Through the Roadblocks: Technology and Orality

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The panel will present and discuss issues related to this topic central to their collaborative research as participants in the NeMe initiated project Through the Roadblocks which was first presented in May 22, 2009 at the e-MobiLArt conference during the Thessaloniki Biennial.
Dates: 
Friday, 16 September, 2011 - 13:00 - 14:30
Chair Person: 
Helene Black
Chair Person: 
Iannis Zannos
Presenters: 
George Katodrytis
Presenters: 
Lanfranco Aceti
Presenters: 
Dimitris Charitos
Presenters: 
Yiannis Colakides

Chair: Helene Black
2nd Chair: Prof. Iannis Zannos

This panel will discuss how orality and technology in the arts, through social narratives and urban determinants, transmute resulting in localised adopted new forms.  The profound changes that have influenced artistic creative processes by digital technology are leading to a redefinition of both the role of the artist and the relationship between artist and audience. It has been thoroughly discussed that digital media art forms have a tendency to abandon the clear-cut division between individual creator and audience and move towards collective situations where authorship is shared between many. (Alexander 2007, Austin 2007, Bakioglu 2007, Pettitt 2007). This panel discusses how electronic arts and technology relate to collective and non-written aspects of culture. It examines both spontaneous processes supported by the nature of digital media and conscious strategies that build on perception and orality in glocal culture.

The panel will present and discuss issues related to this topic central to their collaborative research as participants in  the NeMe initiated project Through the Roadblocks which was first presented in May 22, 2009 at the e-MobiLArt conference during the Thessaloniki Biennial. This project investigates how ideas and concepts are adopted and assimilated regardless of political, cultural and spacial boundaries. A team of curators, cultural managers, scholars and artists located in 10 countries spanning from Australia to UK and from Turkey to Israel and Palestine have been invited and their proposals are currently under development promising a rich variety of interpretations which will define the second stage of the project. The third phase is planned to take place in Cyprus in 2012.

Paper Abstracts

Through the Roadblocks

by Yiannis Colakides

"We cannot process your information. Your information is corrupt and
needs cleansing. Erase brain?" (Mark Amerika, OK TEXTS)

At a time when terabytes of information are streaming in our homes
orality and hearsay (virals/social networks) become all the more
relevant in the development of ideas. Comparable to Lewis Caroll's map
(Sylvie and Bruno Concluded: The Man in the Moon, 1889), our media
landscape is expanding towards uselessness.

Through the Roadblocks examines both the traditional in
socio-political terms and technological means by which ideas come into
existence and are shared.  Echoing the landscapes in Songlines the
mediated space becomes synonymous with creation.

Telegenic Urbanisms - click the image to enlarge and zoom in

by Prof. George Katodrytis

The Arabian Peninsula and the Gulf is home to some of the world’s most controversial settlements that have grown into major economic and global hubs following rapid transformation. A canvas for global and nomadic crossroads; north-south immigration patterns and east- west trading axes bisect a tabula rasa of hues, extreme climates and strange topographies, provides a complex matrix of interconnectivities. These post-colonial cities of the 21st century have grown out of new technologies, telecommunications and mega infrastructures that have brought about dramatic morphological and ecological changes. This is the future state of world urbanism – prescriptive and full of visual dramatization. This form of urbanization also shows a preoccupation with the fabrication of an image. The exploration of places through imagery is a contemporary phenomenon. As the technology in the production of imagery of un-built or newly built architecture has become more sophisticated, its image becomes an end in itself and can now be transmitted across the globe instantaneously. Coastal necklace settlements, sand and silicone, pixelated patterns, landscape and render farms, fractal and parametric formations, simulated SimCities, dynamic formations, master plans and speculative developments are now projecting new satellite urbanisms. This spatial and urban approach emphasizes enclaves but also exclusiveness. We are now planning and designing cities by gazing down on the action from heavens. Reconnaissance technologies turn into spectacle and ‘telegenic’ fantasies addressing mass tourism. Simulated panoramas and imagery of unfinished projects give rise to an exciting promise and fantasy. In effect digital imagery and technology is shaping the future of cities. After all we are all nomads inhabiting an image.

