MASS symposium abstracts

Ross Rudesch Harley: Open Learning Networks in Media Arts Education

Friday, July 3rd, 2009

The explosive growth of knowledge in the 21st century has  placed a unique set of pressures on many institutions, and in particular, on those that generate, analyse, sort and disseminate information.  While the public looks to universities as places where  world’s-best practice in knowledge management is employed, these same universities are in danger of being overwhelmed – not only by the increase in knowledge, but by the just-as-rapid multiplication in techniques for capturing, exploring, and distributing this knowledge. I want to suggest that closed “Virtual Learning Environments” are not the best solution for digital-media arts education. Instead, I argue that external “user-centric web services” should be allowed to flow into the university web systems. In this way students and teachers increase their participation in the broader production (and critique) of knowledge in the media arts and other disciplines

Gaye Swinn & Jennifer Lade:

Friday, July 3rd, 2009

Games art will be seen by some of the largest audiences in all of the history of art or of media. Yet as a representation of human civilization at the end of the 20th Century and into 21st Century there can be few media examples that so comprehensively fail to evidence the hopes, expectations, aspirations or even the existence of large sections of society.

This paper chronicles the development of RMIT’s three games programs, the attempt to provide for an industry still emerging from its modest home-base beginnings, to provide graduates with a broader art historical perspective than was then evident in the genre and to insinuate into the venture a greater respect for digital art and some of its emerging protocols.

The authors then review the first iterations of the programs, from the response of the media to their launch, through the vested interests of existing structures and disciplines. With five years of experience to draw upon we consider the development of cross disciplinary collaborations between schools, between members of staff and between students and we map the changing landscape across that period.

The authors also chart the deepening of commitment to the discipline of games evident in the evolving student body and consider both theoretical and practical protocols for developing and extending creative conceptual thinking in an on screen and technically driven environment.


Friday, July 3rd, 2009

It seems obvious, if you take radio out of radio art then you have a sound based art work that is not broadcasted, unicasted and/or multicasted; conversely if you take art out of radio art then you have radio …
This paper explores the idea of radio art as a media based acoustic art-form and argues that the Australian works Journal (1969) by David Ahern’s and Quadrophonic Cocktail (1986) by Chris Mann are forms of acoustic media art.
Further to this it examines the absence of radio art as a formal course of study in Australia (especially for under graduates) and argues for the need to include radio art and its vibrant Australian history to be acknowledged within formal academic institutes.

Joel Zika Creative practice as research in new media:

Friday, July 3rd, 2009

‘The translation of cinematic scene into spatial experience’: The history of the thematic ride as a unique model for new media and cinematic installation.

This research paper examines the reconfiguring and re imagining of the cinematic scene into physical experience. Practice based research leading to the development of studio works which engage the iconography and atmospheres of cinema in new spatial contexts.

Historical research examines the origins of popular cinema; the period between the Lumière brothers’s Cinématographe in 1894 and the first feature film in 1906. This is an era important to the new media discourse in which this research and studio practice finds its context. Cinema at this time had a strong relationship with the amusement park, the fairground and exposition. Illusionistic cinematic devices bore great resemblance to the carnivalesque sideshows which had existed for centuries prior. The aesthetic content of these scientific spectacles can be attributed to defining the popular ‘look’ and dark thematics of early film. This can be seen in the ghostly apparitions of the Phantasmagoria in theatres and the use of the Peppers Ghost in haunting Cabaret.

As well as detailing studio practice by Zika, this paper will examine field research undertaken to a range of historic sites throughout 2007. Through documentation and experience of more than 20 examples of the earliest immersive popular entertainments (from the period 1906-1940) it was possible to see the effects of spatial design on the way one reads a narrative.

John Conomos

Friday, July 3rd, 2009

I shall argue in my paper that the autonomy of the contemporary art school or college has become progressively compromised within its larger context – being a critical part of today’s corporatised transnational university. This has happened for many reasons, but primarily because of the ‘globalisation’ of tertiary education, teaching and research. In a word, arguably, artists who teach the new media arts face cultural, historical and pedagogic situations that are foisted upon them because their institutions have been absorbed into the contemporary bureaucratised Euro-American university system. As a result, the radical pluralism of contemporary art is being seriously threatened or homogenised by the aesthetic, cultural, managerial and pedagogic values of our universities.

Furthermore, practicing artists who specifically teach contemporary art, media and technology are daily challenged by the shifting social role of the university in society and its internal systems of managerial rationalism, its literal, anti-metaphorical art education speak (especially as it pertains to artistic creativity) and its blinding cardinal institutional and pedagogic belief in the exploitative logic of global capitalism and media celebrity culture.

This is further complicated by the fact that contemporary artists who do not submit to this complex economic and cultural zeitgeist of tertiary education for global niche markets become, because of their personal and professional convictions and value hermeneutically critical and suspicious of ‘the administered world’ (Theodor Adorno)

Contemporary art, ideally speaking, as an act is controversial by nature; it is, according to one of its (post)modernist lodestars, Georges Bataille, in opposition to the status quo. So, fundamentally, we need to ask ourselves: What kind of education will suit this specific type of art? Can art schools merging with universities retain or create a pedagogic rationale that nourishes their teachers and their students who seek to question our one shared turning world?

Vince Dziekan: Preview: Programme Architecture

Friday, July 3rd, 2009

The synthesis of exhibition-based spatial practice and digital mediation is becoming increasingly influential to our understanding of art today. By effectively structuring the form

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through which viewer experience, interpretation and interaction with art is entered into, the exhibition acts as the interface that actively mediates between physical properties and social space, producing protocols for viewing and routines of audience engagement. What my preceding interdisciplinary research has referred to as curatorial design proposes a programme for how aesthetic experience might take shape at the intersection of new technologies and exhibition space.

