Welcome to Chicago, and to the School of the Art Institute.We are delighted and honored to be the hosts of ISEA97, which brings to Chicago a festival of the most innovative and exploratory work being created by the most pioneering artists and designer-practitioners, researchers, curators, engineers, equipment and software providers and philosophers.
Symposia like ISEA97 are increasingly important as we see the world of electronic imagery expand exponentially, its intimate interaction with humans increasing every day. At ISEA we have the opportunity to meet and speculate on quite what that elec-tronic embrace means, how we control it, how it affects and changes us, and on the role of new technologies as part of our artistic worlds and spiritual lives. Creative minds and powerful imaginations help us address these questions, maybe even offer hints of answers, show the most innovative ways to manipulate and enhance extant and emerging technologies and, in the studio-laboratories of places like this, to invent a picture of the future in these new “chambers of the imagination”.
When this School was founded, over 130 years ago, this city and most of America was still driven by horse-power and some rather basic steam-engines — electricity was a faint hope in the minds of visionaries. Few could have dreamed of the fantasy of what was to come, from electric street lights to milking machines, refrigeration, the telephone, radio, television, powered human flights, men on the Moon, satellites and a global communications network enabled by a miniaturized version of what the Victorians called “a difference engine” — the computer. In a school like this you will still find all the technologies and methodologies we taught 130 years ago, from pouring molten bronze to throwing clay on a wheel to drawing the nude model, but you will also find that the electronic arts are explored in studios side-by-side with those ‘old ways’: In 130 years, what of today’s “cutting edge” will still be viewed as having been innovative; what engines will have made a difference?
We all are still makers and shapers, but with a very different set of expressive tools, and at ISEA97 we all get to see what we have done with them, and what we might make them conjure next. Enjoy!
- Tony Jones (USA), President of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), USA