June 28, 2009
Subtle Technologies: Final thoughts

What follows are some final thoughts on the Subtle Technologies festival this year on the theme of Networks.

At the festival there was quite a lot of interesting art and research presented which clearly had some shared commonalities and connections. I’m not completely convinced however that these connections were perceived or interesting to all those who attended. This was nothing to do with the flow of presentations, performances and exhibition (or indeed the quality of any of these) however perhaps the structure could have been looser (time wise) to encourage more discussion identifying and developing thoughts on those connections. The tightly packed weekend definitely took it’s toll on presenters, particularly those who had flown long distances, and there was a sense that some simply came presented and left. Perhaps more panels / round table discussions (maybe one a day) similar to the one which took place on Saturday morning, which focused in on particular interpretations of networked performances and seemed to reveal more about the artists work motivations, would have held presenters on site and helped to thematically round off the day.

For me presenting was slightly frustrating however attending was without doubt very beneficial. For my ‘angle’ on networks it was interesting to see two other presenters, Eyal Sivan and Katja Mayer, with different backgrounds and objectives discuss networks and attempt to visualise them to form an understanding of their transformative properties. Usually when computer science forms visualisations of networks they tend to be structures with nodes and links, free from any definitive form, flexible to adapt (e.g. Paul Barans On Distributed Communications, 1. Introduction to Distributed Communications Networks) and this is a useful way of thinking of them but is often too large to initially understand or transfer to anything as an approach to working. The continual recurrence of a triangle or triad of connected points in presentations was a surprise to me and while this appeared in Eyal’s presentation primarily as a representation of the older structures it is clear even here that the older structures are embedded within the newer, notice the four wedge shapes which form his representation of the connective.

Above: Eyal Sivan network change which reflects societies move from hierarchical to distributed structures.

Above: Katja Mayer’s ideas on the tipping point of networks where three ‘nodes’ become significantly more valuable than two.

Above: My attempt to form a ‘theory’ of interactivity in new media art as being a network within larger networks of artistic practice and culture (think fractals and how the part is no less important than the whole). More details here.

If your still interested in reading more about the Subtle Technologies festival another presenter is currently still posting about the festival on the Noema n.blog.

    Posted by: Garrett @ 2:38 pm

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