nettime maillist on Fri, 11 Dec 1998 01:36:38 +0100 (CET)

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Date: Thu, 10 Dec 1998 09:03:58 -0800
Subject: CaliforniaCulture.Net
From: "cisler" <>
To: nettime <>

I'm in Los Angeles for the (California) Governor's Conference on the Arts.
It is being held at the Intercontinental Hotel, just two blocks from a
street whose ads and businesses are for Spanish-speaking customers (Giros
a Mexico. Zapatos. Hamburguesas...) but the streets are rather empty. Mike
Davis thinks the people here live in fear. The December 9, 1998, Los
Angeles Times describes a new device that looks like a cordless microphone
but actually provides a 120-decibel siren coupled with a sterile probe
that can be used to jab an attacker and take a blood sample for future DNA
analysis. Over 500 "Defender DNA" units have been sold, and not by the
Tyrell Corporation. The attendees at this conference want to defend
themselves again digital leakage and non-compensation for their creative
works, yet most of the speakers are encouraging the attendees to jump in,
experiment, engage partners, learn about e-commerce, and use the new tools
for preservation of cultural heritage and to promote performing arts which
are not readily translatable to the Internet. 

Though LA feels safe to me, most of my time is spent inside, listening to
talks at this four day meeting which is sponsored by the California Arts
Council, J. Paul Getty Trust, and the California Assembly of Local Arts
Agencies. It is the first time they have partnered with EVA, Electronic
Imaging and the Visual Arts. There are some big sponsors here (ATT
Foundation, Wired, Getty, and an Australian web design firm called Spike).
Many of the attendees come from the arts agencies for the counties of
California and are engaged in a wide variety of innovative projects that
are local, local, local and are reflective of a diversity that is
reflected in the 100 plus langugages used in Calfornia schools. John Chang
from Open Spaces in the Central Valley farming town of Fresno showed some
fascinating footage of Southeast Asian festivals (Hmong; Mien) that
inaugurated an exhibit of textiles arts in the local museum.  I sat next
to a Filippino video producer and checked out the web site of a very
successful neo-Aboriginal artist named Ed Noisecat from British Columbia
( Barbara Layne, the head of a fine arts program at
Concordia Univ. in Canada gave a talk on textiles and then headed down to
her beach house in Baja California, three hours from the border. Layne
showed textiles that were woven collaboratively over the Internet as well
as pieces that used binary code as a design to reproduce text by Ted
Kaczynski railing against technology. 


There were only a few exhibits (Wired, Hyperstudio, audio tapes of the
lectures, and Zoob, the invention of an artist name Michael Grey who
started Primordial, a toy company. Zoob sets contain five different kinds
of platic connectors that can be joined to make articulated figures,
wireframe objects, and even solid figures. This crowd could not pass by
the booth without fishing out some connectors and starting to make
objects. Check out for more info. 

Distance Learning and the Arts

I was on a panel on "Global Knowledge Networks" moderated by Malcolm
CasSelle, whose Netnoir servers had crashed during Tuesday power failure
in San Francisco, yet he did a good job in moderating a dicussion among
the panelists and the audience. Linda Bruce of Johns Hopkins U. Distance
Education Division, CasSelle, and John Hibbs of the Benjamin Franklin
Institute of Global Education were assured about the value of online
education and the inexorable march of progress with more students online,
better courses, and the withering away of traditional education.  Hibbs
even claimed "In five years, if it's not online, it probably won't be
worth taking." I was much more skeptical about the spread of the Internet
in developing countries, and others in the audience could not see much
connection between the performing arts, especially theater and dance and
the existing online tools.  Coco Conn, Digital Circus, had a good mix of
enthusiasm about the interaction with the kids as well as the technology,
and she articulated this well in another session where kids and their
teachers showed their online works. I emphasized the importance of
physical places like the Electronic Cafe in Santa Monica, Digital
Clubhouse in Sunnyvale, or any of the hybrid physical/virtual places that
serve those who don't want to compute alone (or who don't own their own

Fund raising

As with any group of non-profits there were many sessions on fund-raising,
changing government support of the arts, and a strong interest in
e-commerce or other forms of entrepreneurism: selling access to digital
works, pulling in more attendees to museums through online information.
(There are now 145,000 museum sites online, not counting galleries). The
arts receive government funding of about $1.1 billion, and about 1.7
billion from family foundations, 1.1 billion from business and $10.6
billion from private giving (individual donations). This is somehow
distributed to about 40,000 nonprofit arts organizatins in the U.S. which
account for about 1% of the workforce here in the U.S. 

CaliforniaCulture.Net is a web site that is being inaugurated today
(Dec 10) at the conference. It is an attempt to pull togethers resources
for museums, kids, directors, artists, and tourists. It was designed by
Spike pro bono (in hopes of getting more business), and I hope the nettime
crowd will take a look. It is based on the successful L.A. CultureNet
created by David Jensen and the Getty Information Institute. 

Cultural Theory

Univ. of Alabama Film & Telecomms Dept. professor Braman distributed a
reprint of "The Right to Created: Culutural Policy in the Fourth Stage of
the Information Society." Her professional interests seem to be on
cultural issues in the global economy as well as the rights of artists: to
create, to have an identity, and resist the commodification of art.  Harry
Hilman Chartrand, a cultural economist from Saskatoon, Canada, also spoke
(privately) about his own concerns over the shifting and fluid maps of the
world of culture. Both have some dense pieces that I have not yet
digested, and they don't seem to have much online, so I can't give any
pointers at this time. 

This was just a brief sample of what went on. I had to leave when it was
half over, but the program on the web site will give you a more complete
idea of the agenda: <>

Steve Cisler
4415 Tilbury Drive, San Jose, CA 95130
(408) 379 9076

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