[iDC] reply to chris

Michael Naimark michael at naimark.net
Tue Aug 29 15:12:25 EDT 2006

Chris and All,

First, I was not at Ars #1 in 1979. Also, more seasoned veterans at ZeroOne
I should¹ve mentioned include Geetha Narayanan, Machiko Kusahara, and Sara
Diamond. Apologies to others I¹m forgetting.

Consider Ars #1 in Linz in 1979.  A mid-size industrial city living the the
cultural shadow of a nearby giant (Vienna). A political need and opportunity
for it to reinvent itself. Savvy local champions of electronic art.

Today, Ars Electronica is unrivalled. First-time attendees are utterly
astounded by the ³total town takeover,² especially Americans. (1)  The best
metric for success? ³Ask any cab driver.² (2)

One big difference between 1979 and 2006 is the ubiquity of the tools for
production. Electronic art in 1979 required major commitment to time, to
resources, and to hustle. The community was smaller. Electronic art today
has achieved pop status. The bad news is that the amount of naïve and
mediocre work has skyrocketed. The good news is that, if only by sheer
quantity, there are gems out there. But finding them is harder than before.

Another big difference between 1979 and 2006 is real time global
connectivity via the Internet and mobile phone networks. Many profound
implications here. A major one is how our sense of community is being
reshaped, bringing into question when it¹s appropriate, desirable, or
necessary to actually rub flesh and break bread together.

Another difference, huge, is the abysmal state of culture production and
critical thinking that the US has thrust on itself and the rest of the
world, particularly since Bush. This cannot be underemphasized. If we don¹t
look back on this period as a dark cloud, we¹re in deep trouble. (4)

These are the conditions under which ZeroOne made its festival, in the US,
in the heart of Silicon Valley, in 2006.

So from my perspective, how good was it?

Good enough.


(1) http://www.naimark.net/writing/ars2004.html
(2) http://www.artslab.net/
(3) http://www.naimark.net/writing/symmetry.html
(4) http://www.laweekly.com/general/features/digital-universe/185/

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