[LEAuthors] LEA Vol 13, No 6-7, June - July 2005

LEA leoalmanac at yahoo.com
Mon Jul 11 22:38:08 EDT 2005

Leonardo Electronic Almanac Vol 13, No 6-7, June - July 2005 http://lea.mit.edu
ISSN #1071-4391
| |




< New Media Arts, Technology and Education @ MAAP Singapore
2004, by Hock Soon Seah and Kim Machan >


< New Forms for 21st Century Conceptualism, by Dew Harrison >

< Virtual Campus - It is Fun and Educational, by Alexei Sourin,
Konstantin Levinski and Qi Liu >

< Astral Travel in Virtual Realms: Evaluating Conceptual
Understanding in Digital Reconstructions of Past Cultures, by
Erik Malcolm Champion >

< In Between Institution and Market - the Role of Media Art and
Infrastructure in the Era of Post-Regional Integration, by
Andrew H. K. Lam and Andy Tam T. K. >

< Digital Speculations, by Bharat Dave >

< Idensity®, by Elizabeth Sikiaridi and Frans Vogelaar >


< Molten Media and the Infiltration of the Law, by Curtis E.A.
Karnow >


< After Adorno: Rethinking Music Sociology, reviewed by David
Beer >

< The Transparent Body: A Cultural Analysis of Medical Imaging,
reviewed by Jan Baetens >

< Liminal Lives: Imagining the Human at the Frontiers of
Bioscience, reviewed by Eugene Thacker >


< Contents and Abstracts: *Leonardo* Vol. 38, No. 4 >


< *Leonardo* Editorial Office Moves to San Francisco Art
Institute >

< Brainstorming for *Leonardo's* 40th Anniversary > 

< Leonardo at SIGGRAPH Town Hall Meeting > 

< The Pacific Rim New Media Summit: A Pre-Symposium to ISEA2006 >

< PRNMS Working Group On Organizations/Symposia-Pacific Rim
Residencies > 


< CFP - Leonardo Music Journal 16 (2006) >

< CFP - Leonardo Abstracts Service >

< CFP - Digital '05: "EXQUISITE" >

< Jacques Mandelbrojt at the 17th Earagail Arts Festival,
Donegal, Ireland >


< Inspired by the stars and earth: Joan Brassil, Artist,
teacher, mentor 1919-2005 >



LEA's June - July double issue, guest edited by Dr Hock Soon
Seah and Kim Machan, sees yet another special edition, this time
about New Media Arts, Technology and Education. This reviewed
international conference was organized as part of the Multimedia
Art Asia Pacific Festival 2004 held in Singapore. 

One From the Vault, the monthly dose of things past, looks at
Curtis E. A. Karnow's Molten Media and the Infiltration of the
Law, a piece which first appeared in June 1995.

For Leonardo Reviews, Michael Punt's selections include those
of new panel member David Beer, with his reflections on Tia
DeNora's book, *After Adorno: Rethinking Music Sociology*. Also
featured is *The Transparent Body: A Cultural Analysis of
Medical Imaging*, reviewed by Jan Baetens, another of the newer
members who has already made a significant contribution to this
project. Eugene Thacker's review of *Liminal Lives: Imagining
the Human at the Frontiers of Bioscience* completes this

In ISAST news, read about *Leonardo's* move to a new home,
brainstorm with them for their upcoming 40th anniversary, and
find out about the latest Leonardo at SIGGRAPH Town Hall Meeting in
August. Also, keep updated with our series on *The Pacific Rim
New Media Summit: A Pre-Symposium to ISEA2006*, where another
working group chair shares the group's scope and objectives. 

Bytes features two vastly different calls for papers/artwork
that will surely be of interest to many. Also, find out more
about current exhibitions by Jacques Mandlebrojt at the 17
Earagail Arts Festival in Donegal, Ireland.

Lastly, Jill Sykes mourns the passing of Australian Joan
Brassil, 85, who was an artist of unique character and singular



by Hock Soon Seah and Kim Machan

Hock Soon Seah
School of Computer Engineering
Nanyang Technological University
Nanyang Avenue
Singapore 639798
Tel: +65 6790 5788
Fax: +65 6791 9414
ashsseah [@] ntu [dot] edu [dot] sg

Kim Machan
MAAP - Multimedia Art Asia Pacific 
GPO BOX 2505
Brisbane Qld 4001 
Tel: Australia +61 0411 591 058
Tel: China +86 1304 109 4471
Tel: Singapore +65 9193 3007
Fax: +61 7 33 484 109
kim [@] maap [dot] org [dot] au


Multimedia Art Asia Pacific (MAAP) 2004, GRAVITY, 'MAAP in
Singapore', New Media Arts, Technology And Education


Leonardo Electronic Almanac June - July 2005 (Vol 13, No 6-7)
presents an eclectic mix of papers selected from the New Media
Arts, Technology and Education 2004 conference. Held as part of
'MAAP in Singapore', the conference had seven strands, "Media
Culture", "Southeast Asian Forum", "Artist Forum: The Gravity of
Sound and Distance", "New Media Education in Singapore",
"Connections", "Technical Art" and "Society and New Media".


In October 2004, Multimedia Art Asia Pacific (MAAP) [1],
organized 'MAAP in Singapore' adopting as its theme, *GRAVITY* -
the gravity of real and virtual space, social gravity, and the
gravity of ideas referenced and linked the weightless code of
digital media to the conceptual weight of art history in a
concentrated examination of New Media Art. 

A key Festival component was the international conference; 'New
Media Arts, Technology and Education' [2] with Professor Trebor
Scholz (State University of New York) and Professor José L.
Encarnação (INI-GraphicsNet Foundation, Germany) delivering
keynote addresses on "New Media Arts Education and its
Discontent" [2] and "Computer Graphics Technologies for Art,
Cultural Heritage and Edutainment" [2] respectively. 

>From the conference's seven strands, "Media Culture",
"Southeast Asian Forum", "Artist Forum: The Gravity of Sound and
Distance", "New Media Education in Singapore", "Connections",
"Technical Art" and "Society and New Media", we offer an
eclectic mix of papers selected for their fresh perspectives and
contribution(s) to the Festival's theme.

In our first essay, Dew Harrison questions the teaching of
digital media theory to new practitioners where it is understood
as deriving from lens and screen-based media. It examines other
routes through 20th century art history to current practice in
digital art and determines the validity of Marcel Duchamp as
influential on contemporary practice generally, and on
Conceptual Art specifically. 

In *Virtual Campus - It is Fun and Educational*, Alexei Sourin,
with Konstantin Levinski and Qi Liu share with us the "great
multimedia place for electronic education and fun, research and
games, meeting new friends, and immersion in campus life" that
is, a virtual model of Nanyang Technological University, and how
it "teaches students how 3D shapes and their colors can be
easily defined with parametric and implicit functions."

Erik Malcolm Champion's piece then deals with astral travel in
virtual realms, where he evaluates conceptual understanding in
digital reconstructions of past cultures. His paper discusses
the case study of an ancient Mayan site, Palenque, to suggest
ways of creating a platform conducive to cultural learning using
virtual environment technology.

Next, a joint effort by Andrew H. K. Lam and Andy Tam T. K.
explores how the conditions of media art have changed radically
over the past few years. Their paper aims to project a vision in
the relationship between the institution and the market, within
the framework of the role of media art and infrastructure across
the Asian continent.

In *Digital Speculations*, Bharat Dave describes selected
projects that served as vehicles for critical investigation of
interactive digital media and their potential for exploring
different ways in which experiences can be imagined,
constructed, and communicated.
Finally, Elizabeth Sikiaridi and Frans Vogelaar share their
work, *Idensity®*, which develops scenarios for an interplay of
the urban space and the media domain.

The Festival was supported by the Singapore National Arts
Council, The Australia Council, Arts Queensland: with seventeen
funding partners; seven galleries including The Singapore Art
Museum; live broadband events between Singapore and Brisbane;
and participation in global public artworks.



1. MAAP (Multimedia Art Asia Pacific) is an organization and
festival that explores New Media Art across a range of art forms
and practices emphasizing interactive multimedia, Internet,
digital media, animation and projects integrating new media.
MAAP was established to bring focus to the "unmapped" cultural
new media content emerging from Australia and the Asia Pacific
regions and is now an Asia Pacific touring new media arts
festival and web site resource, partnering with key
organizations in our region. MAAP's inaugural festival in 1998
was based in Brisbane and Online and continued till 2001 when it
extended its commitment to regional partnerships. MAAP stepped
offshore to Beijing in 2002 and after the resounding success of
'MAAP in Beijing'; the festival was held in October 2004 in
Singapore. For more information: http://www.maap.org.au

2. 'New Media Arts, Technology and Education' - International
refereed conference jointly organized by the Nanyang
Technological University's School of Art, Design and Media and
the School of Computer Engineering in cooperation with the
SIGGRAPH Singapore Chapter and the Southeast Asian Computer
Graphics Society (SEAGRAPH). For information, abstracts and
program: http://www.ntu.edu.sg/sce/maap2004/


DR HOCK SOON SEAH is the Dean and an Associate Professor of the
School of Computer Engineering at Nanyang Technological
University, Singapore. He serves in the Editorial Boards of
Computer & Graphics Journal published by Elsevier and the
International Journal of IT published by the Singapore Computer
Society. Seah is the Founding President of ACM SIGGRAPH
Singapore and the South East Asian Computer Graphics Society
(SEAGRAPH). He is also the Leader of Digital Media Virtual Grid
Community under the Singapore National Grid Office. He was
general co-chair for the International Conference on Cyberworld
in December 2003 as well as the Multimedia Art Asia Pacific
(MAAP) Conference on New Media Art, Technology and Education in
October 2004. He holds a Bachelor degree in Electrical
Engineering, a Master's degree in Computing and a Ph.D degree in
Computer Graphics.


KIM MACHAN has worked in the area of contemporary art,
nationally and internationally, for the past 18 years as
curator, arts producer and consultant.

She pioneered art projects in free to air television broadcast
as producer and curator of *Art Rage: Artworks for Television*
commissioning over 70 artists productions 1995-2000. She has
spoken at numerous conferences and Chaired Online Art in Asia at
the World Wide Web Conference, Hong Kong.

Machan is a founding member and Festival Director of MAAP
(Multimedia Art Asia Pacific) since 1998 and has researched new
media art networks and projects in Australia and Asia Pacific
regions over the past seven years. In 2002 she was Contributing
Curator, *Media City Seoul* and Chief Curator *MAAP in Beijing*.
Other major exhibitions included *Gravity* at the Singapore Art
Museum as part of *MAAP in Singapore* 2004. Machan is currently
a Ph.D candidate at QUT Brisbane in the area of New Media Art in




by Dew Harrison
Gray's School of Art
Robert Gordon University
Scott Sutherland Building
Garthdee Road
Aberdeen, UK
AB10 7QD
dew [dot] harrison [@] rgu [dot] ac [dot] uk


Conceptual art, digital art, Duchamp, hypermedia technology,
non-linearity, large glass


This paper questions the teaching of digital media theory to
new practitioners where it is understood as deriving from lens
and screen-based media. It examines other routes through 20th
century art history to current practice in digital art and
determines the validity of Marcel Duchamp as influential on
contemporary practice generally, and on Conceptual Art
specifically. A case is made for the merging of computer-
mediated and Conceptual Art and compounded in the work
StarGlass, the transposition of Duchamp's thoughts and ideas
into a hypermedia art system. The piece was shown during the
presentation of the paper at MAAP 2004.


In the West, the economically privileged side of the
North/South divide, we have a technocratic society where 21st
century culture is digitally based and lives are largely
computer-mediated. Artists here play with the materials and
content of our culture and will cross territories in order to do
this, to make the invisible visible and open our eyes and ears
to what's going on around us. In this high-tech culture they
can engage with unorthodox media, tools and ideas, they can use
computers and new technologies to explore areas within and
around art practice and cultural theory.

This has not been an easy transition, from the Modernist
specificity of orthodox art material to the Postmodern techno-
scientific inquiry and there are a number of art history trails
available to follow. Charlie Gere, a Digital Art historian,
gives a convincing argument for current new media art practice
as an outcome of our present Digital Culture, (2002) [1] which,
in turn, has emerged from a synthesis of art, technology and
science, the Cybernetic era of influential discourses including
Information Theory, General Systems Theory, Molecular Biology,
Artificial Intelligence and Structuralism. According to Gere,
art practice reflecting these concerns began exploring questions
of networking, telecommunications, information, and the use of
generative techniques. By the mid-to-late 1960s artists were
incorporating technical electronic objects in their work and
beginning to employ video and computers as new media. In her
book *Digital Art*, Christiane Paul (2003) suggests that
contemporary artists are using new materials, as ever, to engage
with established art concerns, in that there are currently old
concepts being explored within new artistic practices using
emerging digital technologies, she states that "Some of the
concepts explored in Digital Art date back almost a century, and
many others have been previously addressed in various
'traditional' arts" [2].

Art history books concerning art for the 21st century now,
necessarily, include sections on digital and sci-art, in *art
tomorrow*, Edward Lucie-Smith (2002) understands technology as
linked to an enhanced representation in art, which therefore
centres on video and, to a lesser extent, on digital still
photography. Although he does determine a direct link between
sci-art and Conceptual Art when he asserts that "The diagrams
made by scientists in order to explain their ideas can be seen,
and indeed have been seen, as direct forerunners of Conceptual
Art" [3]. Margot Lovejoy (1990) [4] in her contribution to an
*Art Journal* issue on computer art also makes a strong case for
the importance of photography as the basis for the use of
electronic media in art practice. Lev Manovich (2001) looks at
any new digital media practice through the theory and history of
the still and moving image "I draw upon the histories of art,
photography, video, telecommunication, design, and, last but not
least, the key cultural form of the 20th century - cinema" [5]. 
However, other theorists and practitioners relate connections
between art and technology through an investment in Conceptual
Art and refer to Marcel Duchamp as seminal in this approach.

It is generally accepted that a direct line can be established
between current art practice and the ideas of Duchamp, whether
new technologies are involved or not. Michael Rush (1999) in his
book on new media practice asks, "What branch of contemporary
art, for example, would not claim Marcel Duchamp as a
predecessor?" [6]. Frank Popper (1993) [7] in his search for the
roots of Electronic Art identifies seven different sources from
which contemporary technological art has drawn its inspiration:
Photography and Cinematography; Land Art; Light + Kinetic Art;
Cybernetic Art; Installation Art; Performance; and Conceptual
Art. All of which can call upon Duchamp as an initiator to some
extent. In her search for an art-historical context for Internet
Art, Rachel Greene (2004) states the "Many net artists feel a
strong connection to the work of French artist Marcel Duchamp
(1887-1968)" [8]. Joseph Kosuth (1969) [9] sited Duchamp as a
historical pivot between the Modern and the post-modern
condition releasing art from its physical embodiment with his
'Readymade', which led to a re-questioning of what 'art' might
be. Its essential nature therefore became conceptual and
pertinent in the critique of Modernism that followed. 

This view is upheld but questioned when in relation to computer-
art by Manovich who speaks of a distinction between 'Duchamp-
land' and 'Turing-land'. Duchamp-land being the established art
world and Turing-land being exemplified by ISEA, Ars Electronica
and SIGGRAPH. Manovich asserts that the convergence of these
two worlds will never happen where they have different agendas,
with Turing-land being oriented towards state-of-the-art
computer technology rather than content. He states that even
though "Duchamp-land has finally discovered computers and begun
to use them with its usual irony and sophistication" it will not
accept practice from Turing-land, for it is only ever concerned
with 'art' and not with "research into new aesthetic
possibilities of new media" [10]. As Mark Rothko (1968) argued
"Pictures must be miraculous
 for anyone experiencing [them]
later, a revelation" [11], Turing-land stops at the miraculous.

It is the 'discovery of computers' in Duchamp-land that is the
concern of this paper. Although Duchamp is seen as impactive on
so many aspects of 21st century art practice, and in particular
for computer-mediated practice, it is his influence on
Conceptual Art that is of significance here. My proposition is
that computers are most efficiently engaged in contemporary
practice through a symbiotic relationship with conceptualism and
that this is most apparent where both computer-mediated art and
Conceptual Art have been influenced by the work and ideas of
Duchamp. This view is supported by Edward Shanken (2004) [12]
who suggests a convergence of Art-and-Technology and Conceptual
Art where both engage in discourse on indexing, information, and
data storage and retrieval as witnessed in the early work of Art
& Language and in the 'Software' exhibition 1970 curated by Jack
Burnham (a known Duchampian).

The aptitude for the use of computers in Conceptual Art
practice was initially voiced by Christine Tamblyn (1990) [13]
in an article for *Art Journal*, where she stated that computers
were designed to augment mental processes as opposed to being
visual or manual aids. This understanding is in line with my own
research and practice where I see both conceptual art and
hypermedia dealing with the semantic association of ideas and
thoughts in one interconnected narrative or artwork. Hypermedia
being an evolving conception to facilitate the augmentation of
human mental activity by emulating organic memory systems. My
doctoral thesis (1998) [14] expounds this view and investigates
conceptual art through Art & Language projects and Duchampian
ideas supporting practice where the computer enables connected
multimedia items in a manner which mimics human thought and
memory retrieval. My work continues along this premise and the
piece *Star Glass* is an exploration of the ideas of the
forerunner of contemporary Conceptual Art, Duchamp, in that it
transcodes the 'Large Glass' into a hypermedia art system.



Duchamp is the 'star', the StarGlass his constellation, the
StarGlass is a navigable star-chart of the 4D space of
electronic memory in 2D form. The memory is the hypermedia
database of the 'Large Glass' itself.

The hypermedia network - StarGlass - is not to be limited to
the connectivity defined by the creator, but must enable the
viewer to organise the exploration of the subject (Durham's
Glass) in a way that makes the most sense to them.

This is not an electronic book, or document, or encyclopaedia
emulation; there are no text and buttons in discrete blocks, no
'back', 'forward', 'next', 'quit'. It is night, we are asleep
and dreaming, we can indulge in the free-association of thought,
we are guided by the stars and the night sky.

