Chair: Prof. Kerstin Mey
2nd Chair: Prof. Yvonne Spielmann
Hybrid cultures are phenomena of essential connections in the present. They emerge from diverse and complex influences. Hybrid cultures are mergers that combine past and present, local and translocal, space and place and technoscape. Hybridity is expressed in various cultural contexts and in the in-between spaces of arts, media, science and technology. Under the sign of the digital and the global, hybridity connotes a cultural manifestation of multiple appearances, as in cyberspace and multiple selves.
We apply the term hybrid cultures to the contemporary inter-connectedness that derives from the technological possibilities of merging virtual worlds and real life experience and to art practices that instigate creative in(ter)vention into our global media present, as well as to scientific research that aims to blur the boundaries between human and machine, science and science fiction. In applying the term hybrid cultures, we propose to discuss a critical concept of hybridity that inter-relates the debates and practices of the interdisciplinary domains of media, cultural and aesthetic theories.
The scrutiny of digital cultures as fields of hybrid interaction allows us to more closely examine the culturally mixed expertises that combine different aspects of theory and practice at work, in locally produced and globally distributed media forms, and in the convergence of network-based science and knowledge technologies, with creative art practices.
As a starting point, we wish to scrutinise the critical stance of hybrid cultures: what are the cultural effects of hybrid practices in arts and media, science and technology? What kind of fusion can promote inter-medial and inter-cultural understanding? How can hybrid cultures resist corporate commercialisation? How can they benefit from transnational, transcultural, and translocal possibilities of digital communication?
With regard to the plurality of media and cultures that are prominently discussed as hybrid, the panel encourages critical investigation of:
1. the place of the artist, the cultural critic, the communicator and mediator of technological change
2. new forms of collaboration between disciplines and cultures
3. the extension of the concept of hybridity across borders without losing its identity of creative intervention into the here and now
Questions the panel will raise: How much multiplicity and plurality do we want and need in globally networked communication? And what kind of specificity and difference in the midst of blurring is necessary for the identity formation of our cultures, arts, and sciences? How are complex relationships between arts and sciences and technologies creating a new vision of hybrid cultures?
Towards the Third Culture: Intersections of Arts, Science, and Technology
One of the most important factors of the hybrid condition of contemporary arts is the complex relationship between arts and sciences and technologies. Such relations develop a new concept of third culture, not based – as in the theory of John Brockman – on the conflict between traditional humanistic values and scientific systems, but on the interactions between them. I will analyse the development of this concept, from C. P. Snow’s Theory of Two Cultures, in relationship to recent processes creating a new vision of hybrid culture.
Hybrid Reality on the Couch
This talk will take a critical view on the blurring of boundaries between virtual worlds and real life experience. The focus will concentrate on a concept of reality that encourages the re-enactment of highly traumatic memories within the visual framework of 3D-virtualisations as suggested by the therapeutic simulation program Virtual Iraq. Here the complex process of memory, imagination and suppression is confronted with its translation into the aesthetics of a computer game. In another work, Harun Farocki’s analytic video installation Immersion, 2009, the merging of images between virtual worlds and real life experience is questioned by deliberately separating the virtual and the real.
Between Hybridity and Hyper-space: AES+F’s The Feast of Trimalchio (2008)
In their nine-screen digital video the Russian artist group AES+F has sought to provide an analogy for the globalised third millennium by re/presenting it through a hedonist glut in the environment- as imaginary luxury hotel resorts that operate as compound non-places of supermodernity (Marc Auge). It is a place in which the power relations between contemporary masters and slaves is re/enacted and re/affirmed through the convergence of respective historical and contemporary cross-cultural signifiers. The space-time continuum is collapsed into an ahistorical, temporary paradise made up of fragmented ‚global/ised referents from fashion photography, glossy tourist magazines, leisure advertisements, broad sheet supplements and soap operas (as well as art, design and architectural history) and shaped by metonymy (rather than metaphor). Using this complex and dense work as a primary case study, the presentation explores the tensions between its foregrounded media and technological hybridity and the mapped out allegorical hyperspace, as means to critically intervene in the understanding of contemporary mediated culture under the conditions of a global flow of capital.
The Place, the Space and the Ethnoscape: Examples of Hybridity in Western/European and Non-Western/Asian Media Arts
The paper willl discuss ways in which hybridity constitutes a strategy of our contemporaneity to aesthetically intervene into internationally operating media industries. The concept of hybridity is, amongst others, highlighted in the non-western and highly technological media and cultural context of Japan.
Bios of the Participants
Yvonne Spielmann (Ph.D. habil.) is currently Chair of New Media at The University of the West of Scotland; she was previously Professor of Visual Media at Braunschweig School of Art. Prior to this latter appointment, she was Assistant Professor of Media Studies at the University of Siegen, also in Germany. She is author of the German language monographs Eine Pfütze in bezug aufs Mehr. Avantgarde (1991), Intermedialität. Das System Peter Greenaway (1998), and Video. Das reflexive Medium (2005). The Engish edition Video. The Reflexive Medium is published by MIT Press, 2008, the Japanese edition is forthcoming with Sangen-Sha Press, Tokyo, 2010. The Polish edition is under discussion. The book received the Lewis Mumford Award for Outstanding Scholarship in the Ecology of Techncis in the US. Her new book Hybrid Cultures will be released with Suhrkamp Press in fall 2010.
