Voicing Electronic Arts

The panel will address complexities of voice in the current digital and networked moment of electronic art by bringing to the fore the dynamic relationship between technique and technology and culture, by including theorists and artists in the panel discussion.
Dates: 
Friday, 16 September, 2011 - 09:00 - 10:30
Chair Person: 
Norie Neumark
Presenters: 
Nermin Saybasili
Presenters: 
Igor Stromajer
Presenters: 
Isabelle Arvers
Igor Stromajer: Oppera Teorettikka Internettikka,1999.
Image from 'Collecting Breath on Second Life' Talking about the Weather, Maria Miranda and Norie Neumark, 2007

Chair: Prof. Norie Neumark

There is an uncanny quality to voice in electronic arts, viscerally carrying bodily intimacies to the listener through physical spaces, yet dislocated from the speaker's body through reproduction and transmission. The digital voice is paradoxically human and machinic - intimate and intense,  as it connects subjectivities on the one hand and the digitally abstract on the other hand,  as it passes through machines on to the other. Whether voices call to us across the internet, or across the smaller space of an installation, or from the small screen of machinima, media artists have found this paradoxical and uncanny quality alluring and have worked with it across a range of media and emotional ranges. While voice is often discussed in a political and metaphorical sense (giving people a voice through media) the aim of this panel is to address the aesthetics of voice in media art. Voice, with all its paradoxes and ambiguities, is over-ripe for the theoretical and arttistic engagement that Roland Barthes invited with his now very familiar concept of grain of the voice.  And voice with its intimacies, its intensities, its aesthetic richness, is all the more diverse and complex in the age when grain has become granular synthesis. Voice moves across and defines spaces and relationships, it resonates and re-sounds. It invokes, provokes, convokes. The panel will address such complexities of voice in the current digital and networked moment of electronic art by bringing to the fore the dynamic relationship between technique and technology and culture, by including theorists and artists in the panel discussion.

Paper Abstracts

Aesthetics of Voice

by Norie Neumark

This paper introduces the panel's key themes in relation to vocal aesthetics: voice as inter-subjective, paradoxical, uncanny,  intimate - determined by, and determining of, spatial relationships. It discusses inter-disciplinary theoretical approaches to voice and uses specific examples from media arts to discuss modalities and techniques of voice. Finally, it looks at how the current digital and networked moment is opening new possibilities for artists working with voice on the one hand, and how on the other hand, attention to vocal aesthetics is helping us to understand such currently ubiquitous phenomena as authenticity effect and performativity.

The Magnetic Field of Audiovisual Art Practices

by Nermin Saybasili

The digitally mediated world is a gigantic magnet, an organising force for generating regulatory activities and ruling their functions across its magnetic field. The task for critics is to map or - even better in a sense - to electrify other forces operating within the dominant forces that generate social pressures. From this perspective, the paper proposes the term magnetic - which I have coined - as an implement that invites us to re-think the artwork beyond its material presence and actual signification in digital culture. The magnetic refers to a particular connection between art and politics in the age of global capitalism. The paper aims to offer an understanding of looking and listening as central to the process of inventive and creative interpretation of the world and the making of knowledge of the world. Dealing with the element of voice and sound in installation works, the discussion in the paper will be centred on the idea that audiovisual artwork can behave like a magnet by either pulling things and people towards itself as well as to each other or pushing them apart. The magnetic is the other name of performativity involving the mapping of the invisible, the temporal, the detachable, the connectible, the reversible, the modifiable.

@juspar [1] and now quoting Galloway [2]: “Code is the only language that is executable”. Does what it says. #code #chun [3] #netpol1010

by Igor Stromajer

([1] Jussi Parrikka; [2] Alexander R. Galloway; [3] Wendy Chun - http://twitter.com/#!/juspar/status/28433378847) html>head
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Machinima as a Political or Artistic Detournement of Video Games

