Monday, 8 September 2008

The Creative Media Forum Opening Statement

… perhaps it is necessary to fight, today, not against teletechnologies, television, radio, e-mail or the Internet but, on the contrary, so that the development of these media will make more room for the norms that a number of citizens would be well within their rights to propose, affirm, and lay claim to – particularly those “intellectuals”, artists, writers, philosophers, analysts, scientists, certain journalists and media professionals too, who would like to say something about the media…
(Derrida, Echographies of Television)

The Creative Media Forum is open to intellectuals, artists, writers, philosophers, analysts, scientists, ‘certain journalists and media professionals too’ who have something to say about the media that extends beyond the conventional forms of opposition or critique.

Put boldly, our contention is that conventional forms of media critique have become somewhat redundant in as far as they are based on what we perceive as a set of false problems and false divisions. The false problems focus on current concepts of interactivity, convergence, determinism, constructionism, information and identity. False divisions which continue to structure debates on new media in particular include those between production and consumption, text and image, and language and materiality.

We also maintain that there is no rigid division between new and old media as ongoing processes of differentiation are constantly taking place across all media. The underlying problem of ‘the media’ is precisely that of mediation, of the processes - economic, cultural, social, technical, textual, psychological - through which a variety of media forms continue to develop in ways which are at times creative and at times conservative.

The problem of mediation is for us both contextual and temporal. It centres on the evolution of media in a wider socio-economic context. The role of technology in this process of evolution is neither determining nor determined. Indeed, this role is never ‘merely’ instrumental or anthropological, as Heidegger argues: it is rather vital and relational. If the essence of technology is inseparable from the essence of humanity, then there is no justification for positing humanism against technicism, or vice versa. There is also no point in fighting ‘against teletechnologies’. But there is every point – or, indeed, an ethico-political injunction - in exploring practices of differentiation at work in the current mediascape.

The Creative Media Forum seeks to promote the invention of forms of engagement with media. The emphasis is on creative/critical practices which are neither simply oppositional nor consensual, and which attempt, in Haraway’s words, to ‘make a difference’ within processes of mediation. In other words, we are seeking contributions across conventional boundaries of theory and practice, art and commerce, science and the humanities. These contributions do not need to be confined to discrete disciplines since, arguably, disciplinarity has been one of the ‘false problems’ underlying all forms of criticism in as far as it accepts, a priori, the divisibility of ‘social’, ‘psychological’ and ‘economic’ processes.

We propose that the identification of other such ‘false problems’ and divisions should be part of the ongoing work of the forum. Its open-ended agenda will include surveying work in progress in the following non-exclusive areas:

Non/visual media
Work in areas traditionally conceived of as visual media (photography, film, television, video, visual multi-media and so on) which also engages with non-visual, non-representational processes such as, for example, duration, memory, virtuality, technology, animation, writing and narrative.

Intelligent media
The incorporation of biological forms and processes with media and other cultural objects - from toys and games to tables and chairs via clothing and other prostheses (including mobile phones). The evolution of automata and ‘intelligent’ agents through cybernetics, AI, ALife and ubiquitous computing; smart homes; the critical invention of life-like media and other alien forms.

Who, or what is the mediated self? How might we articulate and invent processes of the self in relation to contemporary media? If Facebook and Second Life are part of the problem, then where might we start to look for alternatives? How effective are concepts of embodiment, affect, identity and subjectivity in challenging the false division between mind and body, reason and emotion, exteriority and interiority?

Ethical mediation
What are the terms of relationality in contemporary mediation? How might those terms be re-invented? Are all forms of being-with-technology, or being-mediated, equally desirable? How will we make decisions about these processes of connection? Will the decision always be ‘ours’?