Randall Packer
Since the beginning
Works in WASHINGTON, District of Columbia United States of America

Since the 1980s, multimedia artist, composer, writer and educator Randall Packer has worked at the intersection of interactive media and live performance. He has received international acclaim for his socially and politically infused critique of media culture, and has performed and exhibited at museums, theaters, and festivals throughout the world. Packer is also a writer and scholar in new media, most notably the co-editor of Multimedia: From Wagner to Virtual Reality and the author of his long running blog: Reportage from the Aesthetic Edge. He holds an MFA and PhD in music composition and has taught multimedia at the University of California, Berkeley, Maryland Institute College of Art, American University, CalArts, and Johns Hopkins University. He is currently a Visiting Associate Professor at the School of Art, Design & Media at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, where he teaches the art of the networked practice. Most recently, he developed Open Source Studio (OSS), an international project exploring collaborative online research and teaching in the media arts. Packer is also an artist educator at the Museum of Modern Art: his online course received an award from Museums and the Web as the best educational site of 2014. Packer works and teaches remotely from his underground studio bunker in Washington, DC.
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Art of the Networked Practice | Online Symposium

Tue Mar 31, 2015 13:20 - Thu Apr 02, 2015


Art of the Networked Practice | Online Symposium
March 31 ­ April 2, 2015

Presented by the School of Art, Design & Media
Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
Co-chaired by Randall Packer & Vibeke Sorensen
In Association with Furtherfield | London

The Art of the Networked Practice | Online Symposium is an international
gathering exploring emergent forms of networked research, artistic
production, and teaching in the arts. Intended as a global and inclusive
gathering, without registration fees, the symposium unites local and remote
speakers and audiences via Web-conferencing from around the world to discuss
a range of topics, including: distributed teaching and studio models,
collective research, peer-to-peer cultural production, networked
performance, big data cultural analytics, and a broad array of issues in
Internet art & culture. The Art of the Networked Practice | Online Symposium
brings together artists, educators, theorists, and scholars from
universities, art schools, museums, alternative art spaces, and other
cultural institutions to capture the range and diversity of current
networked practices in the arts.

To Attend Online: Visit the Website and register:

Steve Dixon, JonCates, Peter Looker, Lev Manovich

Tim White, Anne Balsamo, Deborah Howes, David A. Ross, Anne-Marie Schleiner,
Marc Garrett, Ruth Catlow, Alex Adriaansens, Juan Camilo González, Charlotte
Frost, Melinda Rackham, McKenzie Wark

Live Webcam Performance:
Created by Annie Abrahams & Helen Varley Jamieson

Juan Camilo González, Nick Briz, Joseph Yølk Chiocchi

Symposium Dates: (all times are Singapore, UTC or GMT + 8 hours)
Tuesday, March 31: Online Reception & Performance, 6pm - 8pm SGT
Wednesday, April 1: Symposium Day 1, 9am - 5:30pm SGT
Thursday, April 2: Symposium Day 2, 9am - 5:30pm SGT

Visit the Website for full symposium details:

Sponsored by the NTU School of Art, Design & Media
Centre for Liberal Arts & Social Sciences (CLASS)
Teaching, Learning and Pedagogy Division | EdeX Grants


The Accidental Archivist: Criticism on Facebook, and How to Preserve It

Since Facebook is simply not designed for archival purposes, the larger question becomes, why not use a content management system such as Wordpress for purposes of recording and indexing dialogue? It is also possible to integrate Facebook into Wordpress comments, and I wonder if this might resolve the issue if Facebook needs to be used.

In sum: there are such powerful tools for discussion forums, but they are underutilized. I have seen Facebook used for serious online discussion, particularly in group pages, but it is horribly inadequate for this purpose.


Announcing : Multimediale, Capturing the Capital!

A Festival of Art, Politics, and New Media
April 19 - April 22, 2007
Washington, DC


Presented by Provisions Library
in association with the American University Art Department
& the George Washington University Department of Fine Arts & Art History
sponsored by Viridian Restaurant

We are pleased to announce MULTIMEDIALE, a
four-day multimedia arts festival that brings
together artists from the Washington, DC region
centered around the theme: CAPTURING THE CAPITAL!
MULTIMEDIALE seeks to energize the DC arts
community with new ideas about art, society and
politics. Visit our Web site at
http://www.multimedialedc.org for news and
dialogue. MULTIMEDIALE is organized by Randall
Packer and curator Niels Van Tomme. All events
are free and open to the public.


