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From 24-26 September 2009, Espacio Enter brought artists, performers, technologists, and theorists to Tenerife, one of the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa. Organized by Montse Arbelo and Joseba Franco, directors and founders of ART TECH MEDIA, the conference explored possible scenarios for the future of creativity and new media over the next few decades, and gathered a diverse ensemble of presenters representing art, industry, and particle physics.

The cultural preconditions for sharing culture, energy, and emotion were a recurrent topic among presenters at Espacio Enter’s “Future Now” symposium, who hailed from Japan, Australia, and other Asian locales as well as Europe and the US. Eyebeam director Amanda McDonald-Crowley surveyed her institution’s many creative approaches to sustainability. Korean puppeteer Semi Ryu used a digital interface to inject reciprocality into the relationship between puppets and their “masters.” Transmediale curator Ela Kagel described her research on hybrid economies, and wondered aloud what a business run according to artistic principles might look like.

Drawing on themes from At the Edge of Art and the forthcoming book The Innovators, Joline Blais and Jon Ippolito presented “New Media Join the Rest of the World,” a look at creators who are taking the lessons learned in building online communities and re-applying them back in the real world. While Blais and Ippolito stressed the way networks can level the playing field compared to the hierarchies of broadcast media, Gunalan Nadarajan pointed out that the very inequalities of networks such as the electrical grid can become artistic fodder in the hands of artists such as Ashok Sukumaran, who invites street vendors in Bombay to share electricity with local apartment owners.

Blais in turn argued that the ethic of networks is one of connection rather than detachment, and that the simple act of listening to the natural world can be revolutionary in the face of the increasing mediation of technology and consumer culture. She demo’d the project Request For Ceremony, a set of community-created protocols for reconnecting with nature modeled on the famous Request for Comments (RFCs) that galvanized designers of the early Internet.

All in all, the discussion reinforced the importance of distinguishing between the technical and social definitions of shared networks.

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