Thailand 3rd New Media Arts Festival

North-South-East-West at the Thailand 3rd New Media Arts Festival, 2005.

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The North-South-East-West Web Site presented at the Thailand 3rd New Media Arts Festival – MAF05, in Bangkok Thailand. This exhibition of NetArt, curated in June 2005, is an International Summit on Creativity in Multimedia & Communications. The event presents a series of audio-visual programs, performances and presentations that explore the growing interest in electronic arts and new media in Thailand.

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Opening: 25 Jun 2005, the Thailand New Media Arts Festival 2005 is Dedicated to the exchange, innovation and celebration of ideas in the merger of art and technology. The Third Annual Thailand New Media Art Festival 2005 includes a special ‘invitation only’ opening night event at the Playground, 2nd Fl, Sukhumvit 55, Tonglor (next to Thonglor police station) on Saturday, 25th June 2005, 6:00 pm.

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This opening features ikaPika – a live electronic art performance by Curtis Bahn and Tomie Hahn (USA) from 7:00 – 8:00 pm, followed by an interactive live performance by Thai new media artist Mr Jakraphun Thanateeranon starting at 8:00 pm.

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The schedule for the week will include exhibitions at the Playground from 12:00 pm – 9:00 pm, and workshops at the British Council (Siam Square) by visiting artist U-Zone from 3:00 pm – 6 pm on 26-28 June, as well as open-air screening of video-art on ake-A-Look open air screen located at Bangkok Central Word Plaza.

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Thailand New Media Arts Festival by Janine Yasovant a writer from Chiangmai Thailand. Posted on Scene4.

“Art is a way of life for Thais, whether it is traditional mural art, or post-modern installations, art isn’t defined with stereotypes; it’s constantly redefining itself to suit the needs of contemporary Thais.  Art is a reflection of a culture.  And with Thai art it’s a fine balance of traditional art forged with new contemporary ideas, making the local art scene fertile for fecund movements to spring.  ”

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This is what attracted Francis Wittenberger to Thailand in 2002 to establish the New Media Arts Festival as part of the Institute for Cultural Exchange and Computer Arts Thailand (ICECA).  The festival was a three week event spanning March and April 2003.  The timing was perfect because of Thai New Year celebrations with the Songkran festival.  Over 4000 visitors came to the first Media Art Festival at ChiangMai University.

Wittenberger is a Hungarian/Israeli inventor, artist, and musician.  He studied with the St. Petersburg artist Boris Svirsky from 1982 to 1989 and they co-founded the avant-garde electronic noise band SHARMUTA FLYING IN THE MOUNTAINS in 1986. Wittenberger and Svirsky developed the series of PARANOIDICO electro-acoustic synthesizers and transformed the Israeli underground music scene with their performances. Wittenberger eventually left Israel and continued his new media activity in Germany for 8 years, then to Thailand.

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Francis Wittenberger is a good friend of mine and I work for him as a translator. Almost a year before the first festival took place, he came to work in my office behind the Holiday Inn in Chiang Mai.  He needed someone to translate his project papers from English to Thai. At that time I was an instructor in the Faculty of Industrial Engineering and taught a seminar for the fourth year students. He needed someone who spoke English and Thai and I began working with him as the Thai director of the festival.

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In an interview with the Bangkok Post,  he outlined his initial work in Chiang Mai and his expectations that Chiang Mai could become a hub for new media art. Strong IT infrastructure, coupled with an Internet culture and a dynamic society to embrace it — most Thai students use email and spend considerable hours surfing the Web at internet cafes — has put Chiang Mai in the front seat of this IT revolution.

Chiang Mai has just been declared Thailand’s IT CITY by the Ministry of Information Communication Technology. A DesignCenter and a SoftwarePark are being developed at ChiangMaiUniversity and a related campus. Both The Design Center and the SoftwarePark will help the development of the local software industry and provide qualified professionals to support local business. This will not only make Northern Thailand famed for its festivals, but also for its technological initiative.

Thailand is openly embracing new media art, a linear extension of contemporary art that combines new technology and lateral thinking, facilitating new meaning from preconceived traditions. The IT revolution is bridging cultural difference and enabling an exchange of traditional ideas that collectively celebrate diversity while pushing the boundaries of art in a modern context.

Media art in Thailand is now at a critical point in its realization. The IT infrastructure is rapidly maturing and facilitating new art expressions, therefore, making new media art an exciting new field for Thais and providing a platform for new ideas for the IT prospect.”