Assume the identity of your congressman...
participatory "people's tours" of the Capital...
pray at America's Grave, a burial site for the
nation... a teacart interrogation of government's
involvement in military conflicts... a forensic
striptease that collects false remembrances of
political events... performance protests in front
of surveillance cameras... and much more!


John James Anderson, Ben Azarra, Mark Cooley,
Edgar Endress, Alberto Gaitan, Jeff Gates, Brian
Judy, Bryan Leister, Rebecca Mills, Randall
Packer, Siobhan Rigg, Fereshteh Toosi


Thursday, April 19, 7PM
Lecture: Beral Madra
Art as Mediation
American University, Abramson Family Recital Hall, Katzen Arts Center
4400 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington DC
co-presented by the George Washington University
Department of Fine Arts & Art History

Internationally renowned Turkish curator Beral
Madra is the keynote speaker for Multimediale.
Active in the Middle Eastern political art scene,
she will discuss current strategies of practicing
art as a tool to introduce ways of mutual
understanding, reciprocity and participation - an
important process for democratization, social
awareness, and the emergent mediation between
life and art.

Friday, April 20 - Sunday, April 22, 12-8PM
Exhibition: Capturing the Capital!
Provisions Library, 1611 Connecticut Ave, 2nd
Floor, Dupont Circle, Washington DC

An exhibition of installations, public
performances, and Net art, conceived as a timely
critique of political conditions in America. The
artists will create site-specific works that
transform the city of Washington DC as a
real-time artistic environment.

Friday, April 20, 8PM
Video art screening: You are my torture / I am your chamber
Provisions Library

An evening of international video art questioning
the abundant presence of media in human existence
at the beginning of the 21st century. The videos
are at times ironically, philosophically or
politically inspired reflections on the presence
of media in everyday life. Co-curated by
Stateless Cinema.

Saturday April 21, 6PM
Curator's Walkthrough: Walk & Talk
Provisions Library

A walkthrough with curator Niels Van Tomme. He
will discuss Multimediale and his collaboration
with the artists in the creation of the

Saturday, April 21, 8PM
Live Performance: Perform!
Provisions Library

If all the world is a stage, then each of us is a
performer. And if Washington, DC is the stage of
world politics, then all our performances are
political. Perform! is an evening of new music
and experimental media performance art.

Sunday, April 22, 3PM
Panel Discussion: The artist's responsibility in a political environment
Provisions Library

A panel discussion that invites prominent figures
from the DC arts community to reflect and discuss
the role of the artist from an artistic,
political and activist perspective. Panelists:
Margaret Parsons, Moderator (National Gallery of
Art), Leanne Mella (US State Department), Randall
Packer (American University), Paul Roth (Corcoran
Gallery of Art), Don Russell (Provisions
Library), Niels Van Tomme (independent curator),
Jenny Toomey (Future of Music),

Sunday, April 22, 5PM-8PM
Closing Reception: Capturing the Capital! (my end is my beginning)
Provisions Library
sponsored by Viridian Restaurant

All events are free and open to the public.


American University
Abramson Family Recital Hall
Katzen Arts Center
4400 Massachusetts Ave NW
Washington, DC

Provisions Library
1611 Connecticut Ave NW
2nd Floor, Dupont Circle
Washington, DC


info @ multimedialedc.org

Advisory Board: Georgio Furioso, Bill Gilcher,
Margaret Parsons, Andrea Pollan, Paul Roth, Don

More Information:




Art as Mediation : Panel Discussion at New School

Art as Mediation
Thursday, February 15, 2007, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.
The New School, Michael Klein Room
66 West 12th Street, 5th floor
New York City
Admission: $8, free for all students as well as CAA attendees and New
School faculty, staff and alumni with valid ID

Art as Mediation explores how communications and new media are
increasingly employed in the arts to engage, connect, and empower
global audiences in times of crisis. The panel features artists,
theorists, writers, thinkers and critics from different backgrounds,
and is moderated by artist Randall Packer.

As ruptures from world crises deepen, more people look to alternative
models for exchange and mediation. Technological means have recently
surfaced in the arts that successfully bridge social, cultural, and
political differences. Different disciplines come into play, in
questioning, challenging, and experimenting with social and political
change. How do artists, curators, and theorists use
telecommunications technology proactively? How do peer-to-peer
networks, on-line social spaces, and blogs lead to participation and
empowerment? How are artists using electronic systems to reposition
the notion of dialogue and to define dialogue as mediation that
counters or disrupts stereotypes and dangerous ideologies?

