Redmond, Joseph: A Traveling Investigation of New Media Arts

My project is a look into the effects of technology on society through the lens of contemporary art. I started this project with a wide scope, aiming to see these impacts alongside an intense investigation on the sociology of technology and the effects of internet technologies as a whole. Now I am focusing more on electronic arts with its presences and histories and uncertain futures, rather than tackling the myriad of issues, such as social media burnout or the right to free attention, that the art often speaks on in itself. With this, I have begun reading Curating Digital Art by Annet Dekker to get a better understanding of the issues that curators and archivers face, and I plan to read more about the history of electronic art with Digital Art History by Anna Bentkowska-Kafel, et al., or perhaps Digital Art by Christiane Paul. I also plan to pull from other research papers I saw presented at the International Symposium for Electronic Arts 2022 (ISEA2022), especially those works from the 2nd Summit on New Media Art Archiving.

As alluded to, this research has already brought me to many places. Having started in Paris, what I have seen and done here so far has inspired me, such as performances at La Gaîté Lyrique, and I plan to also visit L’Atelier des Lumières for their immersive exhibitions. I then traveled to Barcelona (for Barcelona Santa Mònica), Madrid (MMMAD Festival Urbano de Arte Digital de Madrid), Marrakech (general textile arts, internet accessibility research, Miguel Chevalier inspiration), Amsterdam (Nxt Museum exhibition opening), back to Barcelona (ISEA2022, Sónar Festival), and now I am back in Paris (La Fête de la Musique, meeting with Marketa Gebrian). I am soon to go on another handful of trips, which I am excited for, but another change has been my decision to do less traveling, as it has seriously hindered my ability to write, read, and to produce the work I need to. While I have learned so much, and it has prepared me greatly, I will be grateful for time to be rested, collected, and stable enough to do less fieldwork-based research.

The main thing that has steered my research right now has been the attendance of ISEA2022 in Barcelona. I learned so much there about electronic arts and the issues that both its creators and consumers face. Primarily it has sparked a deep interest in archiving electronic works, and I have even been invited to intern with the ISEA Symposium Archives team. Furthermore, I have been asked to help run a workshop with a PhD candidate from Copenhagen researching AI and ethics at next year’s symposium, to be held in Paris. This has guided my research to focus more on developments in AI (such as DALL-E 2 or deepfakes) and it has also created a bigger interest in AI music in my personal artistic practice. I have also rethought the possibility of having a coinciding art piece with my research, and I believe I will wait with that endeavor until after the research project, notably for the Gallatin Arts Festival, since it will have the infrastructure to make a larger performance possible.

Though I have been meeting amazing people and making great connections, I have also decided it is best to not be conducting interviews academically. I would not be able to use them much in my writing, so it is mainly beneficial for me to use them to inspire and guide my research, rather than have it be a major function of it. These connections are also more helpful without the inherent distance of a researcher to a subject, leading towards new areas and opportunities with interpersonal relationships. I am soon to be meeting with Sergiu Ardelean from the VR company Artivive (another possible site of future interning), more artists from the Czech Republic, and I’ll be reaching out to an artist in Stockholm. I am now able to approach this from a more relaxed and exploratory lens, rather than an inquisitive and exacting one.

I am excited to see what is next in my research journey, and I will soon be planning a very large portion of it now that I’m in a more stable place to do so. I need to focus more on my reading and my writing, but I am now in a more focused position to make that work intentional and productive.

-JR. Redmond

MMMAD Festival Urbano de Arte Digital de Madrid. In the DOMO360, a dome near the campus of la Universidad Complutense de Madrid. Performance by Klaus and Turian Boy from label Vlex, live visuals by Pablo Aragón. Somewhat underwhelming, with a shaky artistic intention, tied between rave and gallery exhibit. Effects were conceptually interesting but impractical, with the small audience being asked to lie down at the beginning, then to stand up just two minutes after. It was the opening night of a larger event, but then filled with, I suppose, the less experienced student projects.
Installation and video piece by Oseanworld. An interactive and engaging piece with fantastic shazam-worthy hyperhouse music and excellent worldbuilding. At the Nxt Museum opening of exhibition “UFO – Unidentified Fluid Other,” curated by Bogomir Doringer. Truly one of the most exhilarating exhibitions I’ve seen, with insightful commentary and glimpses of a shifting world. I’ve seen it mentioned at ISEA and at Sónar talks, a testament to its impact.
Performance “Ventriloquist Ontology” by Afroditi Psarra. A slow dance with wearable electronics that controlled the movements of the performer, set to a rush of overlapping robotic voices speaking cryptic truths. At the main ceremony for ISEA2022, moments before an overwhelming flood at the bar, which had been closed for the duration of the performance. The technology wasn’t intuitive to see, nor was it explained ahead of time, but once the concept is understood it is, in retrospect, a great performance.
Panel held by Metaverse developer Sensorium, with: Sensorium’s Deputy CEO and Art Director Sasha Tityanko; world-renowned musician, performer, producer, artist, and creator Arca (Alejandra Ghersi Rodríguez); and the incognito electronic music artist SVORA. Really poignant notes on the current and future prevalence of metaverse performances, plus AI, VR and avatar components, with focuses on inclusivity and the tug between reality and high-tech illusion. Arca’s performance the following day included live VJed light shows, with crowd-swelling performance and thought-provoking mixing. Consistently at the vanguard of technological changes in music and art, it was an unbelievable treat to see Arca speak on her thoughts about the trends she can be often caught setting.