Panel: Architecture and Media : Saturday December 9

This was a panel dealing with architecture and "the changing perception and experience of (public) space." The format of the panel was to allow each panelist a chance to present their work and talk about it's relevance. Following this was a discussion led by the moderator as well as questions from the audience. Despite the presence of engaging panelists who are doing some really interesting work, it seemed difficult to really delve into anything in detail. This was mainly because panelists had very little time with which to sum up their obviously extensive work. As a result the discussion that followed was a non-event. I'm not sure why this panel was as rushed as it was. Perhaps, a previous panel went over time. I just couldn't help wondering what this panel would have been like with more time and a less structured approach.

Individual Presentation: Orlan: Sunday December 10

Orlan is best known for her performance/operations in which she uses plastic surgery to modify her body. Her goal was to take on the characteristics of various idealized women in art such as Mona Lisa, Botticelli's Venus and Geromeis' Psyche. She has also had cheek implants inserted in her temples, giving her the appearance of having horns. As stated in her Carnal Art Manifesto, "the body has become a modified ready-made."

Orlan was clearly one of the more talked about presenters at ISEA. The room was packed and everyone paid attention when she spoke. She was there to present her CD-ROM which was a compilation of her work. To anyone already familiar with her work this was nothing more than an opportunity to see her in person. For others it was a chance to see beyond the misconceptions that surround her. Reactions were mixed. Some thought she was self obsessed and just out to shock, while others were impressed with her approach. Everybody has an opinion of her but no matter how you see it one thing is clear. Orlan has people thinking and debating her work.

Undoubtedly, there is a huge need to step aside from our daily lives, to look around us and take a meaningful look at our use of technology. Despite the constraints of time and space, ISEA2000 provided the opportunity for this. Would it have been more effective if it had more time? Somehow, I doubt it. It's not a question of time, but the best possible use of the time available. Perhaps as artists experiment with new forms of expression, we too should look to new forms of discourse that will facilitate understanding on a basis that is relevant to its participants.

Philippa Pires, 3/01