Geert Lovink on Mon, 23 May 2011 09:51:58 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> ISEA 2011 fees


Like Eric I felt tempted to contribute. I have been to ISEAs in 94, 95, 96 and 04, so I can't say that I am a regular vistor, nor that I have got nothing to do with it either. I can also relate to what Andreas and Armin wrote. The thread obviously goes much further than the question about the death of new media arts due to it insular existence.

I have experienced ISEA first and foremost as a place for institutionalized practices, that is, academic. The whole debate over fees is about those who are outside vs. inside, and the idea of ISEA as an implicit 'professional association'. The preassumption is simple: your boss or program/university will pay for this. If you are freelance, young, precarious etc. too bad for you. The artist is no longer supposed to be an autonomous, free-floating figure.

Eric is right here. Perhaps the early ISEA model in which fees were low was based on public/state funding made available for large, non- specific arts festivals. There is a decline of large, general supermarket-based events. As you all might know we at the Institute of Network Cultures here in Amsterdam have responded to this situation with specific, focussed research networks, events and publications that deal with specific topics and interventions such as urban screens, online video, Wikipedia, search etc. The largest project INC ever did was to invite 120 people to work for a week in Amsterdam on their own stuff. It was called Wintercamp (March 2009). I also sometimes feel that there is a need to discuss the general situation, strategic matters, theory and criticism that transcends the specific platforms and latest waves, but it is damned hard to find the money for such open-ended general agendas.

The question discussed here is larger than ISEA. The question thus becomes how we can come together, with people from different backgrounds, like artists, activists, programmers, designers, etc. in order to create new connections, to go beyond the fragments, as it was called in the past. What we might need are cheap temporary autonomous zones and a broadly shared urgent need that it is VITAL to meet. NOW. This can only be driven when a movement is in the ear and we all feel that we share so much, that there is so much to discuss, to see, to hear, to experience, that we simply HAVE TO BE THERE. Once that feeling is there, and it is shared, we will all meet, I am absolutely confident about that. And money problems will be solved then, it will still exist, but will be dealt with differently, yes. Many nettimers have already moved on from the ISEA-related fee frustration. Let's indeed be alert and create that TAZ. Look, the Spanish energy is there! Let's be inspired what is happening right now around us.

Best from Geert

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