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<nettime> Chiang Mai - May 03
Rudolf Stoert on Sat, 17 May 2003 09:47:50 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Chiang Mai - May 03

Hello -

I've been invited to share my experiences regarding the development of
IT/"new media art" in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Here you go -- it'll be an
ongoing coverage, partly personal, partly interviews, partly
overviews/summaries. To get you into the mood I'll choose "personal"
first -- wait just another sec:

I arrived a month ago, 10th of April, for the very first "new media art

It became obvious pretty soon that this festival was just a timely
coincidence for me to arrive in a country..., well..., on the brinks "to
become a knowledge society until 2010". Made some small-time researches
-- challenging times over here! So we do know development of IT/"new
media" in the USA, in western Europe & Soros-post-soviet eastern Europe,
in Japan & southeast Asia. What's the reasoning? What kind of hopes,
promises -- & illusions? What the heck does a country, a rural country,
a tourists paradise, & a royal kingdom : Thailand need IT for? Or "new
media art"?


savadee -

[> I started this mail before easter... so never mind about some
internal 'lil time warping -- btw: w/ which to launch it: <]

happy easter greetings from the future: since 2 days I live in 2547 --
hmm, that makes me about 580 years of age... -- live up to that, kids!
for chrissakes ;)

wanna know how the future looks like? well, simply said, it's over...
true, honestly. believe me. no doubt about that. sad but truetruetrue.
forget about it. 
the festival. at least. we produced one small audio-track w/
steve-reich-like minimalistic computermusikk (Lars Akelund) & on that an
australian guy ("Mac") & a thai girl (Noe) giving some bulletin-like
account how everyone feels & the like. which I hope will have been used
during "95hours nonstop || FM-RLA-DVD Release", look  {AT} ..., pardon...


for anyone else who might be interested, files are downloadable  {AT} :

mpg: http://iceca.chiangmai.ac.th/events/audio/festival_conclude.mp3


I arrived just in time [10th April] to listen to Juergen Moritz'
(austria) "shortcutted" lecture on ..., let's call it "interface
design". we're not talking gui or graphics here, we're talking pure,
abstract stuff, selfgenerating, selfreplicating algorithms, effortless
interaction without any means & the like. accompanied by pretty complex,
pretty sophisticated, pretty abstract..., hmm..., "noise" ? meanwhile
outside 2 bands started their sets. on 2 stages, directly in front of
each other, pretty simple, pretty loud, pretty sensual. in between all
of these booths w/ "traditional craftmanship from the north" & clouds of
fumes from these mobile foodshops. you got the picture

I think it was the day I arrived. yes. I hadn't slept for 48hours then &
the whole alienness of arriving in Chiang Mai, of actually being there
without knowing where the hell I am & the intensity of sensual input
was... a bit... "overwhelming". I heard german voices in the cacophony
of that unknown language - sho, there were none. I even heard dumbest
euro-trash-hits while that mind of mine tried desperately to organize
some pacifying recognizable reality-structure - sho, there were none of
these. while strolling through that market in front of the museum &
being real hungry by then I even thought to smell the familiar scent,
no, let's say "fragrance", of a berlin doener booth in between all of
those promising fumes from the mobile street kitchens. what a day... ;)

next day I had a lengthy conversation w/ Juergen re mediaart in general,
his background, my background, "the situation" in Chiang Mai & the like.
I hope we'll stay in touch & I hope to see him again - sooner or later.

learn more about what he's doing  {AT} 


for starters. you'll have to search for yourself as I'm not yet that
acquainted w/ that site.

the next day ... in a way it was similar, in a way it was different.
music-performance by Lars Akelund, Sweden. apple still the tool of
choice for the international creative elite. his powerbook generated
Steve-Reich-like audio-patterns, very minimalistic, very small & fairly
noticeable changes. I like stuff like that. there also was some
traditional musician again. so far for similarities. the difference?
they acted together..., the machine & that thai guy. sorry, sure -- I
should mention humans first. he improvised on a standard-thai-violin
(which sure as hell doesn't resemble a traditional-western-violin in no
way) to the crystalclear blubbering-&-beeping-&-goingon&on of the
computer. it was... great...; sometimes. I had a break to get a smoke. I
read the announcements on the wall. it said performance should take
90min. I left.

which doesn't mean it wasn't good. it was. sometimes. ;)

while leaving I met "Mac", (translator & ... "socio-magician"? I like
people capable of "reading" you) australia, & "Andy", (professor for
computer science in Chiang Rai) germany, for the first time. & that guy
from the ukraine whose name I still don't know as he's that shy of a guy
he doesn't speak a word although he's around all the time, we both
sitting on the frontline between market & museum next to each other
sipping what has to be sipped & all is fine - I prefer that kind of
behaviour to many others. well, w/ Mac & Andy I first felt a bit
irritated 'cause of that "name-thing"... but soon I learned, clever 'lil
bugger me, that everyone is using nicknames here which don't need to
resemble your "given" name in no way -- point being thai language is
that complex in pronouncation & intonation it's easier to choose some
simple short noise like "Mac" or "Andy" than to get yourself & your
social partner in endless quarrel how to speak "Matthew" or "Guenter" --
or "Rudolf" if you wanna know. 
(well.. sure... you're free to speculate if that's IT... or if there are
any darker subtle sub-contexts in regard to identity-shifting & all that
"heart-of-darkness"-stuff -- which I enjoyed reading again, btw, in
these sweaty sleepless jetlag nights, as *.pdf-file, on that palm I got
as birthday-present, thanks again to... well, you know...)

