[ISEA97] Introduction: Shawn L. Decker, Chair ISEA97 – Welcome to ISEA97

Introductory Statement

Welcome to the Eighth International Symposium on Electronic Art! As conference chair, over the past two years I have watched this event grow from an idea shared by a small group of people into an extensive academic symposium and an exciting city-wide festival of exhibitions, performances, concerts, and other events.
The past several decades have been both an exciting and demanding time for artists who have been exploring the possibilities of new technologies. Given the tremendous technological changes taking place, a great deal of attention was necessarily placed upon the capabilities and new possibilities of developing technologies, software, and hardware, and the learning of new tools. However, we now seem to have reached a point where the capabilities and the widespread adaptation of these technologies have replaced many of these concerns with new ones. This “field” — which, for better or worse, has in the past often defined itself by its medium — is now beginning to transcend this limited definition, and exist much more within the mainstream of the fine arts.
Thus arose the theme for this year’s symposium,”Contenf,’ a theme which we hoped would encourage the discussion not of the medium or the tools themselves, but rather of what was being produced by artists, what was significant and important about this work, how ideas formed from electronic media were interacting and merging with those from more traditional media and art practice, and many other issues related not to how we use this technology, but rather to why.
The presentation of a conference and festival of the scope of ISEA97, particularly in these times of difficult funding for the arts, is quite an undertaking. Orchestrating an event of this size on a minimal budget requires dedication, hard work, and extra effort from not only many individuals within the School of the Art Institute, but also from those within all of the various cultural orga-nizations involved. While there are far too many people to list here, I would like to take a moment to acknowledge a number of key institutions and individuals:
First, and most important to our success, has been the support of the School of the Art Institute. President Tony Jones, Dean Carol Becker,Vice-President of Planning Jonathan Lindsay, and the entire school administration have been unwavering in their support of this event through both good and bad news. Also, needless to say, without all of our corporate sponsors, as well as the various consuls, foundations, and cultural partners listed on page 12, the conference could not have taken place. In particular, we are deeply indebted to the Graham Foundation and to the Goethe-Institut for their intellectual as well as financial support.
The members of our executive committee bore much of the responsibility in preparing for the events this week, and all played critical roles. Peter Gena and Michael Rodemer, the program co-directors, organized our hard-working and dedicated local and international program committees, and also worked very hard to put together the details of the week’s events. Anders Nereim, Katharine Schutta, Nancy Crouch, and Vicki Engonopoulos all made major contributions in so many different areas, I cannot begin to list them here. Also, Kathi Beste, Julia Allan, and the publications staff deserve a special mention, as does George Moses in the mail room, as I suspect we doubled their workload over the last few months, and they still managed to do a fabulous job. Sarai Hoffman, in the office of development, and Vicki Gates, who handled our registrations, both put in a lot of extra effort on our behalf. Also, special thanks to Melissa Moore, Syndy Ziegenfuss, Coco Sallee, and all of the others at Neoglyphics who worked so hard to provide us with our website. The Exhibitions and Events staff, Jeanne Long, Claire Broadfoot, Douglas Grew, Tony Wight, and all those involved in producing the exhibitions were absolutely fantastic to work with, and worked very hard to make these events a success. And finally, but without question most importantly, extra special thanks goes to our conference coordinator Jodle Rabion and to her assistant Heather Elliott, who both worked long hours and with incredible dedication and vision to do an exemplary job at holding everything together at the center of an incredible vortex of details and deadlines.
And finally, there are the more than three hundred presenters to thank for all the hard work they have done in preparation for this week. They are the ones who will literally provide the “content” of this symposium. The way in which all these individuals, and the many cultural organizations throughout the city have come together to make this a special week is amazing, and I am confident that you will have a very busy and rewarding week.

  • Shawn L. Decker, music professor, School of the Art Institute of Chicago and ISEA97 Chair