Phew, exactly one week after I came back from ISEA 2010 I find a few minutes to reflect and share my excitement about one of the better conferences I have been part of this year. What has been very pleasing to me and apparently a lot of other participants was the high quality of art exhibitions and performances that accompanied the symposium. Another beautiful aspect of the conference was the first site for the events in Essen, Zeche Zollverein. Here we had the fabulous fun to plunge into a factory pool at Kokerei made out of shipping containers and experience a performance by Wet Soundswet-sounds

The conference opened with a keynote by Brian Massumi who, as we know, tied in a fine mesh of aesthetic considerations through the lens of pure experience and radical empiricism. Wonderfully presented and even so wonderfully contextualized by a long comment from Marie-Luise Angerer. The second day was scheduled for the Motion Lab Panel convened by Scott deLahunta. It was very interesting to see the different works of Scott, Nathaniel Stern, who’s work I really fell in love with, Erin Manning together with Norah Zuniga Shaw and Chris Ziegler. Despite the circumstance that the two evening performances were overbooked and hard to get in, I really enjoyed the Synchronous Objects installation by Norah in relation to her longterm work with William Forsythe.

Sunday reminded me an Odyssey  trying to reach Marl with commuter trains on a day without commuters to see the exhibition for the German Sound Art Awards 2010. The exhibition was not very exciting but to have seen a conceptually built city complex with wonderful attempts of concrete ornamentation made it worth the journey. In general, the commuting between the different conference sites was a bit a of pain, if one didn’t change hotels. The evening of that Sunday though was quite amazing. At the Folkwang University of Arts in Essen the conference co-organized the Day of Sound with fabulous electro-acoustic pieces and a concert space that made you shiver with its stunning acoustic quality. Highlight, certainly, was the performance with the Max Brand Synthesizer in a piece faithfully called Hell Machine.

On Monday the conference took its proper format meaning too many parallel panels in often too small rooms. Since I had to leave after the second day of the conference, I will only comment on two things. First, The Digital Aesthetics of Climate Change panel, organized by a group of befriended scholars from Aarhus University in Denmark and successfully turned into an “Un-Panel” by The People Speak from London. Thematically and in its expression the panel raised a vital discussion that didn’t leave the impression of flaky and fuzzy climate-talk but a profound an continuous critical inquiry fueled by contributions from outside the room posted and projected on a screen. The People Speak moderated the panel friendly and to the pint which turned it into a refreshing format, especially at 10 a.m. in the morning. The second panel, was the one in which Jonas Fritsch and I presented our reflections on our experiences from Society of Molecules in May 2009 in Montréal. We were surprised about the number of people that crammed into the room for a panel on Urban Interventions. The unfortunate part of our panel was the rather loose time-keeping which resulted in no time for discussions and a focus on one particular, rather uninspiring presentation (no names of course). Apparently, our title “Balloons, Sweat and Technologies - Urban Interventions through Ephemeral Architectures” raised interest trough the very notion of Ephemeral Architectures. Not having thought of it properly, I was asked if our installation was called ephemeral architectures or if we regarded the entire event as ephemeral architectures. A very interesting question for which I would like to thank Katrin Rickerts a lot. At another point in time I will come back to these considerations.

Impressive were the TURST exhibition with very high quality works and the performance by Ei Wada and his Braun Tube Jazz Band. In general one could recognize a shift in digital aesthetics away from a data-centred and often pseudo technological or scientific attitude (except the work of Carsten Nicolai of course) toward a thorough media practice that carefully examines its needs to trigger certain modes of expression. Ai Wada took the notion of the signal to its core and blew the gallery apart with his performance. Here is another set, but you get the impression.

I enjoyed very much the work of Seiko Mikami entitled “Desire of Codes.” The work consists of an entire wall of motorized webcams that trace you. The captured images get projected on a screen where they are remixed with other video material mined from the Internet. Aesthetically and conceptually a very strong work. Another project that caught my attention was Ariel Guzik’s work “Nereida.” Nereida is an underwater capsule that contains musical instruments to establish contact with cetaceans. What impressed me the most was the serious engagement concerning potential means of communication with other species by aesthetic means. For me this is a very beautiful and strong work in the field of research-creation.

isea_trust_-seiko-mikami guzikariel_nereida_prj_02_craulgonzales_plasmaht-lab

I would like to close with a short but definitively worth wile experience of wearing the McGhillie suit provided through an intervention/performance organized by my colleagues in Zurich Knowbotic Research. McGhillie is an un-person, a Batleby-like figure who evades classification and social or physical order. Neither a person nor a mere object but rather a thing with all its potentials and qualities. A Becomnig-McGhillie means to stop thinking and feeling like an individual ant to melt with your environment. Becoming-McGhillie makes you enter the field of the void that is never the void but an in-between filled with new potential. McGhillie is a thing of the interstice, between different modes of being, between different forms of life. Becoming-McGhillie for only 20 minutes allowed me to enter the interstitial field between being and non-being, not only by means of perception (perceiving and being perceived) but by means of affect that allow different milieus to constitute with and without McGhillie. A definitive must if one seeks for modes of pure experience!

becoming-mcghillie

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