International Symposium of Electronic Arts, Liverpool and Manchester
ISEA, the International Society for the Electronic Arts was founded in 1990 in the Netherlands to encourage academic cross-disciplinary research and creative exchange between art, science and new technologies. The non-profit organisation manifests on-line and through the nomadic annual International Symposium on Electronic Arts with its accompanying programme of exhibitions and events. In 1998 ISEA was hosted in the UK for the first time. Liverpool John Moores University and Manchester Metropolitan University organised the symposium with three days in each city: the former themed on ‘Revolution’ including the revolutionary potential of the human-computer interface; the latter on ‘Terror’ including the fear of technology that could impede future developments. The exhibition and events programme under the title revolution98 was organised by FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology) with Charles Esche as lead curator. Sprawling across both cities, exhibitions and events manifested themselves in twenty five sites and venues that included galleries, warehouses, theatres, clubs and trains as well as the Internet. At the time there was some criticism levelled at the use of the theme of ‘revolution’ since it was suggested that what was formerly a direct action associated with the emancipation of the masses, was now being discussed as a concept by the intellectual elite. Looking back, this theme was a timely examination of what revolution means in an age when its aesthetics are sampled by fashion and where the ‘digital’ revolution has failed to deliver its predicted utopian potential. The main artistic programme focused on artists who were using multi-media to interrogate social and cultural issues, rather than simply celebrating or demonising technological innovation. Ambitious and international in its scope, 60 works, screenings and performances were exhibited of which half were new commissions. Key works include: Kristin Lucas Screening Room; Willie Doherty Somewhere Else; Johan Grimonprez Dial HISTORY; Nedko Solakov The Right One; Cornford & Cross Cosmopolitan; Keith Piper Robot Bodies, Perry Hoberman Faraday’s Garden, Feng Membo Taking Mt Doom by Strategy, and collaborative content generative projects such as Revolting temporary media lab and Mercurial States managed by artists Micz Flor and Kooj Chuhan respectively.
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