Thursday, October 21, 2010

ISEA - The view from the window

The university in Dortmund, where most of the ISEA conference is taking place, offers another fascinating view from the window. I come across this view more or less by accident, when I walk from one conference room to the other. It is a black bird sitting on the roof.

I quickly take a photo. But something is strange. The bird has only one leg, which is connected to a bucket. The bucket is standing on the roof of the buildings inbetween the university buildings. The bird is made from metal or maybe plastic. It cannot move, it just sits there. It seems to be fine, confident, sitting where it is.

Maybe it's looking at the plastic bag which is lying on another part of the roof, lying on a part of the composition of which it is not clear if it is a horizontal or vertical area.

I take another photo to zoom out. The composition remains strange as it is. One detail which adds to the composition, but which is invisible on the photo, is a big german flag which is painted on the wall, right next to the bird. I take another photo.

Who has painted the flag? Why? Who has placed the bird on the roof? Is this meant as an art work? Did someone make this composition on purpose? Did anyone here notice the bird?

Without an answer I continue to the room where the next session is taking place, a session about 'New Art Theory'.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

ISEA - African Digital Art

There is one panel that I manage to see in Dortmund after the morning session and just before my own presentation. It is a panel about digital art in Africa. Several lecturers from different countries show their projects. It is a pity that the african artists are not more present throughout the whole conference, because some of the works are really interesting.

There is an artist from Cameroon, with a very short, but very interesting presentation. I would like to ask him a little more about his work after the presentations, but I am forced to leave the room before the session is over, because my own lecture is starting in the other room. So all I do is ask him for a contact address. Instead he gives me a dvd, which has ended up in my pile of ISEA2010 materials. As soon as I will find time to watch it, I will post a link here on the blog.

One link that I  can post here now, is a project by a woman from Kenya, who also has a presentation in this panel. She has started a website with links to many different projects: I can recommend this website to get to know more about african digital art.

The photo below is also from the session about african digital art. It is my view from the window, while listening to the talks. I was fascinated by the window composition and had to take a photo of it...

Friday, September 10, 2010

ISEA - Connecting net art and recycling

ISEA is known for its very full program. Such a full program is necessary and nice, but it forces you to make choices. It is impossible to see all the lectures at ISEA. During this afternoon however I am not able to choose. There are two lectures where I would like to go, but I am giving a lecture myself at the same time.

The lecture can only be fifteen minutes long, including questions and answers. So I have prepared a presentation which contains just the essential information and still gets to the point where I want to get.

I am not sure though if the outcome of my research really makes sense to the people in the audience. I was talking about the relation between my work as a recycling artist and my work as a net artist, but when my presentation is finished, all the questions that are asked are about the art center which I started in a small village in Austria some years ago.

Well, maybe this small art initiative is the outcome of my work combining net art and recycling.

I didn't prepare a presentation about the art initiative, I just mentioned it briefly in the talk. But no matter all the theoritical research that I tried to put together in my talk, the old farm was what fascinated the audience the most. Maybe my lecture made as little sense to them as many of the other talks of the previous days made to me....

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

ISEA - Dortmund

ISEA continues in Dortmund. I have driven back to the Netherlands from Essen, coming back to Dortmund on tuesday. I am amazed how close it is by car from Utrecht to Dortmund. It is just about the same as from Graz to Ljubljana. The car parking near the train station in Dortmund costs 9 euros per day. Very cheap compared to Utrecht.

In Dortmund the ISEA venues are all over the city. I quickly notice the ISEA signs, which have been connected with adhesive tape to street lights and traffic signs all over the center. I keep following the signs until I come to the university, where I walk into one of the Janez Jansa's. He guides me to the club where the morning session of ISEA is taking place. Inside a dark cinema, a young guy from Singapore is showing a very long video of himself jamming together with two other musicians. The jam session is nice, but it doesn't really fit into the idea of paper presentations and the organizer at the side of the room is gesturing anxiously to the moderator that he should stop the video.

Since I missed the first lectures that morning, it is not easy to follow the discussion that starts after the presentations. So I sneak out, buy a coffee and look at the people passing by. In the afternoon it will be time for my presentation, in which I will be talking about the relation between recycling arts and virtual reality...

Thursday, September 2, 2010

ISEA - Why

You may wonder now, why do I drive all the way to Germany, to spend the whole morning listening to lectures of which I am not able to recall anything afterwards? And why do I drive all the way to a conference to spend half the day walking around the area?

Well, maybe here I  do have to refer to Brian Massimo's talk. The only thing that I understood from his lecture, for which I drove such a long time to be there, was that it had something to do about the relation of different events, that seemed to be not related to each other at all. And that he was trying to find out how these events were influencing each other and how they were influencing art history and art in general.

And maybe I misunderstood all that from his lecture. But while walking around the terrain, completely amazed by the totally unexpected area, it occurred to me, that very often that is exactly the reason why I am going to a symposium. The symposium is just a starting point, which creates an event, an experience, that is different for anyone. I know, that when I will go there, that I will come across many new interesting people and many new interesting places, of which existence I otherwise would never have known...

On purpose I spend the whole morning listening to lectures which I cannot recall, exactly to have the experience of discovering an unexpected place in the afternoon...

Sunday, August 29, 2010

ISEA - Exploring the Zollverein

The stairs went up about three stories. At that moment I wasn't even sure if I was allowed to go up there. But I wasn't the only one going around there taking photos, so I just continued following the metal structure. When I got to the top of the stairs, I realized that this was not just an emergency exit behind the restaurant. There were many people passing by, all coming from the other direction.

As I kept going, following the metal construction, which had now turned into a long bridge, I started to realize that this walk was going to be a bit longer than just climbing up the stairs. The metal bridge was at least a hundred meters long, leading all the way over the wide terrain to the building on the other side. Under the long bridge were railroad tracks. Trains must have been driving up and down here once, transporting coal around the complex.

While following the path, still up on the bridge, I started to realize how big this complex is. The pathway, on which I was walking, is just a small part of the area. The complex is full with buildings, connected together with bridges, stairs and railroad tracks. These days the complex has been turned into a cultural area, but the industrial site still shows how it must have been.

While wandering around the area, amazed by the giant constructions, I realized that I could not recall anything from the lectures that morning...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

ISEA - A day of nonhuman performativity

The symposium in Essen continued with a morning about nonhuman performativity, followed by a motion lab, which turned out to be a set of lectures just like the other days. ISEA is a symposium of lectures. That's what it is, that's what it is supposed to be and that's what it will always be.

Luckily there are enough breaks inbetween the talks to get in touch with other participants in a more informal way. During the lunch break I had a very nice meeting in which I learned that it is actually very easy to recycle old paper into new paper all by yourself. All you need is a blender, a pan and a plate of metal with small holes in it, similar like the screen to put in a window to prevent insects from flying in.

There was no time to write down the instructions, since the next session was starting already. But instead of spending also the afternoon in the room with lectures, I went for a walk outside. I took the back door from the restaurant and climbed up the metal stairs that happened to be there. It was the best decision I could have made. Suddenly I found myself in an amazing structure of metal stairs, bridges, cables and buildings. It wasn't until then, that I discovered the amazing area of the Zollverein. Wandering around this industrial jungle made my mind float away much further than any of the lectures had managed to do that morning...