well... I was leaving, right? I met Mac & Andy & we three speculated
whether it was the SOUNDPATTERNS which inspired that thai guy
improvising or whether it was the OPTICAL out-/input of some weird
SCREENSAVER on Lars' powerbook? he seemed to _look_ at the machine all
the time. how comes? what for? who knows? I don't. 

lemme make this clear again: the music Lars is composing/developing &
generating w/ his mac I really like a lot. & if you're interested enough
by now... go, take a net-walk & hop over to


& look & listen for yourself.

& that was second day. mostly.
(& you'll hear more about Mac&Andy&Noe next time)

on the third day...
it became pretty obvious that "the situation" was/is a... "critical"
(???) one. Francis...[Wittenberger, of ICECA, Initiavtive for Cultural
Exchange & Computer Arts] -- well, Francis will get a paragraph on its
own. let's just say he was totally overworked when I arrived, having
managed the whole festival mostly on his own, alone -- for months. he
looked worse every day I'm here -- but now that all is over I'm glad to
see him back alive again ;). anyhow... so Francis had still things to
do. everyone left this day but the festival was still active w/
screenings of videos & computer art & presentations of hot interactive
shit & what you got. he did all that. yrs truly took the honourable task
to get those damned machines back to work & how comes the f {AT} %# lan
crashes & crashes & why the hell there is no internet available & if
nothing works audience will leave immediately & the dean & the other
officials ... nice work, simple work, I once was used to... trying to
identify computer-, network-, internet-problems -- & solve 'em. didn't
thought I'd once be back to doing stuff like this ;)

I think it was on the next day Francis showed me the faculty of
architecture - one of the main players over here; their motto: "we don't
teach architecture -- we teach how to think" I like that one ;). might
be it's because of 'em are architects... the building is really quite a
sight. I can't describe... come over & have a look for yourself. it's
located on a far end of one of the different campuses pretty close to
the student dorms & surrounded by an impressive collection of local
flora & there are a couple of nice 'lil huts nearby to eat&drink&chat.
you could see the ghosts of hundreds of students, caught on fire by
great ideas & gay ideals & spending time w/ each other... -- sigh ;) ...
- ghosts? did he say "ghosts"? aah, sorry, ... -- noone had been around.
we crossed different campuses about 5 by 5 sq kilometers, totally
deserted, only trash in the winds & colourless concrete & midday heat &
one of these strange birds which seem not be made to fly at all -- sure
you know the reason: HOLIDAYS! it's new year feast! songkran! 2547!

[for whoever is interested in... nowadays songkran is, among other
things, a massive migration of people from all over the world to Chiang
Mai. if you keep in mind that this is a feast of joy & there are lots of
young people involved -- you might understand when I say some sort of
promiscuity adds to the general flavor ;)]


I stop by now re telling what happened. we're in the middle of planning
& there is really really a lot to do. meetings w/ officials start
tomorrow & I won't go into details as long as things aren't fixed. 
[well... now it's wednesday, 23/04, & talks _did_ start -- but it still
is to early to reveal what's going on. tomorrow I'll meet my very first
very own personal assistant I ever had in my whole life of 580 years ;)
student, age: 17, supposed to look & behave like 28, aah, yes: female
;)] [well, _today_ it's the 16th of May & I lost my very first pfa (pfa:
as in "pda", but "f" for "female") after one day. she crashed her car &
family ordered her to return ;(]

instead I could tell you about some nice 'lil bar -- sure, in no way
comparable to that favourite of mine in berlin,
http://www.whitetrashfastfood.com, w/ tip-o-de-ole-hat to wally &
wolfgang & tthe.rezt.ov.da.teem ;) -- where lots of thai-students
mix&blend w/ ngo-freeloaders from overseas & one listens to "eclectic"
music, e.g. american blues on acoustic guitars w/ thai vocals...,
"eclectic"... all pretty nice & calm & friendly. I liked that american
doctor from hawaii who spends his holidays here, came up from Bangkok
for songkran... -- no, stupid! not w/ his wife! -- but w/ that
macho-gay-pimp. quite a sight ;)