His house was not far from my office, it was a very nice space with a large garden and bamboo fences, and Francis lived there with his Thai girlfriend and a dog. He rented a house for artist friends to plan the festival and he told me that the accommodation sponsor was some foundation for media arts in Berlin. Francis can work under pressure in the land of a thousand smiles. He likes Thailand very much as a place to live and considers the country different from anywhere else in the world.

We eventually set the terms of the ICECA foundation, started its mission in the northern city of Chiang Mai and created the first collaboration with Chiang Mai University’s art museum in early 2002; linking European media artists with a Thai institution. A vision of bridging cultures through new media arts proved successful from the earliest stage and soon this small-scale series of cultural exchange activities turned into an ambitious project: Thailand’s First New Media Art Festival.  Though realized on a shoestring-budget the festival was  successful and initiated a sudden interest in new media in Chiang Mai.

ICECA: Initiative for Cultural Exchange and Computer Arts

The Initiative for Cultural Exchange and Computer Arts is a non-profit foundation formed in 2001 and officially founded in 2002 to promote cultural exchange between Thai artists and new media artists from around the world. Furthermore, we aim to establish the Center for Art and Media (CAM Thailand) as well as a networked, public access New Media Art library. To date, ICECA has organized visits for over 20 artists from Europe,Japan,Israel and Australia, providing accommodation for their stay in Chiang Mai.

At the present time the genre of new media art lacks an established forum in this region and, therefore, ICECA’s main objective is to create a Center for Art and Media and encourage the growth of a supportive environment. ICECA, active for over one year in Chiangmai, regularly conducts free-of-charge workshops and lectures by visiting artists. ICECA is also maintaining its own independent network for international Cultural Exchange.

ICECA is the founder and major organizer of Thailand’s First New Media Festival which took place in Chiang Mai in cooperation with several partner institutions. The Festival is planned to take place annually on the CMU campus and consists of simultaneous exhibitions, conferences, art film screenings and media art workshops.

A special effort will be made to translate all possible material into Thai language and introduce a special Thai glossary of new media art and other technical terms. The library will also include an adaptive indexing system that captures user interaction and uses it to aid other users. After ICECA’s digital library is installed it will be easy to access from any location where high speed internet or local area connectivity is available.

The first New Media Arts Festival took place in 2003 at ChiangMai University.  The festival featured two exhibitions, presentations and workshops with visiting artists.

The Festival took place at three locations at ChiangMai University – CMU Faculty of Fine Arts’ Museum exhibition hall, CMUArt Museum theater and the CMU Faculty of Architecture.  Special video contributions from the following institutions were screened: Academy of Fine Arts Prague, Academy of Media Arts Köln, Experimental Festival, Australia, Audiovisuals Programme, Austria, and MBC Berlin, provided a curated program of recent German Art films

The Thailand New Media Art Festival 2004 aimed to serve the art community by being a platform and a motivator – enabling both Thai and international artists to exchange ideas. We wished to encourage Thai artists in their new media work and provide them with networking opportunities and new channels of communication with foreign artists.

The increasing use of communication technology in Thailand combined with the unique Thai lifestyle and culture creates an excellent environment for new and exciting media art to emerge and fertilize the global art scene.

In 2004 the Festival was hosted by Srinakarinwirot University in Bangkok and was a collaboration with the Imaging Department of the Faculty of Fine Arts SWU, Alliance Française Bangkok, The Goethe Institut Bangkok, The British Council Thailand, The Oddyssee Siam, Banrie Café, and Media Shaker Siam.

The Festival in 2004 hosted works from over 30 countries. The works presented dealt with many topics associated with New Media in all forms. The Festival took place at 7 venues linked by the Bangkok Sky-train (BTS). We welcomed all residents of Bangkok city, its inhabitants, tourists, casual visitors, Thai artists and especially Thai students and teenagers to enjoy a week of contemporary media art events, exhibitions, workshops and intellectual discussion.

Over a dozen visiting artists, media professors, and performers presented their ideas in seminars, workshops, symposia and screenings. Admission to all events was free.

The Thailand New Media Festival 2005 was dedicated to the victims of the tsunami and fostered global solidarity and cultural rebuilding. Alongside international forums, there were performances, screenings and lectures by international visiting artists. The festival was in two sections: during February and June.

The MAF05 in June was planned as a full scale multi-media extravaganza on a scale never seen before in Thailand. The festival drew on the innovations of MAF’s recent annual new media festivals and was especially linked to the first part of MAF05 in February. MAF05 June hosted a full range of lectures, presentations, exhibits, interactive installations, and performances.

MAF05 June’s innovation was the Thai Commissioned New Media Art section – a first in the history of contemporary art in Thailand. Financial grants awarded to young Thai artists support the creation of original media art and this art was highlighted both at this festival and abroad, at partnering arts festivals.