Osmosis: Transformations Between Sound Worlds

by Prof. Iannis Zannos

In a world where worldwide immigration is increasing daily because of social instability and economic need, the issues of multiculturality have once more an acute impact on everyday life in many regions and countries. Besides the pressing problems of vital resources such as living space and other fundamental needs for physical survival, equally important, and inextricably connected, are the problems of cultural survival and of mutual understanding between groups of different cultural backgrounds. Besides the physical barriers of country boundaries or roadblocks, the intangible barriers of language, culture, habits, social status and mentality play just as important a role in this context.

"Osmosis" explores the idea of cultural interchange and adaptation through an acoustic metaphor: It creates a sonic environment where sounds from three different sources "live" and change gradually by adopting each other's distinct characteristics. In the purely acoustic dimension of the project, three groups of sounds are initially placed in different regions of the performance space. As idividual sounds start "migrating" from their region of origin to one of the other two regions, they experience the effects of cultural osmosis observed in multicultural societies: They impart some of their characteristics to the sounds of their new environment, while they themselves start adopting characteristics from the sounds of their new environment. Three very distinct types of sources were chosen for this piece: The flying calls of hundreds of swallows (marlins) flying above the city of Corfu in Greece recorded in July 2007 by the composer, the songs of Weddel Seals recorded in Antarctica by marine biologists, and the encoded messages broadcast by "Numbers Stations" for espionage purposes, recorded by short-wave radio amateurs all over the world. Orientation, mating, communication between peer groups and territoriality, are basic needs that lead to strikingly diverse, even alien sonic worlds, in the environments of a small town, the antarctic, and different countries during the cold war.  When such different sounds are brought together, the boundaries between familiar and alien become blurred, and a search for new ways of discerning meaning in the maze of seemingly random meetings of different entities begins. The acoustic transformations  of the sounds are performed in real time using spectral processing techniques implemented in SuperCollider, an object oriented realtime sound and music synthesis enviroment. This realisation of Osmosis is part of a larger project that involves realizations in interactive installations with different media (sand, water, graphics synthesis). In the installation version of the project, visitors can interact with the work via a multitouch surface, using cubes or other polyhedral objects whose surfaces are imprinted with patterns corresponding to sound samples and ways of processing them.  The samples have been preprocessed by machine listening techniques ranging from basic amplitude, pitch and onset detection to psychoacoustically salient features such as MFCC (Mel Frequency Ceptral Coefficients) and other. The results of this processing are saved in a sort of electronic memory of the sound "heard" by the computer. The interaction of the visitors with the system provides an additional layer of memory, which modifies and complements the system's "experience" of the sound world. In this way, a cumulative history of sound transformations is formed, an allegoric "cultural history" in this metaphoric world of sound exchange. Another layer of the work involves gathering of real-world environmental data connected to the forms of life and communication portrayed by the sound samples, and displaying these on video projections, together with a visual representation of of visitor's actions. Thus, the purely metaphorical or poetic aspect of the work is linked to actual current "real-world" issues. This work is the result of collaborative work with graduate students and faculty members of the Department of Audiovisual Arts of the Ionian University as well as of the dialog with other scientists and artists.

Bios of the Participants

Helene Black

Helene Black is an artist and cofounder of NeMe. To date, she has many one person shows and group shows both in Cyprus and abroad.  In addition, she has curated and co-curated several exhibitions such as "In Transition Russia 2008" with Sheila Pinkel and Alisa Prudnikova (Museum of Modern Art, Ekaterinburg and National Centre of Contemporary Art, Moscow, Russia), "In Transition Cyprus 2006" with Sheila Pinkel,  (Lanitis Centre, Cyprus) and "Isolomania" (NIMAC, Nicosia) 2008.  She has also co-curated the following shows with Yiannis Colakides, "...SO NOW WHAT?" (for Scope New York and Basel), "COR UNUM" 2008 (NCCA, Moscow), Margins of Time, 2008, (Lanitis Centre, Limassol) and Dialogues with the Machine (Sala Berlanga, Madrid, Spain)

At present, Helene is co-ordinating with Yiannis Colakides, the three year NeMe project, 'Through the Roadblocks' (2010 - 2012). This project, initiated by Peter Lyssiotis, George Alexander and Helene Black in 2009 has now grown into a large cross disciplinary project involving many collaborations from 10 countries at this stage, with emphasis on contributions made by participants from countries which immediately surround Cyprus in the Eastern Mediterranean region.

