[ISEA97] Paper: Sadhna Jain – Below the Surface: New Aesthetics and lmmersive Experiences for Trans-Cultural Groups


The presentation will examine the possibilities and approaches of artists and designers attempting to make new aesthetic forms in response to the emergence of spaces for culturally diverse groups in the electronic environment.The urgency for new aesthetics responds to the dynamic activities of cultural groups but also acknowledges the simultaneous transformation of the ‘narrative’ in the electronic environment worldwide.The processes for decentralised communications have enabled a level of subversion, political activism and cultural opposition proposing the destruction of a model for the dominant form in western contemporary society.Yet at the same time the evolution of electronic networking, virtual environments, and the increased engagement with interactivity to the point of submersion suggests a significant change in our understanding of cultural values, and even more radically devalues the presence and importance of the “object” If cultural values transcend representation of an enclosed social cultural canonization, will this new thinking of cultural practice and abandonment of the “object” in the electronic environment eventually supersede the current aggressive commodification of culture that ubiquitous technology permits? Important to this investigation is the exploration of”high”andlow” forms of media production, the differing levels of engagement for the audience and maker that defies a dependent relationship between pioneering scientific process and the success of the message especially for new virtual experiences. In particular notions of the”surface” will be examined in order to accredit claims for culturally specific aes-thetics and to reveal the evolving relationship of the aesthetic to the process of the virtual experience. Case studies will be drawn from both developing and western countries contrasting the perceptions and utilisation of wildly diverse technological processes in order to achieve new cultural forms which can sometimes surprisingly share common objectives and philosophies.

  • Sadhna Jain (UK) is an artist and designer in the field of elec­tronic media.The focus of her own academic and practical research debates the role of cultural identity within the technological environment and explores the opportunities for innovative solutions for culturally diverse groups. Active in both the art and design environments her approach to research and practice calls upon the knowl­edge of both subject areas in an attempt to confront and interplay cultural and technological ideas which often appear oppositional to each other.She is currently Course Leader of the postgraduate programme of electronic media studies at the University of Portsmouth U.K. and previous conferences and projects include ISEA94, Hypermedia in Education conference Finland, Video Positive festival U.K,Wired Women conference U.K, com­mission for British Television graphics and interface design for IMS Global services interactive products.