[ISEA96] Keynote: Jos de Mul – Networked Identities


Human communication has expanded enourmously in the past century. With the arrival of mass media such as film, illustrated magazines, radio and television, not only has the number of communication media forms significantly increased, but we can also see an enourmous growth in the range of such media throughout the world. The past decaces have produced the rampant growth of the latest shoot on this plant: computer-mediated networked communication. Media are no neutral way of communicating information, but they influence the way in which man thinks and feels, experiences himself, acts and treats others. Information technology, like previous forms of technology, serves to fashion not only objects outside ourselves but also human subjects. In his contribution De Mul will reflect on a crucial aspect of this relationship: the implications of computer-mediated communication for individual and collective identity. He will argue that the new electronic media put into practice post-modern deconstruction of the traditional, totalitarian concept of identity. At the interface of technology and imagination, one of the most important tasks of the electronic artist is to contribute to the construction and deconstruction of multiple identities.


‘Every decoding is another encoding’
_Morris Zapp

The Seventh International Symposium on Electronic Art, like the six that preceded it, covers a very broad domain. During the next five days, in an impressive number of lectures, panels, poster sessions and round table discussions recent developments in computer graphics, computer animation, computer music, video art, interactive art, including CD ROM and Internet applications, artistic applicatrons of robotics, computer aided literature and dance will be drscussed. However, there will be a special focus on two subjects: Networked Art and Education as a means to bridge the gap between artists and scientists. Focusing on these two sublects is not really surprising. The interest in networked art reflects the enormous growth of computer-medrated communication during the last decade, whereas the renewed interest in the relationship between art and science reflects the fact that the present day computer technology changes the relationship between art and science as It developed during the era of modernity in a fundamental way.
In this lecture I wiII discus a topic that – according to me – is highly relevant for both networked art and the changing relationship between art and science. I will present some philosophical
reflections on how information and communication technology affects both our personal and cultural identity. Information technology, I will argue, not only creates new oblects of  experience, but new subjects of experience as well. Information and communication technology turns out to be a laboratory for the construction of multiple human identities. For that reason it is more than just a new tool for artists and scientists. Taking refuge in an oxymoron we might call information technology for that reason an ontological technology. Information and communication technology not only creates new beings in the world, but also affects the conceptual framework we depend on in our understanding of these beings in a fundamental way.

  • dr. Jos de Mul, Netherlands, Philosophy Department, Erasmus University Rotterdam demul.nl/en/

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