Every star in the night sky is a node, all of Duchamp is in the
Glass, the StarGlass is made of star-nodes, the nodes are all of
Duchamp - notes, quotes, readymades, paintings/sketches,
preliminary models for his Glass elements, initial ideas for the
Glass, music...

The StarGlass is a game-like piece, playful, intriguing,
talking to the individual, to you. The Glass is concerned with
interpretation with the formulation of 'meaning' derived from
the connection of thoughts and ideas into whole concepts.
Hypermedia allows for the linkage of interrelated, multi-media
ideas into a semantic network, a conceptual art work. It is the
perfect vehicle for the contemporary version of Duchamp's work,
which has much to offer to art practitioners in the new
millennium, it is the thought-net for a new consciousness.

What factors influence our own understandings of concepts, our
own connections of associated items from which we extract
meanings? Are we influenced by our environment? Not just our
cultural and social environment, but also our physical, material
environment. Are we single elements linked into a global
network, part of a solar network, a universal network? Does the
association of planets at our moment of birth define our
position in the life network, dictate aspects of our
personality, affect our understandings of the life-net, our
consciousness, colour our choices and shape our interpretations.

To find meaning in Duchamp's Glass, the StarGlass allows you as
viewer to select your own birth star sign of nodes and see what
meanings arise from this combination of astrological

StarGlass was created with the understanding that a way forward
for contemporary art practice is through the merging of
Conceptual Art and hypermedia technology. While showing this
work it is prudent to explain, in linear narrative form, its
reason for being as a non-linear art system. The linear
narrative exists, as distinct from the non-sequential narrative,
only in the telling. Stories are told orally in short strands of
linear recital, segmented and juxtapositioned for improved
telling by subsequent narrators. This is an essential process if
we are to continually engage and delight the listener but where
simultaneous events take place, how can they be told in linear

In oral storytelling the teller determines the linear sequence
of events, in a hypermedia system, the reader/viewer (listener)
takes this action. Hypermedia enables the viewer to connect
short strands of information in ways which make sense and give
meaning to the whole work be it a text story or a multimedia art
piece. StarGlass is a hypermedia art system, it has no
beginning, middle or end in the formal linear narrative sense,
instead it has an interface, the navigation of the system itself
and the option to 'quit' whenever. Much the same as viewing a
painting or the Large Glass itself, except that this Glass holds
all Duchamp's ideas, texts, images plus the enlightening
material from the boxes - as it was intended to be. The
interactive, non-directive method of engagement with StarGlass
makes the viewer work and think, it is neither a passive nor
easy task making sense of Duchamp.

Hypertext has developed in parallel with Conceptual Art, they
are both concerned with the linkage of associated ideas into
concepts, with the structuring of text items into meaningful
associations. Where hypertext has developed into hypermedia and
the connectivity of multimedia items by semantic association,
Conceptual Art has moved beyond discourse to incorporate
materials other than language. Contemporary art with a
conceptual base now incorporates cultural imagery and social
narrative resulting in works of great complexity. Hypermedia is
designed to manage complex systems in a web-like structure of
interrelated items with electronic memory mirroring human
memory. Arguably, the most complex piece of art to date has been
Duchamp's 'Large Glass' entitled *La Mariée mise à nu par ses
célibataires, même* or *The Bride stripped bare by her
bachelors, even*. This piece, together with its accompanying
'Green Box' of notes and later work *Étant Donnes*, is generally
regarded to be both the culmination and the summation of his
work, occupying his thoughts between 1912-1923 when he abandoned
it as finally unfinished leaving us with a seemingly
unfathomable puzzle.

The Large Glass together with the boxes completes a corpus of
non-linear, semantically associated ideas ripe for transposing
into hypermedia. The Large Glass is the encasement of a plethora
of non-sequentially inter-connected ideas and the transposition
of these into a new media enables new readings of his work. When
seen as a whole entity his work is riddled with cross-references
and complex meanings generating different interpretations
through its blatant ambiguity. The Large Glass and its semantic
key, the Green Box, of 93 documents, sketches, calculations and
notes together contain a wealth of association links proffering
the conjunction of images and text ideal for hypermedia. The
'white box', "a l'infinitif", mostly refers to his thoughts on
the fourth dimension. Duchamp's work can be taken as a richly
endowed semantic network, which continues to inform contemporary
conceptual artists.

The Large Glass was originally constructed in the form we know
early last century, this glass encasement of connected ideas was
the nearest Duchamp could get to his goal. The technology was
not sophisticated enough at that time to support his interest in
the 4th dimension. He wanted to portray his Bride in the 4th
dimension and began with painterly abstractions of the figure
culminating in the flatness of glass as a material nearing the
state of no thickness or 'inframince' and therefore acting as a
signifier to the 4th dimension. He replaced traditional (thick)
paint and canvas as tools for picture making and renounced
painting, declaring his Large Glass to be "a three-dimensional
physical medium in a fourth dimensional perspective" [15]. From
Duchamp's notes it would seem that his interest in the 4th
dimension was not aligned to the, then contemporary, 'relativity
theory' proposed by Einstein but to the idea that the 4th
dimension could be understood through geometry progressing from
the n-dimension and aligned to the mathematics of Poincaré.

A single point has no (n) dimensions, two points define a line
and have one dimension, two lines create a plane and have two
dimensions, two planes create a volume or a three dimensional
space or object, so what do two volumes create? Duchamp
suggested that they should create a fourth dimensional space or
object. Western art has been traditionally concerned with 2D
representations of 3D spaces, Duchamp considered that if 2D
images could stand for a world of 3D objects it would follow
that 3D objects could represent things in a 4D world. He
conceived the Bride as a 3D representation of a 4D being, as a
"two-dimensional representation of a three-dimensional bride who
herself would be the projection of a four-dimensional bride in
the three-dimensional world" [16]. Painters are 2D artists
working on a flat plane, sculptors are 3D artists working with
material objects in real space and now, in the 21st century, we
have digital artists working in the 4D of cyberspace concerned
with the virtual space/object incorporating time.

As artists, technology is part of our everyday existence
whether we take a utopian or dystopian view on this, our view
may be the content of our practice, as also may be the
interrogation of the medium we choose to use. We may follow a
very Modernist practice of specificity, in this case new media
for 4D art, and we may then uphold the autonomy of art through
our engagement with new technologies and scientific advances. 
We have to contend with the issues inherent in new media of
connectivity, narrativity, navigation, time, virtual/real space,
 but also to deal with those current art issues of
content, meaning, presence, identity, gender, personality,
place, performativity, context, object
and to re-question the
meaning and function of art itself in this technocratic age of
21st century capitalism and culture. Altogether a very Techno-
Conceptual practice of which StarGlass is a prime example.



1. C. Gere, *Digital Culture* (Reaktion Books Ltd., 2002).

2. C. Paul, *Digital Art* (Thames & Hudson, 2003) p.7.

3. E. Lucie-Smith, *art tomorrow* (Terrail, 2002) p.219.

4. M. Lovejoy, "Art, Technology and Postmodernism: Paradigms,
Parallels, and Paradoxes", in *Art Journal*, Fall, 257 ff.(1990).

5. L. Manovich, *The Language of New Media* (The MIT Press,
2001) p.9.

6. M. Rush, *New Media in Late 20th-Century Art* (Thames &
Hudson, 1999) p.9.

7. F. Popper, *Art of the Electronic Age* (Thames & Hudson,

8. R. Greene, *Internet Art* (Thames & Hudson, 2004) p.19.

9. J. Kosuth, "Art After Philosophy (parts I-III)", in *Studio
International*, 178, 9, pp.5-17 (1969).

10. L. Manovich, *The Death of Computer Art*. 
(Last accessed March 2004)

11. M. Rothko, "The Romantics Were Prompted", in *Theories of
Modern Art*, H B Chipp (Ed.), University of California Press
pp.548-9 (1968).

12. E. Shanken, "Art in the Information Age", in *Conceptual
Art: Theory, Myth, and Practice*, M Corris. (Ed.) Cambridge
University Press pp.235-250 (2004).

13. C. Tamblyn, "Computer Art as Conceptual Art", in *Art
Journal*, Fall, 253 ff. (1990).

14. D. Harrison, *Hypermedia Systems: the Creation and
Interpretation of Concept-based Art*, CAiiA, University of Wales
(unpublished) (1998).

15. M. Duchamp, *l'infinitif*, (The White Box) (1966).

16. See [15].


Dew Harrison (BA Fine Art, MA, MSc, Ph.D [CaiiA]) is a Research
Fellow at Gray's School of Art for the Robert Gordon University,
Scotland, where her research concerns digital and computer
mediated art practice. Prior to this she has lectured in
interactive art, multimedia and new media theory and was the
research fellow for the two yr AHRB funded project *Digital Art
Curation & Practice: Aesthetics, Participation & Diversity*
based at the University of the West of England. Her own practice
concerns the territory where contemporary conceptual art engages
with new media and presents non-linear narrative and the
semantic association of thought and idea in multimedia form. Her
work has been shown in the UK and abroad in Ireland, Spain,
Finland, Thailand, Singapore, America and Australia.

She curates international online exhibitions such as the
*Net_Working* show with the Watershed Media Centre, Bristol and
works as a Director of PVA. MediaLab, an artist-led organisation
which initiates and supports good practice in new media art, now
renowned for its *Labculture Ltd* Residency Programme. Her
papers have been published and presented at conferences as
diverse as Art History, Museology and Consciousness Studies, and
she continues to lecture, mentor artists and supervise Ph.D
students in the field of computer-mediated art.



Virtual Campus of NTU is a shared virtual world built with
Virtual Reality Modeling Language (VRML) [1] and blaxxun contact
communication platform [2]. It is a virtual model of the real
campus of Nanyang Technological University [3]. It is also a
great multi-media space for cyber-education. The whole Virtual
Campus (Figure 1) including VRML models of the land, buildings,
interiors, avatars and textures images is stored in only about
15 Mb of files and can be accessed from any Internet-connected
personal computer [4]. In this cyberspace, visitors can turn
themselves into virtually anything. Some choose to look like
fancy-dressed people, some turn themselves into sports cars, and
some appear as sparkling clouds or fire-balls.

Many visitors to the Virtual Campus are computer graphics
students, who either play virtual "hide-and-seek" with their
professor, or come to study concepts of virtual reality and
shape modeling. There are also strangers from around the world
meeting together on this hospitable land. Local students easily
navigate the familiar 3D environment, go to their favorite
places, or meet with friends in their hostel rooms. Foreign
guests usually just wander around and chat, astonished by the
size of what is probably the biggest shared cyberspace of this

There are dusks and dawns in this cyberspace, which follow
Singapore time, but the Virtual Campus never sleeps. Many bots
(robots) populate it. These are avatars of students and
professors who walk back and forth between lecture theatres,
libraries, and student hostels. There are also birds hovering in
the sky and cars moving on the roads. 

The bots are programmed to behave realistically for the
visitors. Some of these activities are stochastic, and some
follow the real class time-tables. The first bot, which the
visitors meet, will greet them immediately upon arrival and
invite them to chat with him. This bot is an avatar of one of
the project students who contributed alot to the Virtual Campus.
The "brain" of this bot is developed using AIML language and
ALICE files [5], and computer graphics terms from [6]. There are
also a few other bots wandering around. They are also "clones"
of the former project students. In fact, each of the project
students has a personal avatar copy in the Virtual Campus.

Virtual Campus is not only for walking through and seeing other
avatars or bots. The visitors can talk to them. Blaxxun Contact
provides the communication platform for it. It also allows for
text-to-voice synthesis so that the visitors can hear your
computer-simulated voice as well as voices of other visitors.
These chats may involve all the visitors or can be organized
into private chat groups.

Virtual Campus is a place for research on crowd simulation and
shared cyberspaces. Its content changes frequently. You can come
across an avatar, which is in fact a bot, and it will take time
before you understand it. Sometimes it may be a real person
disguised as a bot to test human reaction on some avatar
activities to be programmed. 


Electronic education is one of the priority directions at NTU.
The University's e-learning platform edveNTUre is based on the
BlackBoard software and several other companion software tools
[7]. It is widely used by the NTU professors to enhance their
lectures and achieve personal mentoring of the students. Since
its introduction in 2001, edveNTUre has developed from a rather
exotic way of publishing lecture materials and occasional visits
by the students to the present time when it has become a
necessary and very important part of each course with hundreds
of visits each day. Besides teaching materials such as lecture
notes, slides, streaming audio/video presentations, and extra
materials, it can be used for setting up on-line quizzes,
discussion groups, and uploading assignments. However, edveNTUre
rather gives a "two-dimensional look" of the teaching process
being based on html web pages. In contrast and in addition to
it, on the Virtual Campus NTU professors are able to meet with
their students in virtual 3D classrooms, "see" and communicate
with each other, and so add more immersion and fun to education.
Besides that, distant overseas students get a feeling of really
being on the campus. Many features available in edveNTUre are
also available on the Virtual Campus. Thus, some of the virtual
lecture theatres and other places are linked to streaming
multimedia presentations of current and pre-recorded lectures
and events.

Of course Virtual Campus is a learning tool for computer
graphics students illustrating to them theoretical concepts of
virtual reality, real time rendering and shape modeling. It is
used during lectures, as well as after classes for
consultations. One of the student assignments is *Implicit
Fantasies*, which is to design sophisticated shapes using
implicit functions and to make them available in their virtual
homes in the Virtual Campus. 


Another cyber-learning activity on the Virtual Campus is the
*Collaborative Shape Modeling Hands-On Experience*. This is a
part of the curriculum for the students taking the "Computer
Graphics and Application" course. The virtual laboratory where
this hands-on shape modeling experience is running can be
entered either from the lobby of the School of Computer
Engineering of the Virtual Campus or by a direct link. 

Before going there, the visitors have to install a small
software plug-in. This plug-in is an extension of VRML, which
allows for defining geometric shapes with analytical formulas.
By "formulas" we understand analytical definitions with
*parametric*, *implicit* [8], and explicit [9] functions. All
these formulas are functions of three coordinates, which are
either parametric or Cartesian coordinates of 3D shapes. These
different representations are usually not used together in
computer graphics. With our plug-in, they can be used
concurrently for defining geometry and appearance of shapes. 

The shape's geometry can be defined by some geometric shape and
its geometric texture, each defined by analytical functions. The
appearance of the shape can be defined by either function-
defined or fixed colors. Similarly to the shape's geometry,
parametric, implicit or explicit functions can be used for
defining the shape's color on its surface and inside it. This
approach helps the students to easier understand the concepts of
function based shape modeling. Also, the synergy of using the
three different types of functions results in the advance
quality and efficient solutions, which are impossible to achieve
when these representations are used on their own. The
theoretical foundations and further details of this approach can
be found in [10-11], as well as in the project web pages [12-13].

After the plug-in is installed, besides the regular VRML
objects, function-defined shapes will become visible as well.
There will be one big shape hovering in the middle of the room,
as well as a few smaller fancy shapes displayed in different
parts of the room (FIGURE 2). The big shape is the one that the
visitors can interactively modify. The smaller function-defined
shapes are examples of the best works created in the previous
sessions. The function-defined shapes can be placed to other
part of the Virtual Campus, e.g. to the virtual shopping mall
where the visitors can get them for their virtual homes.

Several visitors may discuss the design in the chat box, type
individual shape modeling commands, command scripts, or provide
links to their off-line designs, and immediately see how the
shape changes accordingly. The VRML description of the shape
being modeled can be displayed at any time and this shared among
the visitors.

Besides this method of manual editing analytical formulas with
an immediate visual feedback, more complex function-based shape
modeling can be done with the interactive shape modeling program
developed for this project. The screenshot of the modeling
session with this tool is shown in FIGURE 3. The program offers
an advanced set of interactive operations such as cutting,
sculpting, embossing, engraving, and carving. It also allows for
interactive painting both on the surface and inside the object.
The colors become an integral part of the function-based model
of the shape. As a result, the program allows for making
realistically looking shapes, which are defined with very small
function-defined models while can be rendered with any desired

The initial basic shape for modeling can be either defined
analytically, or created interactively with simple basic shapes.
The initial shape is then gradually modified by applying
different interactive shape modeling and painting operations.
The result of the modeling can be either saved in the
proprietary function-based data format or in the function-based
VRML code for further use in the Collaborative Shape Modeling
Hands-On Experience or in other shared virtual worlds.

Besides this cyber-learning application, function-based model
extensions are used for making parts of other shared VRML
worlds, with or without interactive features. The same formulae
can be re-used with little modification for defining the
geometries, the 3D textures, the transform operations and the
appearances. The examples of this can be seen at the project's
web page [12]. Since each shape is in fact defined by only
several analytical formulae, these formulae can easily be edited
and exchanged when building shared virtual worlds. 


The construction of the Virtual Campus never ends, just as it
never ends on the real campus of NTU, which keeps expanding,
renovating and upgrading constantly. Since the size of the model
cannot be increased above a certain level currently acceptable
for web visualization, Virtual Campus is expanding non-linearly.
It is in fact a meta-cyberworld now, which consists of many
smaller "parallel" shared cyberworlds. Each university school
and student hall of residence has its own model and respective
communication space. When you enter or leave these worlds, it
looks like you are still in the same virtual environment,
however these smaller worlds are different cyberspaces, which
may be even physically located on different servers. 

Function-based web visualization is another way of expanding
the Virtual Campus. Many large VRML models, which require a big
number of polygons, will be replaced with compact function-based
models where shapes and their appearances are defined with small
parametric and implicit formulae. 


