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nettime: representation again
Pit Schultz on Thu, 27 Feb 97 22:30 MET


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nettime: representation again


[re: rhizome-digest, 02/21/96]
>Students must re-examine the
>rules of representation.
>
>+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +
>
>5.
>
>Date: 2.13.97
>From: ISEA97 (isea97 {AT} artic.edu)
>Subject: ISEA97 Initiative to Promote Diversity
>
>Announcement: ISEA97 Initiative to Promote Diversity
>
>The International Symposium on the Electronic Arts will be held from
>Sept. 22-27 at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.  In order to
>promote a geographically, culturally, and economically diverse group of
>presenters, we are announcing an initiative to provide fee waivers,
>housing assistance, and possible travel assistance to presenters from
>geographic regions or cultural backgrounds which have in the past been
>underrepresented at ISEA symposia. 

hello, 

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 hirarchic
model of communication. Such a logic gives place for all kinds of 'inverted
racism', the market strategies of adressing 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'.

Conflict and not the forced harmony of the 'menues' of multiculturalism,
symbolic fight and not the kind invitation of the 'Other', seems to drive
cultural production. On the other hand we have the model of representation
as a 'writing process' into a history book, musealisation etc. which produces
exactly the 'priviliged culture' representing marginalization and 
economic inequality, and today amplified through electronic media technology.

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. 

And i doubt that Cultural Diversity is something which can be easyly planned or
announced. Instead of an amorph diversity i could experience the problems and
the productivity of a hard cultural difference. I am working+living in East
Berlin. If i would get invited to an 'exhibition' not because of my work, but
because where i come from, i would tend to feel embarrased about getting treated
like a tourist attraction. (i fact im not even a real Ossi or Berliner) Many of
the cultural producers in the East experienced inner alienation in their 'local
scenes' when it came to certain 'careers' in representing authentic otherness to
the West. I don't want to come with a solution here, the adressed problems are
important and complex enough,  but i strongly doubt any fast adapted
tactiques of correctness to update the own outdated models of defining culture
and harmonizing difference.

It is not the place to criticize the pragmatism of artist struggling to make
a living. I also don't want to say that these problems don't exist in Europe.
We soon will be able to discuss and criticize similar problems within the
centralized model of representation of 'marginal' cultural practises at
the Dokumenta X in Kassel which made 'globalization' as one of its top topics. 

It would be very good, for example, if ISEA would start an open mailinglist
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'.

oops it wasn't short enough.. maybe i'm totally wrong and already hurted some
sensitive souls, so please respond. (and forgive me for the frequent use of
'I' - it is a write error too)

best 
-pit

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