In praise of Australia. Moi. Moi.
> Nina Czegledy

In the month of February, 2002, as a guest of Anat (Australian Network for Art and Technology), travelling across the continent, I was impressed both by new media initiatives and ongoing projects. This subjective report of my explorations traces some aspects of Australian new media culture.

These days Australian artists, theorists and interdisciplinary scientists play a leading role in the area of art, science and technology as Julianne Pierce, director of Anat observed in the latest edition of the Anat Newsletter.

According to well established rumours, the third ISEA held in Sydney(1992), is credited as a major contributing factor to the rapid development of electronic arts in Australia.

Before any of my digital encounters are described, I would like to introduce a decidedly analog experience.

The journey began with my participation in the Solar Circuit residency/ workshop in TASMANIA. In early February, thirty-five Solar participants (and a colossal amount of luggage) took the ferry to Maria Island. This former penitentiary site with strictly limited amount of electricity and no phone lines, became for ten days, the unlikely but very happy site of our residency. Imagine getting up from a bunkbed in the morning to walk among assembled kangaroos, wallabies and gray geese (not speaking of snakes) across the meadow to the showers. On day-hikes cameras snapped and sound recorders clicked, while the kitchen detail stormed up big pots of delicious dinners. Speedy Lyllie Sue and Jim Bell from Montreal seemed to scale all the island mountains at a breakneck pace - which might have been the appropriate preparation for their Cybermaid/StudioXX webcast on their return to Hobart. Lester Chan interviewed participants for his Hong Kong project while Norie Neumark and Maria Miranda worked on their Journey to the Center of the Earth collaboration. Several of us -lead by Austrian Mexx Seidel and August Black - participated in the development of the new "O-ish" language. It is a bit difficult to describe this complex linguistic adventure, suffice to say that on our return to HOBART, we all contributed poems, performances and texts, to the joint "O-ish" Fundamental Radio program broadcast in Vienna. Moi, moi as they say good-by in "O-ish".

The Wild2002 exhibition, a special Solar feature, showcased an impressive range of international artists, including David Rokeby, Nigel Helyer, Ken Gregory, Keith Armstrong, Andrew Burrell, Ian Clothier, Martin Welch and others. This beautiful show of installations at the Bond Store, Tasmanian Museum&Art Gallery, presented a landmark event in Tasmania where digital art is in an emerging phase.

Solar Circuit, was built on the Polar residency traditions of Lapland initiated by Tapio Makela six years ago. In Australia it was coordinated by Antoanetta Ivanova, Sophea Lerner and Andrew Burrell in collaboration with local organizations. "Netloft", a raw workshop space, fixed up with computers by local supporters, networked by participants and utilizing a single phone line, was the principal site of our activities. Some of us also worked in the media lab of the newly equipped art school, where successful workshops and presentations were organized daily. Tulle Ruth introduced us to the Speaking Mountain project of Bergen, Norway. Sonic Objects were presented by Nigel Helyer, Kene Gregory's workshop lead us into the mysteries of Max, Tapio Makela and I promoted participation in ISEA2002 and ISEA2004 and so on. The list of all the interesting presentations and project from Australia and the rest of the world are too long to include here. The congenial, stimulating atmosphere throughout this residency proved once more the importance of the (physical) collective experience of temporary media labs. Watch out for future Polar/Solar plans.

In MELBOURNE, the Australian Centre for the Moving Image hosted my stay. Alessio Cavallaro, producer and curator of New Media projects at ACMI (formerly Cinemedia) showed me around town and organized the Cross-Circuits, new media artists forum, with the participation of Mark Amerika, internet performer, artist and writer (presenting on "re: source") myself talking on new media collaborations and moderated by Adrian Miles. The Center is poised to move into the newly built Federation Square complex. ACMI is promoted as Australia's premier exhibition and discussion centre for screen-based arts, showcasing all forms of the moving image including video, television, film, digital multimedia and online experiences. A large exhibition space will house commissioned work as well as temporary exhibitions, conferences are being programmed and a walk-in public access video library is opening soon.


Wild2002 exhibition, installation - Tasmanian Museum&Art
Nigel Helyer

Words: Nina Czegledy
Place:Tasmania, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide
Time: 2.02

Adelaide Festival of Arts
Anat, Australian Network for Art and Technology
Brisbane Powerhouse
Institute of Modern Art IMA
Molly Hankwitz and David Cox
The WILD New Media Project
Solar Circuit
Speaking Mountains
Sonic Objects
Net Radio Broadcast featuring Funda_mental (Austria)
Australian Centre for the Moving Image
Biennale of Electronic Arts, Perth
PICA, Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts Ltd.