~e; redesign, contentdev, notes (i/ii)

From brian carroll <human@electronetwork.org>
Date Thu, 31 Mar 2005 13:08:51 -0600

  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.

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  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:

  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).

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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.