i had a bit of a breakthrough recently in that the spring website-redesign fever hit and so a little reconfiguration of the site allowed some fresh air into the project and a bit of dusting and moving stuff around has helped to clarify how things are now related on the site. in the past i have tried to put my work in the background, and given that the original content on the site is 75 percent+ created by myself, it has felt at dual purposes or at odds, how to integrate things yet differentiate if need be. what i realized is that conceptual clarity would help and that so much overlap was hurting any efforts to change the design. so what i have done is taken the EM Educational Initiative grant which i wrote for the Fondation Daniel Langlois in 2001/02, which went unfunded, and put it in the 'education' section as an overview of the website and subsequent projects, as a roadmap or planning document. it is ironic in that an upcoming conference in Montreal is using the concept of 'paradigm' shift which was the heart of that grant. it is this 'educational' context the site revolves around in further developing an interdisciplinary and collaborative network.
the 'features' section is now for 'original' content, mostly locally hosted. it is going to be a place for articles on EM education, such as 'learning basic electromagnetics' as is a goal to create such resources for the non-technical minded people like myself, who still can learn a lot by making small steps. several content projects could be possible if only the format were figured out in advance, of where things fit in structurally and make sense in relation to the whole. for instance, there are many essays which await writing on things like interface of media (dials, plugs), and mapping (of spectrum maps, radio freqs.) and light (types of light via photography), yet a good way to do this is not yet clear. creating 'lists' of things also interests me, such as lists of movies to do with EM, or, songs, even, though that gets to be a big list quickly. it is just after hearing 'satellite of love' again, by Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground, that it makes me wonder how much may be conveyed about the role of EM in culture though these tales. a song by Mia Doi Todd* about protons and electrons and ones and zeros also has me wanting to do this, yet that would take a collaborative database to do it right. one idea is to take 'disciplines' such as archaeology, and start to list things that are electromagnetic-related in the field: such as tools such as magnetometers, or carbon-dating. and to do this as a project which documents each field in this way in order to see the effects of EM on the whole. (*Blossom Dearie - Just One Of Those Things) there is one resource that has been in a state of limbo for awhile: EM Assemblage, an online exhibit of EM art and artifacts: http://www.electronetwork.org/assemblage/ the goal (in making it) was to create an index or database of electromagnetic works in several categories, then to analyze it in a research project by way of excavating its content in different arrangements of consideration. for instance, of the 1000 or so works one could look at the idea of iconography across several categories and examples of works. or, for that matter, a lightbulb may be considered in use, in its origin, in its extensions or relatations to other technologies or aesthetics (such as vacuum tubes in relation to lightbulbs). though i am not especially well versed in these artistic concepts, per se, what are main themes, etc. and it begins to become arbitrary, what would be documented this way, unless it were opened up as an idea. i was given a great opportunity and had an enlightening experience being able to show some of these works in this EM Assemblage, offline, at the Carleton College art gallery in a group show curated by Steve Dietz. it was one of the more important events of my life - because i went in thinking one way, had my assumptions about what would happen, even expectations of engaging ideas within a certain way (conversing about the role of electromagnetism and culture, for instance) and was caught off guard in that what i had assumed of how people interact with ideas was wrong, and could not figure it out for months (years now) exactly what is going on when people consider works or ideas or what happens in this entire process. i assumed that there was a common experience or even reason for visiting and interacting with works, ideas. and maybe it is this but not the way i imagined it to be -- for others. so i have been regrouping as i had planned to write about this EM Assemblage from a point of view that, i have since realized, is not readily shared, even less understood in that people seem to have much different literacies. i now better appreciate artists who are engaging such fundamental conditions. and what i was planning to write about the EM Assemblage was no longer a feasible way to approach analyzing the indexed content. thanks to Han and others for sharing ideas on electromagnetism and art and culture, i am beginning to feel a new purpose in re- starting that project, though in a way that is inclusive and balanced to ongoing efforts and actions of artists, yet makes a case for recontextualizing works in an EM context in order to potentially yield more from some works that pre-exist this way of considering things. for instance, works in light art, video art, electronic art, specific works in painting and sculpture and others that may reference electromagnetism, could be placed in a single unified context though remain in their original interpretations while existing in a new context which may bring additional value to what has been achieved by some works that may otherwise be considered in the past. it is this archaeological vantage that is a main aspect of this approach, and also with the speeding by of cultural changes within technological advances with the internet, etc., yet which so many works which have been exploring code, the internet, and other aspects may share in this expanded present of some electromagnetic constant, that these works are at once the center - and important parts detailing a larger whole that may be always in transformation, yet also may have some constants that transcend time, artist, medium, and a given point of view of events. in this way what is today referencing of a particular electromagnetic manifestation, is capable of being recontextualized in relation to everything else, in a common context, (venn diagrams, sets and classes).
