[ISEA2011] Panel: Dew Har­ri­son (moderator) – Travels Through Hyper-Liminality: Exploring the space where digital meets the real

Panel Statement

Chair Per­son: Dew Har­ri­son
Pre­sen­ters: Paul Ser­mon, Ian Gwilt, Julie Pen­fold, Denise Doyle & Anita McK­e­own

On the thresh­old of cross­ing over being nei­ther real nor vir­tual, an os­cil­la­tion be­tween two states of ex­is­tence, on­line-of­fline, awake but dream­ing in a sub-con­scious­ness state, the bub­ble be­tween start­ing and ar­riv­ing, the in-be­tween, a dis­ap­pear­ance, the third space … Con­sid­er­ing the di­verse de­ter­mi­na­tions as to what the lim­i­nal means in our dig­i­tally dri­ven cul­ture this panel asks ‘To what ex­tent are artists dig­i­tally fa­cil­i­tat­ing con­vivial spaces where par­tic­i­pants can en­gagewith and co-cre­ate an art work?’. Six dif­fer­ent ap­proaches are dis­played within the panel ex­per­tise to in­ter­ro­gate dig­i­tally fa­cil­i­tated lim­i­nal­ity as ei­ther a trans­for­ma­tive space of cre­ative tran­scen­dence, or a con­vivial and so­cial space where art can hap­pen. Dig­i­tal media and new tech­nol­ogy is re­con­fig­ur­ing our re­la­tion­ship with the world and is also af­fect­ing how artists re­late with their pub­lic. Now tech­nolo­gies can help to po­si­tion art into the every­day of peo­ple’s lives and ac­tiv­i­ties, out­side the gallery space. Dig­i­tally en­abled new spaces have opened up where artists can en­gage with au­di­ences in a par­tic­i­pa­tory ex­pe­ri­ence. Within the cityscapes of our urban en­vi­ron­ments ‘Big brother’ media and cctv sur­veil­lance allow for few in­for­mal, un­governed so­cial meet­ing places so it is the cre­ation of in­ter­stices be­tween the for­mal con­structed and ob­served so­cial spaces that artists are in­ter­ested in, where un­ortho­dox art can hap­pen and en­gage di­rectly with its au­di­ence. Dig­i­tal media pro­vides such re­la­tional op­por­tu­ni­ties but as vir­tual plat­forms where ac­cess­ing them means step­ping from one world to the other, a con­cep­tual mov­ing from one state of being to an­other. Con­tra to hu­man-to-avatar ex­pe­ri­ence, vir­tual ob­jects are trans­formed into a solid ma­te­ri­al­ity by cross­ing this thresh­old. The thresh­old is then a magic al­chem­i­cal space, an in­ter­stice be­tween the real and the vir­tual, a mo­ment of change, of be­com­ing other.  Artists con­tinue to ex­plore the no­tion of the ‘lim­i­nal’ that has arisen with the evo­lu­tion of dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy. Through this panel we hope to fur­ther in­ter­ro­gate cur­rent con­tem­po­rary un­der­stand­ings of this amor­phous state of pres­ence by gen­er­at­ing dis­cus­sion and ar­gu­ment around its na­ture.
Ques­tions to be raised:

  1. Does cross­ing the thresh­old from real to vir­tual spaces re­quire a trans­for­ma­tive ob­ject or is this a mat­ter of re­fram­ing our con­scious self-aware­ness?
  2. Can dig­i­tally en­hanced ma­te­r­ial spaces allow a phys­i­cal step through to an ‘other’ ex­pe­ri­ence?
  3. How do we freeze the mo­ment of such pass­ing to ac­knowl­edge our changed state of con­scious being?
  4. Is lim­i­nal­ity a nec­es­sary and pos­i­tive at­tribute to mod­ern life in our tech­no­cratic cul­ture?
  • Dew Har­ri­son is a Pro­fes­sor of Dig­i­tal Media Art and Di­rec­tor of CADRE, the Cen­tre for Art and De­sign Re­search And Ex­per­i­men­ta­tion at the Uni­ver­sity of Wolver­hamp­ton, UK, where she works as the As­so­ci­ate Dean for Re­search and Post­grad­u­ate Stud­ies in the School of Art and De­sign.  As a prac­tis­ing artist with a PhD from CAIIA (Cen­tre for Ad­vanced In­quiry in the In­ter­ac­tive Arts), her work con­tin­ues to ex­plore a the­o­ret­i­cally in­formed com­puter-me­di­ated ap­proach to the ter­ri­tory be­tween art, tech­nol­ogy and con­scious­ness stud­ies in order to po­si­tion a par­tic­i­pa­tory con­cept-based art prac­tice. This in­volves se­man­ti­cally as­so­ci­at­ing ideas and con­cepts into non-lin­ear mul­ti­me­dia form and dig­i­tal out­comes have been shown both in the UK and in­ter­na­tion­ally.  She con­sid­ers the di­a­logue be­tween the vir­tual (dig­i­tal) realm and the real world, as a se­man­tic space for cre­ative ex­plo­ration.  With over 50 pub­li­ca­tions to date, she is reg­u­larly in­vited to pre­sent at con­fer­ences con­cern­ing Con­scious­ness Stud­ies, Cu­ra­tion and Archiv­ing, Dig­i­tal Art, Art His­tory, In­ter­ac­tive Gam­ing, and Muse­ol­ogy. Her prac­tice is often col­lab­o­ra­tive as ex­am­pled in her most re­cent in­stal­la­tion work ‘Shift-Life’ where she worked with two pro­gram­mers and an an­i­ma­tor. This piece was com­mis­sioned by Shrews­bury Mu­seum Ser­vices for the In­ter­na­tional Dar­win Bi­cen­te­nary, and funded by Arts Coun­cil Eng­land.        pva.org.uk                  wlv.ac.uk/research/institutes-and-centres/cadre—centre-for-art-design-research-and-expe/