tetsuo kogawa on 9 Oct 2000 17:12:51 -0000

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<nettime> Two or Three Things I Know About Streaming Media

[written for the reader of the http://net.congestion.org streaming media

Two or Three Things I Know About Streaming Media

Tetsuo Kogawa

In May 1998, at the third annual conference of RealNetworks, Mitch Kapor
stressed on the "emotional bandwidth" in his keynote speech. He might have
reluctantly argued this concept to the "poor" condition of streaming media
at that time. Because the live streaming connection often has problems of
congestion and interruption. But I would like to insist his concept more
idiosyncratically than what he thought by it.

As far as the congestion and interruption of live streaming concern, they
still happen even in the ADL and relatively faster connections today. So You
should long for future innovation of optical fiber cable or something like
that. But I myself, as an artist like such problems. I will not use the
internet live streaming for a substitution of live radio or television.
Given the radio and television, I will not expect of the streaming a similar
function of radio and television. If the streaming is a different medium,
artist should find totally different way of expression in it. I think weak
point of newborn medium will reverse itself into a positive function.

I have been involved in a very micro radio/television for a long time. We
have been using a very low-power transmitter that usually can cover only one
kilo-meter radius. This, however, created many interesting examples of
expression and postures both in the "sender" and the audience. Since the
power is very low, both the "sender" and the audience must try to
intentionally send/receive the airwaves. To do so in itself (for instance to
beam the antenna to the most appropriate direction) became a performance art
piece. The satellite technology is global while the internet is *translocal*
in the sense that is local and global at the same time. You can have options
whether you use it global or local. Even if you use it local, it cannot help
being global. Thus you should insist in being local.

"Sender"-"medium"-"receiver", the popular concepts of communication have
become obsolete as late as the Internet has started. The medium is not a
"tube". As Humberto R. Maturana and Francisco J. Varela wrote, there is no
"transmitted information" in communication. Communication is a "structural
coupling" and resonance in the "emotional bandwidth". At lease for media
art, resonance proceeds "correct" messages. Let's hand over the message to
the military and business communication that simplify the viability and
potential of communication.

Whenever I mention this topics, I remember the impressive story "Here the
voice of the Algeria" by Franz Fanon (in Sociology of a Revolution). He
talks about a paradox of "insufficient" circumstance of radio technology.
The listener had to understand the voice of the radio passing through
terrible noises. "Cet voix", Fanon writes, "souvent absent, physiquement
inaudible, que chacun sent monter en lui, fondée sur une perception
intérieure qui est celle de la Patrie, se matérialse de façon non

Every technology has its artistic viability at the early stage. The further
stage is the process of institutionalization. The streaming medium gets
closer to conventional media such as radio and television. The experimental
stage will go to an end. It will soon have no place for us. The
"insufficient" aspects of the streaming technology gives a chance to use it
creatively. Art and business look for a different 'telos'. You don't care of
the insufficiency of the streaming media. Today is the best for streaming
experiments. Sooner or later, the streaming will be integrated into a
general technology of "broadband". Every artist of streaming, therefore,
should look for another way of use from the way that the business world now
aggressively proceeding.

To be sloppy in technology and to be tolerant of the insufficiency are
different. At media festivals and conferences, there is a division of labor
between planner and technician. Artist of electronics must finish this.
Electronics is the technology after the modern technology that enjoyed this
division. In this technology, artist could recover such a holistic work as
in da Vinci.

Learn at least how to connect computer, peripherals and the circuits, how to
install software and how to use them. Painter who has no brushes is absurd.
Take hold of screw drivers and solder irons. They are the postmodern
counterpart of the brushes spatulas of the pre-modern and modern arts.

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