WEBSITE: <http://lea.mit.edu>


1. VRML specification

2. Blaxxun Contact http://www.blaxxun.com

3. NTU website http://www.ntu.edu.sg

4. Virtual Campus of NTU

5. ALICE Artificial Intelligence foundation

6. Alexei Sourin, *Computer Graphics. From a Small Formula to
Virtual Worlds* (Singapore: Prentice Hall, 2004).

7. EdveNTUre http://edventure.ntu.edu.sg

8. J. Bloomenthal, J. (ed.) *Introduction to Implicit Surfaces*
(Morgan Kaufmann, 1997).

9. A.A. Pasko, V.D. Adzhiev, A.I. Sourin, V.V. Savchenko,
"Function Representation in Geometric Modeling: Concepts,
implementations and applications", *The Visual Computer*,
Vol.11, 8, 1995, pp. 429-446.

10. Q. Liu, A. Sourin, Analytically-defined Collaborative Shape
Modeling in VRML. 2004 International Conference on Cyberworlds,
IEEE CS Press, pp. 70-77 (2004).

11. K. Levinski, A. Sourin, Interactive Function-Based Shape
Modeling for Cyberworlds, International Conference on
Cyberworlds, IEEE CS Press, pp. 54-61 (2004).

12. Function-based Web Visualization

13. Interactive Function-based Shape Modeling


DR. ALEXEI SOURIN is an Associate Professor in the School of
Computer Engineering at Nanyang Technological University,
Singapore. He received his M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in Computer
Science (Computer Graphics) from the Moscow Engineering Physics
Institute in 1983 and 1988 respectively. From 1983 to 1993 he
worked at the Moscow Engineering Physics Institute and since
1993 he is an academic staff of the Nanyang Technological
University. He is a member of the IEEE Computer Society and ACM
SIGGRAPH. His research interests include computer graphics,
shared virtual environments, shape modeling, and web


KONSTANTIN LEVINSKI is a research student with the School of
Computer Engineering at Nanyang Technological University,
Singapore. He received his B.Sc. in computer science from Moscow
Institute of Physics and Technology, Russia. His Ph.D. project
is *Interactive Function-based Shape Modeling*.


QI LIU is a research student with the School of Computer
Engineering at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. He
received his B.Sc. in computer science and engineering from
Fudan University, Shanghai, China. His Ph.D. project is
*Function-based Web Visualization*.



by Erik Malcolm Champion
Information Environments Program, ITEE
University of Queensland Australia QLD 4072
erikc [@] itee [dot] uq [dot] edu [dot] au 


virtual travel, cultural learning, virtual environments,


Attempts to provide for the intangible goals and benefits of
real world travel has seldom been addressed or discussed in
virtual environment research. This paper discusses the case
study of an ancient Mayan site, Palenque, to suggest ways of
creating a platform conducive to cultural learning using virtual
environment technology.


Figure 1: Case study Travel Environment: A Mayan Village


Why develop virtual environments? Although they have their
critics, especially for online learning [1], it can be argued
that Virtual Environments have been used successfully for
distance learning, for simulation, entertainment, medicine and
education [2].

Marsh Wright and Smith [3] define four general types of Virtual
Reality environments (VR): work-related; informative; education
and training; and entertainment. Extrapolating from this and
Schroeder [4], virtual environments appear useful for the

- By promoting technology for the sake of technology (product
showcases). Various examples are on the websites of Shout3d,
Pulse3d, Adobe Atmosphere, Wild Tangent, Blaxxun, MindAxel, etc.

- Through enhancing motor-coordination and related physical
skill, especially in games. Some of the best examples of
Macromedia's Director Studio 8.5 are the three-dimensional
shooter games.

- By synergising learning through the use of various
multimedia, for example, Alias Wavefront's Maya has been used to
create models of the human heart in action, as well as show how
to service a car's engine.

- By preserving cultural artefacts via a three or even four-
dimensional record of history. For example, UNESCO's World
Heritage Site and the Virtual Heritage Society's site.

- In presenting ideas objects or techniques difficult to
perceive or conceive of in real-world form, or in conventional
media. This can range from Japanese timber construction details
to electric waves transmitted through the human brain or even
the formation of stars.

- By extending the perceptual experience or perceptual
boundaries of observers. Various environmental art 'happenings'
have been around for decades. A multimedia cinema was proposed
as early as the 1950s.

- And by engendering social discussion in multi-user chat
worlds like Activeworlds, Outerworlds, Vnet, Cybertown, Blaxxun
communities, iCity, and Galaxy Worlds.

Hence, if successful examples exist, why continue to research
at a conceptual level rather than gradually improve on
successful existing case studies? I suggest that one potentially
profitable and useful purpose regularly overlooked is also the
one that appears to be catered for at as a rudimentary
requirement of virtual environments. That is, virtual travel.


There are many research papers on the issues of virtual
navigation, orientation, and wayfinding. There are also many
websites that purport to offer virtual travel or virtual
tourism. However, what they offer are generally static or moving
pictures of foreign places, set music clips, information on
timetables and prices, or at most, 360 degree panoramic images
that are interactive insofar as one can spin the camera around,
and zoom in and out of the panorama.

Orientation and wayfinding are important functional elements of
travel information, but they are not the important components of
travel experience. To enrich and encourage our understanding of
a certain place, we need to gain a conceptual understanding of
which elements (people, activities, events and objects) make it
a significant and unique place. Only when tourists are intrigued
by the prospect of travelling in and to a place (the 'travel
experience') are they then interested in 'travel information'. 


A sense of being engaged with different local cultural
perspectives is not always possible as a real-time tourist.
Further, sometimes we wish to understand people who live far
away or in distant times, not easily accessible to us. Virtual
heritage monuments are now being overrun, the Lonely Planet
guide of South America actually suggests that tourists do NOT
visit Machu Picchu. Many ruins are bereft of their artefacts,
which sit forlornly in the museums of past colonial powers. In
that respect, Internet media may prove more immersive, useful
and educational than actually standing at site where history
once took place.

In this interpretative sense it may in fact be even more
educational, as it can rely on asynchronous multimodal data.
Virtual travel can also help lessen the impact of tourist
erosion, the cost and fear of travelling, and help reach and
educate the growing potential market of people who for whatever
reason cannot leave the house. 

Digitally mediated technology can attempt to reproduce existing
data (archaeological impressions, extant ruins, the original
condition of found artefacts, even typical weather patterns) but
they can also make more or less accessible and more or less
contextual (i.e., augment, filter, constrain or optimise) the
user-experience. Virtual travel may not be like "being there";
it may offer more, "being Not-there". That is, it provides us
with a portal into what could have been, not what still is. 

The capability for integration of the real and the conjectural
as well as synchronous and asynchronous data into conceptual
user-specific information suggests that virtual environments may
augment extends and "ground" (i.e. geographically and
historically orient and contextualise) real-world travel and
tourism experiences rather than merely emulate them. 

"...researchers and commentators have not yet begun to grapple
with the question: What does it actually mean to describe
something as *virtually* real? It is my contention that until
they do the unique potential VR has to change the way we
approach, study and think about the physical world will not be
fully exploited." [5].

In augmenting real-world travel, successful virtual travel and
heritage environments should then attempt to augment or extend
reality. Through following contextual engagement rather than
realism, they can allow people to travel across time and space
in a way not possible in current reality in order to view what
used to be there as opposed to what remains. One can experience
first-hand important historical events as they relate to
artefacts peoples and places as well as the full dramatic range
of climate and topography not often possible to short-term

Unfortunately there is a shortage of research integrating
theory and practice on how best to augment or invoke the user-
experience of place via digital media. Concentrating on
achieving photo-realism rather than understanding the unique
capabilities for digital media to enrich the user-experience,
means there are significant contextual questions still to be
answered [6]. For example, we currently have little evidence as
to whether virtual travel environments can afford useful and
unique ways for augmenting and evoking awareness and
understanding of distant places and foreign cultures. 

Hence the need to evaluate the learning experiences possible
through virtual environments, through their ability to augment
narrative, conjecture, computer generated objects, real-time
dynamic data, and user-based feedback; and not just through
their ability to reproduce elements of the real-world.

Perhaps virtual representations cannot compete with actually
visiting the site, but the point is surely whether such projects
have a valid purpose and fit an important need, not whether they
mirror reality. In fact, if we wish to understand how ancient
people thought, believed and acted, we need a non-realistic
world to understand them and their beliefs. They saw and
imagined and related to things in a way a Westerner will not
understand by merely travelling to the current remains of their
past abode. In this sense virtual reality can augment rather
than compete with reality.


I believe that certain criticisms of the technology and use of
virtual environments have been indirectly addressed by
entertainment software design [7]. Perhaps applying mechanisms
used in games (social agents, maps, dynamic environments, levels
of interaction constraint, and task-based artefactual use) to
virtual environments will lead to increased engagement.
Modifying game-style interaction to suit the virtual
reconstruction of a cultural site may also allow for a more
culturally immersive learning environment. 

However the above proposal raises serious problems in designing
virtual environments that in some way depict the values of past
cultures or exotic places. 

1. Place versus Cyberspace: What creates a sensation of place
(as a cultural site) in a virtual environment in
contradistinction to a sensation of a virtual environment as a
collection of objects and spaces?

2. Cultural Presence versus Social Presence and Presence: Which
factors help immerse people spatially and thematically into a
cultural learning experience? Virtual Presence has been defined
as 'being-there'. Is Presence in a Virtual Heritage Environment
a sense of being 'there' or being 'somewhere other than here'?
Do we even fully understand what 'being' means in this context?

3. Realism versus Interpretation: Does an attempt to perfect
fidelity to sources and to realism improve or hinder the
cultural learning experience?

4. Education versus Entertainment: Does an attempt to make the
experience engaging improve or hinder the cultural learning

The first problem is what cultural elements of a place are
missing from virtual environments. Merely creating a
reconstruction of a cultural site does not mean that one is
creating a platform for understanding and transmitting locally
specific cultural knowledge. We need to understand what
distinguishes a cultural site from another site; and what are
the features of place as a site of cultural learning. A game can
create a background, an atmospheric setting, but that does not
mean a background is a genuine place, imbued with cultural

The second problem is how to create an appropriate feeling of
immersion or of presence in a virtual environment -how we make
the past come alive for people so that they feel they are
transported 'there'. This has often been seen as a technical
constraint to render realistic virtual scenes, (due to the speed
of the Internet or network connection, limited processing power
or the computer's capacity to render a large number of objects
on the screen in real-time). This paper by contrast, proposes
designers foster engagement not purely through realism but also
through contextually appropriate interaction.

Culture understood from the distance of a hotel or guidebook is
obviously not the same as the dominant culture that guides
constrains and nourishes a local inhabitant. Yet even a virtual
traveler is not the same as a virtual tourist. Despite or
perhaps because they have a goal to solve, and have more
constraints and more direct immersion in the local way of doing
things, people who travel rather than tour arguably have richer
and more interesting experiences.

Tourists want to share cultural perceptions and learn through
doing, being told, observing, and asking. In a virtual travel
environment visitors want to be able to travel through time and
space, to explore. Tourism can lead to non-interaction, to being
hermetically sealed in a sterile 'they lived like this'
environment. Culture becomes high culture. It becomes non-
invasive, non-impressive.

In the role of virtual heritage and virtual tourism, people
want to feel engaged in the activity, enjoy the spectacle, feel
the pressure of time, (the relative cultural idea of time-
place), and understand the 'embedded' meaning of local cultural
activity based on artefacts. In a virtual travel environment one
may want to be able to travel through time and space, to
explore, and to interact with people, objects, and local goals. 

Thirdly, our idea of what reality is may be at odds with
understanding the past or a distant place from a local
perspective. What does reality mean when we are trying to
recreate and understand cultural perspectives? To what extend
should our concept of reality be jettisoned or adhered to? 

It is possible that attempting to create contextual affordances
and constraints will create too heavy a cognitive load on the
virtual traveller, or require a high degree of skill and a large
amount of time immersed in a virtual environment. Is it useful,
desirable or even possible to interact with digital
reconstructions of different cultures in a meaningful way? Could
interaction actually interfere with the learning process?

Fourthly, if we do manage to create an engaging and believable
virtual environment, will the novelty or entertainment value
actually interfere with the cultural understanding gained by the
users? In virtual heritage environments this is particularly
evident in the conflict between individual freedom to explore
and the more pragmatic need to convey historical information. We
may for example create an entertaining game but will that allow
us to convey varying levels of historical accuracy in
reconstructing the past?


Such is the motivation for this research, cultural learning
experiences available via virtual travel environments. It
particularly attempts to isolate and evaluate the more effective
and preferable types of interactivity and interactive elements
available to three dimensional virtual heritage environments.
The chosen site is the Classical Mayan city of Lakam Ha in
Palenque Mexico, and the great majority of the artefacts of that
city of inscriptions are simply no longer there. However the
Internet can bring the landscape, the buildings, the artefacts,
reasonably accurate reconstructions of the native music,
representative animated avatars of the people, and past
historical and environmental conditions all together in one
multimodal interactive gestalt. 

In the case study, there are three different interaction modes.
One mode is action-based, and the participants had to push back
slabs to find the hidden tomb (this was actually what happened
in the discovery of the Tomb of Pakal under the Temple of
Inscriptions). If they managed to push back the sarcophagus lid
of Pakal when they reached the tomb, a portal appeared that took
them to a reconstruction of Palenque's Ballcourt (the Mayan
Ballcourt symbolized war, life and death, the growth of maize,
and the victory of the Mayan ancestors over the Lords of the
Underworld, Xibalba). 

The second mode was observation-based only, and participants
were asked to find artefacts located in the large and
navigationally confusing Palace. 

In the third mode, the three major temples of the Cross Group
had scripted guides, representing a Mexican tour guide, King
Pakal, and his son. Their movements and speech were proximity-
based, and they got angry or fell over if participants ran into
them. The goal was also to click and read information relating
to the giant inscripted tablets in each of the Temples. At the
end of the experiment people were asked to answer six questions
for each interaction mode, to see if they had learnt and were
able to extrapolate information from what they had seen.

Evaluations were conducted using a first year archaeology class
of 43 students, and in the second stage, 24 more experienced
participants who were either virtual environment designers or
cultural historians with an interest in virtual heritage. In the
third stage 10 IT-experienced people from Lonely Planet
Publications (a travel publications company with a strong web-
based presence), were tested. I also created four more
imaginative and less authentic 'worlds' based on the cultural
perspectives of the ancient Mayans in Palenque, Mexico. As part
of the evaluation, participants were asked to rank the
imaginative worlds against the archaeological worlds in terms of
a range of 'presence' criteria. 

In the Mayan 'Primal Mountain' World, fog was used in one world
to convey a mythical setting and in the more archaeological
environments glare was used at regular intervals to indicate
where spiritually valuable artefacts were located. They were
asked to find the beginning of the world (the sacred Mayan Sky-
Tree) and click on it for information. They were then asked to
find any other people (there were two Mayan paddler gods
paddling around the mountain). They were also asked if they
noticed the mountain they were on was actually a giant crocodile
(the Mayans believed the world was created from a crack in the
back of a caiman or turtle). Not a single person said they had
noticed unless it was pointed out to them or they had fallen off
the mountain. 

Figure 1: Mayan Primal Sea

In the Mayan Village world, a participant could select an
avatar that was either one of four Western-style backpacking
characters or an avatar in local Mayan dress. Photographs of
real people available via the Lonely Planet Images database were
mapped onto the face of the avatars. The Mayan avatars were also
sized appropriately (less than five feet tall) and only by
changing into that smaller avatar were participants able to
explore the interior of the Mayan huts. The aim was to find the
other participant by orientating their avatar via large Mayan
carvings in the jungle and then find the village using the
interface guides and the sound of music. If they walked straight
into trees, their avatar slowed down and cried out in pain.
Which objects they found and how quickly they found them was
also automatically recorded. Participants were asked at the end
the relative sizing of the avatars and the results are being
statistically compared to how well the participants answered
other questions.

In the Mayan Cave world, when the avatar walks into the water,
they automatically start swimming under water, blue fog appears
and the sound of bubbling water drowns out the ambient Mayan
music. If the participant does not keep pressing the forward
arrow they slowly ascend back to the surface of the water. By
finding, collecting and then dropping artefacts at a hidden
shrine, a Mayan sky-snake appears and so does a portal that
takes them back to the start.

In the Mayan Ballcourt world, each participant turned into a
Mayan ball player, and each was asked to try to get the rubber
ball to touch the hoop. If they did so, thunder and lighting
were triggered. 

Participants were evaluated via inworld task performance, post-
experience cultural understanding (knowledge recall),
observation of time passed, speed of rendering, ranking of world
against certain cultural presence criteria, and environmental

In the third evaluation the 10 Lonely Planet employees were
also asked which interaction mode they preferred for virtual
travel environments. Four preferred game-style environments,
four preferred exploration environments (where the visitor
wanders freely), and only one preferred guide-led environments,
and only one preferred a social chat-room style environment.


Problems with currently available virtual environment
technology affect a sense of engagement in virtual heritage
projects. While virtual environments can be used to simulate
historically situated cultural perspectives, the issues of
place, presence, realism and education first need to be solved.

The research case mentioned in this paper concentrated on
evaluating which type of interactivity most aided cultural
awareness and engagement in a virtual travel environment, in
this case, a virtual heritage environment reconstruction of
Palenque in Mexico.

The research utilized five evaluation methods, and found
several methods produced undependable results, in particular
questionnaires, and post-experience multi-choice questions on
ability to extrapolate cultural learning. However, subjective
records of time passed and speed of environment (frame-rate)
compared to actual frame-rate, and actual time spent in world
does seem a promising way of measuring engagement.

Game-style interaction may also be intuitive for navigation and
task-performance, and reduce cognitive loading, but at the
expense of understanding cultural significance.

Further, and this was learnt from bitter experience, advanced
techniques that slow down the environment in order to create
more realistic effects may not be noticed by participants
engaged in solving tasks. In this case, the use of dynamic
lighting (dynamic shadows) may appear highly immersive to the
world designer, but have little or no effect on the actual
participant's sense of immersion.