by Isabelle Arvers

This paper presents Machinima as a political or artistic detournement of video games. By using virtual spaces and changing perspective as an artistic strategy, machinima allow a distanced critique of a simulated world. They tend to erase the boundaries between reality and fiction and redefine the transgressive power of the game. As Guy Debord states in The Society of the Spectacle, "There, where the real world is changing into simple images, simple images become real human beings and efficient motivations for an hypnotic behavior." Machinima re-actualize the Situationist conception of cinema in which voices in dialogs, or interviews, or voice over and images, act as different layers of content. In the purest hacking tradition, machinima can be perceived as a «detournement» or a diversion of mass media to become a means of expression, political or artistic... Machinima represents the particular moment when gamers begin to produce content and where games become tools of expression. These movies are mostly narrative, but they can also be experimental, artistic, or related to music, documentaries, ads, and feature films. They can be seen as a new way of representation in the digital age, along with 3D animation, digital cinema, or video. Machinima has a huge potential because it uses mass consumption objects that are games, to help people self-express. A recent French study showed that 99.8 % of teenagers play video games daily. Therefore, it can be said that games surround our everyday life. This is the reason why it is meaningful to diffuse a cinematographic genre using games and open source tools, to make movies and artworks, enabling and amplifying other ways for people to express themselves.

Bios of the Participants

Isabelle Arvers

Isabelle Arvers is a french new media curator, critic and author, specializing in video and computer games, web animation and digital cinema. She has coordinated ISEA 2000, Paris, and she has curated Video Cuts 2001, Centre Pompidou, Gaming Room Villette Numerique 2002, Paris, and Tour of the Web 2003, Centre Pompidou.
featuring French and international artists. In 2004, she organized a Gameboy music concert and she has curated the wireless art event Wifiledefrance for la Region Ile de France. She was the net.art curator for the 2004 Banana RAM festival, Italy. She curated the exhibit Gametime, Experimedia, Melbourne in October 2004 and la Nuit Numerique for the 2004 Bitfilms Festival, Hambourg, Germany, November 2004. Her latest projects are: No fun games and the gaming experience, Bergen Norway, 2005; Mal au Pixel, Paris, France, 2006; Articule 3, emerging swiss creation, Annecy, France, 2007; Playing to real, Meudon, France, 2007, Gamerz 04 and Gamerz 05 and Gamerz6, Aix-en-Provence, 2008 & 2009, Machinima screenings, Gameplay & Mostravideo Brasil, 2009.

Norie Neumark

Norie Neumark is Professor and Chair in Media and Cinema at La Trobe University and Director of the Centre for Creative Arts. She is a sound/media artist who makes sound and radiophonic work and collaborates with visual artist, Maria Miranda on media art works that have been exhibited widely internationally. She publishes on sound and media art, most recently as lead editor and contributor to Voice: Vocal Aesthetics in Digital Arts and Media (MIT Press, 2010). http://www.out-of-sync.com/

Nermin Saybasili

Nermin Saybasili is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Art History at Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University, Istanbul, Turkey. She received her doctorate in visual culture from Goldsmiths College, University of London. Her research interests include contemporary art practices and critical theory with a particular emphasis on 'visibilities' and 'invisibilities' in the regime of the vision, the 'element' of sound and voice in installation work and video art, and urban space and migration in the networked culture. Saybasili's most recent publications include essays in Voice: Vocal Aesthetics in Digital Arts and Media Art eds. Norie Neumark, Ross Gibson and Theo Van Leeuwen (The MIT Press, 2010) and Globalization and Contemporary Art ed. Jonathan Harris (Wigley-Blackwell, forthcoming). Her book Borders and Ghosts will be published in Turkish by Metis Publishing House in 2011. 

Igor Stromajer

Igor Stromajer (Intima Virtual Base - www.intima.org) is an intimate mobile communicator, a multimedia artist. His oeuvre comprises nearly 150 projects presented at more than 100 exhibitions in 50 countries on all the continents. The two most widely known are Ballettikka Internettikka and Oppera Internettikka (1997-2011). He has received several awards for his work (in Moscow, Hamburg, Dresden, Belfort, Madrid and Maribor), and his projects form part of the permanent collections of prestigious art institutions, among them Le Centre National d’Art et de Culture Georges Pompidou - Musee National d’Art Moderne in Paris, France, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid, Spain, the Moderna Galerija in Ljubljana, Slovenia, the Computerfinearts Gallery - net and media art collection, in New York, USA and the Maribor Art Gallery, Slovenia. His multimedia projects research emotional tactics, and intimate political guerrilla and traumatic low-tech communication strategies. As a guest artist he lectures at universities and contemporary art institutes in Europe, North and Latin America, and Asia.