[iDC] interesting article on new media scene in LA

Judith Rodenbeck jrodenbe at slc.edu
Sun Oct 30 13:29:54 EST 2005

I don't think anybody is saying "Southern California is so homogenous." The
article, which come from an LA-based and -focused publication, presents a
discursively specific picture of new media, which I think is what is being
responded to. It isn't unreasonable to ask, though, whether and on what
terms that picture is "reality-based" as they say in Washington, i.e. what
reality that might be and how it might be constructed. Perhaps one part of
that construction is precisely the presentation of a unified view for what
is really, considered geographically, a radically diverse field with some
pockets of consistency. For my part what I found interesting about the
article was its breezy opening, which swirled up these guys as if they were
on the red carpet to the Oscars (REFRESH!? How did a conference like that
become the Oscars?) and then, given the very different projects of each of
them (and of the artists cited further down), suggested that there was some
kind of synergistic meta-project happening in Southern California perhaps a
la culture industry/studio system. Quite frankly it sounds like, well, there
might kind of be something like that taking place, whether or not it's as
globally important as this particular article might make it sound and
whether or not everyone involved in new media in LA believes in, is involved
with, or supports it. (Funny, isn't part of the new media self-hype that so
much discussion and exchange and networking and connectivity etc. is not
based on physical location but rather takes place in the aether?)

Although I don't completely subscribe to the views others have posted about
the evil triumvirate of academia-military-industry (I think this "research
triangle" involves much more complex negotiations and if anything is more
like the Bermuda Triangle; for many artists academia is one of the few
places they can go and make a living so they can actually put food on the
table without necessarily having to sell their stuff to NORAD or whoever) I
do think sources of funding, support, hype, and materiel bear examination.
Even puff pieces like this one from LA Weekly produce not just perceptions
but, over time, realities.

Just my 2 cents.


-----Original Message-----
From: idc-bounces at bbs.thing.net [mailto:idc-bounces at bbs.thing.net] On Behalf
Of Eduardo Navas
Sent: Sunday, October 30, 2005 11:14 AM
To: c.e.b. reas / reas.com
Cc: idc
Subject: Re: [iDC] interesting article on new media scene in LA

I agree with Casey.

I live in Los Angeles and San Diego.  Please be more critical and don't
sweep over community[ies] from a place that is known for its heterogeneity.


Eduardo Navas

On 10/30/05 12:01 AM, "c.e.b. reas / reas.com" <ceb at reas.com> wrote:

> I think it's unfair to critique Los Angeles media artists,
> galleries, and university programs on the basis of this
> article. It expresses only one point of view, that of the
> journalist. Yes, please critique the article, but don't pass
> judgment on the artists and institutions based in Los Angeles
> with this text as your principle source of information.
> Regards
> Casey
> John Hopkins wrote:
>>> On Oct 29, 2005, at 9:47 AM, Judith Rodenbeck wrote:
>>>> I find the current unproblematized adoption and valorization of the
>>>> business-model model very disturbing--and it's present not only in
>>>> new media
>>>> circles but also in the theorizing of "relational aesthetics" as in MFA
>>>> programs. This business-model discourse has a history too--see Allan
>>>> Kaprow's "Should the Artist be a Man of the World" as well as his
>>>> "Education
>>>> of the Un-Artist"--and I worry that with the piecemeal dismissal of
>>>> history
>>>> the nuances--historical, ethical, "aesthetic"--of its implications
>>>> may get
>>>> lost. Certainly that's what's happened in Bourriaud. But then again
>>>> maybe
>>>> critical vanguardism is hopelessly retardataire.
>>> The military/education/entertainment complex that exists in So Cal is
>>> where the money is because of the economic trajectory of the Pacific
>>> Rim. I'm not sure how much any of this has to do with art but I do
>>> find it interesting that they've lured so many "new media artists"
>>> from New York, just as Cal Arts did with conceptual artists in the
>>> 'eighties. I like to think we sent them the riff-raff.
>> I agree with Robbin -- this article is, for me, one of those "look what
>> we (socal media) invented -- another reason to posit our physical
>> location as the center of all things new."
>> I felt immediately that the article was about a decade past the curve.
>> And indeed illustrates the social process of academic/institutional
>> adsorbtion of the elite that floated frothily to the top of "new media"
>> by authoring hard-copy texts.  Back to the Literate Hegemony of
>> universities that was previously discussed.
>> The process could be compared to Finland's prominence (to a greater
>> degree than its size) in New Media in the last decade -- where there was
>> a convergence of Gov't funding policy and new media 'research'
>> (prominently powered by a collusion of Nokia and government policy
>> wonks).  That situation generated a substantial "Cultural Industry
>> Sector" which helped to drive European discourses and practices around
>> new media.  EU funding policies also were part of this.  And Geroge
>> Soros would figure prominently in any discussion as well.  It would be
>> interesting, in retrospect, to see exactly where funds came from for all
>> the many new media festivals, meetings, colloquia, and such over the
>> last 10-12 years in Europe..
>> I would suggest that while there is always something new happening,
>> thinking of SoCal as a center for innovation is a bit much unless you
>> have a complete amnesia as to what was happening in Europe since the
>> early 90's.
>> And I do vividly recall lively and heated discussions on the
>> newly-birthed nettime about the 'California Ideology" (of new media).
>> Perhaps we are seeing the pendulum swinging the other way.  I'll forward
>> the article to nettime to see what happens ;-}
>> 2 cents
>> John
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