Iannis Zannos

Iannis Zannos has a background in music composition, ethnomusicology and interactive performance. He has worked as Director of the Music Technology and Documentation section at the State Institute for Music Research (S.I.M.) in Berlin, Germany, and Research Director at the Center for Research for Electronic Art Technology (CREATE) at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has taken part at numerous international collaborative Media Arts projects and has realized multimedia performances both alone and in cooperation with other artists. He is teaching audio and interactive media arts at the Department of Audiovisual Arts and at the postgraduate course in Arts and Technologies of Sound of the Music Department at the Ionian University, Corfu. Publications include: "Ichos und Makam" (Comparative Studies on the Modal systems of Greek and Turkish Music, 1994), "Music and Signs" (edited proceedings of the 1997 conference on Music Semiotics and Systematic Musicology), an a number of articles on Music Technology and Media Arts. Participation in artistice collaborations include (2000), with Martin Carlé programming of interactive sound for Eric Sleichim / Bl!ndman Quartet, and Ulrike and David Gabriel,  2005-2006: Cosmos-X - Multimedia installation with multiple audio and video projections based on the work of Iannis Xenakis, with Efi Xirou, and 2004-2005, with Jean-Pierre Hébert real-time sound programming for the installation series on "Sand". Currently Iannis Zannos is focussing on how environmental issues as well as problems of multiculturality are reflected in media-art terms.

George Katodrytis

George Katodrytis is an architect involved in practice, teaching and research. He is currently Associate Professor of Architecture at the American University of Sharjah. He studied and taught at the Architectural Association in London and he has been a visiting professor at various schools around the world. He has built a number of projects in Europe and the Middle East as well as published widely on contemporary architecture, urbanism, cultural theory and digital media. The work addresses the ‘city’, especially as it is evolving in the 21st century. He has adopted digital technology and scripting as tools for establishing new formal and performative models in architecture.

Lanfranco Aceti

Lanfranco Aceti works as an academic, artist and curator. He is Visiting Professor at Goldsmiths College, department of Computing, London; teaches Contemporary Art and Digital Culture at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Sabanci University, Istanbul, and is Editor in Chief of the Leonardo Electronic Almanac (the MIT Press, Leonardo journal and ISAST). His work has been published in Leonardo, Routledge and Art Inquiry and his interdisciplinary research focuses on the intersection between digital arts, visual culture and new media technologies. He is specialized in inter-semiotic translations between classic media and new media, contemporary digital hybridization processes, Avant-garde film and new media studies and their practice-based applications in the field of fine arts. He is also an Honorary Lecturer at the Department of Computer Science, Virtual Reality Environments at University College London. He has exhibited works at the ICA in London and done digital interventions at TATE Modern. Previously an Honorary Research Fellow at the Slade School of Fine Art, he has also worked as an AHRC Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Birkbeck College, University of London, School of History of Art, Film & Visual Media and as Visiting Research Fellow at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Dimitris Charitos

Dimitris Charitos is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Communication and Media Studies at the University of Athens.  His artistic work involves electronic music, audiovisual, interactive, site-specific installations, and virtual environments. He has studied architectural design, computer-aided design and has a PhD in interactive design and virtual environments. He has authored or co-authored more than 70 publications in books, journals or conference proceedings.

Yiannis Colakides

Yiannis Colakides is an AA(London) trained, practicing architect and director of Colakides & Associates (Cyprus). He is also the co-founder and co-director of NeMe (http://www.neme.org & http://neme-imca.org), a peer reviewer at Leonardo Abstract Service (LABs), video maker and curator. His video works (some in collaboration with Helene Black) have been exhibited in arts centres and museums in various countries. He curated The Mirror Stage (Lanitis Foundation, Limassol, Cyprus) and co-curated with Helene Black So now what... (Lincoln Centre, NY, USA), Dialogues with the Machine (Sala Berlanga, Madrid, Spain), Margins of Time (Lanitis Foundation), Cor Unum (NCCA, Moscow, Russia) and coordinated In Transition Cyprus 2006 (Lanitis Foundation), In Transition Russia 2008 (NCCA, Moscow and Museum of Fine Arts, Ekaterinburg, Russia).