WEBSITE: <http://lea.mit.edu>


1. H. Dreyfus, *On the Internet* (London: Routledge, 2001). 

2. J. Nielsen, *2D is Better than 3D*, Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox
for November 15 (1998). Online article, last viewed August 22,
2004. URL: http://www.useit.com/alertbox/981115.html

3. T. Marsh, P Wright, & S. Smith, "Evaluation for the design
of experience: Modelling breakdown of interaction and illusion,"
in Wijnand A. IJsselsteijn, Jonathan Freeman and Huib de Ridder
(Guest Editors), *CyberPsychology and Behavior* Vol. 4, issue 2,
pp.225-238 (2001).

4. R. Schroeder, *Possible worlds: the social dynamic of
virtual reality technology* (Colorado: Westview Press, 1996). 

5. M. Gillings, "Virtual archaeologies and the hyper-real" in
P. Fisher and D. Unwin (editors) *Virtual Reality in Geography*
(London and New York: Taylor & Francis, 2002), p.17.

6. E. Champion, "The Limits of Realism in Architectural
Visualisation," in *LIMITS XXIst annual conference of the
Society of Architectural Historians Australia and New Zealand*
(SAHANZ), Melbourne Australia, September (2004). 

7. E. Champion, "Applying Game Design Theory to Virtual
Heritage Environments," in *Grapphite2003, Melbourne.
Proceedings of the 1st international conference on Computer
graphics and interactive techniques in Australasia and South
East Asia* Melbourne, Australia, February (2003). URL:


Erik Champion is a lecturer in the Information Environments
Program at the University of Queensland. This paper is from his
doctoral research while at the University of Melbourne on an
Australian Research Council Scholarship. Lonely Planet was the
industry sponsor. 

Upcoming publications include two articles in the *Encyclopedia
of Virtual Communities and Technologies* (editor S. Dasgupta,
George Washington University), and with Associate Professor
Bharat Dave, a chapter in the anthology *Theorizing Digital
Cultural Heritage*, (editors S. Kenderdine and F. Cameron, MIT



by Bharat Dave
Faculty of Architecture Building and Planning
The University of Melbourne
b [dot] dave [@] unimelb [dot} edu [dot} au


multimedia, interactivity, narrative, discourse, design


The advent of interactive digital media poses opportunities and
issues that cannot be explored or analyzed using traditional
canons of artistic production or aesthetic experiences. The
digital media implicate techniques, tools, authors, and
audiences in a complex web of production and appreciation of art
works. As a result, most work in digital media remains
speculative in nature, offering only partial glimpses of this
new creative landscape. This paper describes selected projects
that served as vehicles for critical investigation of
interactive digital media and their potential for exploring
different ways in which experiences can be imagined,
constructed, and communicated.



Interactive digital multimedia projects implicate techniques,
tools, authors and audiences in ways that are hard to
disentangle and discuss in isolation. The closest expressive
form to what multimedia technologies have to offer may be the
Wagnerian *gesamtkunstwerk* [1] or the symbolic theatre projects
of Ervin Piscator and Meyerhold in which boundaries between
performers and audiences were erased. When sounds and images
freely criss-cross the boundary between discrete and continuous
states, when temporal or spatial representations can be
fractured and recombined at will, and when authorial intentions
get subsumed under the interactive control of audiences,
traditional canons of artistic production, appreciation and
criticism may not be adequate [2]. Navigating without shared
signposts in digital media landscape, each step is a tentative
speculation into the realm of possibilities. And it is precisely
for that reason a reflective record of work assumes all the more

To explore the possibilities and pedagogic questions opened up
by interactive digital media we have undertaken a number of
experimental projects in the last few years. The projects
described in the following sought to bring together realms of
architectural design, computer modeling, and visualization. The
underlying purpose was to challenge the traditional spatial
representations in architecture and investigate different ways
in which spaces can be imagined, constructed, communicated and

Traditionally architectural compositions have been conceived
through a multitude of media and representations: sketches,
diagrams, planar and perspective projections, analog models,
collages, etc. While the use of such media and representations
has informed different traditions of spatial thinking, we also
come across works that break free of accepted traditions and
continuities of expression [3]. For example, Giambattista
Piranesi, an Italian draftsman drew not only the existing ruins
of Rome but turned them into fantastic, visionary spaces
populated with fragments of disparate elements from many
archaeological sites. Piranesi's imaginary collages are the
hallmarks of spatial displacements. A different kind of
conceptual break from traditions is witnessed in projects of the
mathematician Iannis Xenakis [4] who sought to translate musical
harmonies into spatial configurations. In fact, this line of
investigation combining sound and space has been a recurrent
theme in architecture ranging from the Greek concepts of
proportion to the 20th century works of Le Corbusier. The most
drastic change in architecture in pedagogical terms occurred
early in the 20th century with the establishment of Bauhaus and
its curriculum. In the face of industrialized means of
production and new materials, the new design curriculum called
for experimental projects using new materials and techniques
that resulted in a new aesthetic. 

With the introduction of digital media, we are faced with new
opportunities to (re)question the nature of creative design, how
it is conceptualized and representations that fluctuate between
discrete and continuous states [5]. The following describes some
opportunities we have explored in the use of interactive digital
media to imagine experiences ranging from abstract to spatially


Primarily our projects revolve around using either literary
references or computational procedures for narrating a concept
or experience. The former projects are aimed at evoking a sense
of place based on some literary reference- a poem, travelogue,
memoir, song or prose. The motivation in these projects was to
explore ways in which linear, textual narrative can be expressed
using non-textual and non-linear representations and
interactivity. An additional goal of these projects was going
beyond literal translation of words to evoking the experiences
conveyed in the original source. 

In one project, the verses of a popular song (*Stairway to
Heaven* by Led Zeppelin) provided the starting point. However,
upon further exploration words took on new and different
associations appropriate to the media. The stairway became not a
path connecting levels separated in vertical dimension but a
path of metaphorical journey through a landscape littered with
memories. A landscape that is smooth and rough at the same time,
and in which the cracks open up over which one steps moving
towards a climactic moment. This project was conceived and
rendered as a linear narrative in which visuals, background
audio and motion come together to communicate what was
originally represented in lyrics.

In another project (based on description of the Walled City by
William Gibson), the linear narrative was replaced with non-
linear unfolding. Moving through constricted spaces bounded by
reflections of signs and spaces (Figure 1), there is a sense of
being trapped within a walled environment. The boundaries are
permeable though never completely opaque or completely
transparent. Although there is directional movement between
nodes, the nodes themselves can be traversed in any order. There
are spaces of congestion and spaces of solitude, spaces for
watching and being watched, complemented with visuals and
background music that signify different transitions and moods.

Figure 1. Walled City: Idoru (Andrew Hayne)

The non-linear narratives were explored further in the third
project (based on the City, a short story by Ray Bradbury). It
is inviting yet forcefully empty and desolate. The scale of
spaces and textures of surfaces generate a sense of wistfulness,
a kind of place that may be deserted after a catastrophic
accident (Figure 2). There are shadows lurking and machines at
work behind facades. The labyrinthine environment appears to
invite and then trap the visitor as every fork in the path
offers a different orientation to the spaces than what was
encountered before. The eye moves at a non-uniform pace -
sometimes slow, at other times flying, occasionally squeezing
past narrow passages and under menacing archways and doors. 

Figure 2. The City: Illustrated Man (Cameron Lacy)

In other projects, instead of literary references we drew upon
abstract concepts that were to be expressed through computable
procedures. One such project revolved around the notion of
*rhythm* - how does one explain what is rhythm as a visual or
aural experience using digital media instead of a linear
definition put in words? The project resulted in an interactive
composition in which space, color, shapes, temporal sequence and
audio notes constitute the elements through which the concept of
rhythm is illustrated.

Similarly in the next project, the concept of *entropy* was
explored. Entropy can be thought of as a measure of how close
(or far) a system is to equilibrium and disorder. The system may
begin at a zero level of entropy (totally stable) and increase
in entropy as the user interacts. The user interaction with
various elements increases or decreases the entropy in the
system, which affects other elements in composition. The state
of an element (its color, shape, sound, form) is affected by and
affects the level of entropy of the system.

The final project described here is shaped by diverse
beginnings (Figure 3). Different elements in the project make
references to different sources such as the Australian outback,
the tracks of the emus and kangaroos, the paddy fields of South
East Asia, the weaves and wafts of carpets and tracks made
through their fibres by those who trod upon it or scurry among
that fibrous surface. At a later point, these references
coalesced into the worlds of critters, flighty yet seductive,
and how they draw the reader into their flat yet playful world
of hide and seek.

Figure 3. Desert Swamp (Gemma Cooke) 

In the last three projects described above, the worlds being
explored become increasingly unpredictable, dependent on the
user interaction for their coming into being in the first place,
and then engaging the user into an ongoing dialogue for their
subsequent development. These are procedural [6], non-
determinate worlds that contain only a code of possibilities at
the start, never a singular form right from the beginning.

The interactive projects described above are part of a series
of digital speculations developed by those students of
architecture with a keen sense of spatial imagination. The
projects were developed as part of an advanced workshop in
interactive digital multimedia, in a finite amount of time.
While the projects can be appreciated purely as standalone
objects, it is worth recounting and reflecting on the process
that led to their development.


The increasing adoption of digital media in design education
leads to subtle changes in design objectives, means, and
outcomes in that process. Such changes are due to the peculiar
nature of digital representations and operations that allow us
to manipulate representations. With only a few decades of
collective developments and experiences in digitally supported
design education, it is not surprising that we still frame and
reflect on these changes in a provisional fashion only. 

The rapid pace of developments in digital technologies and new
experimentation they afford in design conception engender a
context in which provisional explorations take the place of
sustained theoretical reflections. We are too intimately close
to evolving digital technologies and that makes it difficult to
select vantage points from which to better articulate
development of a new expressive and communicative medium and to
understand its ramifications. In such a climate, design
educators stand on shifting grounds. Caught among design
discourse, development of new digital tools, and cultivating
design sensibilities among students, design educators have
responded with different pedagogic frameworks to incorporate
digital media in design education. 

In our case, we explore both pedagogic and critical issues with
digital media in a design workshop offered as an elective
subject in the design curriculum. The workshop is aimed at
developing a critical understanding of interactive digital media
and their potential for imaginative design explorations. It
revolves around structured thematic discussions that become more
concrete in the form of three speculative projects. The
speculations are structured so that students, on the one hand,
get exposed to new possibilities for design exploration and
learn to develop a critical and reflective attitude. On the
other hand, students also learn to explore and use new media
authoring tools. The content of speculations is consciously
designed not to faithfully build or rely upon traditional
architectural or spatial expressions. In fact, students are
encouraged to reassess their pre-conceived notions by way of
being critical and reflective in all the speculations. 

*Critical analysis* requires students to critically analyze and
review an interactive project sourced from the literature,
exhibitions and installations. The student reviews focus on both
the content and form of the original interactive project. The
reviews analyze and reflect the efficacy of media types, their
structure and presentation in the interactive project. In a
sense, this speculation exposes students to a palette of
interactive media elements from which they can draw upon in
subsequent speculations.

*Experimental project* is concerned with exercising the
vocabulary of interactive media elements (i.e., what students
have extracted in the preceding critical analysis phase) through
a selected theme. Over the years, some of the themes explored in
this project have ranged from representation of tangible and
ephemeral places (e.g. war memorial, train station) to abstract
concepts like rhythm, contrast, pattern, proportion, symmetry,
etc. The emphasis of this speculation is on evocation of a
selected context or abstract concept and not literal replication
of traditional representations. In other words, students are
encouraged to express a selected place or concept using
interactive media in ways that cannot be done or may be
difficult to do using traditional media and representations.

*Creative expression* offers an opportunity for students to
bring their creative imagination and technical competence
together in the form of a major interactive project. Students
are asked to select a 'text' as a reference (e.g. The Walled
City by Gibson, color music) and render it as an interactive
multimedia project. The emphasis of this speculative project is
on expressing interpretive dimensions of the theme and not on
simply reconstructing or reproducing the original text into
another form.


As witnessed in the projects over the years, the pedagogic
structure of this elective has served its original purpose of
providing an experimental context to explore interactive digital
multimedia. At the same time, we are acutely aware of a number
of critical issues that remain to be properly addressed. The
following are three major concerns especially in pedagogic

*Framing objectives* is essential to ensure that the work
produced is not just a consequence of accidental choices. It is
especially important when students are learning to master the
skills in the use of digital media while also discovering their
expressive potential. In this respect it may be useful to have a
high-level statement of what the work aims to accomplish (before
the seduction of media takes over) and which can be used as a
measure or reflective mirror against which subsequent media
choices can be evaluated. 

*Challenging conventions* needs to be framed as one of the
prime objectives while using new media so that leads to better
appreciation of even traditional media and concepts that we
normally take for granted. This is not easy or self-evident and
requires conscious effort. Just as it took a while to
conceptualize temporal shifts in cinema (e.g., flashback in
which temporal sequences are disrupted or multiple viewpoints
through which one sees parallel events unfolding), it requires
special effort to design around shifting space and time [7],
around elements that may at one moment be corporeal and at
another moment ephemeral, when sound turns into material, or
material turns into light. 

*Judging interactive media works* produced by students is all
the more difficult because of a number of overlapping and often
external factors. Sometimes the technology gets in the way of
the best of works (e.g. when real-time refresh turns into a slow-
motion parody). At other times, the open-ended interaction
results in more noise than signal. To what should we hold the
authors accountable rather than the audiences in such cases? How
shall we know that the work actually advances experiential
propositions rather than simply delivering stupefying visual or
aural sublime that overwhelms the senses? 

The questions posed above are intentionally rhetorical at one
level but at another they are pragmatic concerns for those of us
who teach the use of interactive multimedia in any discipline.
They become all the more critical if we are to impart skills not
only in the use of media but also a discerning and critical
attitude about what the use of such media can afford.


The advent of interactive digital media poses opportunities and
issues that cannot be explored or analyzed using traditional
canons of artistic production or aesthetic experiences. Unlike
the traditional artistic practices that can be understood in
terms of, to borrow Goodman's terms, autographic or allographic
notations and performances, the new media implicate techniques,
tools, authors, audiences in a complex web of production and
appreciation of art works. As a result, most work in digital
media remains speculative in nature, offering only partial
glimpses of this new landscape. This paper described selected
projects aimed at developing a critical understanding of
interactive digital media and their potential for imaginative
design explorations to investigate different ways in which
spaces can be imagined, constructed, communicated and felt. What
we sorely need are conceptual terms and reflective accounts in
production and appreciation of such works through which a shared
discourse in interactive media works can evolve in future.


The work of students who participated in the Digital
Speculations elective is gratefully acknowledged.


WEBSITE: <http://lea.mit.edu>


1. R. Parker and K. Jordan (eds.), *Multimedia: From Wagner to
Virtual Reality* (New York and London: W. W. Norton & Company,

2. L. Manovich, *The Language of New Media* (Cambridge, MA: MIT
Press, 2001).



LTD., PP. 96-113 (2002).


7. H. Zettl, *Sight, sound, motion applied media aesthetics*
(Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Pub. Co., 1990).


Associate Professor Bharat Dave teaches and conducts research
in computational design in the Faculty of Architecture, Building
and Planning, The University of Melbourne, Australia. He studied
architecture in India, followed by postgraduate studies,
research and teaching in the USA, Switzerland and Australia. His
recent research projects include virtual design studios,
computational support for multiple representations, interactive
multimedia technologies for virtual heritage applications, and
crossovers between digital and physical environments. He also
serves as the Associate Dean (Research) in the Faculty and
supervises a number of masters and Ph.D research students. 


by Elizabeth Sikiaridi and Frans Vogelaar 

Elizabeth Sikiaridi
Professor Architect
University of Duisburg-Essen / invOFFICE
Sikiaridi [@] idensity [dot] net 

Frans Vogelaar
Professor for Hybrid Space
Academy of Media Arts Cologne / invOFFICE 
vogelaar [@] idensity [dot] net

invOFFICE for architecture, urbanism and design
Jan Luijkenstraat 23
1071 CK Amsterdam
The Netherlands

University of Duisburg-Essen
45117 Essen

Academy of Media Arts Cologne
Peter-Welter-Platz 2
50676 Cologne


hybrid space, networked architecture, 'Soft Urbanism', mobility
networks, public space, public domain, new spatial paradigms,


The presentation develops scenarios for an interplay of the
urban space and the media domain. New interdisciplinary fields
of planning and design are introduced: Soft Urbanism, exploring
the interaction of urbanism and the space of mass media and
communication networks, and Hybrid Space Design, developing
fused analog-digital / architectural-media spaces. Within this
framework, "idensity®" is proposed as a conceptual tool for
developing space in the information-communication age. A
theoretical introduction is illustrated by projects. 


"The new city presupposes that the cables of the interhuman
relations are switched reversibly, not in bundles as with
television, but in real networks, respons(e)ibly, as in the
telephone network. These are technical questions; and they are
to be solved by urbanists and architects." - Vilém Flusser 1990.

To reinforce the significance of public space we have to deal
with at least two "publics", the global and the local public, by
creating spheres where local and global public space can fuse
and interchange.

Bridging the gap and connecting the global media spheres with
local content and place, an architecture of communication spaces
proposes a combined analog-digital infrastructure: publicly
accessible interfaces between the global media space and the
local urban place. 'Public Media Urban Interfaces' is an
alternative scenario for the interplay of mass media in order to
reinforce the function of public (urban) space. This project
develops a hybrid urban network-space, a fusion of media space
and urban space. It emphasizes the role of the public in an
increasingly privatized society and occupies the vacuum in
between the local and the global. The products of this alliance
of urban and media networks are "hybrid" spaces that are at the
same time analog and digital, virtual and material, local and

This project represents a prototype for a new interdisciplinary
field of design and planning ('Soft Urbanism'), researching the
transformations of architectural/urban space of the emerging
"information/communication age", exploring the dynamic
interaction of urbanism and the space of mass media and
communication networks. 'Soft Urbanism', dealing with the "soft"
aspects of the city, not only intervenes in the realm of
infrastructures, but also adopts their concept and paradigm: by
supplying networks, 'Soft Urbanism' creates new fields of
possibilities and frameworks for self-organizational processes.

