Article categories: ANAT ReportsIssue 60
January 24th, 2010

ISEA2004 was the 12th Symposium on Electronic Arts, organised for the first time in two capital cities and on a ferry that travelled between Helsinki, Stockholm, Mariehamn, and Tallinn. During this time, the Baltic Sea became the centre of electronic music, new media research, art and design.

'Radio Astronomy', a sound installation housed in an old astronomical observatory, Helsinki. Foreground, Tuomas Finne.

ISEA2004 featured a program that mixed electronic music with sound art, networking sessions, performances and interactive installations. ISEA2004 also operated to highlight the latest work in wireless, networked and wearable technologies in the cultural domain of new media. As the ISEA2004 website explained, the Symposiums key focus, was the culture of new technologies.

ANAT’s Workshop and Conference fund enabled me the opportunity to travel to Helsinki, Finland in August 2004 where I took on the role as production assistant intern for ISEA2004, volunteering alongside the Helsinki production assistant Toumas Finne.

For me this opportunity had the similarities of being an artist in residence, as I was catapulted into the international new media art scene, allowing me to personally and creatively associate with international new-media artists participating in ISEA2004.

The ISEA2004 event and my participation in it has been an invaluable experience on so many personal and artistic levels, including the professional development of my new-media art practice.

The experience I gained at ISEA2004 has already greatly benefited me and has led me to create new works, build new and exciting ‘international’ networks and enabled me to disseminate my experiences back to my art collective SHOOT, and other fellow artists I am associated with.

ISEA2004 allowed me to investigate conceptual ideas related to my art practice, as ISEA2004 was based around “new communication technologies and their relevance in contemporary societies”.

My art practice is creatively linked to many of the evolving art forms that were included as part of the artistic program, and discussed by professors, theorists, curators, researchers and architects who also attended ISEA2004, from all over the world.

Participation in the Event
provided me with an opportunity that placed me in direct collaborative relationships with the contributing artists of ISEA2004. With direction from the executive producer Amanda McDonald Crowley, and producer Hanna Harris, I was able to work alongside artists associated with the projects in the Public Spaces Programme (City of Helsinki), the area of art practice that I have been interested in and working on in Australia.

Some of these artists included New Zealanders Adam Hyde and Honor Harger and the ‘Boys from Bandung’, Gustaff H. Iskandar, Pumpung Wratmoko, R.E. Hartanto, and Wahyu Sulasmoro who I first met on a balcony overlooking a beautiful Helsinki city lake, in an historic building owned by the government and maintained as artists residences. The Bandung artists were from the Bandung Centre for New Media Arts in Indonesia, and were undertaking a six-week residency with assistance from the Helsinki International Arts Programme.

Later I visited their exhibition City Tour in which they juxtaposed their hometown special environments alongside those of Helsinki’s, utilisation photographs, everyday objects and video projections. “In City Tour the city is observed as a structure similar to human anatomy, which is a complex construction of numerous super-structures.”

I also worked on the Adam Hyde, Honor Harger project Radio Astronomy helping to set up the equipment required for their sound installation, which broadcasted sounds from space live, on air and online, in the darkened dome of the historical Observatory of the URSA Astronomical Association in Kaivopuisto, Helsinki.

Adam and Honor have created software that converts signals gathered from space by radio telescopes into soundwaves. The sounds were beautiful, eerie and amazing to hear, ranging from sharp cracks, pops and whistles to sounds reminiscing of the deep cries of whales. This project was a very moving and interesting experience.

I was also able to meet and assist Slovenian artist Marko Peljhan, the creator of Makrolab whose major installation was on display in Kiasma, the Helsinki’s Museum of Contemporary Art. Makrolab is an ongoing project based around an autonomous communications, research and living unit/space, capable of sustaining concentrated work of four people in isolation/insulation conditions for up to 120 days. Kiasma also hosted Light Rain a fusion work by USA artists Rebecca Cummins and Paul De Marinis, and an interactive installation by Zona de Recreo.

ISEA2004 Ferry program CRUISE, Helsinki, Mariehamn, Stockholm, Tallinn.
I was also a participant on the ISEA2004 Ferry program CRUISE aboard the Ferry Opera, travelling to Sweden and Estonia, both in a working capacity (delivering and loading equipment) as a participant in the conference program. Here I was able to witness live events such as Lifeboat, a functional Biological Laboratory within a fully enclosed ship’s lifeboat, mounted on board, and many more artists, VJ’s, sound artists and musicians.

Building Networks and Information Dissemination
ISEA2004 brought me into direct contact with international new media artists and administrators through working relationships, and allowed me to experience first hand this high profile event. This invaluable experience, and expansion of my international professional networks, has equipped me with skills and contacts that I am beginning to make great use of here in Australia, both as a contributing artist with SHOOT, and as project officer with the Helpmann Academy. Additionally, the experienced has inspired myself and the other members of SHOOT to develop a new photo-media exhibition for the 2005 Adelaide Fringe.

There were so many more artists, events and experiences that I haven’t mentioned including ISEA2004’s participation in the amazing Koneisto Festival. At present I am working toward taking an exhibition of South Australian artists to Helsinki in 2006, with the idea of reciprocating exhibitions every two years.

My sincere thanks goes to all the ANAT staff who made it possible, Julianne, Charity, Alison and Patrick, and all ISEA2004 staff, Amanda Mc Donald Crowley, Hanna Harris, Suvi, Lars, and especially Toumas for his untiring support.

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