then there's Martin, some other american who lives in southeast asia
since 20 years. started to work w/ computers & software development in
that amazing times, long long forgotten ;) he's great to talk to & to
get me into Chiang Mai. we visited some temples & a really wonderful
garden. great butterflies! lots of them! superb colors & animations!
incredible processing power this old universe gives to details. -- thank
the good lord himself he brought his gps-attached-to-a-handheld so we
were able to know our location! problem was he used it on some
selfscanned & selfdeveloped map of Chiang Mai -- mostly the mark showed
us being fixed in the comforting nowhere-gray of an lcd-matrix. that
assuring! lots of trees onto which lots of once colourful plates had
been nailed w/ kinda wise sentences to think about & lots of
decaptivated buddha-statues all around & there we are, amazed by the
wonders of technology to give us a clue ;) 
"say, Martin..., say... I see all these buddha-statues here, there the
small ones, the very little fingersized ones, a couple of obvious
standard-size, the man-seize ones ... ooh & there are even larger ones.
made of stone or wood or great old marble or even greater new
plastics... so, say..., Martin, how comes 'em all got their heads
chopped off? this some kinda weird religious shit?
'kill.your.idols'-stuff or what?" -- "for some people it's a way to make
some bath, idiot, to sell 'em to ignorant tourists like yourself ;)" --
"ooh..., _now_ I _do_ understand... -- 'cash-in-on-heads'... it's a
thai-version of being a 'head-hunter'." 

& there's Tony, another australian, freelance journalist. lived & worked
longtime in cambodia (among other countries). we did a first interview
re the festival -- & I'll hope to get him involved w/ some other
pr-activtities. _he_ hopes to get _me_ involved w/ his project to launch
an online-mag re Chiang Mai. "pure insider stuff! not that crappy
tourist shit!" we'll see... -- for starters, next week he'll introduce
me to the people of that "cabaret" over here. pretty famous as it seems.
"the most beautiful 'ladyboys' (: aka transvestites/transsexuals) all
over thailand equals all over asia!" ;) 

ooh I forgot... -- I made a mistake a couple of times. re Tony too. it
definitely seems no good at all to mention any kind of professional
relation to computers or internet. Martin warned me. now I do understand
how doctors must feel at a party being questioned all the time by
hypochondric fools ;) "look I've been to vietnam w/ my pc to get this
geomatic stuff done over there. I'm into geomatic maps, you know. & one
can it get done cheaper in vietnam. & there I bought this amazing new
videocard. pretty cheap too, that one. ok, see, ... & I set it up. -- &
the pc won't boot no more. we use win-xp & I tried to reinstall win2k
but I can't get the securitypatch 3 working &..." ;) Martin warned me ;)

which is not to say that thai people aren't into high-tech.
au.fukkin.contraire! in a way it's another [sorry to use the term, i
liked it once, still do ;)] "cyberpunk"-country: just dumb a s% {AT} #load of
state-of-the-art-technology & let "the street finds its own use for
things". let's talk mobile phones ... every.f$# {AT} %.where -- especially I
liked the looks of these girls, 3-4, riding _1_ motorcycle (: & we're
not talking western-style bikes, we're talking kind of mopeds, 65-80ccm,
125ccm being high-end-superior-machine. now imagine more than 1 person
on such a bike, imagine whole families on _one_ bike, imagine 3-4 girls
on _one_ bike, ok?), one driving, one calling & the other two typing
their ways through some -- must be! -- exciting sms-chat ;)

wandering around "night-market" there are cp-booths everywhere. you
don't only get that gizmo-accessoire-s*&% _en detail_ ("get your very
own totally personalized cp build from scratch in minutes!") -- no, you
can find some streetwise inventions too like this
dual-sim-card-adapter...: now you can attach & use one card for incoming
calls & another one for outbound ones. to get the most out of different
tariff-options. nokia tried to kill & ban & sue -- sure nokia was the
first company whose products to develop this device for. we all do love
nokia phones, don't we ;) -- by now nokia learned something about "free
market" ;) & distributes its own line: trademarked ;)

this "night market" is a sight for sure. only small paths between the
booths offering food next to cheap clothing next to
electronic-scratch-stuff next to another booth offering finest finest
food next to cd's not with "best-of-collections", who cares about that
if you can get _all_ records on one mp3-cd? & another one where they'll
fix your motorbike -- & sure these small paths are packed w/ people &
somehow everyone manages to get out of the way _in time_ when there's
another one of these motorbikes trying to make _it's_ path -- & tv-sets
blaring aloud showing "alien3" or some incredibly weird game-show,
thai-soaps or what you got -- & everywhere you'll find another booth w/
specialized services how to manipulate & optimize & personalize your
phone, crack "your own" sim-card ;), in minutes. -- when I saw this, I
do confess, I felt _excitement_ to be introduced to the ones who do the
same w/ computers & networking to learn some tricks-o-de-trade, as one
might put it ;)   


best to you


sure, this was/is a "letter". next time you'll get details ;)

r_stoert {AT} inter.net
v: ++66.(0)7.1810367
f: ++49.(0)30.2639173.02246

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