[ISEA96] Introduction: Wim van der Plas — Preface to the ISEA96 Book of Abstracts/Art Catalogue

Introductory Statement

Welcome to the Seventh International Symposium on Electronic Art. This Book of Abstracts contains abstracts of the Papers, Panels, Posters and Institutional Presentations as well as
artists’ statements on the works in the Exhibition, the Electronic Theater and the Concerts & Performances. Besides that, there are introductions to the Workshops & Tutorials as well as the Round Tables.
Some of these items may need a little bit of explanation. ‘Posters’ are a regular part of many academic conferences. Close to the original meaning of the word, the I SEA Poster Sessions should ideally take place at the exhibition site, where artists talk about their work. However, ISEA96 only has a small exhibition at the Symposium site *). That is why the Posters are held in the conference rooms. They are distinguished by their content: in Posters particular works of art or art projects are the subject matter. Round Tables are discussions without a ‘passive’ audience. If you go to a Round Table session, you are expected to contribute to the discussion.

The ISEA96 Symposium program contains a large amount of presentations. Most of the programme consists of parallel sessions. That is why you are advised to study this Book of Abstracts in order to choose your own ‘route’ through the program. Many presentations will be short, 20 minutes, only allowing for five minutes of discussion. Both the speakers and the session chair are instructed to stay within the allotted time. We hope it will all work out as planned and we wish you a good Symposium.

*)The larger exhibit is held at the Netherlands Institute of Photography, and is organized by V2 and R96, partly drawing on the exhibition proposals received by ISEA96


I want to use this opportunity to draw your special attention to the closing session of the Symposium, the ISEA Plenary. Each year this session is organized by the Inter-Society for the Electronic Arts (‘ISEA International’). It is meant to be an evaluation of the current Symposium as well as an announcement of the next two Symposia (1997: Chicago, 1998: Liverpool/ Manchester). Also, proposals for later Symposia can be made public at the I SEA Plenary.
This year, the ISEA Plenary will be special. After the very successful Symposium in Montreal, last year, the organisers have managed to obtain support from the government in Canada in order to maintain an ISEA office in Montreal. This means that after 6 years of very problematic functioning in the Netherlands, where no support was available for the Inter-Society, ISEA International starts a new life in Canada. The idea is to keep our Head Quarters in Canada for the next five years, after which we hope it will move to another location in the world, for another five years, etc. So, this year’s ISEA Plenary will be marked by a virtual handing over of the torch. At the Plenary, the plans on the future of the Inter-Society for the Electronic Arts will
be presented. We wish Montreal the best of luck and we urge all participants to come to the Plenary.


Originally the 7th ISEA Symposium was appointed to the Rotterdam Art School (part of the Rotterdam Regional College, HRO). However, shortly after ISEA95, they decided to withdraw. It was too late to ask another city to start organizing ISEA96 from scratch. This left the Inter-Society with only two alternatives: cancel ISEA96 or organise it without institutional backing and without means.
After support from Rotterdam City Development Corporation and Rotterdam Festivals was secured, we decided to continue ISEA96 in Rotterdam, with Wimfred Grashoff as the new Executive Director. However, much precious time was lost and fund raising had to be done by
the new ‘Foundation ISEA96’. Potential financial sponsors knew supporting this new foundation carried a risk, and that worked, to an extend, as a self fulfilling prophecy. We were not able to raise the planned budget and had to cancel several plans. This also explains why, for example,
there is no free coffee, tea or lunch for the Symposium participants. We are very sorry about this. We have tried to find reasonable solutions tor these and other kinds of problems (coupons for lunches, coffee, tea and beverages are for sale at the registration desk and you are encouraged to make use of these).
A growing team of volunteers and students has helped to organise ISEA96. Many of them very young and inexperienced, but learning quickly as they went along. I want to thank them all very much.

In any case, we hope you have a really good time this week.

Wim van der Plas (NL) was first Executive Director, then Programme Chair of ISEA96