Audience Participation in Digital Culture

Community Building For Cultural Events Of The Physical World

Posted by JaFraFrie on July 31, 2009

How can the user potentials be activated and how can their participation be facilitated?

»Internet-communities aren’t websites where people meet,
but people
who meet there«
Michael P. Schmidt 2000

Social activities are expected to increasingly move towards the internet. This assumption is based on the new possibilities of the web 2.0. As a consequence this will lead to economic and social changes, increasingly driven by the networked communities (Maurer et. al 2008: 209). Crucial in this regard is an almost revolutionary mindset towards the internet. The technologies can be operated by any layman and every user can join in to produce his own contents independently. The progression from consumerism to »prosumerism« appears to be unstoppable. The user generated content (UGC) which has been developed to this end is the baseline for the web 2.0 and their communities. The consequences do not only affect the commercial sector, but also reach out to cultural non-profit organisations – thus leading to substantial changes. »The young generation grows up with interaction and participation – they will make a cultural institution share their own ideas and furthermore they will want to become active artistically themselves« (Janner 2008: 65).

The subject of »community building for cultural events in a physical (real) world« is gaining more and more impetus with the new conditions of the web 2.0.

An internet-based community is hardly any different from a community in physical space. Both are created by the meeting of people who share the same interests. Furthermore: both communities engage in the development of a network of relations among humans. The special aspect about internet-based communities however is the fact, that the people meet and exchange their ideas in the virtual as well as physical world. An online-community – according to Mühlenbeck/ Skibicki (2007) – is a group of people, who interact socially, i.e. exchange UGC and who share common interests, goals and activities. Furthermore they temporarily visit the same sites, which is mostly virtual. (Mühlenbeck/ Skibicki 2007: 15). Technical communications means also has to be provided to the group, in order to facilitate social interaction.

Jyri Engeström, co-founder of Jaiku, has defined five key principles for the setting up and maintenance of communities: (1) Define Your Object , (2) Define Your Verbs , (3) Make the Objects Shareable , (4) Turn Invitations into Gifts and (5) Charge the Publishers, Not the Spectators .

(1) This is the easy part, but perhaps most important. The social object will be the center of your network.

(2) This means what do you want people to do with your social object. Do you want them to comment? Rate it? Share it? Watch it? Etc. Make sure whatever action they should take is clear and highly visible on the site.

(3) This is almost a no-brainer, but you would be surprised how many sites have not made it easy (or even possible!) to share the object which their site is centered around.

(4) Want your friends to join you on the network? Don’t just spam them with an invite, send them something of value. Jyri mentioned how a purchase of a Skype headset years ago also included a set for a friend. Also, PayPal had originally offered a small amount of money posted to the account of your friends who signed up for the service.

(5) On any network, there are those who are creating and those who are passively consuming the content. You shouldn’t charge the latter, only the former. The people who are actively using the service and are getting value from it in some way are the ones who would be willing to pay for additional features or, in some cases, just to use the service itself

Furthermore the four-tier model by Armstrong and Hagel can be used in this discussion: (1) creation of a member-base by providing free contents and investment in marketing, (2) enhancing participation of members by making them create their own contents and providing attractive contents, (3) loyalty by promoting encounters and relationship-building among members, (4) use for commercial purposes such as advertising and participation fees as well as offering special services.

The »social object« established by Engeström is particularly essential for the success of a virtual community. It has to be created, shared, traded, modified and commented by the users. Such an element is needed by every social network, in order to operate successfully: in the case of YouTube it’s the video, at Flickr it’s the picture, at last.fm it’s the piece of music and at facebook and co. the status of the user. The opportunity to change, to pass on and to comment is of central importance for the social object of a community

The baseline of each internet community is the user generated content (UGC). It is what makes a virtual community come to life. It is the key to participation by members. In terms of sociology participation refers to the involvement of individuals and organisations in decision-making and opinion processes. In order to achieve an activation, the target groups and the world they live in have to be addressed.