MAF05 June also presented our partnership with international curators as a platform for the exchange of ideas. MAF05 June established exchange links with BananaRAM Festival to offer a selection of multi-user interactive network exhibits: with ArtBots Festival from the USA to bring a selection of art-making-robots to Thailand; and with The IDEA from India to present a show of net-art, digital-imaging, interactive and sound projects.

MAF05 June presented over sixty works submitted to MAF05 but their exhibition was postponed due to the tsunami disaster. These artworks and installations were showcased at MAF05 June in four venues: [MediaArtVenue] Bed SupperClub, [art@bar] British Council of Thailand, [MAF05_screen] Alliance Francaise of Bangkok,Siam Square [CenterPoint] open air giant screen, [Public_Attraction] at Playground! Thong Lor.

MAF05 presented a large array of screenings, lectures, performances, and presentations as well as exhibitions and installations in two separate parts. Over 200 international new media artists from 42 countries presented their cutting edge work on the vital topic of the effect of digital technology on our notions of boundaries.

The festival explored the increasingly available communication technology that is now blurring boundaries between virtual and physical space. Topics included new distinctions of personal privacy, cyberspace communities and biological innovations; literally and metaphorically, “digital skin” is a new term for cross-platform hyper-connective interfacing.

MAF has established a strategic alliance with the Bangkok based media creations company Modern Formulations Co. Ltd. and with the London Development Company Ltd. MAF06 will be the third time MAF works in a joint event production environment with Oxygen Holding’s BED Supperclub and for the fifth time with the new media department at the Czech Academy of Fine Arts, under the supervision of Professor Michael Bielicky.

Our network extends annually to working with local and international institutions such as the British Council Thailand, formerly with the Alliance Francais Bangkok, the Goethe institute, the Academy of Media Arts in Cologne and others. During each year’s festival the collaboration extends to working directly with many individual artists, co-curators and various venues to host smaller MAF events across Bangkok.

MAF06 features a new collaboration with the Bangkok non-profit events organizer Dude/Sweet, best known for their fine networking in the local art scene. Dude/Sweet will act as our event promoter.

MAF06-May takes place in Bangkok at several locations, among which are some well known venues, and indoor and outdoor public screens. Confirmed venues include: BED Supperclub with exhibitions, performances and an opening party. HOF Art Gallery with an exhibition and closing party. Chulalongkorn University with workshops and special presentations.

In May 2006, MAF06 will present the first part of the festival with a series of audio-visual programs, performances and presentations that explore the growing interest in electronic arts and new media in Thailand since we first organized MAF.

For those who see MAF as the window into which they can view the development of new media in the region, we send the message that “new media is here to stay”. MAF is exploring the opportunity of setting up a permanent not-for-profit Center for Arts and Media in the heart ofBangkok. In recent years, Bangkok has experienced a dramatic increase in interest because of the developing range of new media arts and creative design taking place in the city.

Artist Magazine of Taiwan, NSEW

Artist Magazine of Taiwan reviews North-South-East-West, December 2005.

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Digital media professor Walis Diing-Wuu Wu of the Chung Yuan Christian University of Chung Li District Taoyuan City reviewed the North-South-East-West Installation in the Artist Magazine of Taiwan in December 2005.

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Artist Magazine <-> Taiwan Art

Ever since the first issue was published in 1975, Artist Magazine has been instrumental in disseminating discourse on art in Taiwan. A two-way arrow appears between (Yi shu jia) Artist Magaine and (Taiwan mei shu) Taiwan Art connotes interaction.

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Professor Walis Labai (Diing-Wuu Wu)

Professor Walis Labai (Diing-Wuu Wu) whose academic specialties include Digital Culture Studies, Media Art Creation, Communication Design,  Indigenous Culture and Arts,  Fashion Design, and Digital Media Design. Walis Labai is presently the Chairman of the Chung Yuan University, College of Design.

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The Department of Commercial Design

The Department of Commercial Design at Chung Yuan Christian University was founded in 1984, as an academic unit under the College of Business. In 1992, the university established the College of Design which was the first of its kind in the nation. The college now consists of Departments of Commercial Design, Architecture, and Interior Design, and Landscape Architecture. In 1999, the Department began to offer Master Degree Programs, including a Master Degree Program for Working Professionals. The curriculum comprises of four core areas: design, humanities, technology and marketing. The objective of both undergraduate and master degree programs is to nurture students becoming strategic thinking and problem-solving design professionals.