Today, the communicational paradigm, with its "network-cities",
"nodes" and "terminal architectures" is infiltrating and
transforming the architectural/urban discourse and practice.
Within this framework, 'idensity®' is proposed as a conceptual
tool for developing space in the information/communication age.
This composite term consists of the combination/fusion of the
word "density" of real/urban and "virtual"/media communication
spaces (density of connections) and of the word "identity".


The local-based public 'tele-feeder facility (at your
neighborhood's launderette)', the primary unit of Public Media
Urban Interfaces, enables the public to produce messages and to
narrow-broadcast and receive them in a dynamic communication
environment. Creating a locally-based dynamic media network from
the bottom up, local events can be accelerated and reinforced to
temporarily invade the glocal media space. 

This link between global media space and local place having its
interfaces in public space makes it possible to broadcast,
access, influence the global media environment from the (urban)
local neighborhood. 

A demo project, exploiting London's urban tensions and
structure unfolds strategies and visualizes aspects of these
investigations, confronting a working hypothesis with the
idiosyncrasies of a specific urban situation.


128 feeder houses (Media Babies) distributed evenly over the
sprawling London towns and interconnected by means of a digital
network supply eight Bridge Clubs located on the Thames with a
continuous stream of (non-)events. The Media Baby at your
neighborhood launderette consists of a Catching Gallery, two
Intro Booths, a Debutantes' Booth, a Connector Platform and a
Microwave Transmitter. The Catching Gallery is the area where
the public can view the narrow/broadcasting activities of eight
other Media Babies and one Bridge Club. Interactive technology
enables the public to intervene in those narrow/broadcasts but
also creates the possibility to establish direct contacts, thus
forming endless smaller networks within the larger framework of
Public Media Urban Interfaces.


The Bridge Club, providing the space for public events on an
urban scale, bridges the gap between programs meant for local
distribution and those that deserve a larger audience. Using the
larger broadcast facilities available to the Club, the selected
programs are experienced and transformed to suit a mass
audience. The Bridge Club, being a knot in the net of
translocalities, also serves the function of bridging
programmatic events related to the site where the club is


The publicly distributed 'Air Time for All' Smart Card allows
you to produce and narrow/broadcast and also gives you the
opportunity to adopt a message (not your own) by giving it extra
air time. At the Media Baby in the neighborhood, you will find
the necessary programming facilities to make your program and
the means to monitor it as it goes on the air. You can also
accelerate messages (not your own) by giving them extra
broadcasting time with the help of the special Smart Card. And
as a message gains strength, its chances of reaching a much
larger audience increase, reaching more Media Babies, a Bridge
Club, the city or even the whole country, Europe and the rest of
the world.


In architecture's role of defining and materializing the spaces
for social interaction, designing the relationship between the
physical and digital public domain is becoming more and more of
a challenge: investigating the relation and interconnection of
the "soft" city with its finite material counterpart, the living
environment, speculating about interfaces between the "virtual"
and the material (urban) world and designing hybrid (analog-
digital) communicational spaces.

Soft Urbanism deals with information/communication processes in
public space, the soft aspects overlying the urban sprawl and
modifying it: the invisible networks acting as attractors,
transforming the traditional urban structure, interweaving,
ripping open and cutting through the urban tissue, demanding

Soft Urbanism not only intervenes in the realm of
infrastructures, but also adopts their concept and follows their
paradigm. It brings an inherently flexible approach by expanding
the field of possibilities of social interaction and opening new
paths of urban development. Soft Urbanism is therefore not about
determining places, but about creating frameworks for processes
of self-organization. Not accepting being powerless in the face
of the forces of the market, Soft Urbanism rethinks the
strategies of interventions to reintroduce programmatic
speculations about the public domain in urbanism.

The interventions will not be about control and determination,
but about expanding infrastructures, frameworks for processes of
self-organization. "Soft" strategies will be "bottom-up"
strategies: rather than defining first the global result of the
interaction and then determining the necessary relation between
the elements in order to produce that interaction (which would
be a "top-down" approach), simple rules for a set of independent
elements will be developed and what emerges from the interaction
of these elements is aleatory. According to biological models,
these fields of interaction of plural forces could serve as a
reservoir for the selection processes needed for the urban


The Public Media Urban Interfaces and the Bridge Clubs together
with a fleet of container-boats, caravans, rickshaws, taxis,
trucks and limousines (equipped with transmitters/receivers and
interactive life jackets) form a transportation/communication
infrastructure servicing the users of the network and also
commuters, nomads, migrants and tourists. The traditional
translocal (mobility/communication) networks are thus knitted to
the new glocal media networks (Internet/TV).

These capsules containing (from rudimentary to more
sophisticated) media units are mobile nodes in the translocal
networked environments, "vessels" within the complex
multilayerings of the space of flows. They serve as spaces of
exchange (export/import trade), as laboratories of glocal
cultural bastardization. With this (container) mobile
infrastructure new hybrid urbanity emerges, that is no longer
tied to any one specific location but rather is the result of
their interconnection.


Within these new hybrid ("real" and media) landscapes, these
interconnected networks, traditional categories for analyzing
space are becoming obsolete. A new field of planning and design,
combining urbanism and architecture with
information/communication networks and media spaces is emerging.
It is a field that requires new tools and new research
categories in order to develop the new hybrid network

In the contradictory dynamics of today's urban environment with
its antithetical tendencies of concentration and
decentralization, of functional mix and segregation, traditional
terms of spatial distinction lose their validity. In this
fragmented urban landscape, categories like "centre" versus
"periphery", "landscape" versus "city" and "functional zoning"
(such as living, working and recreation), are becoming obsolete.

The polarity between private and public space is
disintegrating. Public and private environments are becoming
intermingled and blurring in the fusion of media and "real"
space. We see this in the hybrid spaces of the publicly
broadcasted (inverted) privacies of reality TV and the "Big
Brothers," in the media presence of war intruding on our living
rooms and in the private (communication) space of mobile
telephony within public urban space.

To understand this fusion, this superimposition and the
interaction of media and "real" urban spaces, the new term
'idensity®' is introduced, replacing the obsolete conventional
terms of spatial distinction. Idensity® does not differentiate
between information/communication networks and
urban/architectural environments. It thereby offers an
integrated model for dealing with hybrid (media and "real")
space in the information/communication age and incorporates a
wide range of future (communication) spaces.

It is a composite term, combining the word "density" - of real
(urban) and "virtual" (media) communication spaces (density of
connections) - and the word "identity." 'Idensity®' integrates
the concept of "density" (density of connections, density of
physical and digital infrastructure, density of communication-
spaces, etc.) with the concept of "identity" (image policies,
urban brands, etc.). It can, for example, help in understanding
the processes of spatial segregation and distinction between
urban fragments that have qualities of 'global' performance and
that can be seen as part of a "global urban condition" and those
other, sometimes neighboring (parts of) cities that lose in
relevance and disappear from (global) mental maps. It can
therefore be implemented as an operative tool to steer the
processes of urban development.

But it is not a mere summation of the concepts of "density" and
"identity." It is instead a fusion, as it inverts "identity,"
linking it to communication, "identity" being defined by

Therefore, it does not just address the "clear-cut identity,
the particularity, the individuality of the traditional places
or sites" but also the layered 'idensities' of the "non-lieux"
("non-places") [1] of today's generic cities, which are to be
found especially in the realms of mobility and consumption
(airports, hotels, shopping malls, motorway rest areas, etc.).
It does not refer only to object-qualities but describes a field
of superimposed (communication) spaces: the branded space of the
chain-shop, the symbolic space of the traditional building the
shop is located in, the media space of teleshopping, the
communication space of the GSM

This new term is implemented to describe and analyze the
communication spaces of the coming "network society", a society
not so much based on the traditional, relatively static
structures of belonging in the family, the corporation or the
state, but on flexible, dynamic, ever-changing networks of
exchange and communication. It carries the discussion on the
urban from the morphological level of a formal description of
the network patterns of the "network city" to a more integrated
structural understanding of the networks of spaces for social


According to the traditional (bourgeois) concept of privacy,
identity is based on private individuality. It is, however,
important to be aware of the historicity of such a concept. As
John Lucaks writes "Domesticity, privacy, comfort, the concept
of the home and of the family [...] are, literally, principal
achievements of the Bourgeois Age." [2] The notion of the "privy
chamber" emerged in 17th century English literature at the same
time as new private physical spaces came into being, when the
introduction of the corridor layout in English interiors of the
17th century enabled the development of "private quarters." But
the expression "privy chamber" is also used metaphorically for
the soul. The "privy chamber" is the container of (private)

In the last year of the 20th century, "Big Brother," the
notorious reality-soap (with its networked container) was
launched in Holland and was cloned and copied all over the
planet. "Big Brother" shocked people profoundly and became a
prime topic of debate in the media, from popular talk shows to
scholarly journals ("Is this the End of Our Civilization?").

What was shocking in "Big Brother" was the broadcasting (the
invasion) of privacy. The participants of the soap defined their
identity not in the "privy chamber" but in the public networked
environment of the broadcasting-container. The ENDEMOL soap was
an interactive environment (the television audience had
democratic rights, influencing the sequels). The captives in the
container/networks witnessed their existence in the "Real
Virtuality" [3] of their media presence. They experienced their
identity within the 'idensities' of the (communication) channels.

In the same year, 1999, a big campaign was launched in Holland.
On most billboards in major and minor cities, men and women,
youngsters and the elderly - in short, the average Dutch person -
were declaring "ik ben Ben." This was not the mass expression of
an identity crisis, but an advertising campaign for the launch
of the new GSM company called "Ben," targeting the public at
large. The slogan was based on a simple play on words, "ben"
meaning in Dutch "I am" and "Ben" being a common man's name as
well as the name of the mobile phone company. 

But what makes this slogan such an interesting expression of
our times is its definition of identity (I am: Ik ben) as
connectivity ("Ben" being the network provider) with the
'idensity®' of the urbanite being defined as the density of the
(superimposed media/"real") communication spaces.

In February 2000 it was announced: "Ik Ben een jaar".

This advertising slogan expresses in a very direct way nothing
other than a new view of subjectivity and identity. Villém
Flusser, the philosopher of communication, would write: "The new
image of man looks roughly like this: we have to imagine a
network of interhuman relations, a 'field of intersubjective
relations.' The strands of this web must be conceived as
channels through which information (ideas, feelings, intentions
and knowledge, etc.) flows. These strands get temporarily
knotted and form what we call 'human subjects.' The totality of
the threads constitutes the concrete sphere of life and the
knots are abstract extrapolations. [
] The density of the webs
of interhuman relations differs from place to place within the
network. The greater the density, the more 'concrete' the
relations. These dense points form wave troughs in the field [
The wave troughs exert an 'attractive' force on the surrounding
field (pulling it into their gravitational field) so that more
and more interhuman relations are drawn in from the periphery.
] These wave troughs shall be called 'cities'." [4] 

The term 'idensity®' is a conceptual tool for researching and
developing (social) space in the information/communication age.


WEBSITE: http://lea.mit.edu


1. Marc Augé, *Non-Lieux* (Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 1992).

2. John Lucaks, "The Bourgeois Interior", in *American
Scholar,* Vol.39, No. 4, Autumn 1970, pp. 620-21.

3. Manuel Castells, *The Rise of the Network Society*
(Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishers, 1996) pp. 327-375.

4. Vilém Flusser, "Die Stadt als Wellental in der Bilderflut",
in: Vilém Flusser, *Nachgeschichten. Essays, Vorträge, Glossen,*
Dusseldorf (1990); English translation in part by Stephen Cox
("The City as a Wave-trough in the Flood of Images", in ARCH+
111, March 1992, p. 84) and in part by Fiona Greenwood.


ELIZABETH SIKIARIDI was born in London, UK, and grew up in
Athens, Greece. She studied architecture and urbanism at the
École d' Architecture de Belleville in Paris, France and at the
Technical University of Darmstadt in Germany, where she
graduated with honors.

She has worked at the architectural office of Behnisch &
Partner in Stuttgart, Germany on the project of the German
Federal Bank (Deutsche Bundesbank) in Frankfurt/Main and on the
project of the German Federal Parliament (Deutscher Bundestag)
in Bonn.

Additionally, she has worked for the city of Berlin on the new
governmental headquarters Spreeinsel and Spreebogen and at the
Technical University of Berlin.

Elizabeth is a partner of invOFFICE for architecture, urbanism
and design based in Amsterdam/Essen (formally in Berlin).

As a professor at the University of Duisburg-Essen, she has
lectured and published broadly internationally (Austria, Canada,
Germany, Finland, France, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Pakistan,
Switzerland, Singapore, Spain, The Netherlands, U.K., U.S.A.).

Elizabeth also serves as a consultant to the Dutch government
on the use of space in the information-communication age (See:


FRANS VOGELAAR was born in Holland and grew up in Zimbabwe and
Holland. He studied Industrial Design at the Akademie voor
Industriele Vormgeving in Eindhoven, graduating with honors.

Studied architecture and urbanism at the "Architectural
Association School of Architecture" (AA) in London, U.K. and
worked at the architectural and design office Studio Alchymia
(Allessandro Mendini) in Milan, Italy. Also worked at the Office
for Metropolitan Architecture (Rem Koolhaas) in Rotterdam.

Frans is the founder of invOFFICE for architecture, urbanism
and design based in Amsterdam/Essen (formally in Berlin). He is
also a professor for Hybrid Space (which combines analog-digital
and urban/architectural-media space) at the Academy of Media
Arts Cologne (KHM).

He has lectured and published broadly internationally (Austria,
Canada, Germany, Finland, France, Greece, Italy, Latvia,
Pakistan, Switzerland, Singapore, Spain, The Netherlands, UK,
USA) and serves as a consultant to the Dutch government on the
use of space in the information-communication age (See:


by Andrew Lam and Andy Tam

Andrew H. K. Lam
Curator and Director
Hong Kong Museum of Site
And Chairman
Cattle Depot Artist Village
artopia_net [@] yahoo [dot] com

Andy Tam T. K. 
Performing, Installation, and Media Artist 
Happening Group
Tel: (852) 9226 4341
Fax: (852) 2174 8936
andytams [@] netvigator [dot] com


media art, infrastructure, Asian media art, post-colonialism,
Asia alternative space


The conditions of media art have changed radically over the
past few years. On the verge of urbanization in Asia, media art
premieres new platforms, networks and other possibilities, which
anticipate new modes of city narration, communication and
consumption. Media art can be in any form from our daily living,
e.g. television, digital newspaper and on-line magazine etc. It
is not only the issues about media art as a new tool or as a new
art form. It is also concerned about social betterment and
scientific innovation. This was fully illustrated by General
Electric's familiar "better living through technology" slogan
in the 1950s. 

As suggested by Trend (2001), technology extends individual
subjectivity, social relations, and institutional power into
increasingly ephemeral and elusive dimensions. In most common
habits, people spend more time with their mobile, televisions,
and computers, the physicality of experience will be finally
diminished. These consequences change the nature of the
commercial world, explicitly including the production and sale
of goods and services, to move from the material to the
immaterial (digital form). At the same time, this also provides
huge benefits and millions in the market. 

This paper aims to project a vision in the relationship between
the institution and the market, within the framework of the role
of media art and infrastructure across the Asian continent. 


As a powerful creative and immense force in our daily culture,
free market brings media art to the public and their living.
Without an open free market, regional modernization could not be
completed. To Asian media art, the international free market
(Westernized) is the only/most/last legitimate system in the
last phase of globalization. Castells (1993) coined this new
economy as a global economy, in which capital, production,
management, markets, labor, information, and technology are
organized across national boundaries. And competition is played
out globally, not only by the multi-national corporations, but
also by small and medium-sized enterprises that connect directly
and indirectly to the world market through their linkages in the
networks that relate them to the large firms. 

This also triggers the revolution in information technology. A
global and informational economy, a new world order, and a new
international division of labor are instrumental to groom a new
space that accelerates inter-city synchronization, acculturation
and finally, revision. 

Stepping into the new millennium of post-colonialism, regional
integration surpasses the speed of globalization in Asia. On the
mid-ground of dichotomies between war and peace, liberation and
post-liberation, independence and inter-dependence, cities like
Quezon, HoChiMinh, Hanoi, Phnom Penh, Bandar Seri Begawan,
Macau, Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Singapore,
Taipei, Kaohsiung, and Okinawa, etc. have been confronting the
ambivalent (conflicting) crises of epidemic disease, diasporic
displacement, wreaking havoc, privatized war, ethnic wiping,
religious persecution, habitation congestion, drug addiction,
sex and child abuses, freedom and economic exploitation, and
disappearance of cultural identity, etc. 

The military tension and volatile (changing) disputes between
China and Taiwan, North and South Korea, India and Pakistan, and
Indonesia and East Timor remain unresolved in the Post-Cold War
era. To tackle the situation, a new creative sphere has been
mirrored in the trajectories between traditional and modern,
past and future, east and west, globalization and localization,
free market and programmed economy, also will be gradually
emerged and resolved finally. The diversified and alternative
media art movements in China, Vietnam, Laos, Singapore, Myanmar,
and Indonesia shift their landscape to a disguised form, or take
a resistant aesthetic in whatever means for clandestine


"Think Globally, Act Locally" is a worldwide intellectual
strategy. There are sample evidences that the Asians at this
post-integration era, by acting locally, might affect the
Eurocentric "global" ideal. In the new digital era, the Asian
spirit, which is self-expressive, bold, direct, D-I-Y, efficient
and adaptive, is rampant everywhere. Japanese' 'karaoke culture'
has swept through American bar culture. 

