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February 2008, Week 2


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Image Science <[log in to unmask]>
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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 8 Feb 2008 13:16:46 +0100
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re:place conference collectively reviewed by:
Jon CATES (US), Winnie FU (HK), Mary HAMMER (US), Rachelle Viader
KNOWLES (CA), Eleni MICHAILIDI (GR), Reginald NJEMANZE (NG), Nicolas

:::   re:place collectively re:viewed   :::      :::   full-length
reviews of each panel 

re:place 2007 was the second international conference on the histories
of Media, Art, Science and Technology. It took place in Berlin from the
15th until the 18th of November 2007 at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt.
re:place followed the first conference Refresh!, the First International
Conference on the Histories of Media Art, Science and Technology held at
the Banff New Media Institute, Canada, in 2005 (cf. Oliver Grau ed.,
MediaArtHistories, MIT 2007). In the second conference, re:place was
chaired by Andreas Broeckmann and Gunalan Nadarajan supported by an
advisory board and a program committee with many well-known key players
of the field Media Art Histories. The conference consisted of several
pre- and post-conference activities, which were only partly open to the
public, and many parallel events. The three-day conference itself was
organized into ten thematic panels, evening key lectures, lunchtime
lectures and poster sessions. The conference was also complemented by
three independently organized exhibitions that were shown in Berlin at
the same time: 9 Evenings Reconsidered: Art, Theatre and Engineering at
the TESLA, From Spark to Pixel at the Martin-Gropius-Bau and History
Will Repeat Itself at the KW. The combination of conference proceedings,
parallel events and exhibitions, gave conference attendees many choices
to engage in a wide range of activities during re:place.

In the introductory talk Oliver Grau gave an overview of the
development of the field of MediaArtHistories before and after Refresh!
and asked what value can research in this field achieve within the
framework of Image Science and Digital Humanities? Starting with the
mission of the conference series ( the
presentation created a "discipline strategic" bridge opening up a
perspective to overcome the often placement of Media Arts in a ghetto.  
In support of that Grau showed the increasing significance of new
scientific instruments for the field, *collective* online image and text
archives, like,, which
document the art and theory production of the last decades. He finished
with a note of caution regarding the too strong particularization in
this area and made a plea for a concerted policy and strategy for
collectively documenting, archiving and collecting the art of the latest

In his opening remarks, Andreas Broeckmann referred specifically to the
comma between "Media" and "Art" in the subtitle of the conference. He
repeated this comment later while introducing the speakers of Panel 5
(which he moderated). Broeckmann stated the organizers gave a great deal
of consideration to this distinction while organizing the conference and
that it is indicatory of their approach. Unfortunately, as a result,
Media Art Histories were less thoroughly addressed as a field. In
Broeckmann's explanation, most of the panelists came from very diverse
fields. Panels were arranged around special topics. This combination of
various fields and approaches in the topical panels would have offered
the opportunity to inform a cross-disciplinary toolset of Media Art
Histories methods and strategies, but this chance went by unused.


:::   Panels  :::

The 10 panels of re:place covered a variety of subjects and topics with
a few themes connecting multiple panels and presentations. Longer panel
reviews follow this general review of re:place. 

Panel 1 was on the topic of ART, SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING as
sites/places where early experiments in Media Art took place, most often
as a combined form of research and development, focusing on examples of
their intersections. The panel was moderated by Edward Shanken, with
panelists Michael Century, Stephen Jones, Eva Moraga and Robin
Oppenheimer and is reviewed by Nina Wenhart. 

The second panel, INTERSECTIONS OF MEDIA AND BIOLOGY, incorporated
speakers from vastly different study or artistic backgrounds and study
epochs. The first two speakers, Assimina Kaniari and Jussi Parikka,
adopted a historical approach on understanding the relationship between
Biology and Media Art, while the last two attempted to incorporate
theories into their respective art works with Michele Barker describing
how the Life Sciences interact with Digital culture and Boo Chapple
experimented with sound in relation with biological systems. This panel
was moderated Ingeborg Reichle and is reviewed by Winnie Fu. 

In Panel 3, HISTORIES OF ABSTRACTION, the four lecturers offered
brilliant and sophisticated studies on seemingly quite different
subjects. Laura Marks, Arianna Borrelli, Amir Alexander and Paul Thomas
offered complex and diverse perspectives with highly specialized and
elaborated insights that are detailed in the review by Nicolas

by Stephan Kovats and included presentations by Lioudmila Voropai,
Renata Sukaityte, Christoph Klütsch and Catherine Hamel. This panel
raised questions of the possibilities of institutional critiques and is
reviewed by jonCates. 

Panel 5 traced some of the Media Art Histories that can be told in a
local context, namely in Australia, Poland, Japan and the North American
Pacific Coast. This panel, PLACE STUDIES: MEDIA ART HISTORIES, raising
the complex issue of how national and local processes relate to broader
national and international media art contexts. Eleni Michailidi reviews
this panel, discussing how, as Media Art's global networks have had an
acute impact on the development of local artistic and critical
practices, analyzing their interactions and mutual influences can help
us understand the different ways in which Media Art develops. With:
Daniel Palmer, Ryszard W. Kluszczynski, Caroline Seck Langill, Machiko

The panelists of Panel 6, MEDIA THEORY IN PRACTICE, charted
intersections of Media theory and practice through points of tension and
friction, conflicts between innovation and institutional frameworks,
displacements, immateriality and the instability of memory in all its
forms. This panel included Kathryn Farley, Nils Röller, Wendy Hui Kyong
Chun, Antony Hudek and Antonia Wunderlich as panelists and is reviewed
by Rachelle Viader Knowles. 