 

 

 

 

 

National Chengchi University, Taipei Taiwan

North-South-East-West at National Chengchi University Taipei Taiwan, December 2005.

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Thompson presented the North-South-East-West DVD and medicine wheel talk to Dr. John Antoine Labadie’s graduate students at the Center for Creativity and Innovation Studies at National Chengchi University in Taipei Taiwan in December 2005.

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National Chengchi University

The National Chengchi University is a national co-educational research university located in Taipei. The university was established in Nanjing in 1927, and relocated to Taipei in 1954. It is considered to be one of the most prestigious and important universities of Taiwan. The university, abbreviated as NCCU, specializes in arts and humanities, mass media, social sciences, management, politics, and international affairs programs. It is the only public university in Taiwan which provides courses in journalism, advertising, radio and television, diplomacy, and several languages which are not taught at other institutions. The name Chengchi (政治) means governance or politics, and refers to its founding in 1927 as an incubator for senior civil service for the Nanjing Nationalist government of China.

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Dr. John Antoine Labadie

John Antoine Labadie was trained as a sculptor at the Dayton Art Institute and then earned a bachelor’s degree in painting from the University of Dayton (1973), a Master’s, in perceptual psychology, from Wright State University (1980) and an interdisciplinary Doctorate from the College of Design , Architecture Art & Planning at the University of Cincinnati (1993).

John Antoine Labadie
Professor
Art
Phone: 910-521-6618
Email: john.labadie@uncp.edu

Labadie has held positions with the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Edison State College, Wright State University , Urbana University , the University of Dayton , the University of Texas at Austin , Boston University , and the University of North Carolina Pembroke . Dr. Labadie has been a faculty member in the Art Department at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke since 1994 and is the founder of their Digital Arts and Media Integration Studies programs. During the past ten years Dr. Labadie’s artworks have been exhibited in more than 200 national and international exhibitions and are held in numerous private and museum collections. John Antoine Labadie has been an advisor and board member with numerous international projects including: the International Digital Arts Association (Melbourne , Australia); the Academy of Electronic Arts (New Delhi, India); the International Association of Computer Graphics (St. Petersburg, Russia); and the Museum of Computer Art (Brooklyn, New York).

Dr. Labadie regularly serves an artist-in-residence or a visiting artist/scholar internationally. Labadie was a 2005-2006 Fulbright Senior Scholar in digital art for the “Center for Creativity and Innovation Studies” at National Chengchi University in Taipei , Taiwan . Other recent appointments include: National Taiwan Normal University in Taipei, Taiwan; The National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad, India; Banasthali Vidyapith University in Jaipur, India; the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts in Taichung, Taiwan; Chung Yuan Christian University in Jhongli City, Taiwan; Taipei National University of the Arts in Beitou, Taiwan; the Beijing Film Academy in Beijing, China; Fo Guang University in Yilan, Taiwan; and Nanjing Normal University in Nanjing, China; as well as numerous institutions in the USA.

 

Int’l Digital Art Awards of Melbourne Australia

North-South-East-West wins 1st Place Digital Art Award Australia, February 2004.

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North-South-East-West  wins the First Place Major New Media Award at the International Digital Art Awards of Melbourne Australia,  February 2004.

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International Digital Art Awards, Founded by Steve Danzig

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Steve Danzig IDAA & IDA projects History

This project began in New York 1999 where I was researching graphical interface protocol for online networks. During this time, I met Laurence Gartel who had worked at the Experimental Television Centre (E.T.C.) in New York with Nam June Paik researching early video paintbox systems in the mid 1970’s. Gartel and I discussed the idea of digital art and how we could create and merge virtual and physical exhibition environments whilst building an online portal and resource for digital art.

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So I set about designing a framework for new connections in the fields of academia, emerging technologies and professional art practice via the World Wide Web officially launching the original project name of International Digital Art Awards (IDAA). We were not the first to exhibit online, however we were the first to set up infrastructure for both virtual and physical exhibitions that were supported by traditional programming frameworks. This saw the foundation of the first lDAA exhibition committee to facilitate in the selecting of work via an online review process. In hindsight the early years were in part about how we engaged new thinking models around technology, digital aesthetics, memetics and cyber-culture over and above any deliberate act of presenting an exhibition of digital art. It was about how anv infrastructure could be set up to coexist and maintain professional standards in display, and documentation whilst providing an avenue for cross cultural exchange in a virtual and physical space. As we were part of a “new” emerging digital time line, it was important that our programming was inclusive of the early digital forms (generative, fractal, paintbox and video). We included early pioneers such as Jean Pierre Herbet, Manfred Mohr, David Em and Laurence Gartel to mention just a few to sit alongside emerging artists. This provided an important platform to open a dialogue about metadata, how it related to mass media and culture as a comparative document to new technologies and the digital aesthetic. It wasn’t until 2005 that we included a full program of new media and time based art. This was partly predicated by the institutions we were working with and what technologies were available. This meant there were significant design concessions to tailor our exhibitions to suit small, medium and large spaces.