Yvonne Spielmann has published extensively on film, video, new media, intermediality, visual arts and hybridity in approximately ninety articles, in both German and English. Her work has been translated into French, Polish, Swedish, Croatian, and Japanese. She has edited Kunst und Politik der Avantgarde (1989), Image – Media – Art (German and English, 1999, together with Gundolf Winter), What is Intermedia?, a special issue of Convergence, Winter 2002 (together with Jürgen Heinrichs), and is editor of Hybrid Identities in Digital Media, a special issue of Convergence, winter 2005 (together with Kerstin Mey) and the section Forty Years of Video Art of Art Journal (2006). Recent keynote lectures were given by her at the International Symposium on Electronic Arts, Belfast, UK, 2009 and the New Waves in New Media Conference, Cluj-Napoca, Romania, 2009.
Speilmann’s research grants and fellowships include the Getty Center (1989/90), The Society for the Humanities at Cornell University (2000/2001), The Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Study & Conference Center (2002), The Daniel Langlois Foundation (2003 and 2004), the Japan Foundation (2005), the National University of Singapore (2007), The Royal Society of Edinburgh (2008), the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation (2009), and the Carnegie Trust (2008, 2009 and 2010).
Sabine Fabo studied History of Art, Media Theory and English Literature in Duisburg, Essen and Siegen. Her Ph.D thesis was on the interdisciplinary and medial relations between James Joyce and Joseph Beuys. In 1991 she was engaged as freelance collaborator at the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen in Düsseldorf. In 1991-1997 she was Academic Assistant in the field of Media Culture at the Academy of Media Arts Cologne. In 1998 , she was a Fulbright Research Visitor to New York University/American Studies department, guest lecturer at the Institute for European Cultures, Russian State University for Human Sciences, Moskow and guest lecturer at the Academy of Fine Arts, Venice. Since 1998 she has been Professor of History and Theory of Art and Media at the University of Applied Sciences Aachen. She is a member of the Advisory Committee of Sound Studies, Berlin. Her fields of study are cultural aspects of multimedia, concepts of the total work of art and subversive artistic practices. Her writing, Parasitical Strategies, was published by Kunstforum International in 2007.
Kerstin Mey graduated with an MA in Art and German Language and Literature from Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany and subsequently obtained a Dr.phil. in art theory/aesthetics and a PGDip in European Cultural Policy and Administration. After working in positions in universities in Germany and the UK, she now heads up the Department for Research and Enterprise at the University for the Creative Arts, UK, where she also holds a Professorship in Fine Art.
Mey’s own research has been concerned with the situatedness of contemporary art and cultural practices. Of specific interest are: the role of art in civil society and the public domain, the construction of identities under the influence of digitisation, migration and globalisation, and the interconnections between art, documentation, memory, history writing and the archiving process. She is a peer reviewer for the AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council) and other UK Research Councils, international funding bodies and publishers.
Mey was Artistic Director of ISEA 2009 which took place under the umbrella theme Engaged Creativity in Mobile Environments on the island of Ireland. She has curated exhibitions including Bodies of Substance (2003/4) and organised international and interdisciplinary conferences with creative practices at their center. Amongst her numerous publications on contemporary art and art research are the authored book Art and Obscenity (2006) and the following edited volumes: with Morrow and Rohr, Creative Transformations (2008); with Kroenke and Spielmann, Kulturelle Umbrüche: Identitäten, Räume, Repräsentationen (2007), On-Site/In-Sight, a special issue Journal of Visual Art Practice, Vols. 4.1-2 (2005), and Art in the Making. Aesthetics Historicity and Practice (2004); with Yuill,
Cross-wired: Communication, Interface, Locality, (2004), Sculpsit: Contemporary Artists on Sculpture and Beyond (2001).
She currently collaborates with Susan Benn on the project A Pedagogy of Curiosity which reconsiders the roles of the human sensorium, sense perception and the arts in the shaping of values that support resilient living and an appreciation of the environment, as well as their roles in in/forming self-governance and engaged citizenship.
Ryszard W. Kluszczynski
Ryszard W. Kluszczynski, Ph.D is Professor of Media and Cultural Studies at Lodz University, Poland, where he is the Head of the Department of Media and Audiovisual Culture. He is also Professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Lodz.
In the years 1990–2001 Kluszczynski was a chief curator of film, video, and multimedia arts at the Centre for Contemporary Art in Warsaw. He has curated numerous international art exhibitions. He was recently Curator of the Second International Biennale of Contemporary Art in Poznan. He writes about media and multimedia arts, the avant-garde, cyberculture, the theory of media and communication, and the information and network society. Some of his book publications include: Interactive Art. From Artwork-Instrument to Interactive Spectacle, 2010; Information Society. Cyberculture. Multimedia Arts, 2001 (Second Edition 2002); Film – Video – Multimedia. Art of the Moving Picture in the Era of Electronics, 1999 (Second Edition 2002); Images at Large. Studies on the History of Media Art in Poland, 1998; Avant-Garde. Theoretical Study, 1997; Film – Art of the Great Avant-Garde, 1990.
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