[iDC] Re: Interview with Wolfgang Münch

Kenneth Fields ken at ss.pku.edu.cn
Sat Apr 9 13:11:31 EDT 2005

> The future for media art seems to happen rather in Singapore than in
> Hong Kong. For mainland China the situation is completely different.

> Unfortunately, China is
> not paying teachers very well, so there is little financial incentive 
> for a
> teacher from the U.S. to work in China. And the Chinese government 
> still
> does not invest much in this kind of art education. But I think that 
> this
> will change in the near future. They have to get some people from the
> outside into the country. This will start most likely in the context 
> of the
> Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008.

There are a few of us here - at Peking University. We work for the 
of surviving this type of reality based game; the rules are unclear, the
language challenging, the bureaucracy perfected after millennia, with
disciplinary borders modeled after the Great Wall of China. But we
play to win.

Peking University, Department of Digital Art and Design

Two other instutions where I teach:


We really are facing the same kinds of issues in Beijing/China 
regarding the
slash and burn approach to education in the 'creative industry.' There 
is a real
disconnect about the infrastructural issues regarding intellect, 
expression, and
research techniques.

There are the Maya/Flash/Protools/etc classes alongside the 
fundamentals of
drawing and orchestration. There is no bridge to the art and technology 
which inspired Western development. I tried to teach from the media 
reader here. If
you have the stomach, go to:
http://dmsbeijing.omweb.org/modules/newbb/ (digital media studio at 
cafa -
central academy of fine arts).
You have to 'sort' the forum view for results ("from the beginning").

I also taught from Curtis Roads book on computer music and Microsound:
http://cemcbeijing.omweb.org/modules/newbb/index.php (cemc, china 
electronic music
center at ccom - central conservatory of music).

The content is beyond criticism; where do you start with students
who avoid anything approaching personal, theoretical or controversial 
The art students are specialized at an early age and have no cognitive 
for scientific models - as required for acoustics or audio 
synthesis/analysis techniques.
The technical students (at PKU) can only speak C++.

I was naive when I started here. Now I'm applying confusion to the 

My more successful projects involve teaching audio to visual art 
while making the music conservatory students go out and take phonographs
of the city. The result in placing students into non-familiar contexts 
is a
highly promising approach. They can't imitate/copy because they have no
base of reference. Of course, you do have the students who CAN'T
do this for the very same reason, that they have no base of reference.
They can't be free.

I also concur regarding poor English ability which of course cuts
the student off from all essential discourse. Books and journals have
been problematic to acquire with any timeliness. Online access to 
subscriptions is a good solution, yet all this goes through a lengthy 
library filtering which I'm sure has limited resources - but... can't 
get Leonardo
journal at the music conservatory because 'music' isn't in the title. 
At least
they approved Leonardo Music Journal. Even with that, I think they are 
humoring me, because the librarians have the real statistics on what 
the students
are reading... based on surveys probably with questions like, "Where is
the school library located." I imagine they would answer that particular
question with an (x) in the yes column.

I'll stop this uninvited commentary here and save commenting on the 
part of the equation - the management - for a later date.

> missing throughout Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia and all these
> countries that are situated between India on the one side and China on 
> the
> other. There is a lack of a transnational network of people who work
> together on new media initiatives. There are all these small yet very
> different countries and unfortunately there is very little unity. But 
> there
> are attempts to network media artists of the Asian-Pacific region, in 
> an
> initiative with UNESCO and SARAI in Delhi. In the Western world such 
> new
> media network was an amazing advantage 15 years ago.

Yes, ahem... I was at the meeting in New Delhi.
I did not understand that failure. But perhaps it isn't the time and 
to go into it here. I myself was censored in the process. Surely we'll 
another occasion to approach this. In China however, I was particularly 
of real post-conference follow-up (having no support here, nor 
colleagues at
that time) - while the other reps from the more developed media arts 
(including Singapore, Japan, Korea, Australia, Taiwan and New Zealand) 
had these killer busy schedules. India shares many commonalities with 
China situation, so their silence (as host institution) was 
particularly mysterious.

> http://iceca.chiangmai.ac.th/events/program.html
> http://switchmedia.culturebase.org/
> http://culturebase.org/home/thailand/MAF05/
> http://www.sarai.net/
> TS: My last question relates to situated media criticism. Much of new 
> media
> theory is written and published in the United States or Europe. While 
> these
> materials are unquestionably important, their use in the context of 
> Asia has
> a connotation of cultural colonialism. Texts may not speak to the local
> situation. Are there Chinese or Singaporean media critics?

The picture outside academia is MUCH brighter/energetic:
YanJun - Subjam: http://anarchy.isism.net/subjam/
Lawrence Lee: http://wenyiqingnian.blogbus.com/

Thanks for the really important and relevant issues you bring up.

Ken Fields

Kenneth Fields, Ph.D.
Assoc. Professor Media Arts
Dept. of Digital Art and Design
School of Software
Peking University
Beijing 102600 China
Tel PKU: (8610) 6127-3642

Adjunct Professor / Computer Music
CEMC - China Electronic Music Center
Central Conservatory of Music
Beijing 100031 China
URL: http://cemc.ccom.edu.cn
Tel:	6642-5742

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