Representing ISEA97

Posted by Rhizome | Sun Mar 2nd 1997 1 a.m.

Responding to ISEA97's recent "<a href="/cgi-local/query.cgi?action=grab_object&kt=kt0461">Initiative to
Promote Diversity</a>" [RHIZOME CONTENTBASE, 2.13.97], Pit Schultz wrote:

just a short and maybe provocative note.. I strongly doubt that the
model of representation helps in any way here. I doubt that 'the
cultural field' functions like 'Congress' or 'UNO'. Representation is a
bad model, especially for so called 'global' media art. Representation
works uni-directional and is following an optical metaphoric.

Isn't the utopia of the great all-to-all-conversation based on a
fundamental obsolescent of representants-as-persons? Doesn't the new
netizen's 'meme of the meme' relate to a non-representative non-subject
centered and machinic model of a history of ideas and culture? And
aren't these tendencies problematic enough to discuss in the context of
bias, 'geographically, culturally, and economically'?

The model of representation, applied in minority politics is based on
the logic of Television and other broadcast media. It should be
questioned on the net. You can put up your own server, which can get as
many clicks as MSN.com. Take the example of B92. Who believes that
inviting coloured people in a talk show does anything against racism?
The alienating effects of TV itself are not representated i this way.
Same with 'Hi Culture'. This is a difficult subject, and it should get
more difficult and conflictuous especially in context of global media to
become productive.

Applying the model of representation to the cultural politics of global
electronic media implies the affirmation of centralisation and a
hierarchic model of communication. Such a logic gives place for all
kinds of 'inverted racism', the market strategies of addressing bad
consciousness, political opportunism and other sad symptoms of a
cultural paradigm which hopefully gets replaced soon, by a more
processual more distributed and more direct model of 'symbolic power'.

[...]

Did Jazz, Salsa, HipHop, Jungle, Dub, or Raga need the credits of the
representational centers of a self-announced Hi-Culture? No, it created
it's own social media spaces and imaginary cartographies, and
technological practises, even if was getting commodified within this
process, at least the model of 'hi cultural representation' seems to be
a obsolete in popular culture and its (electronic) media.

Even if there are some good intentions - why was there never an ISEA in
all the continents you mention to 'better representate now'? Little
reforms are sometimes worse then fully realising needed changes. I find
it disappointing that especially from an ISEA in the US and the reported
extreme socio-economic problems there, such half-hearted 'promotion of
diversity' is getting announced. In the context of the US-centered
Internet and its questions regarding overcoding and homogenizing
regional cultural differences and establishing a 'digital pax americana'
it just becomes more dubious.

[...]

It would be very good, for example, if ISEA would start an open mailing
list for open discussion. Where projects could get presented, abstracts
sent, different englishes mixed and representational diversity emerge
and clash. Instead of 'pushing' centralised models of representation
through electronic media into the finest fabrics of regional cultures,
we have a real chance that 'the other calls back' - perhaps via e-mail.
Providing free Server space, especially for the upcoming net-video
standards would be also very useful. The result may be not what one is
expecting as 'good art' within 'academic standards'.

[...]

G.H. Hovagimyan replied:

I find it incredible that ISEA decides on a quota system for THIRD WORLD
participants. I mean really. I'm Armenian but I was born in the US.
Does my race disqualify me or my birthplace or my gender disqualify me
from being an interesting artist. I live in NYC. I'm sorry I don't live
in SF near silicon valley. Does that make me less of a digital artist?
The spirit of internationalism is a good thing but to set up arbitrary
criteria for choosing who gets to present work and who doesn't is more
of the same "OLD FASHIONED HIERARCHICAL RACIST BEHAVIOR." In cyberspace
no-one has to know your, race, gender, age, nationality and so forth. It
shouldn't matter.
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