Steve Dietz, curator and Director, Zero-One, San Jose, CA
Carin Kuoni, curator and Director, Vera List Center for Art and
Politics, New School, New York
Drazen Pantic, internet activist, Co-Director, Location One, New York
Jon Winet, artist and Professor, University of Iowa

Randall Packer, artist, Assistant Professor, Department of Art,
American University, Washington D.C., Secretary-at-Large, U.S.
Department of Art & Technology

Presented on occasion of the College Art Association's 95th Annual
Conference in association with the New Media Caucus.

Randall Packer
Assistant Professor, Multimedia
Department of Art
American University, Washington DC
Secretary-at-Large, US Department of Art & Technology

Web: http://www.zakros.com
US DAT: http://www.usdat.us
Email: rpacker@zakros.com
AU: 202.885.2773
Studio: 202.342.1292
Cell: 202.439.4306


Conference Report: Where Art Thou Net.Art? On Zero One/ ISEA 2006

+Commissioned by Rhizome.org+

Conference Report:
Where Art Thou Net.Art? On Zero One/ ISEA 2006
by Randall Packer

The long awaited Zero One/ ISEA 2006 took over
San Jose, California, two weeks ago in a
sprawling, city-wide, mega-festival celebrating
art and technology in the heart of Silicon
Valley. Much has already been written about it,
from daily observations in the local papers to a
feature in the New York Times, from the
Blogosphere to the listservs. As one who has been
immersed in the new media scene since the late
1980s, I would like to contribute a bit of
historical context to the discussion: I offer my
commentary from a pre-millennial perspective,
when the dream emerged in the 1990s, during an
era of optimism and promise, the dream of a new
art form that would side-step a mainstream art
world mired in curators, museums, galleries,
objects, and old aesthetic issues. This was the
dream of Net.Art, a revolutionary new
international movement of artists, techies, and
hackers, led in large part by the unassuming,
unabashedly ambitious new media curator from the
Walker Art Center, Steve Dietz, now director of
Zero One.

These were heady times indeed. I met Steve in
1997 while I was in residence at the San Jose
Museum of Art. His research had brought him to
the holy Mecca of new media, Silicon Valley and
the community of artists in the Bay Area who had
been working with new technologies since the dawn
of the personal computer. He wanted to meet Joel
Slayton (who would later become director of the
2006 ISEA Symposium), so I escorted him over to
San Jose State University where Joel is head of
the CADRE Laboratory for New Media.

Shortly thereafter, Steve launched two
groundbreaking Net.Art exhibitions, Shock of the
View, and Beyond Interface, both of which brought
together leading Net artists exploding on the
scene: Mark Amerika, Natalie Bookchin, Masaki
Fujihata, Ken Goldberg, Eduardo Kac, Jodi, Mark
Napier, Alexei Shulgin, to name just a few. It
was a time of artistic transformation, new
paradigms, hypernovels, distributed authorship,
and globally extended, real-time, robotic,
collective art. It seemed anything was possible.
By 1999, David Ross was Director of the San
Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Intel was pouring
millions into Artmuseum.net, and there seemed no
end to the surging tide of experimental new media
art. It was at that time that early discussion
began of an international festival of art and
technology in Silicon Valley. Beau Takahara
founded the organization Ground Zero, which would
later become Zero One.

But with the new millennium the tides would turn:
Natalie Bookchin announced the death of Net.Art,
the tech boom was a bust, and both David Ross and
Steve Dietz were ousted from their museum jobs
for harboring visionary aspirations in an
economic downturn. So with the announcement that
the Zero One Festival and the ISEA Symposium
would launch in 2006 in San Jose, with Steve
Dietz at the helm, it was something like the
Phoenix rising from the ashes.

And it rose with a bang! "Seven Days of Art and
Interconnectivity," with over 200 participating
artists, an international symposium, city-wide
public installations, exhibitions, concerts,
performances, pubic spectacles,
performative-live-distributed cinema, wi-fi
interventions, container culture, skateboard
orchestras, digital dance, sine wave surfing,
datamatics, surveillance balloons, a pigeon blog,
the squirrel-driven Karaoke Ice Battle on wheels,
and to top it off a nostalgic, bombastic
blast-from-the-past from Survival Research
Laboratories. The 13th International Symposium on
Electronic Art Exhibition took over the sprawling
South Hall at the Convention Center. Its themes:
Interactive City, Pacific Rim, Transvergence,
Edgy Products, and on and on... spoke of enough
technology to wire a third world nation.

