explanations for the high fees. I'm also waiting on
information from the tourist company that ISEA has contracted with. I
think it's only fair that we receive a complete breakdown of where our
conference fees are going when we are personally forking over so much of
our limited amount of money.
These fees make me seriously reconsider my participation in ISEA 2011.
I wonder if our money is not better spent organizing a
counter-conference that does not discriminate based on ability to pay.
Perhaps we would then be able to have a real "international symposium on electronic art".
I encourage others to chime in publicly.