This short paper will position upcoming research on curatorial design and emerging forms of programme architectures. Titled Edge Blending, this project will investigate how concerns relating to the blending of spatial practice and digital mediation characteristic of new media exhibition extend to the construction of encompassing curatorial programmes. In order to do so, the research (which has been supported by a British Council Design Researcher Award) will focus its study on approaches to structured artistic programming recently implemented at FACT, the Foundation for Art & Creative Technology based in Liverpool. By defining the term programme architecture, this paper aims to draw attention to the interdependence between the character of given creative approach (or programme) and the processes (development, design, evaluation) and systems (institutional, organizational, technological) employed in the realization of exhibition projects.

The transformative impact of digital processes on practices associated with

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production, curation and audience is distinctive of the continued evolution of the media/electronic arts.

Jo Law: Media Arts: a Multidisciplinary Approach

Friday, July 3rd, 2009

This paper addresses the symposium’ theme of ‘media arts in the context of contemporary art education’ by presenting an approach to teaching media arts curriculum informed by experimental screen arts.

This approach is founded on the following considerations:

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Media arts are an evolving arena; it is open-ended and engages with many areas and established disciplines.

– I see these characteristics as strengths – ones that engender exploration by students to discover what media arts means to them and their

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– It precludes medium specificity, technological determinism, and the perceived needs of industry.

– It is project-based and informed by history and theory.

– It is necessarily experimental.

– The subjects I teach are uniquely positioned in the Faculty of Creative Arts (University of Wollongong) where students come from a broad range of study areas including, visual arts, media arts, graphic design, music and sound composition, performance, journalism, and creative writing.

Media arts draw upon diverse areas including experimental film, performance art, installation, sound art, and new media arts. In contrast to a method that seeks to define the field, my approach makes use of this open-endedness in giving students the freedom to explore and discover, as practitioners, what media arts is for them and their practice.

Brogan Bunt: Media Art, Mediality and Art Generally

Friday, July 3rd, 2009

In the last decade, German humanities have developed a broad, general and transhistorical notion of media as “mediality” (“Medialität”) in which any material or imaginary carrier of information qualifies as a medium, from CPUs to angels. (Cramer, 2009)

This paper considers how the notion of mediality, as an expanded conception of media, affects the notion of Media Arts.  If the concept of media arts practice was once chiefly concerned with modern technological forms of audio-visual representation (photography, film, video, etc.) and then, under the guise of ‘new media’, developed  a primary concern with the implications of the digital (electronics, computation and networked interaction), then where are we now?  What are the artistic traditions, forms of practice and bodies of theoretical understanding that lend disciplinary coherence to Media Arts?  My particular interest is in how Media Arts is positioned within the Australian higher-education context.  More specifically, how does it relate to the apparently more general field of Visual Arts?  Is it better regarded as a distinct entity or as crucial new perspective within a mainstream Visual Arts education?  I am leaning towards the latter view, partly because the ‘medial’ conception of Media Arts practice lacks general currency within Australia.  There is the awkward assumption that Media Arts

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study will focus narrowly on conventional media and the teaching of industry-relevant media production skills.  The field of Visual Art is at least slightly insulated from these expectations and may provide a better umbrella for experimental media arts practice.  These issues are considered in relation to the development of the Media Arts program within the Faculty of Creative Arts at the University of Wollongong.

Roger Alsop and Marsha Berry: Sound Design Skills: Exploring a Blended Learning Environment for Developing Practical and Conceptual Skills

Friday, July 3rd, 2009

The performance arts are an area where many media based and human based art practices collaborate and collide to form cohesive works. When developing skills in students, practical knowledge bases are required in order to develop and express concepts. Studio models are often seen as the most efficient and practical teaching methods, but the efficiency of this process is being questioned as student diversity is being acknowledged. Computers and networked technologies are normal tools of performance arts, and, while current students enter university with high levels of computer literacy, they need to learn how to apply these tools within complex cultural contexts and productions.

This paper will discuss the on line course ‘Sound Design Skills’ as a system through which technological skills

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and advanced conceptual skills are introduced to students at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. ‘Sound Design Skills’ will be considered as a case study that explores order viagra online media as a tool for developing practical, technological and conceptual

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skills in a blended learning environment that explores concepts of sticky knowledge within a networked media based studio model.

Dr Malcom Riddoch & Cat Hope: Programming Musicians: a New Approach

Friday, July 3rd, 2009

In 2007 WAAPA began a new music course that tied a thorough traditional music training with computer programming. The Music Technology Major in the Bachelor of music aims to produce students who can not only program interactive or compositional projects, but have a full capability in a more traditional musical background of

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aural training, harmony, history and performance. After initial learning in acousmatics, spatial music, recording, mixing and mastering music, students are introduced to programming through composition and interactive projects using MaxMSP and Jitter, moving on to C sound and the programming of Arduino’s, as well as realtime internet performances. The project based teaching and assessment structure encourages collaboration and performance in the public arena, creating a foundation for a performance research ethic beginning at undergraduate level.

This course is the first of its kind in Australia, and is developing exciting outcomes that may finally solve

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the sound art vs music debate, developing learning strategies that combine musical and scientific approaches for a range of artworks with sound as a foundation. The paper discusses the design of the course and how it differs from others, and provides detail on the way programming is taught within a music framework, and some of the outcomes to date.