Furthermore the opportunity to communicate within a community has to be given to the users, so they can become a community. This however only means that the framework has to be provided, not the content as such. The contents are generated by the community members themselves (UGC). Therefore particularly active users should be recognised for their participation and this should be guaranteed. Otherwise there would be no incentive to participate. These incentives could be perceived as »opportunity to increase attention« in the form of surveys, games, multi-media offers etc.

A closer user connection can be achieved by emotional components such as an extended user portrayal via profiles. A further incentive for members not to leave the community, is the disclosure of the member’s experiences, as well as the online status. Other ways to encourage participation in the community are furthermore: promoting the exchange among users, searching potential users on other platforms, making users committed by offering benefits and extras, as well as networking online and offline.

First experiments with communities have been accomplished in the field of arts and culture: virtual collections can be composed in the registration area »MyCollection« in the Smithsonian American Art Museum. They can then be retrieved and viewed randomly. The Tate Gallery invites visitors to up-load portrait pictures in the »Flickr« group set up independently for this very purpose. They will be shown on the website of the Tate Gallery in rotational sequence. With the assistance of experts the social object »art« – in the form of works of art and self-made pictures – is turned into the focus of the community. Activities related to the social object have also been defined and the exchange of information and communication between users has been advanced and made easier. Particularly the use of already existing platforms may lead to problems in regards to technical realisation. Unfortunately there are no survey figures available on those projects. The connection to an increase or decrease in visitor numbers would have been particularly interesting and helpful.

Because of the multi-faceted nature of the arts and cultural world, many social objects in this regard have not been cast effectively. An internet community that focuses on the social object »dance« is dance-tech.net. It boasts quite a successful development on the peripheral topic of dancing. Now it has already more than 1.200 members. Users can announce their events publicly. They can upload videos and pictures as well as make contacts and connections to other experts. The membership numbers of dance-tech.net do not compete with the numbers of visitors of internationally renowned museums. But this definitely must not be seen as a sign of failure. Especially the active participation of almost all members must be stressed at this point. Notwithstanding the co-founder Marlon Barrios Solano continually generates attractive content by including numerous interviews with in part well-known experts from the dancing scene. These contents attract more and more users. An interview with the choreographer William Forsythe for example led to 200 new member on one day only. Furthermore Solano has entered into various co-operations, particularly into media partnerships with organisations that have created a profile with his on-line community. In reply to the question of how he achieved this multitude in participation he simply said: »Just do it!«.

Solano also works as a consultant for the Dance Films Association in New York. They have done likewise and started an online community. The registration and membership however is not free of charge (starting at $25 per annum). The association offers a multitude of benefits to their members to compensate for this charge: e.g. invitation to openings, receptions and dance film labs, discounted entry tickets and screenings, previous announcement of screenings and workshops as well as support for independent projects. Additionally each member is being given the opportunity to curate in part the programme for the »Dance on Camera«-Tour. Registered users can furthermore view video-streams of events by the DFA. The community has been able to acquire more than 1000 members. The comprehensive opportunities to participate and the drastic increase in the number of members suggest that the effort of community building has been profitable for the association.

The biggest media art festival in the German-speaking world – the „transmediale” – tries to set up a similar community particularly addressing the last festival. However opportunities for comprehensive user participation do not exist. Besides there appears to be a lack of planning at this point. Users do neither experience involvement nor is there a social object, that they can shape, pass or comment on. Registered users also lack the opportunity to communicate, such that social interaction cannot take place. Only a personal diary for planning the festival can be created and saved or tags be added to individual articles. Again no figures are available on the usage. Therefore it cannot be rated as either success or failure. At this point criticism should be expressed on the procedures and realisation of the prospective community.

Organisations in the German-speaking world appear to be generally less willing to establish their own communities similar to the Smithsonian American Art Museum or the Dance Films Association. Already existing platforms for social networking are used instead, in an attempt to make and maintain friends or connections. The direct participation in a specific event or the direct link to an organisation must at this point be viewed critically. The connections that can be established via external offers are rather loose. The increasing number of members of the aforementioned online communities however speaks for growth of independent virtual communities. Moreover the question arises, if the participation can be transferred into the physical world in order to achieve an improved interaction between art and humans. In this sense: »Successful knowledge transfer involves neither computers nor documents but rather interactions between people« (T. H. Davenport)

Jadwiga Müller, May 2009


Armstrong, Arthur/ Hagel, John (1997): Net Gain: Expanding Markets Through Virtual Communities. Harvard Business School Press.

