[SISEA] Introduction: Wim van der Plas — The Second International Symposium on Electronic Art (SISEA): Report and Introduction

Introductory Statement

Introduction to a selection of SISEA papers, that appeared in Leonardo, Vol. 24, #5, 1991.

The Second International Symposium on Electronic Art (SISEA), organized by Groningen Polytechnic, was held 12-16 November 1990 in Groningen, The Netherlands. It consisted of a 3-day scientific symposium, eight workshops (on computer animation, computer music, semantics and artificial intelligence) and a large number of general events.

This symposium was preceded, 2 years earlier, by the First Interiional Symposium on Electronic Art (FISEA). The idea for these Symposia was conceived by the Foundation for Creative Computer Applications. The aim was to create a structure for a more systematic and scientific approach towards the development of the electronic arts. The symposia play an instrumental role it in the realization of this aim, and during the time between the two symposia an umbrella organization for the electronic arts was founded: the Inter-Society for the Electronic Arts (ISEA). ISEA is still in its infancy, but it has the potential to grow into a strong and influentual body. During the last afternoon of SISEA, board members and supporters of the ISEA met in a forum during a plenary meeting. Members of the forum represented, among others, Ars Electronica, ISAST, SIGGRAPH, Australian Network for Art and Technology (ANAT) and Art Science Technology Network (ASTN) . These organizations (as well as for example the Computer Music Association) helped realize both FISEA and SISEA, and it is hoped, for the growth of the electronic arts, that this cooperation will continue and intensify.

The scientific portion of SISEA consisted of the following parts: (1) invited and juried papers, selected by the International Program Committee and including several panel sessions; (2) institutional presentations, during which organizations and institutes from all fields of the electronic arts were represented; (3) poster sessions, during which artists lectured about their work. During the scientific symposium, specialists in computer graphics (among others, Edward Zajec and Copper Giloth) and in computer music (among others, Peter Beyls and Goffredo Haus) appeared side by side. To emphasize the importance of the integration of both disciplines, the program committee invited John Whitney, Sr., to give the keynote address. One of the ways SISEA tried to give equal weight to both art and science was to invite some of the electronic art performers at SISEA to present papers during the scientific symposium, in addition to their performances at the Night of Concerts and Performances. In this regard, the contributions by the Australian artist Stelarc and the American computer musician Michael McNabb were unique. In addition to Stelarc and McNabb, Stephen Pope and Zack Settel (both U.S.A.), Zbigniew Karkowski (Sweden), Tim Gruchy (Australia) and several other artists performed during SISEA’s Night of Concerts and Performances. Other general events included an art exhibition, a film and video show, a special video program in a ‘video pavillion’ (built by Italian architect Tschumi with the specific aim of showing music videos), a try-out Performance by Stelarc in the same pavilion, ‘Two Bit Art’ daily changing images, made by SISEA delegates, shown on a large electronic bulletin board in the city center, a television broadcast and some public debates.

SISEA has been documented in many ways. Leonardo publishes the following three selections from the SISEA proceedings: Sally Pryor, “Thinking of Oneself as a Computer”; Stelarc, “Prosthetics, Robotics and Remote Existence: Postevolutionary Strategies”; and John Whitney, Sr., “Fifty Years of Composing Computer Music and Graphics: How Time’s New Solid-State Tractability Has Changed Audio-Visual Perspectives. The full SISEA proceedings are now available, along with the abstracts (including the exhibition catalogue), the SISEA Exhibition Slide Set and the Best of SISEA videotape.

  • Wim van der Plas (sociologist, educator), managing director of SCAN, Academie Minerva, Rijkshogeschool Groningen, Westerhavenstraat 13, Groningen, The Netherlands. SISEA Executive Director, Co-Founder Inter-Society for the Electronic Arts. Former managing director of Foundation for Creative Computer Applications (SCCA), Rotterdam, NL.