On the contrary, Hollywood, as an icon for commercial world
culture, has co-opted the "alternative look" of Hong Kong cinema
in its eclecticism. The acclaimed Pushan Film Festival, Tokyo
Film Festival and Hong Kong International Film Festival are
international enchantments. Media entertainment in Korea and
Japan restructures the global market with a market-oriented
approach by introducing popular icons and fancy designs with
budgeted prices. Since 1988 Taipei has attempted to pursue the
status of a Media Center in Asia, in view of the growing
economic development in China and Asia. In mainland China, the
Great Wall is no longer an empty and historic fortress: the
avant-garde media art in the rising China is well-known. The New
Media College in Hangzhou as well as the alternative space LOFT
in Beijing becomes the cradle of media talents. They are
searching for the emergence of in-between local culture and
traditional values, western ideology, and revolutionary
information technology. The works of Korean and Japanese artists
like Yoko Ono, Nam June Paik, and Meiko Shiomi are now in the
pages of contemporary art history. They all exemplified Asian
identity and values a decade ago. Geographically, East and South-
East Asian art also offers the frame for global interrogation
and perpetual interaction. 


The disappearance of regional identity in the post-integration
era is a crucial phenomenon of the rise of "Extreme-
Individualism" in Asian cities. They commonly desire political
freedom and economic independence; individual lifestyles are
natural outcomes of this extreme, which is well represented by
the outburst of youth culture and experimental media art. In Sai
Yeung Choi Street South, Hong Kong Media Power of Hong Kong
organized a social documentary to address social inequalities in
Hong Kong. In Art-Gu, Dongdaemun-Gu (Seoul), Dong Men
(Shenzhen), Lan Kwai Fong (Macau), Xin Tian Di (Shanghai), San
Li Tun (Beijing), Si Mun Ding (Taipei), Boat Quay (Singapore),
Petronas Twin Towers (Kuala Lumpur), Green Belt (Manila), RCA 
(Bangkok) as well as other areas in Asia, a new creative motive
between commercial market and media system is emerging. Similar
to a conglomerate into greater networking, dynamic art villages,
suburban districts, open cultural spaces, avant-garde art and
design shops, alternative galleries, renovated industrial
plants, on-line teahouses, art cafes, D-I-Y forever-beauty
photography shops, internet check-points, video-on-screening
shops, TV art channels, on-line cyber war spaces, electronic
publications, artists' columns on homepages, alternative
leisure, and education centers as well as other creative spaces
of entertainments are being developed and settled in recent
years. The aesthetics of futuristic cities hinges on openness,
fluidity, density, diversity, dialogue, noises, D-I-Y, etc., and
is defined as plastic, pluralistic, eclectic, versatile, and

During the post-integration era, the distinction between center
and marginal, software and hardware, permanence and temporality,
working and leisure are all beginning to break down. The
synchronization of Asian cities thus opens up new media spaces
and dimensions for everything, including production, commerce,
transformation of information, art activities, and daily life.
History does not seem to repeat itself under globalization, yet
it narrates an incessant story in a local context. The next beta-
version of "World Alternative Cities" in Asia is an endless,
timeless, and action-like in a "non-stop" real time entity, as
witnessed in a Hong Kong to-be-built 24-hour commercial complex.


One of the lasting effects of the era of post-regional
integration is the furthering criticism of modernism. As a
global product of conceptual idea, Asian media art contributes
theory-building to modernism [3] and post-modern paradigms in
particular. In dialogical opposition to Manhattan Modernism, a
statement of East and South-East Asia media ideology is or could
be to expose the concealed fractured lines of each respective
city. The global information flow also contributes to the
progressive and aggressive growth in media publications in most
Asian cities. Media and cultural periodicals like CINELINK (Hong
Kong), Videotape (Hong Kong), E+E (Hong Kong), TOFU (Hong
Kong), Hong Kong Film Archive Newsletter (Hong Kong), NEXT WAVE
(Chengdu), Transit (Manila), Vehicle (Singapore), Dandai
(Taipei), Real Tokyo (http://www.realtokyo.co.jp), Art-it
(http://www.artit.jp/), and Reportage (Sydney) are eminent
examples, which well illustrate the superficial successes of the
modern era. For June's special issue, *Leonardo Electronic
Almanac* invited artists, musicians, academics, researchers,
practitioners, curators and critics in the field of new media,
electronic music and digital art practices to submit
contributions addressing regional strategies, networking
competence problems and realities in the Asia Pacific cultures.
These Asian media publications further develop and provide
critical criticism and new aesthetics through networking global
culture in a new digital age.

In the networking age, as Lovejoy (2004) coined, the world is
increasingly polycentred (translocal, transcultural, and
transnational). By the 1990s, social, political, and economic
infrastructures became reorganized around electronic networks.
It suggested that media art is not only an art form, but also
deals with the meaning of cultural confrontations. The new Asian
aesthetics is independent from modernism and post-modernism. It
is more dependent on society - dependent on relationships
between people and not the sole product of any one person - and
is becoming increasingly important in the shaping of future
culture. The divestment of authorship is seen as more relevant
to an emerging culture founded on networks of exchange,
fluidity, transience, and mutually, as it ultimately offers us
the prospect of self-organization in personal and interpersonal
ways (Willats, 2000). It is becoming more invisible in nature. 


Current conferences like Asian Art Net, City to City Cultural
Exchange Forum, Conference of Asian Foundation and Organization,
World Culture Forum Alliance, Asian Pacific Performing Arts
Network, International Network of Cultural Diversity and Asia
Europe Cultural Net, and Engaged Art Practice Conference have
occasionally worked on a different agenda. But they have the
potential of becoming media networks in Asia.

M E D I A A S I A 

One of the results of post-regional integration is the re-
formatting of our media platform. For Asia, the media market is
now linking up with the new 3G system, 4-channel GSM network,
GPRS, PC/TV/Net station, satellite transmission and the
PDA/WAP/WTLS-based, gameboard-MP3 TV Mobile, etc. New
transmission forms of bluetooth, infrared communication,
interactive personal, and collective digital media have been
fully developed in the Asian region. Artists have tried to use
their domains and contexts to create innovative environments.
>From traditional industrial theatre to institution-based on-line
cinemas, 3-D cinema, IMAX, OMNIMAX as well as other independent
film, video and avant-garde Cinerama.



With respect to artists' work, there is variegated expansion of
video-cinematography and creative application of post-production
software and digital technique as one can see in Chen Chien
Jen's works, a Taiwan-based artist.


In Bui Cong Khanh and some other Vietnam artists' work, cross-
disciplinary approach is adopted in diverse art forms and
exemplifies the deep-rooted Vietnamese traditional culture.


In some videos or film installations, the conventional material
display of language is converted with a new visual dimension and
technology to convert a traditional and formalistic art concept.
One can be seen in the *Body Bush* project of Hay Young (Hong
Kong) and the City University of Hong Kong, which exemplified an
action painter's art idea, Jackson Pollard, into a three-
dimensional and virtual space. Phoebe Man (Hong Kong) applied on-
line configurations with a virtual reality, interactive
narration and synchronized multi-sharing technique, and there is
repetitive mourning of the deaths in the Nanjing Massacre
through a small video-monitor in a home-like installation by
James Wong (Hong Kong).

Apart from using video-photographic conventional format by May
Fung (Hong Kong), there are experiments on CCTV space-travel
like the internet online projects in Shanghai Biennale 2000, in
Gwangju Biennale 2003, and in Guangdong Triennale 2003 by
Chinese Artist Xu Tan. 

In *Treasure Hunt*, Yau Ching (Hong Kong) used an interactive
media installation by using zero monitors, one surveillance
camera, sensors, and a laser disk player to create a site-
specific interactive digital media game where the audience could
see many little images of their own in a very dark space and
shoot at the monitors with two toy guns. 


Some others like Anthony Yau (Hong Kong) tried the recreation
of a virtual space from Hong Kong Historic site, a walled
village, in terms of an interactive game. 


Hung Keung (Hong Kong) used software Director to juxtapose or
multiple screen in his video in some Hong Kong or international


In this media project curated by Zuni's Danny Yung (Hong Kong),
eight video artists were invited to produce 3-5 minute videos,
which were screened on 36 monitors and faced inward in a form of
circle in 1996. Viewers could walk inside the circle or stay
outside. In either case, it was not possible to see all the
screens at one time. The artists were asked to explore the
relationship between time, space and message. 


In some cases, artists like Kwan Ng (Hong Kong) enlarges the
communication basis of our global consciousness by configuring
multi-level, 8-channel synchronized virtual worlds, or by
converting the materiality of the displayed images in a given
site for installation project. His recent engagement with a
commercial project by transferring technical media dexterity
extends the possibility of partnership between the art and
commercial sectors. 


Zuni is the most avant-garde theater company in Hong Kong.
Their recent project also attempted media-based virtual theatre
in their MIES project. 


Eric Van Hove's project activates multi-level interaction and
intervention in different public spaces through photographic
mobile devices in different platforms and points of views,
capturing the virtual phenomena in such a diversified plural
city as Tokyo. 


With the advent of new technology, the character of media art
practices transforms tremendously. Their visual display, in
turn, would reverse the production and presentation of
paradigmatic film and the media environment around the globe. 


The Hong Kong based art group, Happening Group, has searched
any possibilities in between media, happening, and site-specific
installation. It tries to explore the very fundamental issues
about the human body, aesthetics, local cultures, and
technology. Its works have exemplified and extended the
potentiality from materiality to immaterial or even spirituality.


Recently, the Hong Kong Bank Headquarters installed hi-tech
lighting on its 'outskirt', signifying the new era of this world
local banks' adaptation of new creative media to its late
modernist building. 


The creative industry, as an integral fabric of urban reality,
should be crucial for a sustainable development of the creative
environment. The drastic emergence of no fewer than 120 artist-
run independent spaces in East and South-east Asia, are
converted from commercial showrooms, café bars cum galleries,
abandoned industrial warehouses, heritage buildings, studio
spaces and university cultural centers, etc. They all become new
city service centers and futuristic sites of cultural
significance, which help to re-define the local and regional
media art landscape. 

More spectacular is the phenomenon of artists beginning to
cluster around powerful art communities in order to join
creative forces and make things happen! Taiwan (Taipei Art
Village, Whashang Art District, Nantou International Art
Village, Warehouse by Railway Scheme, Kio-ATuo Art Village, Nam
Ying Tsung Yeh Arts & Cultural Center), Hong Kong (Oil Street
Art Village/Cattle Depot Artist Village; Fotanian), Singapore
(Singapore Art Village), Quezon City (Big Sky Mind and the
former Surrounded by Water), Kobe (CAP House). Cultural planners
strategically incorporate these art villages into their
patronage systems, thereby diminishing reactive power and
shaping a more comprehensive cultural policy affecting the
region. The former Oil Street Art Village, now known as Cattle
Depot Artist Village (CDAV), which houses five alternative
spaces and 14 studios, is now prepared to collaborate with the
Hong Kong Arts Development Council in making this cluster a
strategic model of global village to experiment creative

In East and South-East Asia, media art and market forces do not
form formal alliances, but there are noted models or strategies
of co-existence: 


The overall characteristic of a new Asia is its pluralism and
eclecticism. The Videotape in the CDAV will become eclectic, as
its creative power being alternative will be made adaptive to
the marketing strategy of enterprises and funding body. On the
other hand, the official art establishments are obliged to form
new alliances with media artists and alternative spaces to
achieve better program support. The conventional top-down
approach of cultural planning would be scrutinized. In Whashang
Art District, they brought in rental revenue and broadened the
audience base by renting its venue to NIKE's NBA Basketball
Night in 2001 and some media groups for presentations. 


Apart from the café bars cum showrooms, some alternative spaces
like Space Contemporary Art/Gallery 253 in Bangkok are
strategically located on the adjacent side of a commercial
gallery. The Pottery Workshop has a space in the Fringe Club
and the Para/Site Central is a borrowed space from the
commercial gallery Hanzart II in Hong Kong. Alternative Space
Bluespace Contemporary Art Centre in HoChiMinh City co-exists as
a commercial gallery and uses the HoChiMinh Fine Art Museum a
strategic base for presentation of avant-garde performances and
installations. The Tadu Contemporary Art is located within the
bar area of the Royal City Avenue (R.C.A.; Bangkok). Commercial
galleries, Singapore Art Council, Singapore Heritage Board, as
well as other cultural organizations in Singapore, also cluster
in MITA for interdependent development. 


For political or other reasons, a growing number of alternative
spaces in the region are being renovated to spaces like
commercial galleries to disguise their avant-garde programs. Key
examples such as PKW (Singapore), Top Floor Gallery (Shanghai),
and Café@National Gallery (Kuala Lumpur) are integral to the
commercial fabric. While a great many alternative spaces have to
be self-supporting, or result in closing down their businesses,
many art groups run their spaces by selling artists' work,
loaning their premises, or collaborating with the big business
sector on project basis for rental income or for mutual
benefits. The trend of metamorphosis could be seen from how
Whashang Art Village is now being run by Hua Shan Cultural and
Creative Industry Center, instead of the former artists'
alliance chaired by Margaret Shu Tan. LOFT, Top Floor Gallery,
Courtyard Gallery in China also take up commercial strategies to
support their continued display of political art. 


With poor educational back-up, the overall art and commercial
infrastructures in support of art remain fragile in East and
South-East Asia. Recently, there were organized participations
in international media events such as World Wide Video Festival,
well-planned presentation of city-based media festivals
(MICROWAVE 96-2004-HONGKONG), biennales (MEDIA-CITY Gwangju
Biennale 2000) and triennials, together with the introduction of
a well-accountable public funding system to Singapore, Hong
Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Indonesia and South Korea by the respective
public bodies. They are not simply results of city
synchronization. What is spectacular is rather the phenomenal
outcome of the trans-national and cross-regional competitions in
the post-integration era especially in the delta zones (the
Pearl River Delta, the Long River Delta, the Mekong Delta, the
Yalu Delta, etc.). Another common scene is the systematic
devolution of power and resource by the central governments to
the community or the media sector (Video Power HONG KONG), in
the nurturing of a new working relationship with big businesses.
This reviews the shift of the European top-down socialist system
to the American bottom-up market-based operational model of
media art patronage. 


Regional integration across the region provides grounds for a
happy marriage of media art and market. The future of such a
marriage not only consolidates the position of "creative
industry", it opens up the possibility of fostering a mega power
- "media arts economy", in which case cultural professionals
such as developers, planners, architects, art educators,
environmental designers, web masters, industrialists,
entrepreneurs, and other media practitioners might take a
prominent position in the "World Political-Culture", where our
media art market is one of the envisioning and gearing tools on
the same pace as socio-economic progression in Asia. 


1. As pointed out by Stuart Hall (1986), post-modernism is
irrevocably Euro- or western centric in its whole episteme and
modernism was a decisively western phenomenon.


ANDREW H.K. LAM graduated with a BA, MPhil (CUHK), and Cert
(Catab). He is the Curator and Director of Hong Kong Museum of
Site, and Chairman of the Cattle Depot Artist Village. 

Based in Shenzhen, Hongkong, Andrew is also the Curator of Hong
Kong Museum of Medical Sciences; Spokesman, Cultural Affairs,
the Democratic Party (HK); and Arts Advisor, Hong Kong Arts
Development Council, Hong Kong, China.

He curated the Hong Kong Installation Art Festival in 1994 and
1995, Sovereignty & Beyond: Video From Chinese Artist
International Festival 1999 and 2000, and UP-ricing,
International Video and Performance Touring Program 2001. 

Andrew was also involved in art writing and paper presentation
in ARCO International Art Expert Forum 2004, Madrid, SWIFT,
Media Conference 2004, Chiangmai, Theater Education Conference
2004, Seoul, ChineseArt.Com, 2003, Pause, Gwangju Biennale 2002,
Cang Xin in Sydney Biennale 2002, Beijing Contemporary Art,
2002, CUPPING 1997, Pushan, Taiwan Art 99, Variant, 21st Century
Art Forum, Kaoshung 2003, In-between Space Symposium, Hong Kong
2002, and Chinese Art Documentary Exhibition, Shanghai 1994

He is researching and curating a media project entitled *Delta
Crisis*, which addresses cultural issues besetting delta zones
after regional integration. 


ANDY TAM T. K. has an MA (Wimbledon) and MEd (HKOU).

He was primarily trained in art/ design and education in Hong
Kong and London respectively. Currently he is teaching various
institutions in Hong Kong, mainly in the subject of art/ design,
theatre, and child psychology. He is also an active practitioner
in performing, installation, and media. 

His works of art are versatile and exhibited across Asian
cities, for example, in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Beijing, HoChiMinh,
Singapore, and Kuala Lumpur. His main research is focused on the
aspects of performance/ installation/ media art / media
aesthetics. He is also a chairperson of an interdisciplinary
arts group, Happening Group, which promotes art and theatre




First published: (LEA 3:6), June 1995

by Curtis E.A. Karnow
karnow [@] cup [dot] portal [dot] com

The legal system infiltrates technology, like a thin mist
seeping under the door, staining it and turning technology into
a different animal. Programmers wonder if the code they write
was patented by someone else. Graphics loose their innocence,
and look like trademarks, trade names, and logos; they have that
old "look and feel" of someone else's product. Trademark law
reaches out its sticky hand to embrace color, sound, the overall
appearance of every product and packaging on the market.
Copyright law hovers like a specter, infecting every line of
code, every data structure, every animation, every sound,
graphic and screen layout.

And while this law spreads, it thins out, too. The types of
properties that the law protects now were unknown just a few
decades ago. There is an unreality to the transient audio-visual
image, an insubstantiality to a user interface. There is
something very peculiar about patenting a three dimensional
cursor or a software retrieval system. Surely these are created
things, to be protected from theft, but most judges are
reluctant to tread too heavily here. These judges remember
"property" as tangible land, gold, cattle; this new stuff looks
ephemeral. Judges have a hard time giving a user interface the
same absolute, exclusive, protection provided to a house, a car,
or money.

So the law expands its reach to govern the development of
advanced technologies, but at the same time its touch grows more
hesitant and uncertain. It is like an omnipotent Imperium in
nominal control of vast territories - every movement of the
inhabitants may be the subject of Imperial decree, but none
knows which actions, precisely, will invoke the Imperial

This note discusses the apparent paradox of comprehensive but
uncertain protection for intellectual property, and the
consequences for companies engaged in high tech development.