Janner, Karin (2008): Das Internet in der Kommunikationspolitik von Kultureinrichtungen – neue Ideen und Best-Practice-Beispiele. URL: http://kulturmarketingblog.de/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/diplomarbeit-karinjanner-das-internet-in-der-kommunikationspolitik-von-kultureinrichtungen.pdf

Maurer, Tina/ Alpar, Paul/ Noll, Patrick (2008): Nutzertypen junger Erwachsener in sozialen Online-Netzwerken in Deutschland. IN: Alpar, Paul/ Blaschke, Steffen (Hrsg.): Web 2.0 – eine empirische Bestandsaufnahme. Wiesbaden: Vieweg+Teubner | GWV Fachverlage GmbH.

Mühlenbeck, Frank/ Skibicki, Klemens (2007): Verkaufsweg Social Commerce. Blogs, Podcasts, Communities – Wie man mit Web 2.0 Marketing Geld verdient. Norderstedt: Books on Demand.

Perez, Sarah (2009): Building Sites Around Social Objects (Live from Web 2.0). URL: http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/building_sites_around_social_objects_live_from_web.php

Online-Community dance-tech: http://dance-tech.net/

Dance Films Associations, Inc: http://www.dancefilmsassn.org/

Media art festival transmediale: http://www.transmediale.de

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Join in and share what you are being offered

Posted by JaFraFrie on July 31, 2009

Joining in… Joining in…. Join in and share what you are being offered

Participatory Artworks – Approaches to the digital culture as target group

Statement: the perception offer determines the strategy

Excursions into the history of art

_Reception as participation

The constitutive role of the (art) observer can be identified and defined for each aesthetic experience on the basis of the works reception of Marcel Duchamps. According to him the element of participation accomplishes the constitution of a work of art only with the reception thereof. John Cage makes the dimensions of effects of technical media become the central work tool of art. They make the participating and constituting role of the recipient into the central working tool with a new form of creativity and a new definition of the term work. Cage accomplished his compositions for radios with the use of technical media at the beginning of the fifties. Cage is known to be the first one who used random processes to create a creative act. In pieces like »Imaginary Landscape No. 4« (1951) he determined the parameters of his musical score after »I Ging«. They were but instructions for the operation of the radio. The sounds of the radio stations received brought the randomness in a relation to the uniqueness of the respective performance.

From participation to interaction

The next step in the progression from participating to interactive elements in art is found in a new form of art production, which lets the recipient interact with the work of art. This interaction can also pertain to the optical form, sound or text. In the course of this the work of art becomes a type of collaborative process, where the artist and various recipients take part in by means of an object, a context of a situation or a technical medium. Instead of a finished work, an open sphere of activity is being created by the participants. They interact among each other within the given confines. The interaction is such that it becomes the central factor of the aesthetic experience and dissolves borderlines between authors, participants and audience. At this point the concept of the “happening” by Allan Kaprow, can be referred to as representative example.

_Change of meaning of interactivity

In comparison of the sixties to the nineties there has been a change of meaning of interactivity, that is closely connected to a shift of the key motives for the application of art and media. In the sixties the effects of art and media were aligned by a combination of ideological objectives with technical means. The social and cultural utopia was the deliverable of a desired future function of the media, which was hoped to trigger off social change. Activity art as well as the political movements in the sixties had a downright critical attitude towards technology, this relationship however reverses during the nineties. The media technology establishes itself as key motive, which is adequate to the perception of a world increasingly mediated by media. The present day opportunities to interact are closely tied to the electronic media. They are determined by the technology of the interfaces and the rules of the software.

conclusion: the media art has established the participation of the observer in the creation of an art of work as an interactivity between observer and work of art, in the sense of mutually taking influence

_media hype = participation hype?