New Media winners

1st place: Graham Thompson
/ NORTH-SOUTH-EAST-WEST
<http://medicine-wheel.co>
PRIZE: Macromedia Studio; MX 2004

2nd place: zsd
/ untitled
PRIZE: Macromedia Director; MX 2004

3rd place: Miah Morshed & Soma Ray
/ Gravity
<http://www.projectmiso.com/artwork/gravity.html>
PRIZE: Macromedia Flash; MX 2004

Still Image winners

1st place: Anne Maree Taranto (Australia)
AMT
PRIZE: Minolta A1 digital camera; Canto Software; Best Software; Desktop magazine; IDAA exhibition; Dimi subscription

2nd place: Jiri David
/ ANAN /Blair /Bush /Chirac
PRIZES: Minolta F300 digital camera; Desktop magazine; IDAA exhibition; Dimi subscription

3rd place: Sabrina Raaf
/ Never Alone
PRIZES: Minolta F200 digital camera; Terry’s Toffees (as selected
by Terry); Desktop magazine; IDAA exhibition; Dimi subscription

4th place: Ray Caesar
/ Companion
PRIZES: Desktop magazine; IDAA exhibition; Dimi subscription

5th place: Magdalena Kourti
/ Birth of Wave
PRIZES: ADOBE Creative Suite (Adobe Achievement Award); Desktop magazine; IDAA exhibition; Dimi subscription

6th place: Reinhardt Sobye
/ 1961
PRIZES: Desktop magazine; IDAA exhibition; Dimi subscription

7th place: Leah King-Smith (Australia)
/ Look Up
PRIZES: Desktop magazine; IDAA exhibition; Dimi subscription

8th place: Richard Wazejewski
/ Opus Pocus I, II & III
PRIZES: Desktop magazine; IDAA exhibition; Dimi subscription

9th place: Ian Gwilt (Australia)
/ Storage Space
PRIZES: Desktop magazine; IDAA exhibition; Dimi subscription

10th place: Ricardo Báez-Duarte
/ H
PRIZES: Desktop magazine; IDAA exhibition; Dimi subscription

Juror’s Statements

JOHN ANTIONE LABADIE,
Associate Professor of Art, Director, Digital Academy
University of North Carolina Pembroke

In the three years I have served a a juror for the IDAA the quality of the    online submissions has risen steadily each year. Let me qualify this statement:    not only has the digital-technical proficiency evidenced by the IDAA entrants    observably increased with each iteration of this worldwide exhibition, the    originality of the pieces submitted for jurying has also soared to new heights    and dimensions. IMHO the 2004 IDAA exhibition represents the very best to    be seen in contemporary digital fine arts across a wide range of genre in    both still and time-based media. The 2004 IDAA is a “must see” exhibition    for all those who seek to understand what happens when talented people choose    digital tools to as a primary means to make their art.

LAURANCE GARTEL,
PRINCIPAL  JUROR/DIGITAL PIONEER, LAURENCE GARTEL AWARD FOR DIGITAL EXCELLENCE

The winning imagists have translated the digital process into a hyper elevated
medium. The words “ULTRA KOOL” seem to fall of the tip of my tongue.    And what
a delicacy it is indeed. It seems that our post 9/11 society has felt so much    that
our outer skin is teflon: The images unstoppable. They have felt so much that    the
emotional impact these images give off cannot be “penentratable.”    The beauty here
is that whether it be an abstract image by Nick Karlovich, to the surrealistic    image
of Ray Caesar, these images show perfection. As I wrestled with Sabrina Raaf’s
bathroom pictures looking for “something wrong with her picture”    I just couldn’t
find it! All made perfect sense, in a perfect world. The “cherry on the    sundae” for
me was Juri David’s portraits. WHY in any other moment of time, would anyone
care about a picture of a president in such disdain? It is a brilliant execution    to see
the man we love to hate. “Globalness” and “Americanizing the    World” brings back
nightmare’s of George Orwell’s 1984. Ian Gwilt’s image “Pool Elevate”    summarizes
the entries of the IDAA and that state of affairs, at least from a public    relations
point of view. – “We live in a perfect world.”