SUBSCRIBERS AT: http://mitpress2.mit.edu/e-



This month Leonardo Reviews introduces a new panel member,
David Beer with his reflections on Tia DeNora's book, After
Adorno: Rethinking Music Sociology. Currently researching in the
University of York, UK, Beer has published on social aspects of
digital technology. Jan Baetens is also featured here this month
as another of our newer members who has already made a
significant contribution to the Leonardo Reviews project. His
review of Jose van Dijk's book on medical imaging based on an
advance copy sent to Leonardo Reviews means we are able to
synchronise with the publication date. Staying with the
biological, Eugene Thacker's review of Liminal Lives: Imagining
the Human at the Frontiers of Bioscience completes the featured

On-line of course is the complete posting for the month as well
as the archive (http://leonardoreviews.mit.edu). If you would
like to receive advance notice of our upcoming postings please
contact me and I will make sure that you are added to our
monthly mailing list.

Michael Punt
Leonardo Reviews



After Adorno: Rethinking Music Sociology
by Tia DeNora
Reviewed by David Beer

Charlotte: Life or Theatre
by Richard Dindo
Reviewed by Andrea Dahlberg

Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed
by Jared Diamond
Reviewed by George Gessert

2nd Filmmuseum Biennale
Digital Technologies Meet Early Cinema
Reviewed by Martha Blassnigg

Hoover: The Fishing President
by Hal Elliott Wert
Reviewed by Wilfred Niels Arnold

Keeping It Real
by Sunny Bergman
Reviewed by Stefaan Van Ryssen

Liminal Lives: Imagining the Human at the Frontiers of Bioscience
by Susan Merrill Squier
Reviewed by Eugene Thacker

Looking Into Pictures: An Interdisciplinary Approach to
Pictorial Space
by Heiko Hecht, Robert Schwartz, and Margaret Atherton (Eds.)
Reviewed by Fred Andersson

La planète hyper. De la pensée linéaire à la pensée en arabesque
by Hervé Fischer
Reviewed by Stefaan Van Ryssen

The Rise of Fashion: A Reader
by Daniel Leonhard Purdy (Ed.)
Reviewed by Michael R. (Mike) Mosher

Robert Smithson
by Eugenie Tsai (Ed.)
Robert Smithson: Learning from New Jersey and Elsewhere
by Ann Reynolds
Reviewed by Amy Ione

Stuff It: The Video Essay in the Digital Age
by Ursula Biemann (Ed.)
Reviewed by Dene Grigar

Technoetic Arts: A Journal of Speculative Research; V. 1, N. 1,
2, & 3
by Roy Ascott (Ed.)
Reviewed by Jan Baetens

Three Philosophical Filmmakers: Hitchcock, Wells, Renoir
by Irving Singer
Reviewed by Andrea Dahlberg

The Transparent Body: A Cultural Analysis of Medical Imaging
by Jose Van Dijck
Reviewed by Jan Baetens



by Tia DeNora
Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2003
192 pp. illus. 12 b/w. Trade, £42.50; Paper, £15.99
ISBN:0-521-53724-X; ISBN: 0-521-83025-7.

Reviewed by David Beer
University of York and York St John College
david [dot] beer [@] britishlibrary [dot] net

The writings of Theodor Adorno often attract fairly firm
criticism. His work is often dismissed on the grounds of its
deterministic, curmudgeonly, or elitist nature. This criticism
has perhaps snowballed as these dominant critical readings have
become increasingly ingrained in contemporary social theory.
With this in mind, it is perhaps surprising to find that in much
of the recent literature on popular music, music technology,
and, in the case of DeNora's work, music in everyday life, the
critique and application of Adorno's work has taken centre stage
in the development of new approaches and theoretical frameworks.
We have now reached a point, as foreseen by DeNora, where a
reappraisal of Adorno's legacy has become near essential for the
future of the sociology of music, and, more broadly, I would
argue, for a sociology of technology and culture.

Often, close readings of Adorno's work uncover new dimensions
and new intricacies that contradict both his own writings and
these dominant readings of his work. The contradictions inherent
within Adorno's work, and between dominant readings of his work,
make the construction of monological or totalising
interpretations extremely problematic.

In this text DeNora is concerned with reconsidering Adorno's
work by formulating a detailed critique of his theoretical
conceptualisations and then attempting to apply these within
empirical research practices. The objective of which is to
overcome the problems that DeNora identifies in Adorno's work,
which are, first, that he theorises on a level that is too
general, and, second, that his work is abstract and does not
attempt to access music in the everyday day lives of the
listener. The angle that DeNora is adopting here could well have
descended into an unconstrained celebration of Adorno's
failings. However, DeNora treats Adorno's work with a great deal
of care. Her critical evaluations of his work do not overly
dwell upon the perceived problems. Rather Adorno's work is used
here as a point of departure for a reassessment of DeNora's own
research projects. The problem that DeNora inevitably encounters
is that as she moves toward an analysis of her own data she
tends to leave Adorno behind. As a result the text feels like it
is constructed around two poles. On one side, we find the
abstract, the theory, and the concept; on the other, we find the
microscopic analysis, the case study, and the analysis of music
in people's everyday lives. I would suggest that this is an
almost insurmountable problem, because, as it seems clear from a
reading of DeNora's text, Adorno did not intend for his writings
to be used in this type of research. DeNora must, therefore, be
offered a good deal of credit for facilitating such a successful
empirical application of Adorno's work, a practice that is
tantamount to inserting a square peg in a round hole.

With this aside, and perhaps ignoring Adorno's own attempts at
empirical research - in his analysis of the symphony on the
radio or the opera on the long playing record - DeNora has
constructed a valuable text that, through the critical
evaluation of Adorno's writings, has created a pragmatic
reference point for the study of music, and for the study of the
ways in which music effects, either passively or actively,
people's everyday lives. This is not an easily obtainable
objective. Music is one of those black boxes, those hidden
elements, those concealed practices and cultural forms, that
cannot be illuminated without small scale case studies of the
type used by DeNora.

Overall, this is an interesting text that creates a variety of
opportunities for future research. The development of further
understandings of the ways in which music is appropriated in the
reflexive stimulation of memory and emotions is one amongst a
set of opportunities that emerge from a reading of this text.
However, I would like to suggest that the next step requires a
detailed critique of DeNora's approach, and of the empirical
techniques that form the foundation of the text, so that the
strategy of *critique and application* adopted by DeNora is
reflected back upon *After Adorno: Rethinking Music Sociology*.



by Jose Van Dijck
University of Washington Press, Seattle, WA, 2005
208 pp., 20 illus. Paper, $24.95
ISBN: 0-295-98490-2.

Reviewed by Jan Baetens
KU Leuven
Faculty of Arts
Blijde Inkomst 21
B-3000 Leuven, Belgium
jan [dot] baetens [@] arts [dot] kuleuven [dot] ac [dot] be

In the endlessly growing field of studies on the representation
of the body, Jose Van Dijck's book on medical imaging should be
welcomed for more than one reason. Written from the triple
background of literary studies, cultural studies, and science
studies (more specifically the SCOT or social construction of
technology-approach), The Transparent Body offers in a sense the
best of both worlds: on the one hand a series of seducing and
astute close readings of very concrete and highly diverse
cultural artefacts such as Thomas Mann's Magic Mountain, the
classic science fiction film The Fantastic Voyage, or the
plastinated cadavers of the touring exhibition Bodyworlds, and
on the other hand an over-all theory of the way medical imaging
techniques such as X rays, endoscopy, or ultrasound imaging of
foetuses interact with cultural interpretations and reuses of
these techniques outside the medical world.

In seven concise and well-illustrated chapters, Jose Van Dijck
accomplishes the tour de force, first, to introduce her readers
to the (pre)history of the most currently applied technical of
medical imaging and their social representations; second, to
explain their main issues and stakes on a technical as well as
on an ethical and ideological level; third, to relate these
techniques to a broad set of cultural longing, hopes, fears,
(mis)understandings, and reconstructions. Following the basic
claims of the SCOT-approach, which already informed her two
previous books (Imagenation: Popular Genetics and Manufacturing
Babies and Public Consent: Debating the New Reproductive
Technologies), Van Dijck demonstrates the dialectical
relationship of society and technology, each of them
constructing, misconstructing, and reconstructing each other.

The major qualities of this book are rooted first of all in its
acute awareness of the very historicity of representation. If
The Transparent Body is much more than a work of cultural
studies, it is not only because it exhibits through a thorough
knowledge of the technologies involved in medical imaging, but
also because of the attention paid to the historical frameworks
that surround the invention and the use of specific techniques.
The Transparent Body is, hence, also a media history of medical
imaging, and the reader can only feel grateful for the clarity
of the author's journey through modern Western representational
techniques inside and outside medicine.

In order to avoid information overkill as well as the
temptation of overwhelming generalizations, Van Dijck has
rightly decided not to propose one single history, however. Each
chapter focuses neatly on one specific medical imaging
technique, following a simple but very efficient triadic scheme:
a historical introduction, a close reading of a particularly
well-chosen case study, a political reflection on the
contemporary cultural interpretations and implications of the
given technique. Although not necessarily presented in this
order, this schema provides the reader with an exemplarily
didactic framework that does never prevent the author from
giving many original insights on the phenomena studied.

The real pleasure the reader takes from this book is yet not
only intellectual. It should be stressed that Van Dijck's style
has a kind of elegance that has become too rare in current
scholarship. The Transparent Body displays from its very first
to its very last sentence a real sense of rhythm, of wit, of
rhetorical devices, a perfect balance of theory and anecdote, a
sound feeling of how to dispatch information without ever giving
the impression of being too slow or too fast, and finally a
strong moral and political commitment (yes, this is style too!).

Together with the wonderfully rich range of objects treated,
all these qualities make *The Transparent Body* a fascinating
book for all readers eager to learn about a crucial aspect of
their daily life and the technological culture that is
impregnating their body.



by Susan Merrill Squier
Duke University Press, Durham, NC, 2004
368 pp., illus. 41 b/w. Trade, $84.95; paper, $23.95
ISBN 0-8223-3381-3; ISBN: 0-8223-3366-X.

Reviewed by Eugene Thacker
School of Literature, Communication, and Culture
Georgia Institute of Technology
Atlanta, GA. 30332-0165
eugene [dot] thacker [@] lcc [dot] gatech [dot] edu

"Biotechnology" is a strange term. Does it denote a set of
scientific practices (e.g. cloning, genetic engineering), an
array of new technologies (e.g. gene sequencing machines,
artificial wombs), a research field that produces particular
kinds of knowledge (e.g. including genomics, proteomics), a
discipline linked to institutions and industry, or is it simply
something that is, in the most relativistic way (e.g. farming,
breeding, fermentation), isomorphic with human civilization
itself? Today, in an era in which "twice dead" human beings kept
alive by medical technologies make news headlines, an era in
which individual cells with the capacity for regeneration
polemicize political elections - biotechnology seems to be at
once the most visible and yet the least legible aspects of
technologically-advanced cultures. We "see" biotechnology
everywhere, even in science fiction, cartoons, and TV
commercials, and yet its pervasive visibility always seems to
point to its inherent illegibility as a specialised discourse.
In a nutshell: You, the average consumer, are free to try
Celebrex, but this is always on the condition that you first
"ask your doctor" for more information.

Susan Merrill Squier's book *Liminal Lives* is a welcome
intervention in this cultural landscape. Her book takes a look
at the inescapably biocultural aspects of new medical
technologies, from stem cell research, to new reproductive
technologies, to regenerative medicine. But, Squier does not
simply take these scientific fields as self-evident; her method
is to consider how a multiplicity of narratives, metaphors, and
imagery are an inseparable part of how "life itself" is
recontextualized and redefined. Squier's book combines
approaches from literary studies, feminist science studies, the
history of medicine, and cultural analyses of gender, age, and
the practice of science fiction. Her analyses are not simply the
scientific fields in themselves, but the variable lenses through
which science co-emergence with culture. Thus biotechnology
cartoons, poem-writing scientists, science fiction from *Amazing
Stories*, anatomical art, and a storytelling seminar for those
living with Alzheimer's are all part of her "biomedical
imaginary". The focus of *Liminal Lives* is, as Squier notes,
"in the ways literature and science collaborate on, and contest,
a new vision of human life" (p. 3). Squier's approach is welcome
because it asks us to carefully not distinguish between
"narrative" as a practice exclusive to literature or film.
*Liminal Lives* prompts us to consider the ways in which
"science fiction" is a verb, and not simply a literary or film
genre. "Science fictioning" would therefore be a way of
understanding a practice in which the very relation between
medicine and culture, science and fiction is constantly
expressed, reflected, distorted, and worked through. This
science fictioning is, by turns, melodramatic, ironic, critical,
playful, and above all performative.

The concept Squier develops to describe this negotiated zone is
the "liminal life": "those beings marginal to human life who
hold rich potential for our ongoing biomedical negotiations
with, and interventions in, the paradigmatic life crises: birth,
growth, aging, and death" (p. 9). The liminal life is the life
that is at once biological and more-than-biological (legal,
ethical, cultural, economic), the life that is at once unmoored
from the determinism of age and death and yet redetermined via a
host of medical interventions, the life that hovers between
being unbelievable and yet everyday. Squier's chapters consider
a kind of "liminal life span," ranging from stem cells, to
tissue cultures, to hybrid embryos, to organ transplantation, to
the 'rejuvenate' and finally to the idea of "regenerative
medicine" and renewable life. Above all, the concept of the
liminal life points to the way in which we are all liminal
lives, and this is indeed one of the broader effects of Squier's
book. Certainly there is a sense in which "biotechnology" is
inevitably abstract, surreal, and "science fictional." Yet, at
the same time, biotechnology is also narrated in many different
ways outside of the so-called specialist discourses, and popular
culture is one domain in which this is especially true.
Furthermore, each of us is also a "virtual" patient, a medical
subject in potentiality, and we exist in some relation to the
everyday, even banal, reality of health insurance, diet,
fitness, visits to the doctor, reproduction, aging, prescription
drugs, "medical" TV shows, and a broader "care of the self"
contextualized by this intersection between medicine and culture.



LEONARDO, VOL. 38, NO. 4 (AUGUST 2005) - 


< Sheila Pinkel: Expanding the Mandate >


< Leo Contini: The Anasculpture - An Alternative to Visual
Perception >

< Wayne Dunkley: Creating Space: Web Art Practice >


< College Art Association Papers >

< Edward A. Shanken: Special Section Introduction: Artists in
Industry and the Academy: Interdisciplinary Research
Collaborations >

< Julio Bermúdez, Jim Agutter, Stefano Foresti, Dwayne
Westenskow, Noah Syroid, Frank Drews and Elizabeth Tashjian:
Between Art, Science and Technology: Data Representation
Architecture >

< Ruth West, Jeff Burke, Cheryl Kerfeld, Eitan Mendelowitz,
Thomas Holton, J.P. Lewis, Ethan Drucker and Weihong Y an: Both
and Neither: *in silico* v1.0, *Ecce Homology* >

< Dana Plautz: New Ideas Emerge When Collaboration Occurs >

< Rebecca Allen: The Emergence Project: *The Bush Soul* >

< Greg Niemeyer: *PING*: Poetic Charge and Technical
Implementation >

< Bill Seaman: The Hybrid Invention Generator >

< Victoria Vesna and James Gimzewski: *NANO*: An Exhibition of
Scale and Senses >

< Vibeke Sorensen: Global Visual Music Jam Project >


< ArtScience: The Essential Connection >

< Robert Root-Bernstein: Desmond Morris's Two Spheres >

< Tamar Schlick: The Critical Collaboration Between Art and
Science: *An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump* and the
Ramifications of Genomics for Society >


< Eduardo Reck Miranda and Andrew Brouse: Interfacing the Brain
Directly with Musical Systems: On Developing Systems for Making
Music with Brain Signals >


< Norbert Krüger and Florentin Wörgötter: Symbolic Pointillism:
Computer Art Motivated by Human Brain Structures >


< Elisa Giaccardi: Metadesign as an Emergent Design Culture >

Reviews by René Beekman, Roy R. Behrens, Andrea Dahlberg, Dene
Grigar, Rob Harle, Coral Houtman, Amy Ione, Mike Leggett, Robert
Pepperell, Michael Punt, Stefaan Van Ryssen


< Bulat Galeyev: Are "Cognitive Fossils" Significant for Art
Studies of Synesthesia in Normal and Abnormal Cases >






by Julio Bermúdez, Jim Agutter, Stefano Foresti, Dwayne
Westenskow, Noah Syroid, Frank Drews and Elizabeth Tashjian

As our civilization continues to dive deeper into the
information age, making sense of complex data becomes critical.
This work takes on this challenge by means of a novel method
based on complete interdisciplinarity, design process and built-
in evaluations. The result is the design, construction, testing
and deployment of data environments supporting real-time
decision-making in such diverse domains as anesthesiology and
live art performance. Fundraising success, technology licensing,
market implementation and many live art performances provide
evidence of the great potential of committed interdisciplinary
work for advancing science, art and technology while benefiting
society at large. 




by Ruth West, Jeff Burke, Cheryl Kerfeld, Eitan Mendelowitz,
Thomas Holton, J.P. Lewis, Ethan Drucker and Weihong Yan

*Ecce Homology*, a physically interactive new-media work,
visualizes genetic data as calligraphic forms. A novel computer-
vision user interface allows multiple participants, through
their movement in the installation space, to select genes from
the human genome for visualizing the Basic Local Alignment
Search Tool (BLAST), a primary algorithm in comparative
genomics. *Ecce Homology* was successfully installed in the UCLA
Fowler Museum, 6 November 2003 - 4 January 2004. *in silico
v1.0* is a collaboration composed of eight artists and
scientists representing bioinformatics, computer science,
engineering, molecular biology, performance, proteomics and new
media. The authors are developing *Ecce Homology* through this




by Dana Plautz

This paper provides some examples demonstrating the value for
industry of funding and working with artists on research
projects. It discusses how art research and industry can
mutually benefit from working together at the research and
development level. While artistic practice has long been
recognized for its innovation and creativity, the potential of
artistic research and the collaborative nature of artistic
practice are currently underutilized by high-tech industry.




by Tamar Schlick

Inspired by a famous 18th century painting by Joseph Wright,
the author discerns similarities between issues relevant then
and the public's current reception of scientific ideas from
modern biology in the wake of the Human Genome Project. She
proposes educational and scientific initiatives and advocates
more positive and balanced portrayals of scientific themes in
the arts to help engage the public in a discourse about the
ramifications of genomics science and technology for our lives.




by Eduardo Reck Miranda and Andrew Brouse

The authors discuss their work on developing technology to
interface the brain directly with music systems, a field of
research generally known as Brain-Computer Interfacing (BCI).
The paper gives a brief background of BCI in general and surveys
various attempts at musical BCI, or Brain-Computer Music
Interface (BCMI) - systems designed to make music from brain
signals, or *brainwaves*. The authors present a technical
introduction to the electroencephalogram (EEG), which measures
brainwaves detected by electrodes placed directly on the scalp.
They introduce approaches to the design of BCI and BCMI systems
and present two case study systems of their own design: the BCMI-
Piano and the InterHarmonium.




by Norbert Krüger and Florentin Wörgötter

The authors introduce a new kind of computer art motivated by
cortical structures in the human visual system. This type of
computer art is related to the sub-group of the impressionist
art movement called pointillism. However, while pointillism
visualizes and makes use of processes that have been associated
with the human eye, Symbolic Pointillism also makes cortical
processes explicit. The visual representations underlying this
art have been developed during a project that aims at the
transfer of functional aspects of human vision to artificial
systems. The authors have applied their findings in such an
artificial vision system and in a sound/vision installation.




by Elisa Giaccardi

The concept of metadesign was adopted in the 1980s regarding
the use of information technologies in relation to art, cultural
theories and design practices (from interactive art to
biotechnological design). This article introduces theories and
practices of metadesign and contributes to the unfolding of
metadesign as an emergent design culture, calling for an
expansion of the creative process in the new design space
engendered by information technologies.