So far so good. We can thus assume that more than a hundred years of art history are sufficient to establish a general understanding and wide acceptance of participation within the arts. If we look at Charlie Gere’ and his derivation theory of digital culture, it will be obvious that a comprehensive expansion of the digital technologies will affect all spheres of production and society. Furthermore our ways of perception and activity options will change. Entirely in the sense of McLuhan: specific cultural contexts influence the values and beliefs that determine behavioural patterns. After Marshall McLuhan’s media theories, such physical and psychic behavioural role-playing has been examined in relation to media and how media, as extensions of human behaviour, affect our environment and our interactions.

But what will happen, if within the target group „digital culture“ a type of perception establishes that is in the first place passive ? In an electronically networked world – especially with the hype of the so-called media – a type of interaction has evolved which primarily takes place in front of the computer, i.e. in a sitting position. Where on your festivals and events are the representatives of a postulated digital culture ?

What are the relevant connotations of a digital bohemian world, a digital culture or interface culture ?

  • user-created contents
  • subjective scope of experience
  • networking/ network communication
  • secondary real-time experience

But are those the typical parameters for an activation of our target group ? The question is: how can a general trend within the medial world be transformed into a real involvement and connection to cultural offers ? What needs to be done so that our offers are perceived actively, not just as information or web-based announcement, but as being directly present and available on site. What steps are needed to stimulate a direct participation in the offers ? The participating offers that make the visitors join in have to be reviewed and adjusted depending on the respective perceptive offer. How can we achieve the new thinking together ? In what way can we come together and organise events like CYNETART, which is a source of fun and radiating happiness for the new generation of the digital world ?


  1. If we talk about art and art works we have to seriously consider the users with their specific conditions of life and perception.
  2. Certain perceptive occasions (cultural events) aren’t pieces of work as such. They rather have to be declared or perceived as works of art. They have to be sensed and assessed.

Art cannot be determined in terms of essentialism, i.e. within itself, but only by someone, who regards it as part of a symbolisation process. To this end we have established our festivals and events. Art (conceptions) can only be determined within art (conceptions). Only someone who knows what he considers art can get answers to the question about art or get into problems with art.

From the above I conclude the requirement to communicate the respective philosophies of the organising committees/curators to the outside world. Furthermore the understanding of the offered occasion to perceive (art) has to be made clear.

We always talk about art in a preconceived and biased way due to our own art concept ort he one known to us. And these concepts are usually formed imperceptibly in the course of the respective subject-specific socialisation. Within this process we make prototype experiences with perceptive offers, which are presented as works of art and which we have learned to regard as art at the time of the respective experience.

The term defining art and work cannot be fixed to timeless characteristics, but must be related to attitudes that stem from socialisation, prototype experiences, expectations and assessments. The more uniform their socialisation (digital culture), the more uniform will be their expectations and experiences. Therefore the cultural and participating offers (occasions to perceive) should feature material compositions that correspond to these expectations and experiences. The participants in the art process should be led to the assumption that the conception is the result of specific works/project characteristics.

Maybe borrowings taken from the happening, fluxus or concept art help you there. These avant-gardes of modernism have continued to dematerialise the work (of art) going as far as staged/acted processes or even pure playing with ideas. Theory and practice enter a generally changed relationship to each other. The work (of art) has lost its complacent self-sufficiency. It has to be brought to the frame of its baseline theories in order to realise the semantic and aesthetic message of art production. Therefore the work (of art) is dropped from its special position as autonomous work of art and becomes the moment of comprehensive reflection. This work necessitates a recipient, who uses it as a starting point for reflective perception and then produces separate and individual work realisations from it. The character of such work means in the first place to document a production and reception process at significant points or in a remarkable condition.

The subject takes the place of the object. The subject constructs objects by its perspective and its figurative attempts. Seeing and not the figured objects, the presentation mode and not the presented, the expression and not the objective connection dominate.