While I expected to see artists fighting back with anger and hostility due    to our
global economy, instead we see resilience and courage. It is a great surprise    and
tribute to all contributors to this years IDAA, stating, that “no body    is going down
without a fight.” That artists will continue to make real art through    hard political
and economic times. John Vucic-Wolfpup’s apocalyptic ending “Desire is    Suffering”
is one of the few works that follows my own world sensibilities to which I    would
expect others to share. However Wolfpup’s cool colors, illustrate our defiance.
In summary, this year’s IDAA announces to the world, that the digital genre    is
more than thriving, and that the medium can make humane statements above and    beyond
all art forms.

I salute all those that have participated in the creative process, the selection,    and
for those that gave their spirit in the struggle to be heard.

TOM CHAMBERS,
CO DIRECTOR IDAA NEW MEDIA

TomChambers.com

IDAA PRINT:
“A    sweeping view of this year’s IDAA reveals mainly a figurative approach concomitant    with photo-based and manipulative expression as a part of the digital medium    that rivals the same in other media. Abstraction and Abstract Expressionism    are alive and well within various works that also rival these movements in    other media. As an overview, the exhibition confirms that the digital medium    is indeed “Fine” as it relates to the Arts and in some instances,    surpasses other media according to the ability of the creator. In the hands    of a “Master” and evidently seen in many of the works as a part    of this IDAA, the digital medium is playing a viable and vital role in redefining  and/or expanding the artist’s tools for self-expression. As the view is narrowed or focused per work, a great deal of evocation or imaginative re-creation is felt. This is due to the multifaceted nature of the digital medium and how its diverseness is interpreted and utilized. The IDAA 2004 is all of this and possibly more.“

IDAA    NEW MEDIA:
“From Joaquin Baron Herranz’s ‘How To Make  A Possible Perfect Christmas Tree’ to Graham Thompson’s ‘North-South-East-West’, the New Media section of the IDAA 2004 comprises a good range of movement/sequential-art, which sometimes require participation to move the meaning along. Videos via QuickTime, Flash and series of Web pages project the artists’ concepts at a level of expression that equate with installation/experimental art in real space. The New Media entries this year go beyond mere technical wizardry to move towards a level of evocation that can be called Fine Art.”

VICKI McCONVILLE,
Visual Artist, Board of Directors, NAVA (National Association for the Visual Arts) Australia

As an Artist and as a Juror, it has been inspirational to see the development    of the International Digital Art Award over the past three years. The quality    and depth of the work submitted, not to mention the volume of work submitted, has increased immeasurably.

The 2004 IDAA indicates a shift in style and direction and I am pleased to    see the exceptional work being produced in both contemporary digital printmaking    as well as the inclusion of new media works. Congratulations to
all of our exhibitors in the 2004 IDAA.

WAYNE J COSSHALL,
Assistant Director IDAA/CO-Director New Media, Editor,Writer, Co-Founder Digital Art Association Australia

The 2004 IDAA represents a significant stage in the IDAA’s development. Firstly,    the incorporation of a good body of work in the IDAA New Media section nicely    compliments and contrasts with the IDAA Still Image section. Since contemporary   digital art practice covers both areas, it not only makes the IDAA a more  representational living documentation of the state of digital art practice    in 2004, but also allows viewers to make their own, interesting connections    between the two. The IDAA Still Image section raises the quality bar yet again    and is the strongest IDAA yet from a fine art perspective. It heartens me    that, yet again, all areas of digital still image art practice are represented    and you will find examples of the best digital art in each category and style. It shows that no one area of digital practice, such as 3D, has become the  dominant voice of digital still image. This diversity of approach is the strength    of digital art practice and provides a rich ground for cross-fertilization    and the continuing development of digital art. My thanks to everyone who entered    and my congratulations to everyone accepted to the list of finalists. You    can rightly feel that your work has been judged against some of the best digital    art internationally, and been found comparable.
Wayne J. Cosshall, Assistant Director, IDAA

Digital Giraffe California, Site of the Month

North-South-East-West at Digital Giraffe of California, January 2004.

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Thompson’s North-South-East-West  was Site of the Month at the technology web site the Digital Giraffe of California in January 2004.