And so, with all the buzz, and the sheer largesse
of this ambitious festival of new media, I
couldn't help ponder how it was connected to the
original Net.Art dream, when a new art form arose
from networking every computer on every desktop
and engaging a global audience in new, pervasive
ways that became possible as technology was
increasingly ubiquitous and transparent. The
Net.Art dream would call into question our
relationship to the new media, as art has always
aspired, to critique its impact on our lives, our
culture, our communications systems, our
relationships, our view of the world, our own
changing humanity in a technological world. I
couldn't help but to wonder, what exactly
happened to that dream, once driven by a small
fringe core of artists, writers, thinkers, and
curators, and now practiced by literally
thousands of techno-artists emerging from every
university and art school across the planet, many
of whom converged in San Jose for Zero One / ISEA.

The first thing that came to mind was that art
and technology no longer exists on the fringe of
the artworld, and in fact, the demarcation
between art and engineering has blurred
considerably. At Zero One you couldn't tell the
artist from the engineer (Billy Kluver must be
rolling in his grave). Joseph Beuys' notions of
social sculpture, or Allan Kaprow's participatory
Happenings now inform the new systems of art that
have dissolved the distinction between artist and
non-artist, between performer and audience. For
example, the Interactive City theme, organized by
Eric Paulos, sought "urban-scale projects for
which the city is not merely a palimpsest of our
desires but an active participant in their

In the installations of Jennifer Steinkamp at the
San Jose Museum of Art, I saw suburban moms
taking snapshots of their kids in strollers
bathed in layers of colored light. In the
Listening Post by Mark Hansen and Ben Rubin, also
at SJMA, the artists orchestrated chat room
discussion, in real-time, from around the globe.
Etoy's mesmerizing Mission Eternity involved a
trailer installation parked outside SJMA in the
downtown Plaza, which investigated personal data
storage for the afterlife (ashes to ashes, bits
to bits).

There was good art and there was bad art, but
everywhere you turned there was art or something
like art permeating the physical spaces of
downtown San Jose (including the mobile light
rail cars and the dome of City Hall), as well as
the invisible ether of the airwaves, from
bluetooth networks to cellular tours (the latest
rage). There was very little time to spend with
any particular work. Everyone was engaged in high
gear, moving from one venue to the next. In Bill
Viola's keynote address, he made the prescient
remark, "artists are jumping into a train for a
high speed ride while they're still laying the
tracks ahead."

The hyper-adrenalin flow resonated in the on-line
commentary as well, where, if you read the
considerable Blog chatter surrounding Zero One/
ISEA, you would find that the experience became
concentrated on sheer movement and the social
networking that reigns supreme at all conferences
and festivals.

And so what about the dream of Net.Art? Those of
us who have spent countless hours, in the past
decade, bemoaning the loss of the dream could now
say that the dream had been realized (for better
or for worse). I heard artist friends complain
about the democratization of Net.Art, the selling
out of Net.Art, the "mainstreamization" of
Net.Art, and other remarks I won't mention here,
and yet, I think that we would all agree that the
uber-dream of Net.Art -- to dismantle the
precious nature of the object, an art that would
defy the walls of the museum, that would, as
expressed in Roy Ascott's Museum of A Third Kind,
reject the notion of the physical museum space
altogether, the dream of Net.Art as a force that
would rewire the experience of art, a "fantasy
beyond control" according to Lynn Hershman -- had
become a living, breathing reality in San Jose
for those compressed seven days.

And if you turned to the Blogosphere there were
plenty of critics: Patrick Lichty wrote, "There
are many topics, like locative media, data
mapping, ecologies, and so on that are being
explored. On a rhetorical level I have to ask
whether these are the right ones and why these
are the ones that are compelling to us." And on
the CRUMB list, I found an insightful comment by
Molly Hankwitz, who said, "I think the process of
interaction must be done very carefully. The
worst thing is the mainstreaming of situationism
into a middle class playground."

Finally, I turn to Mark Amerika, one of the
original dreamers, for a closing observation:
"Net art is in many ways still the most alive and
accessed art movement ever to NOT be absorbed
into the commercial art worldE and that's
fantastic!" Perhaps the success of Zero One /
ISEA was in its commitment to concentrate on
experimental media art, to emphasize media art's
inclusive, democratic, and participatory nature,
and lastly, that contemporary art must embrace
the new technologies - shamelessly, fearlessly,
defiantly. Net.Art may be dead, but Net Art 2.0
is alive and kicking.

Randall Packer is a widely-exhibited artist,
composer, educator, and scholar. He is Assistant
Professor of Multimedia at American University in
Washington, DC, and the author of Multimedia:
From Wagner to Virtual Reality.