Conclusion: web 2.0 marketing-strategies and work-intrinsic participation offers cannot be held apart. In terms of their characteristics they are comparable. Especially with the early involvement of our potential audience in the production process of the festival or a specific project or the stimulation for the reception process by special offers of mediation.

on the future of participatory media
building sites around social objects

The objective: long-term involvement in activities of TMA especially special projects. What is the social object of TMA Hellerau?

Thomas Dumke, Mai 2009

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Posted by radimradim on September 4, 2008


As part of A.P.D.C. audience participation test beds initiative we have introduced “SYNCHRONI-CITIES” project. It brings forth the diversity and cultural specificity of different European spaces. It is based on the idea of cultural exploration, dialogue and simultaneity.

The game is shaped as a simultaneous urban exploration quest based on the idea of creating “synonymous places” (different locations in different cities/countries that have a common definition: the same trail leads to them). It takes place in the real world and the internet. A mixed-reality platform will be developed in order to allow artists and the general public to explore and share cultural aspects of the European urban space. Thus, it gives the artists and communities the opportunity to engage in an intercultural dialogue that simultaneously stresses upon identity and alterity.

The concept: “A trail can lead to many places. Places a given trail leads to define a multiplace.”

We generally assume maps guide us from where ever we are to where we want to go. When using a map we repeatedly match the map’s clues (corners, street names, etc.) against reality and the road to our destination is a trail of clues we successfully matched against points of reality. If we don’t know our destination, the map (the clue set) and the process of using the map (the matching process) validate the place at the end of our journey and make us recognize it as the point we wanted to get to. We define such a place as “the place our trail leads us to.” This definition is as valid as our judgement, our clues and our reality. If any of these conditions are offset we wind up in different places every time we use the same map. Then we have a set of places that are synonymous, because they have the same definition: the same trail leads us to them.

The project was initiated by A.P.D.C. core partner from Cluj (Romania) AltArt Foundation which promotes innovative forms of art based on new technologies and contributes to the development of effective policies aimed at cultural development. Through its activities the foundation supports the cultural community in Romania to synchronize to trends in contemporary arts throughout Europe and promotes an innovative approach of the arts from both artists and audiences.

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ADD soundsystem ver. 2.0

Posted by radimradim on September 4, 2008



As part of A.P.D.C. audience participation test beds initiative we have introduced “ADD soundsystem” project. It is an installation conceived as an open system and tool for other artists to realize their own sound content. ADD soundsystem can become a space for some form of music production or performance, it can be used as a sound installation or a sonic playground for a workshop. The aim is to create a specific social context, space for encounters, communication and participation. ADD soundsystem oscilates between different types of sound production and perception. It decentralizes the position of musician / performer and obliterates both creative and physical gap between the creator and the audience. The installation is designed to be as transparent, easily understood and operated for any audience member.

ADDsoundsystem is a low cost, DIY portable surround system with a decentralized control. It is a rhizomatic structure. It can be hacked into numerous ways. It may be installed in numerous constellations, reduced or expanded. It is an ongoing project and a traveling installation (a soundsystem is supposed to travel). Wherever it is installed it is open to input from others both at the level of installation and on the level of sound content. It may be installed on its own or it may co-exist with other installations.

ADD soundsystem is a participatory project by rRadim Labuda and Darina Alster.


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Programme of the Mini-Symposium “New Media Art Audiences”

Posted by Pavel Sedlak on May 18, 2008

Mini-Symposium “New Media Art Audiences” took place at CIANT GALLERY in Prague (Krizkovskeho 18, map) on Friday, May 23rd, 2008. Talks were held in English, entry was free, limited number of seats.

This debate event was an opportunity to engage with the evolving nature of audience in the field of new media art. We brought together curators, festival directors as well as artists in order to discuss natures and identities of new media art events (concerning products, processes, visitor experiences) and different professional perspectives on new media creativity, curatorship and programming, e.g. those of the artist, artist-curator, curator, technician, educator, artist-educator, academic etc. The main focus was on audience participation or on how to get various audiences interested in art in and of the information age. The event was linked into the international project A.P.D.C. (Audience Participation in Digital Culture) which is supported by the Grundtvig programme (Life-long learning) of the European Union. Main organiser: CIANT – International Centre for Art and New Technologies in Prague, in collaboration with: Centre for Global Studies, Czech Academy of Sciences.




