Eep. The year’s over! That might seem old news (God, we’re already a week into 08), but the sad thing is that to remember what I’ve been doing for the last few months I had to go back to my Flickr stream and -look- at the photographic evidence! Kind of cool…but not?

But before I get into what -has- happened, I’d like to talk about what is and -will- happen. I just spent a lovely evening at the soon-to-be-no-more Dr. Dremo’s in Arlington with a bunch of the Art Outlet volunteers, artists, other board members, and friends.

One of the reasons I was there was to talk about digital art shows and the imminent re-opening of my free space for Washington, DC artists and arts events in Second Life – the SintixErr Gallery. (About which Amanda Hess has written a great article: http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/display.php?id=34394 )

It looks like Art Outlet (the board of which I chair – at least for one more year!) will be, as a 501c(3) non-profit arts organization in DC, will be sponsoring an entire island in Second Life. My high level goals for the island will be to:

  • Provide a place for any DC-based artist to exhibit their work to worldwide audience
  • Host mixed-reality events in support of Art Outlet shows
  • Provide a central Second Life hosting capability for other DC arts organizations, museums, galleries, etc.
  • Allow for additional research into interesting ways to use virtual worlds to aid art through technology and technology through art.

There’s still no -monetary- sponsor for this (and it’s not a done deal till it’s done), but I can front the cost initially and hope through grants, donations, shows, and by way of small fees for other organizations to use the space, the area will support itself and break even.

In addition to the pure Second Life announcement, I’ve also been working on putting together (and participating in) one or more digital arts and technology shows in the DC area. These are still in their infancy, but there are a number of great, dedicated, reliable people working on them and I expect some cool event news to show up here in the next few months.

You can find more info here on what some of the participating artists’ thoughts on technology, culture, and art are in this thread:

http://artdc.org/forum/index.php?topic=7860.msg33345#msg33345

I’ll close out this post with my own thoughts from that thread:

I have two perspectives on technology’s role in culture, as it pertains to my art. First, I’ve always struggled with the concept that there is “technology” and “stuff that isn’t technology”. I never really believed that there was an inherent line there. The only thing that really rings true is Douglas Adams’ quote on the subject. He said something to the effect of “Technology means ‘stuff that isn’t quite working right yet'”. Pencils, oil paint, paper, cameras – they’re all technology. They’re absolutely the same thing as computers and any other digital mechanisms for interacting with human senses.

So, my first interest in technology, art, and culture is in the process of cultural integration of new technology into the “stuff that works” category. Things we forget about. I’m interested in the creation of and interaction with art that REFUSES to distinguish between itself and any other “old” tools used to create art. I like to see moving images framed behind museum quality glass hanging from a wall. I enjoy the idea of traditional tools being used as part of the creation of what would otherwise be considered “new technology” art.

Along these lines, I’m also fascinated by the artifical lines and boundaries we (humans) create to keep our perception of the universe coherent. Technology has always helped people do more better faster, but until the advent of science allowing long distance communication between people, our boundaries expanded, but tended to retain the same shapes. As people began to communciate over vast distances, however, our sense of “place” began to erode a little bit. TV accelerated that process, cell phones turned the process into an avalanche, and the internet looks like it might eradicate the bond between place and self altogether in our culture. Not only that, but with the variety of identities we are begining to maintain, our most basic sense of “self” is getting fuzzy. Who are we when we can “be” in multiple places at once. Who are we when we can be physically perceived by others in different ways at the same time? We have IM accounts, blog accounts, we exist (well, some of us ) in virtual worlds, etc. Part of how we perceive and understand who we are ourselves is by how we are reflected back by other people. What happens to us as our reflections become fractured and non-contiguous?

Art, over time, has often been used to explore our relationship – as people – to the universe around us. In my mind, these particular technologically-wrought changes in our culture are acute and our exploration of them as humans is well-served by doing so through art.

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