Archive for November, 2007

Digital Media and Arts in Western Australia

Wednesday, November 28th, 2007



‘Oh no, not another report!’ This was the common reaction from stakeholders when contacted for this study. There have been numerous state and federal reports written over the past decade echoing the need to develop the digital content industry. These reports have repeatedly identified the tremendous economic and cultural benefits of developing the digital content industry, the fact that Western Australia (or, depending on the report, the country as a whole) is lagging behind the global market, and the desperate need for government support to achieve industry growth. And these reports have also offered numerous recommendations outlining positive steps to achieve growth and establish the digital content industry as a global market player.

Independent Review of the Operations of ScreenWest, 2001: “The online market will increasingly become a video-rich broadband service, extending further the opportunities for the industry to place and develop creative material into new and potentially lucrative market environments. This development represents a significant opportunity for screen industry creators.”

Creative Industries Cluster Study: Stage One Report, DCITA, 2002: “Another key finding is the small scale of digital content and applications development activity in Australia. This presents a major limitation that must be

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faced in any strategy to position Australia’s industries in global value chains…Australia’s relatively small and fragmented domestic industry contrasts with the rising direct government support and increasing levels of vertical and horizontal integration observed in some industries overseas.”

The Role of Government Agencies as Marketplace Participants in Digital Content Markets, DCITA, 2003: “…our firm conclusion is that, while Agency spending with digital content and applications suppliers might be small, the multiplier effects on industry development and innovation are very significant and important.”

Digital Communities: A Study to Determine the Feasibility of Creating a Digital Content Industry Cluster in Western Australia, DET/DoIR/DCA, 2004: “Over the longer term the creative digital sector has other opportunities exporting product into the global educational and entertainment market. Provided they are given the opportunity to flourish, both of these clusters will provide high value employment opportunities to the WA community, and begin to position WA as the “State of Digital Innovation.”

Growing WAdigital Report, 2005:

“If Western Australia is to obtain its share of the benefits of the digital content industry it needs [to] raise its profile, and all the various fragments need to pull together and become a cohesive force.”

Australian Film Commission, Australia Council for the Arts and AFTRS Joint Submission to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Science and Innovation, 2005: “…technological innovation and the pathways to commercialisation can only be achieved in today’s global economy through engagement of the creative industries and adequate, targeted resourcing of the government cultural agencies which are dedicated to the development of these industries.”

Unlocking the Potential: Digital Content Industry Action Agenda Report, 2006: “In order to grow, the Digital Content Industry needs regulatory and investment frameworks that operate under technologically neutral principles and encourage interoperability, innovation, investment and competition.”

ScreenWest Strategic Development Plan Phase III, 2006: “Innovation and increased knowledge are essential for the future, if the WA screen industry is to penetrate new markets, raise its profile in existing markets or even maintain its current position in the marketplace.”

The State Government’s Role in Developing and Promoting ICT in WA, 2007: “There is a need for enhanced digital content industry support schemes targeting management skills development, incubators, marketing and investment attraction.”

Strengthening the Creative Innovation Economy, Cultural Ministers Council, 2007: “Opportunities for the independent production sector in the interactive digital environment are enormous. They can be defined as creative, cultural and commercial

in nature, having the potential to be realised in short, medium and longer term time frames. Once implemented, these initiatives will provide ongoing benefits to the society and the economy.”

Media Art and Its Critics in the Australian Context

Sunday, November 11th, 2007

Daniel Palmer

Media Art Histories Archive

This paper

explores the critical reception of media ar

t in Australia over the past three decades, with a view to encouraging more situated critical histories and historically aware critical practices. I give particular emphasis to the responses to key electronic and media art exhibitions by non-specialist critics, writing in newspapers and art journals. Starting with so-called ‘experimental video’ in the 1970s, I explore critical coverage of such seminal events as ‘Some Recent Australian Videotapes’ at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in 1980, curated by Bernice Murphy and Stephen Jones; ‘The Australian Video Festival’ in 1986; the ‘Third International Symposium on Electronic Art’ in 1992; various exhibitions held by Experimenta since the 1990s; ‘ConVerge: Where Art and Science Meet’, the 2002 Adelaide Biennale of Art; ‘2004: Australian Culture Now’, a collaboration between the National Gallery of Victoria and the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI), and the biennial Anne Landa Award at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. While this survey reveals an ‘anti-science’ bias, to some extent it also challenges the conception that Australian art critics have ignored or dismissed media art on conservative aesthetic grounds. As such, I draw out some consequences of a too-confident avant-gardism on the part of the new media art community, including a collective fascination with the newness of ‘new media’ art. Another key theme to emerge from this local history is the hybrid role of the video interface. I argue that video art helped to enable the development of ‘new media art’ in the late 1980s, and can be seen as part of a broader shift, with performance art, from the representational tradition of visual art to one engaged in the more presentational modes – incorporating the sense of the viewer participating in the space of the object, images or action. The current position of Australian video art as a bridge between media art and mainstream contemporary art raises the complex issue of how national media art histories relate to broader national and international art contexts. More fundamentally, the survey shows the acute impact of media art’s global networks on local artistic and critical practices.

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