12.00–12.10 Welcome by Pavel Sedlák

12.10–12.40 Barbara U. Schmidt: ARS ELECTRONICA: Diversity of “New” Audiences of Media Art

12.40–12.50 Discussion

12.50–13.15 Thomas Dumke and Anja Dietel: CYNETart_07encounter: Various Degrees and Possibilities of Including the Audience and Communicating Media Art Works to the Public

13.15–13.40 Slavo Krekovič: Multiplace Festival

13.40–14.05 Honza SvasekseeMe.ath.cx

14.05–14.15 Discussion

14.15–15.30 Break



15.30–16.00 Paul Wilson / Liquidiser: Point of Centre

16.00–16.30 Sonja Leboš: Playfulness of Public Space

16.30–17.00 Rarita Szakats: Terra incognita: Mixed Reality as Experienced by Users

17.00–17.20 Discussion coffee

17.20–17.50 Bojana Romic: Art Recognition in the Information Age

17.50–18.00 Discussion

18.00–20.00 Dinner

20.00–20.30 rRadim Labuda: ADD soundsystem in Context, followed by a performance by Slavo Krekovič


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Multiplace by Slavo Krekovič

Posted by Pavel Sedlak on May 18, 2008

Multiplace Festival

Slavo Krekovič

Multiplace is network-in-movement of people and organisations interested in interaction between media, technologies, art, culture and society. Network activities culminate every year into the festival, that is happening parallely at several locations in the world. Its program is open to workshops, installations, discussions, concerts, performances, exhibitions, presentations, screenings and especially new forms of creativity. Original focus on the new media culture has been evolving since 2002 and besides the technological aspect of digital media in art, the focus shifted also to questions related to its aesthetical, social, cultural, legal and political issues. The aim of the festival-network Multiplace is to create the fertile ground for media art, to support the creativity in an open and collaborative environment and to encourage critical reflection on the life in the culture shaped by technologies. Multiplace emphasizes the experimentation with the possibilities of collaboration and networking among particular nodes in the network, but also with new ways of audience participation and involvement.

Bio: Slavo Krekovič (SK) is a founding editor-in-chief of of ¾ revue and co-organiser of Multiplace festival.

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Terra Incognita. Mixed Reality as Experienced by Users by Rariţa Szakáts and Laura Codreanu

Posted by Pavel Sedlak on May 18, 2008

Terra Incognita. Mixed reality as experienced by users

Rariţa Szakáts and Laura Codreanu

“Terra Incognita” is a series of real/virtual exploration events developed by AltArt between 2000-2006. The projects were conceived as multiplayer game platforms, commenting social changes in Romania. The four editions of “Terra Incognita” covered issues like traveling via telepresence, the fading communist heritage, urban legends or local/european values. The presentation gives an overview of the user experiences that the various mixed reality platforms of Terra Incognita has enabled. The level of audience participation and their direct experience varied from one edition to the other: in “TI1” – virtually exploring remote territories and uncharted cultures by guiding a team of real travelers; in “TI2” – moving around avatars in order to re-immerse in the past by getting to know communist cultures similar to their own; in “TI3” – active input of personal stories and experiences that became landmarks in the “urban community map” they created on the game platform; and in “TI4” – creating their own avatars and virtually traveling around European cities while at the same time competing with each other and cooperating with each other in discovering the European values.

Bio: Rariţa Szakáts (RO) works as arts manager and cultural policymaker. She graduated the University of Arts and Design in Cluj, Romania (2003) and holds a second BA in Journalism at Babes Bolyai University Cluj, Romania (1997). During the past ten years she worked in fields such as culture, media, democracy and minority rights in different nongovernmental organizations: AltArt Foundation, Ethnocultural Diversity Resource Center, Soros Foundation for an Open Society Romania. Rariţa Szakáts is part of the AltArt creative team and the executive director of the foundation. Born in 1975, Rariţa Szakáts lives and works in Cluj, Romania.