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The Digital Giraffe

Corinne Whitaker founder of the Digital Giraffe in 1994, an online monthly art journal, is an American artist who works in digital imaging and digital sculpture.  Her work has been exhibited at the Biennale International Art Exhibition in Florence Italy, Austin Museum of Digital Art,  the Ansel Adams Center in San Francisco, the Peninsula Museum of Art in Burlingame,  the United States Biennale in New York City, the Evolve the Gallery in Sacramento, California,  the New York Digital Salon/Visual Arts Museum, the Centre for Photography as an Art-Form Bombay India,  the Atelier Nord Electronic Gallery Norway, the Cyberkind Electronic Journal, the Brandstater Gallery Riverside California, the Lightfantastic Gallery Michigan State University, the Institute for Design and Experimental Art Sacramento, the Museum of Art California, the Kansas City Art Institute Missouri, the Festival Internazionale di Computer Art Riccione Italy, and the John Michael Kohler Art Center Gallery,Wisconsin.

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“Creating 3 dimensional forms electronically has been a holy grail for artists since Macintosh recreated the desktop in 1984. Parallel processing, multi-tasking, faster clock speeds and ever more powerful computers have finally brought us within reach of that goal. As is often the case, artists had to wait for technology to catch up with their visions.” … Corinne Whitaker

Trinity Square Video, Toronto

North-South-East-West at Trinity Square Video, Toronto Canada, October 2004.

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The North-South-East-West , inspired by the traditional knowledge of the Anishinaabe People, was presented by Trinity Square Video from October 2 – 31, 2004 in conjunction with the ImagineNative Film + Media Arts Festival of Toronto from Oct 21-23, 2004.

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Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge by Aubrey Reeves, Programming Director
Trinity Square Video

Inspired by the four sacred directions, as taught by the Anishinaabe peoples of North America, Thompson’s North-South-East-West video installation is concerned with enhancing our emotional connection to the earth through the use of digital technology. Thompson states that his “desired effect of providing ancient stories in the context of a modern technological environment was an effort to show the relevance of aboriginal traditional knowledge to our contemporary society. By popularizing the ancient themes 1 am hoping to re-frame our modern “Canadian” experience as part of a much older Aboriginal culture that has been here in North America for thousands of years, and to offer the “old ways” as a contemporary solution for modern humans to reconnect to the earth and find peace with their environment.”

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Thompson does not see ancient culture and digital culture as necessarily at odds, but two worlds that can be positively fused. Like any other artist working in new media, ‘Thompson’s artistic choices are informed by technological parameters. For instance, he is limited by the “software/hardware involved in presenting text, images, sound or video on internet display devices – such as flat screen monitors or traditional video displays  that try to satisfy user desire for scaleable fonts, quick scannable text, speedy delivery and simplicity of design.”

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Yet at the same time, Thompson allows traditional knowledge to shape his approach to technology. Using multiple television screens, projected video images and an interactive Flash CD-ROM, Thompson transforms the gallery into a meditative atmosphere where we float from one vision to another on our collective journey. This format is configured based on two Aboriginal traditions, that of the Sweat Lodge Ceremony and the Healing Circle Ceremony. He translates the experiences and themes from these ceremonies into the format of new media, thus making it more accessible to a potential audience who is unfamiliar with Anishinaabe traditions.

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Thompson explains his adaptation of traditional ceremonies to new media as such: “By also thinking of these two ceremonies as points of reference for the new media installation in general, multiple monitors and computers were used in an effort to recreate the hypnotic environment of sweat or the immersive interpersonal space of the healing circle. The use of repetition of audio-visual themes on overlapping displays allows for the creation of an audio-visual space that engages the audience in a complex environment of sounds and images – in order to provoke a feeling of belongingness and inclusion, and a feeling of shared experience.”

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Thompson designed North-South-East-West as “a ceremonial experience that permitted self-reflection and examination of one’s life stages and to explore our spiritual and psychological relations to the earth.” He examines our life cycle in terms of four challenges: the challenge to survive; to find a vision; to find a path; and to learn wisdom. The viewer is carried in a circle from East to North, moving through seasons, personalities and stages of life. Thompson emphasizes that all people, no matter what age, race or culture, “face very similar challenges in life.” It is his aspiration that North-South-East-West can aid viewers on their own paths along the four directions, four seasons and four challenges of life and the installation can eventually help them to arrive at a final place of wisdom, so that ultimately “they may communicate it to others.”

PRESS RELEASE: Ancient Wisdom Meets New Technology

September 28, 2004 ImagineNative Film + Media Arts Festival and Trinity
Square Video (TSV) are proud to co-present the Toronto premiere of Graham
Thompson’s new media installation North-South-East-West at the TSV
Gallery from October 6 – 23, 2004. Inspired by the four sacred directions,as
taught by the Anishinaabe peoples of North America, North-South-East-West
2.0 is concerned with enhancing our emotional connection to the earth
through the use of digital technology.