INTERDISCIPLINARY THEORY IN PRACTICE, the 7th Panel, started by a brief
introduction of the speakers by the Moderator Sara Diamonds. She
buttressed the effort made by the speakers to apply the emerging forms
of Interdisciplinary Theories to Practice, not only in Media Art History
but across various domains of knowledge. The papers presented by
Christopher Salter, Simone Osthoff, Janine Marchassault and Michael
Daroch painted pictures of a hybridized knowledge of Meta Analysis of
Methodology and the various points of Productive Collision; not only to
New Theories but as they relate to New Practices. Panel 7 is reviewed by
Reginald Njemanze. 

All lectures of Panel 8, PLACE STUDIES: RUSSIA / SOVIET UNION, as well
as an introduction by Inke Arns (who tried to outline the importance of
Russian avant-garde movements and its technology related utopias)
clarified the background of New Media Art in Central and East Europe. In
Joanna Walewska's review of Panel 8, she discusses the panel's attempt
to extrapolate the future meaning of collaboration between artists and
engineers from the histories of such collaborations. With: Olga
Goriunova, Margareta Tillberg, Margareta Voehringer, and Irina

Panel 9, CROSS CULTURAL PERSPECTIVES, investigated the
interrelationships and differences between Western and non-Western
views. The moderator, Bernd Scherer, stated that this investigation
involves a great deal of exchange between cultures, and that the results
may challenge the current definitions of modernity. Each panelist,
including Erkki Huhtamo, Cynthia Ward, Manosh Chowdhury and Sheila
Petty, presented a paper that attempted to challenge the traditional
Western view and encourage exchange between cultures. The Cross Cultural
Perspectives panel is reviewed by Mary Hammer. 

introduced and moderated by Geoff Cox. The connections between
cybernetics and artistic or, more precisely, emergent everyday practices
was presented in two computer-archaeological case studies by David Link
and Kristoffer Gansing. Both speakers were separately looking at
different occurrences in the early software/hardware history when
engineers and programmers were experimenting with the cybernetic
machines to produce something other than what they were originally
designed for. Brian Reffin Smith then delivered the literally final
speech of the panels in a kind of conference performance. In his review
of Panel 10, Rolf Wolfensberger, describes how Brian Reffin Smith
passionately denounced the ongoing mystification of the computer by
artists, scientists and art-critics alike since the early 1970ies and
the progressive culture of the spectacle fed by the capitalistic
IT-industries since the mid 1990ies.

:::   Poster Presentation   :::

In addition to the panels, re:place also hosted a Poster Presentation
of about 20 projects, reaching from doctoral projects about individual
artists such as Lenka Dolanova's poster on her research into the
Vasulkas or Darko Fritz's research on Vladimir Bonacic to a poster from
and about The Experimental Television Center. If time is limited,
posters are a way of at least including projects in the context of the
conference. But the way in which the posters were physically presented
at re:place was very impolite. The posters were put on simple stand,
quite small and too close to one another. Still, the worst aspect of the
presentation of the posters was their location. The posters stood in the
last corner of the entrance hall, a place with no sufficient lighting.
In addition there were two poster presentations, where everyone had 5
minutes to present their projects. Even if time is limited, there can be
better ways of showing and presenting these posters, if the organizers
are really interested in enriching the content of the conference.

Links to all the posters can be found here: 

:::   Key Note   :::

The most pointed approach to describe the framework of a potential
field of media art histories was formulated, performed and put into a
flaming manifesto by Siegried Zielinski. He made a claim for being
enthusiastic, something which was missing in a lot of presentations. 

:::   Critique & Conclusion   :::

The notion of 'place' in the title of the conference was not as evident
as the premise of the conference seemed to promise. Perhaps the proposed
"thematic focus on located-ness and the migration of knowledge and
knowledge production in the interdisciplinary contexts of art,
historiography, science and technology" was by definition too vague.
Glimpses of local practices at the fringes of mainstream reception (such
as the Eastern European Media Art Histories thread that connected a few
panels and panelists) or inspirations taken from crossing borders and
boundaries did come up momentarily during several of the panels, but
practically none of the panelists or moderators made a specific
reference to the title of the conference or used this theme to 'locate'
her presentation in a broader context. Some of the panels left the
impression of a more or less artificially conceived theme with a
collection of presentations. This impression seemed to render the hope
of the moderators for controversial discussions almost futile from the
start. Seen in retrospect the conference did not fully re:cover its
'place' although many of the presentations, posters and discussions as
such were fascinating without doubt.

:::   Links   :::

- re:place 2007 at Haus der Kulturen der Welt: 
- 9 Evenings Reconsidered at TESLA: 
- History Will Repeat Itself at the KW: 
- From Spark to Pixel at the Martin-Gropius-Bau: 

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