Bio: Laura Codreanu (RO) was born in 1976 in Cluj, Romania. She currently works as arts manager and editor. She graduated the University of Arts and Design in Cluj, Romania (2003) – photography – video and computer image section and the Babes Bolyai University Cluj – Spanish and English Language and Literature (2003) and Journalism (1997). She worked in book publishing, advertising, culture, media, illustration and design (for Saga Publishing House, Echinox Magazine, Netsoft Systems, AltArt Foundation, Soros Foundation for an Open Society Romania). She is presently working as project coordinator in the AltArt Foundation.

AltArt Foundation: Among the cultural phenomena we witness in Romania during the last 10 years, digital culture is the field with the most spectacular growth. Its manifestations – opens source culture and file sharing, chat, net art, gaming, blogs a.o. – are more and more present in the life of the community, generating debates, opinions, social and economic imapacts, loss and gain, so to say …progress. AltArt is commited to supporting the development of digital culture in Romania. AltArt work includes urban exploration projects, exhibitions, professional development for artists and cultural managers, workshops in animation, film and the creative use of new technology, public screenings and debates, research and policy development. AltArt runs in Cluj the Binar Centre – a lab for arts and technologies that offers resources in the field of digital culture through a documentation collection, open workshops and a showcase of European new media arts projects.

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ARS ELECTRONICA: Diversity of “New” Audiences of Media Art by Barbara U. Schmidt

Posted by Pavel Sedlak on May 18, 2008

ARS ELECTRONICA: Diversity of “New” Audiences of Media Art

Barbara U. Schmidt

This presentation is related to the research project “Operating System Ars Electronica. By using the terms “operation” and “operating system” that were introduced into the field of arts in the early ‘90s, this project specifically refers to discussions from the area of institutional critique which questioned strategies of the presentation and appreciation of art. The term “system” also refers to a primarily cultural studies approach, which serves to describe and analyze, how the Ars Electronica Festival was initiated and how all of its components function and interact. The program of the Ars Electronica Festival is outstanding, because it offers the audiences a great variety of events and approaches. But its structure is not neutral, rather it positions the events in distinct sequences, at special times and locations. These parameters have a great influence: they signalize the ‘importance’ of events, they separate contents from each other, they get along with distinct behaviors and dress codes, they indicate whether the event is rather entertaining or instructive. Thus there is a broad variety of topics and events but at the same time there is also a clear system of classification, a system which also implies a differentiation between audiences: between lay persons and experts, insiders and outsiders, artists and amateurs. In my paper I would like to ask whether these distinctions – which are significant for the field of media art in general – still meet with the practices, the interests, and the self-concept of all groups of audiences; because due to the mediatization of society there is a wide range of visitors who do not fit into these binary patterns: they have for instance expertise in programming or web-design concerning to their professional background, others are creative and well informed media-amateurs or game aficinados. My paper is based on interviews with visitors of Ars Electronica in 2006.

Bio: Barbara U. Schmidt (DE) is researcher at the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute Media.Art.Research. in Linz (A), where she directs a research project on the institutional development and objectives of the Ars Electronica. She studied art history and German language and literature at the universities of Bonn and Munich. From 1995 to 1998 she was an assistant to the Women’s Representative of, and a lecturer at, the Academy of Fine Arts, Munich. She was also active as a curator (exhibitions, multimedia projects, conferences, and film events, among others for Kunstraum München and the Künstlerwerkstatt Lothringer Strasse, Munich) as well as an assistant lecturer at various Austrian universities. Between 2003 and 2005, Schmidt worked as an assistant professor at the Institute for Media/Media Theory at the University of Arts and Industrial Design in Linz and as director of the research project “New Media Images,” supported by the Austrian Ministry of Education, Science, and Culture.

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ADD soundsystem in Context by rRadim Labuda

Posted by Pavel Sedlak on May 18, 2008

ADD soundsystem in Context

rRadim Labuda

ADD soundsystem project is a sound installation conceived as an open system and tool for other artists to realize their own sound content.