The artwork consists of a video installation and an interactive CD-ROM Flash
presentation that examines our life cycle in terms of four challenges: the
challenge to survive; to find a vision; to find a path; and to learn wisdom.
In North-South-East-West 2.0, ancient knowledge meets new technology, making
the point that living, itself, is a work of art. The viewer is carried in a
circle from East to North, moving through seasons, personalities, and stages
of life.

Thompson has an optimistic belief in the ability of technology to bring
people together. Trained as a graphic designer, Thompson is also a member of
the Metis Nation of British Columbia. This background has encouraged him to
see ancient wisdom and digital culture as realms that can be positively
fused rather than as two opposing worlds. Using multimedia, he transforms
the gallery into a meditative atmosphere where we float from one vision to
another on our collective journey.

The artist will give a lecture at TSV about his work, the four sacred directions, and the fusion of traditional and digital culture on Friday October 22, at 7 pm, followed by an ImagineNative Festival Party.

The ImagineNative Film + Media Arts Festival runs October 20 ­ 24, 2004. See http://www.imaginenative.org for details.

Trinity Square Video Gallery
401 Richmond St. West, suite 376
Hours: Monday ­ Friday, 10 am ­ 6 pm
Special Festival Hours on Saturday October 23, 12 ­ 5 pm.
http://www.trinitysquarevideo.com
Media Contacts:

Aubrey Reeves, Programming Director
Trinity Square Video
416. 593.1332 aubrey@…
http://www.trinitysquarevideo.com

Wanda Nanibush, Festival Co-ordinator
ImagineNative Film + Media Arts Festival
416. 585.2333 info@…
http://www.imaginenative.org

‘Technography’ New Forms Festival, Vancouver

North-South-East-West at New Forms Festival in Vancouver Canada,  September 2004.

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North-South-East-West video installation with Metis storyteller was presented at ‘Technography’ the September 2004 New Forms Festival in Vancouver Canada.

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New Forms Festival Presentation

North-South-East-West (NSEW), the new media installation is concerned with enhancing our emotional connection to the earth by creating an immersive audio-visual environment that includes video monitors, DVD players, computer workstations and interactive CDROMs. The installation will carry its ecological message this year to SAW Video Media Arts Centre of Ottawa, Trinity Square Video of Toronto, Pilot TV the experimental media festival of Chicago and the ImagineNative Film and Media Arts Festival of Toronto

NSEW, which began with the support of the ED Video Media Arts Centre of Guelph in 2003, was researched through reading The Ojibway Heritage (Johnston) and Reading Rock Art: Interpreting the Indian Rock Paintings of the Canadian Shield (Rajnovich) and through participation in Sweat Lodge, Pow Wow and Healing Circle ceremonies in the Ottawa valley.

NSEW was established by cross-referencing themes founds in the above resources and mapping them into a grid as four directions, four seasons, four stages of life and the daily procession of the sun as shown in table 1.

East

South

West

North

Spring

Summer

Autumn

Winter

Childhood

Youth

Adulthood

Old Age

Sunrise

Noon

Sunset

Evening

Table 1: Matrix of directions, seasons, sun position and stages of life.

Through this matrix, I related the stages of our lives to our geography and climate, and then developed NSEW as a personal look at our circumstances both in a descriptive and interpretive sense. The Flash animations, streaming videos and new media installations present personal statements about our life as well as interpretations of these testimonies in terms of geographic and climatic points of reference.

NSEW is also an effort to show the relevance of Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge to our contemporary society. By popularizing the ancient themes, I am hoping to reframe our modern Canadian experience as part of a much older Aboriginal Culture and to offer the “old ways” as a solution to our ecological problems, by encouraging communities to find peace with their environment rather than destroy it.

The Circle

In North-South-East-West, the Flash animation, the interface is based on the circle, as in the sitting arrangements found in the sweat lodge and the healing circle ceremonies of the Anishinaabe Peoples. As shown below, the interface is ringed by 4 groups of links labeled within the categories “North,” “South,” “East” and “West.”

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Hypnotic Environment of the Sweat Lodge

NSEW tries to recreate the hypnotic environment of the sweat lodge, by emulating the atmosphere of chanting and repetitive rhythms of rattles within the darkness of the lodge through the use of multiple video monitors and sound tracks within a darken gallery setting. The repetition of audio-visual themes on overlapping displays for the creation of an audio-visual space that engages the audience in a complex environment of sounds and images, in order to provoke a feeling of belongingness and inclusion, and a feeling of shared experience similar to the immersive interpersonal space of the healing circle.

North-South-East-West was in short designed to create a ceremonial experience that permitted self-reflection and examination of ones life stages and to explore our spiritual and psychological relations to the earth.