*Leonardo's* San Francisco editorial office is moving! The new
office space, on the main campus of the San Francisco Art
Institute (SFAI) in the North Beach neighborhood of San
Francisco, is part of a partnership secured this spring between
*Leonardo* and SFAI.

The partnership includes internships for Art Institute
students, collaborations on lecture series and symposia, and
other joint endeavors still under consideration.

As of 9 July 2005 the new address for the *Leonardo* editorial
office will be:

c/o SFAI
800 Chestnut Street
San Francisco, CA 94133



*Leonardo* was conceived in Paris in 1966 and the first issue
was born in 1968. The rest is history - or rather the rest is

The *Leonardo* team is interested in ideas and input on how
best to celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2006/2007/2008.

Celebrations will begin around ISEA 2006 in San Jose,
California as they are co-organizing the Pacific Rim New Media
Summit that will take place there.

The Leonardo/ISAST Governing Board of Directors will begin
thinking and discussing at the Board of Directors meeting in
August 2005. Please email your ideas or proposals by 2 August
2005 to:
isast [@] leonardo [dot] info.



Roger Malina, Leonardo/ISAST chair, and Pamela Grant-Ryan,
*Leonardo* Managing Editor, invite all members of the *Leonardo*
organization and all those interested in the intersection of the
arts, sciences and technology to join us for an open meeting to
discuss current *Leonardo* projects and future directions. The
meeting will take place at SIGGRAPH, on Wednesday, 3 August
2005, from 4 to 6 p.m. This meeting is open to anyone interested
in meeting with members of *Leonardo* boards, committees and

We will also officially award the 2005 Frank J. Malina Leonardo
Lifetime Achievement Award to pioneering Brazilian artist
Abraham Palatnik. Beginning in the 1940s, Palatnik played a key
role in the Brazilian art scene by bringing to pictorial art the
potential of light and motion in time and space. Since that
time, Palatnik has continued to explore the fusion of art,
science and technology in creative ways, and he is still
actively working on the conception and production of new art

isast [@] leonardo [dot] info


7-8 August 2006, San Jose, California

The ISEA2006 Symposium is being held in conjunction with the
first biennial ZeroOne San Jose Global Festival for Art on the
Edge in San Jose, California, 5--13 August 2006. As part of the
ISEA2006 Symposium, the CADRE Laboratory for New Media at San
Jose State University will host a 2-day pre-symposium entitled
the *Pacific Rim New Media Summit*, co-sponsored by Leonardo.

With a purview encompassing all states and nations that border
the Pacific Ocean, the Pacific Rim New Media Summit is intended
to explore and build interpretive bridges between institutional,
corporate, social and cultural enterprises, with an emphasis on
the emergence of new media arts programs. 

In preparation for the summit, seven working groups are
currently laying the groundwork for the main areas of
investigation to be pursued in depth at the summit: Creative
Community, Curatorial, Education, Directory, Eco-Social
Activism, Mobile Computing and Urbanity, and Latin American-
Pacific/Asia New Media. 

Following is another statement from one of the working group
chairs, in the continuation of our ongoing series as a build-up
to the conference. 



by Julianne Pierce, Organizations Chair
Executive Director
Australian Network for Art and Technology (ANAT)
julianne [@] anat [dot] org [dot] au


Residency and exchange programs, networks and formal structures
support the ability for practitioners, curators, writers and
academics to meet with each other, create new work and develop
new ideas. This panel aims to research and gather data on what
programs are in place across the Pacific Rim region. To what
extent are these networks, organizations and programs already in
dialogue with each other? What possibilities are there to create
new connections and forge new relationships? This international
working group looks at shared programming, residencies,
exhibition and research opportunities.


Julianne Pierce (Australia)- julianne [@] anat [dot] org [dot] au
Executive Director
Australian Network for Art and Technology (ANAT)

Kim Machan (Australia) - kim [@] maap [dot] org [dot] au
She has worked in the area of contemporary art, nationally and
internationally, for the past 18 years as curator, arts producer
and consultant. She is the founding Director of MAAP (Multimedia
Art Asia Pacific).

Zhang Ga(USA) - z [@] apiece [dot] net>
He is an artist and director of the Netart Initiative, a
loosely knit, open source-based, hub-styled, forum-oriented,
action-enabled consortium. In 2004, he was the Artistic Director
of the First Beijing International New Media Arts Exhibition and
Symposium, a two-year-long project he initiated and co-organized
with Prof. Lu Xiaobo, vice dean of the Academy of Arts and
Design, Tsinghua University.

Shuddha Sengupta (India)- shuddha [@] sarai [dot] net>
Shuddha is a member of the RAQs Collective and is a founder of
Sarai, a space for research, practice and conversation about the
contemporary media and urban constellations in New Delhi.

Gridthiya 'Jeab' Gaweewong (Thailand) - gg304 [@] yahoo [dot]
She received her MA in Arts Administration from the School of
the Art Institute of Chicago in 1996. She is co-founder and
director of "Project 304", a non-profit art space based in
Bangkok, focusing on multidisciplinary and cross-cultural
contemporary art projects by local and international artists.
Gridthiya Gaweewong's is very much interested in working with
regional and international networking and on collaborative art



***** CALL FOR PAPERS *****


These days sound is more than just music. Museums, galleries
and artists' studios are getting noisier: it's not that there is
so much more "Sound Art," but rather that so much more art has
sound. Cellphone ringtones generated four billion dollars in
sales worldwide in 2004. Incoming email and outgoing popcorn
announce themselves with plops and gongs and boops and beeps -
the emerging field of "sonification" addresses this
proliferation of all these "earcons" and other representational
uses of sound. Sound design is a vital part of Hollywood films
and computer games. While CD sales shrink with the proliferation
of peer-to-peer file exchange, the creative use of sound is
expanding in almost every other part of our lives.

For the next issue of Leonardo Music Journal we invite papers
on the expanded role of sound in art, science, business and
everyday life. Topics could include (but are not limited to):
audio art, radio art, phonography; sound design for video, film,
and gaming; the role of sound in performance art, theatre,
dance; sonificitation; architectural acoustics; instrument


15 October 2005 - Rough proposals, queries
1 January 2006 - Submission of finished article

Address inquiries to Nicolas Collins, Editor-in-Chief, at:
ncollins [@] artic [dot] edu.

Finished articles should be sent to the LMJ Editorial Office at
lmj [@] leonardo [dot] info.

Editorial guidelines and information for authors can be found
on our Information for Authors page.

Note: LMJ is a peer-reviewed journal. All manuscripts are
reviewed by LMJ editors, editorial board members and/or members
of the LMJ community prior to acceptance.


***** CALL FOR PAPERS *****


LABS is seeking PhD, Masters and MFA thesis abstracts for its
next publication cycle. Authors of theses interested in having
their thesis abstract considered for publication should fill out
the Thesis Abstract Submittal form at: 


Deadline for submission is 15 June 2005. 

What is LABS? LABS is a comprehensive database of Ph.D, Masters
and MFA thesis abstracts in the emerging intersection between
art, science and technology. Individuals receiving advanced
degrees in the arts (visual, sound, performance, text), computer
sciences, the sciences and/or technology, which in some way
investigate philosophical, historical, or critical applications
of science or technology to the arts, are invited to submit an
abstract of their thesis for publication consideration in this

The LABS project does not seek to duplicate existing thesis
databases but rather to give visibility to interdisciplinary
work that is often hard to retrieve from existing databases. The
abstracts are available online at Pomona College, 
Claremont, California, so that interested persons can access
them at no cost. 

The English language peer review panel for 2004/2005 are Pau
Alsina, Jody Berland, Sean Cubitt, Frieder Nake, Sheila Pinkel
and Stephen Petersen. 



New York Hall of Science Juried Exhibition - DIGITAL'05: "E X
Q U I S I T E" is the 7th Annual International Digital Print
Competition & Exhibition organized by Art & Science
Collaborations. It will be held from 1 October 2005 - 15 January
2006 at The New York Hall of Science, NYC. 

Digital'05 invites an examination of the nature of "exquisite"
in all of its ramifications. This year's juror is Lynn Gamwell,
Director of the Binghamton University Art Museum, Binghamton,
New York, and Curator of the Gallery of Art and Science at the
New York Academy of Sciences, New York City. 

There will be a fee of $5.00 per image submission. The online
entry form can be found at http://www.asci.org/artikel685.html

Deadline: 1 August 2005



With Letterkenny Arts Centre and the Glebe Gallery, Earagail
Arts Festival in Donegal, Ireland presents a series of unique
exhibitions on the theme of "Time" exploring the relationship
between art and science in the Centenary of Einstein's Theory of
Relativity, and coinciding with the United Nations Year of

Instigated by Jacques Mandelbrojt, a highly regarded Marseille-
based painter and physicist in collaboration with Roger Malina,
editor *Leonardo* magazine and chair of Berkeley's Physics
Department it presents arts/science explorations in several
locations, and is the first retrospective exhibition of
Mandelbrojt's work.

This exhibition covers two distinct periods in Mandelbrojt's
artistic career. The first covers the years 1943 - 1970 and
traces his development from figurative landscape paintings of
Brittany and Provence inspired by Cézanne, to more abstract
works. The second exhibition focuses on Mandelbrojt's more
recent work from 1989 - 2005. 

He conceives his paintings as mental images and then paints
swiftly with no going back (just as time doesn't reverse). "Time
is an essential element of my paintings hence a natural
encounter with music, the art of time."

Paintings by Jacques Mandelbrojt (1943- 1970)
Date: 4 July - 12 August 2005
Time: Mon - Fri 10am - 4.30pm Sat 1 - 4.30pm
Also open on 10 and 17 July 2pm - 4.30pm
Venue: Donegal County Museum Letterkenny

Paintings by Jacques Mandelbrojt (1989 - 2005)
Date: 4 July - 19 August 2005
Time: Tues - Fri 10.30am - 5pm, Sat 10.30am - 1pm
(Also open 4-17 July every day 10.30am - 5.30pm)
Venue: Letterkenny Arts Centre Central Library

The Festival proper runs from 4-17 July 2005. 

For more information, visit http://www.mandelbrojt.com and



MENTOR 1919-2005

by Jill Sykes


Joan Brassil, The Breath of Psyche, Australian artist


Australian Joan Brassil passes away. Her exhibition history is
impressive, spanning over three decades but most notably in
1981, she participated in the first Australian Sculpture
Trienniale in Melbourne, as well as participating in Perspecta,
Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney in 1985. More recently the Museum of
Contemporary Art, Sydney curated a retrospective exhibition of
her work, "Liquid Sea" in 2003. Joan also has a Doctorate of
Creative Arts from Wollongong University, Australia.


Joan Brassil, who has died at 85, was an artist of unique
character and singular talents. She was enigmatic about some
things, unequivocally direct about others. She could seem
detached yet her focus was always sharp, intellectually and

Her art was not the sort that hangs on walls and brings high
prices at auction. She created sculptures and installations that
explored many ideas. Leaf litter - collected from her bush
studio in the artists' colony at Wedderburn, on the fringe of
Sydney - rocks and moss might be lined up with cores of diorite
rock from the depths of the Earth and a sophisticated array of
electronic equipment to express esoteric concepts.

"Deceptively simple and yet utterly confounding" was the
description given to one of her installations, *The Breath of
Psyche*, by Dr Susan Best, senior lecturer in in art at the
University of NSW. It sums up Brassil's work: its physical
elements accessible but its meaning an invigorating intellectual

Brassil embraced technology as she sought the help of
scientists to capture the sound of dead stars singing - pulsars
recorded at the Parkes radio telescope - and the sound of
whistlers picked up by satellite. Her research involved
mathematicians, musicians, farmers and dancers.

In an interview for the *Herald* in 1995, she said: "You always
know a lot of remarkable people. If you are working
holistically, you must consult a wide range of people in varying
disciplines. All you have to say is, 'What are you doing?' and
they always tell me and I like to continue the song. We all
leave our voices in the minds of others."

One of the scientists who worked on projects with Brassil,
Stewart Whittlestone, had been in her art class at high school.
"Utterly hopeless," he says of his artistic skills. But as an
adult who had "a long association with radio activity", he was
ideally qualified to help her when she ventured into the cosmos
in the early 1980s.

"It was great to work with an artist who wanted to understand
science," he says. "It was my task to get the scientific
integrity into it. This was an installation about cosmic rays,
so we said, let's have some real cosmic rays. I got some
obsolete Geiger tubes." It was the start of Brassil's
fascination for randomness and a long association with

Another scientific collaborator, the late Brian Robinson, wrote
of her in 1999: "There are similarities between Joan's creative
process and my own as an astronomer. There is a common link in
sharp observation, imaginative interpretation, leaps beyond
established dogma. She grasps the underlying significance of
some new idea, while I am still groping around for
understanding." He referred to her "insatiable curiosity" and a
comment from her about the process of research: "It's good fun,
isn't it? Deeply resonant fun." 

"Why not?" was one of Brassil's characteristic remarks. It
answered suggestions as different as meeting for a coffee,
launching into a new project or going into the Australian
desert, which she loved to do - taking a video camera and
gathering thoughts for the poems that accompanied her
installations. She was a treasured travelling companion for her
clarity of observations and opinions.

Perhaps the most extraordinary thing about Brassil's career as
an artist was that she didn't take it up as a full-time
occupation until she was 55. As a young widow, she had brought
up her two sons by teaching art, mostly at Campbelltown High
School. She always talked about serendipity in her life: one of
those moments was when the school told her with immense regret
that new regulations meant she wasn't fully qualified for her
job - the same week she was offered a studio to work in.

She exhibited at the Bonython Gallery, the Sculpture Centre and
the Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, plus venues from Tokyo and Tuscany to
Wollongong and Orange. Her work has been featured in the
Biennale of Sydney, Perspecta, the Adelaide Festival, in
Melbourne, at the Art Gallery of NSW and Museum of Contemporary

The Campbelltown Arts Centre was her beloved local gallery,
venue for temporary installations and a permanent work.

By the end of her life, Brassil had added the qualifications of
a doctorate in creative arts from Wollongong University, an
honorary doctorate from the College of Fine Arts, University of
NSW, and an Order of Australia honour (AM), art awards and
grants, as well as high esteem from the top echelons of art in

The head curator of international art at the Art Gallery of
NSW, Tony Bond, recalls how she "leapt from sophisticated craft
objects to high technology. Although she was fascinated by the
technology, she was always poetic in her application of it.
There was that mysterious quality about her: she sort of wafted
through the world. But in creating work, she was fiercely in

She never lost her exceptional ability to nurture people's
talents. The actress Heather Mitchell, whose family was close to
hers, recalls "her incredible insight into people's gifts. It
didn't have to have anything to do with the arts. She knew how
to pinpoint it and how to celebrate it, reminding people of
their strengths. She once wrote me a card saying 'You have a
gift of unstinted giving' - at the age of 11. I still have that

Russell Dumas, choreographer and director of Dance Exchange,
would discuss ideas and concepts with Brassil. "She was very
fair. It wasn't that she avoided saying difficult things.
Somehow she managed to get you to think you had thought about it

Artist Robyn Backen says: "Joan was a really great
inspirational colleague. She was always there, always thinking
and always interested. She was always able to find the positive -
but also a great criticality. 'I like your work, we must talk,'
she would say in these floaty tones, as if she was hovering
above Earth. And the way she answered the phone, her 'Good
morning' meant 'I am here and I am here for you."'

Brassil is survived by her son Greg, an art teacher, and his
sons Liam - who has a fine arts degree - and Owen, who has taken
up the skills of his great-grandfather as trumpet player and
stonemason. Her other grandchildren are Patrick, a chef, and
Tony, who works in the mining industry; their father, Peter,
predeceased her.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, Australia (10 May
URL: http://www.smh.com.au/news/Obituaries/Inspired-by-the-


Jill Sykes is a freelance arts writer, dance critic for the
Herald, editor of Look for the Art Gallery Society at the Art
Gallery of NSW.


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