for example, if looking at all the works and ideas which fall within the range of electro- magnetism, say an exhibit or artwork on code, it may be that electromagnetism is a detail of an idea that is clarifying a concept beyond an electromagnetic view, alone. and yet, retaining value in its electromagnetic context, and its ability to inform of the larger EM context, if taking this 'artifact' as archaeological content or object or whatever it may be considered, and adding it into a larger gathering of like-minded concepts sharing a partial defining of electro- magnetism in culture, then a view that cannot be achieved by looking just at EM as an abstract concept alone, can transcend the limitations of too narrow a definition of the phenomena. else, electromagnetism just exists in culture as an- other historical object/event as any other, which is not the case and is not the reality of how things exist, function, and relate. and this begins to approach the defining of electromagnetism as an idea or conceptualization, yet not top down as much as bottom up, including all the variety in order to gets a sense of the whole that otherwise is illusive and invisible. (the 'paradigm' that not seen outside hindsight). this is the reasoning behind writing the essay/ research to the electromagnetic assemblage that awaits doing, and is also why this excavation, in my view, is relevant to most all the works being done by many in many ways, which can and does go well beyond 'electromagnetism' yet also has important value in being considered in this way, in this context, and within collaborative relation to other works, artists, mediums, that are concurrently competing for minds, eyeballs. considering things in this way could be a way to open up the observation or contemplations into a group or public assessment of various concepts and constructs, to test them through trial and error. presenting works in this way would be a way to at least refine the premise that there is some value to be found in doing it, which may allow for reconfigurations or at least recontextualization/reconceptualization of what exists - in this way em 'culture shows' may already, everywhere, exist, and just have yet to arrange and present themselves as such. the overall project is to unearth the ideas, make the case, and present it for considering. this was going to be pursued by writing essays and yet it is not a lot of fun to write if it not going to achieve the essence or purpose of the project. so i have been making sculptures instead, trying to write this way, to share ideas about this context, and create several examples to clarify how it could be considered archaeological, etc. (e.g. pseudo artifacts). and yet as an idea it is just another idea and is not exclusive or hierarchically better for being electromagnetic work, it is just that it is the basis for its meaning in relation to other things and ideas and acts as a type of scaffolding for building up the larger views, which are inclusive and values existing works for what they are, if em-related and if not. such an approach could tie together conferences and peoples and research and museums, curators, writers, thinkers, projects, artists of all sorts, nettime, thing, syndicate, isea, (i do not keep up with all the organizations, so draw a blank, and just know that it is an infinite list now...) and things like electronetwork.org and this list, leonardo and other magazines, publishers (such as autonomedia theorists referencing radiation, etc. which like the diagram above are related, yet not primary (the center) - only in their own universe- they are collaborating as a parts of a larger net. that is, theory is not the center of em, it is a detail. and em is probably not the center of existing theory, anyway, etc.)) (though, it may be that 'ideas' are the center of the reason for doing this, defining how or why or where about electromagnetic phenomena, its context, what it is, may be, etc. ideas... it is philosophical, religious, metaphysical, psychological, etc. - yet to begin, it is in itself an idea without strict definition nor perspective (outside sci-tech/religion) imo). now i am beginning to feel it is a project i want to take on and yet it is months of what can be brutal work and the real impediment is that i do not have anyone to talk to about it prior to writing- there are no discourses i have had besides this (and short consultations) to be able to get beyond my own limits. and to approach it with balance, and to be generous beyond what may be personal points of view (likes/dislikes) can be hard to write 'naturally' as more needs to be taken into account than what may flow. so this is where this idea is at, i share it as i appreciate the feedback and suggestions and encouragement to share work and yet i am always at loss why i am of the few doing so, as the purpose is for everyone to share and i want to help develop a context that makes it easier and tries to neutralize the things hanging in the atmosphere where conflicts that may be seen to exist, may not, if the context is not just about competitive art bloodsport- and it is clear this is not an overdetermining and taking away of definition into some kind of empirical hierarchy of mystical gatekeepers. it is about truth, reality, sense, experience, knowledge, perception, sharing, communication, and engaging the present through a realm of art and artifacts and culture and archaeology, and not through bombs, death, guns, and win-lose. that is not to say that there are not targets, such as decrepit disassociated museum-cultures which are not integrating ideas larger than that of aesthetic commerce into cultural warehouses, it is to come up with a plan of how to take what exists today as a potential and use its energy collectively to transform the base perceptions. that is, a paradigm shift if all work together as one with shared purpose yet retain autonomy. maybe it is not this exactly, though for me it is very 'personal' as the ideas live and die by whether or not they fit in, are funded, and are given some room to grow. for fifteen years all that has been done by myself has been done by myself, no grants or funding- ever, to be able to incorporate these ideas in existing systems. and so this is the strategy that results from circumstance, to reconfigure the entire system. it often feels like one cannot do enough or be enough for existing systems, though i am of the view that institutions and people in them are not doing enough and should be held accountable for paying it safe when the costs are so clear. climate change will never be related to pollution unless the electrical infrastructure is seen as a cultural system that ties it together. or, human rights and surveillance will be detached, unless these concepts find a continuation in the fields that upgrades to a more effective paradigm. if electromagnetism is not the basis for talking about this stuff, it does not exist - as it is the common constant in most issues in most fields and yet is the silent cosmic elephant in the net, in the local net of synaptic mind, and noosphere. bureaucracies are not going to achieve this shift, the will of individuals, ideas, cooperation will. not alone though -- through ideas that are shared and which transform an ideological clean-room into a place where ideas and imaginations can thrive. and i hope to be one part of making it happen. and the project exists for this same purpose, as an infrastructure for works/ideas/peoples who share in a certain sense of direction, and are willing to work together and to take risks in order to transform the larger systems. including academic systems, to make these more inclusive of works and ideas and collaborative and conducive to learning and to the betterment of culture and not just commercial entitlements. and to start thinking outside of individual POV and start helping this network grow and become more robust so that it engages on this scale. if anyone knows of future such conferences on electromagnetism or anything related to it, it would be great help in letting the list know. as it is central to this project and its success, especially when local support is non-existent. brian