Thursday, May 29, 2008

How Big a Bang Will "Berkeley Big Bang" Be?

It's almost here: Berkeley Big Bang '08. For me, that means two solid days of immersion in New Media art, in which (as the 2.3 regular readers of this blog will remember) I believe myself to be keenly interested. This may turn out to be the ultimate test, however; I'll either come out of this energized and motivated from two full days with "my tribe," or depressed and anxious about whether or not I'm really interested in moving in this direction.

It's such a big direction, you see. "New Media" continues to be wildly loosely defined. I was initially concerned when I felt like I couldn't accurately define it (see my previous post, What the Hell is New Media Now?), but it appears that slippery slope affects the organizers of this conference as well. Just scanning the program, it seems to be video, video installation, photographic installation, Second Life, "networked embodiment," film, alternative reality games, performance, music, digital design, and art/science interaction. There is a lot of emphasis on social networks and connection, sensuality, and experience. That word, experience, seems to pop up a lot.

The connection I'm making from all this is, maybe "New Media" is about how we experience the world in a new way that is unique to this particular technological epoch. I'm already lurching off in that direction to a certain extent. I'm either on to something, or I'm a day late and a dollar short. I suppose this conference will help me figure that out.

Day 1's theme is "Embodiment: New Media and the Body" and features a lot of talking about Second Life, including a presentation by Philip Rosedale, SL's founder. On Day 2, the theme is "Remix: From Science to Art and Back in the Digital Age." If you want to know more about the conference, you can check out the web site; the charge for attending is an incredibly measly $3 per day.

Immediately following Berkeley Big Bang is "01SJ: A Global Festival of Art on the Edge" in San Jose. If I'm not festivaled out, I might roll down that way Saturday or Sunday and check it out. San Jose seems to be working hard these days to position itself as a meaningful dot on the Bay Area art map. Even so, I'm not entirely sure who this festival targets. Ticket prices suggest that there's a "fundraising" focus in place: $75 for a day pass, or $125 for a "VIP Festival Pass." And it's not entirely clear what this covers aside from admission to all the arts venues you can make yourself get to during your day. Most broke artists, like myself, will probably go for the "Museum Pass" which covers admission to SJMA, the Tech and "Future Films" at Camera 12, and is a whopping $15. That works for me.

You can learn more about "Zero1," as the marketers are trying to get us to call it, by going to the official festival web site.

How big a bang will Berkeley Big Bang be? Well, I dunno. I'm still doing what I do and trying to expand it. Big Bang may indeed be a Big Bang for me, or it may just leave me feeling banged up.

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