Chair Persons: Scott Rettberg & Simon Biggs Presenters: Ruth Catlow, James Leach, Talan Memmott & Jill Walker Rettberg
Whilst creativity is often perceived as the product of the individual artist, or creative ensemble, it can also be considered an emergent phenomenon of communities, driving change and facilitating individual or ensemble creativity. Creativity can be a performative activity released when engaged through and by a community and understood as a process of interaction. The model of the solitary artist, producing artefacts that embody creativity, can be contested as the ideal method to achieve creative outcomes. The proposition is that creativity is an activity of exchange that enables people and communities. We do not propose creativity as instrumental, arising from a perceived need and seeking to deliver a solution or product, nor as a supply-side “blue skies” ideal, but as an emergent property of communities. John Searle defines social ontology as “both created by human actions and attitudes but at the same time (having) an epistemically objective existence and … part of the natural world”. Our proposition is that social ontology, the space of interactions where individuals and collectives shape one another, exists as an autopoiesis, an emergent creative space. The Internet has been an agent of change in the way we communicate and share information and it has subsequently affected the manner in which communities form. The advent of Web 2.0 has facilitated a materialisation of the internet as a social space. As both an augmenting and representational technology, the internet allows insight into how these processes unfold. Individuals and collectives can now emerge, shift and shape themselves within the dynamic communications spaces (protocols) that define what we now understand the internet to be, each possessing a distinctive discursive and ontological character. Electronic literature and the digital arts are exemplary of creative practices that cross media and cultural divides. The media employed by practitioners in these domains are intrinsically convergent, technically and culturally. These practitioners are often highly technically literate and, in some instances, have contributed to the development of the technologies that they, and others, employ. Practitioners working in these fields have often developed their aims and methods through interacting with one another within online creative communities.
- Scott Rettberg, the project leader of ELMCIP (Electronic Literature as a Model of Creativity and Innovation in Practice), is associate professor of Digital Culture at the University of Bergen (N). Rettberg is the cofounder of the Electronic Literature Organization, served as the organization’s first executive director from 1999-2001, and was a co-editor of the Electronic Literature Collection, Vol. 1. He is the coauthor of The Unknown, a Hypertext Novel (1998-2001) and The Unknown, an Anthology (2002), and the author of Kind of Blue (2003), a serial novel for email. Rettberg has a Ph.D. in English from the University of Cincinnati, USA, an M.A. in Fiction Writing from Illinois State University, USA and a B.A. in English and Philosophy from Coe College, USA.
- Simon Biggs is a visual artist born in Australia, 1957. He moved to the UK in 1986. Since 1978 Biggs has been working with digital and interactive systems in installation, networked and other media. Venues presenting his work include Tate Modern, Whitechapel, Institute of Contemporary Arts (London), Ikon (Birmingham), Centre de Georges Pompidou, Academy de Kunste and Kulturforum (Berlin), Rijksmuseum Twenthe, Macau Arts Museum, Cameraworks (San Francisco), Walker Art Center, Paco des Artes (Sao Paulo), Museo OI (Rio De Janeiro), McDougall Art Gallery (Christchurch), Experimental Art Foundation (Adelaide) and the Art Gallery of New South Wales. He has been keynote at numerous international conferences, most recently at Cornell University’s 2010 annual Society for the Humanities Conference. Publications include Autopoeisis (with James Leach, Artwords, 2004), Halo (Film and Video Umbrella, 1998), Magnet (McDougall Art Gallery, 1997) and CD-ROMs Book of Shadows and Great Wall of China (Ellipsis, 1996 and 1999). He is Professor at Edinburgh College of Art, UK.