[spectre] Re: the media art center of 21C

rene beekman r at raakvlak.net
Mon Sep 5 13:10:25 CEST 2005

weekend quietness on the list it seems. hope monday brings a 
continuation of this interesting discussion.
it's been interesting at different levels, but mostly it was great to 
see a discussion i personally felt was long overdue and to see it move 
along tracks and come to conclusions that i've come to in various 
discussions with a lot of different people over the past several years.

to get this new week started, a few provocations;

From: "Alan J Munro" <alan at munrobius.com>(by way of Andreas Broeckmann)
> ... generally hard cash comes from somewhere- industry or government. 
> In Scotland there's an expression: Who pays the piper calls the tune.

in the 80's it was easy to justify subsidy support for a media-art (or 
video-art as the going term was) centre on the basis of the argument of 
"providing access to expensive equipment that artists would otherwise 
not be able to afford to buy or rent".
most of that argument was blown away in the mid 90's when a lot of what 
those centres provided in terms of technological access became possible 
on out-of-the-box computers and most of us could afford a fairly decent 
mini-dv camera and broadband internet access.
in recent years a lot of the media art centres that were originally set 
up under this 80's paradigm of "providing artists with access to 
equipment" seem to have turned into what i call 'open-source 
coding-factories', who's projects seem to centre around the production 
of open source software, subsidised as "critical" or "artistic 
it takes 3 or 4 of these projects, funded in part by programs like the 
european culture2000 program for a modest size centre to "survive" - a 
look at the list of culture2000 awarded projects illustrates the point 
i'm trying to make here.
funding sources shift, and with it the accepted justification for 
funding - nothing new.

this - otherwise interesting discussion - was started by andreas' email 
about the eminent or expected closure of icc and in which he quoted rob 
van kranenburg's earlier email regarding ivrea and the mit media lab in 
dublin and in which he listed "new media" festivals and labs that had 
recently been closed or restructured.
thinking about how this discussion was triggered, i can't help but be 
reminded of a game of cat and mouse and wonder who's chasing who? are 
we now really questioning the validity of the dominant-until-recently 
paradigms because we see a possible threat to our funding?
or do we sincerely believe that those paradigms are no longer valid and 
do we only dare question them openly under the threat of having funding 
both andreas and eric have described some of the discussions and 
thinking that has gone on at their respective organizations, but how 
much of this is true for everyone else?
if this has been a discussion that has been going on at many places, 
why has it been off-list until now?

why does it take a commercial entity like ntt to threaten to pull its 
funding for a centre like icc before those on this list start to 
critically re-assess the value and position of media-art centres?
or are we all mere pipers and does the piper only play when paid and 
will he change his tune if the money comes from elsewhere? and will we 
keep playing the same tune unless the source of the money and the 
strings attached to it changes?
finally, would it be possible to come up with a marketing concept for 
what we want to do that would free us from the dependency on hand-outs 
from governments and industries and the mood-swings that go with the 
politics involved?

just a few random thoughts and questions.
still hoping someone would post a report on saturday's meeting for 
those who weren't there.


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