It can become a space for live music production or performance, it can be used as a sound installation or a sonic playground for a workshop. The aim is to create a specific social context, space for encounters, communication and participation. ADD soundsystem oscillates between different types of sound production and perception. It decentralizes the position of musician / performer and obliterates both creative and physical gap between the creator and the audience. Installation is designed to be transparent, easily understood and operated for any audience member. See more.

Bio: Radim Labuda (SK) has studied at the Faculty of Architecture of the Slovak Technical University in Bratislava and at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague in the studios of Prof. Miloš Šejn and Prof. Michael Bielický. In 2004 he spent a semester at San Francisco Art Institute. In 2005 he has become a finalist for the Oskár Čepan Award in Slovakia. Graduated in 2006. Since 2004 his work is focused on the medium of video. Exhibited nationally and internationally.

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Art Recognition in the Information Age by Bojana Romic

Posted by Pavel Sedlak on May 18, 2008

Art Recognition in the Information Age

Bojana Romic

The presentation will address two problems that in connection with the position of being a Serbian artist, and more general question about possibility of art recognition in the information age.

Being a multimedia artist of today, demands quite a financial investment, and often lot of research. In Serbia, there are just a few NGO’s and other organizations that may provide funding, but under specific circumstances – for example, only for the projects that are made in cooperation with artists from the country that organization represents. During 90s, artists from Serbia were more likely to get funds from such organizations if their artwork deals with current political situation in the country. The result was that many young artists started making artworks that address the political context, even if they had completely different area of interest, just in order to get funding, and because they hoped they could make themselves “visible” in terms of European market. As information age and development of nano-technology affected the current art practice in the world, it became fashionable to make experiments with touch-sensitive fibers, sonic sculptures, wearable interactive textile and the like – unfortunately, that sort of art practice is not likely to be developed in countries like Serbia, just because the technical equipment for such works is so costly. On the other hand, art groups sometimes produce low-cost works that deal with video gaming and net art, and are usually made by artists and programmers who work together on voluntary-basis. Internet seems to offer infinite possibilities: you may think that now, when you have such perfect tool to express yourself, you can beat the traditional pathway in building your career, and avoid showing off at traditionally important festivals/meetings/biennials in order to become a recognized artist. We need to have on mind that we’re all facing information overload, to many data, too poorly organized – and we CAN imagine that cyberspace is “perfectly democratic place where it makes no difference whether you’re man or woman, black or white”, and that only good idea matters, but as Tim Jordan points out: “power is pre- and postpolitics, pre- and postculture and pre- and postauthority – power is the condition and limit of politics, culture and authority /1/”. So do you (in the information age) can get recognized even if you avoid art establishment, or you still have to get recognized by the curatorial “owner of the gaze/ owner of the power” via traditional sources? In short, what is fundamentally changed in such system with the information age? Personally, I’m closer to the opinion that information age didn’t bring a huge change in this economy of power/technopower in curatorial praxis until now, but yet I still think that Internet offers nice opportunities for selfpromotion. Manuel Castells points out that spaces of places are connected with space of flows /2/ (interactive network), which means that topological map of today should be changed up to distinctive level. On that behalf, there is a potential that New York-London-Berlin axis should share more/less the same relevance with virtual spaces in curatorial praxis in future. If that’s the case, it would be useful to discuss how to what are the rules of the game in this new, augmented reality.

/1/ Tim Jordan, one of the participants of <eyebeam> forum, later published in Interaction – artistic practice in the network, edited by Amy Scholder with Jordan Crandall, Distributed Art Publishers, New York, 107, /2/ Manuel Castells “Space of Flows, Space of Places: Materials for a Theory of Urbanism in the Information Age” in The Cybercities Reader, Routledge, London and New York, 2004

Bio: Bojana Romic (SRB), visual artist and theoretician, graduated at the department for visual arts at the University of Fine Arts in Belgrade. Right now on PhD studies on Theory of Art and New Media Department, University of Arts, Belgrade, with the main field of intertest in cybercultures.

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