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Personal Cinema Warport | Main / OnThePresentationAtMedialab browse
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Hyper War art

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OnThePresentationAtMedialab

Katerina Gregos :

Who are you?

Stewart Ziff

we are not invested in the economic & social capital of self identity associatedwith idea, stylistic convention and the expressive manner of solo authorship. ...Personal Cinema is a space of discourse & exchange.

Ilias Marmaras :

Part of the artistic practices as perceived within the frame of P.C is to put(constantly ?) the question of the possibility of group space as a re-examination of the necessities of artistic and cultural identity. If 20th century art practices resulted in blurring art and life, the artists and the public in an orgy of art consumption,(for the finality of commercial practices like advertising) present time asks desperately for cultural cleansing and demand specific releases from roles and myths that keep art actitioners of any kind and any media, from being able to work in the fluid stream of the dominant global networks. The role of the individual either as artist or as spectator is to be reconsidered and there are no particular disciplines in the schools of fine arts that pose by definition the necessary arsenal for those purposes.


Katerina Gregos :

In your group mission statement you mention that Personal Cinema was formed out of the necessity to address some particular problems associated with the production, exhibition and distribution of new media. What do you think these problems are and how do you attempt to address them?

Alex Spyropoulos :

That was only one of our mistakes!

Stewart Ziff :

works of new media have no guarantee of longevity to their presence either as object or manifest experience, being as they are, dependent at any time on a relationship to certain technologies 'of the moment' ... it is not possible to apply old strategies of economy that invest in the archival stability of the work of expression to support activity,exhibition and presentation – this “necessity” you ask about arises in part from the matter of there being nothing intrinsic to 'collect', disseminate and formally critique as "objet d'art".

Ilias Marmaras :

Well.. there are many problems related to this question, concerning both ‘’old art’’practices and new media ones. P.C tries to focus within some of them. For instance, technological innovations have established new rules for engagement with a public that has become accustomed to increasingly frenetic and effortless media. The amply demonstrated utility of the new media for the purposes of marketing now motivates creative practices that short-circuit, parody, deflate, and digress from the imperatives of consumption. While relevant distribution systems are clearly in a state of flux, historical parallels with the emergence of film and radio would lead us to believe that this fluid condition will not last. What would it mean for digital media and distribution systems to assume a stable configuration? Would such a configuration be something other than an apotheosis of marketing? Would it more resemble extreme sports, violent video games,or the archive of artifacts that are conventionally known as cinema? (see more at PC’s distribution systems text.)

Stelios Gianoulakis :

Distribution structures tend to violently enclose creativity in forms that may use some kind of artistic pretext but generally remain determined by a web of interests clearly detatched from the need for artistic expression itself. Turning this situation on its head,P.C. uses the idea of the network itself as the material to be reprocessed, articulated and structured within the process of artistic creation.


Katerina Gregos :

How would you describe your working method both in terms of the use of new media and as a collaborative group?

Ilias Marmaras :

New media, are technological products ,thus, to my point of view, they belong to the big family of ‘’machinery’’ of the western world that had been invented and evolved in the middle of the battlefield. It is not without a meaning that in English the word shooting is used to describe both a gun’s action and a camera’s function. There is no space for authors (auteur) in such a field. New media artists are editors engaged in a large context that demands a permanent status of interrelations.Sometimes fights or civil wars within the group of people involved happen too.Just to give an example:’’ Alex stop putting your name always first at the answers line.’’

Stewart Ziff :

akin to kindergarten, but not kindergarten !

Alex Spyropoulos :

The line that differentiates the two mentioned factors is obscure. The new media working method is the one, which dictates the collaborative work. There are so many areas for work within the multimedia that it is certainly not a one-man-show. Of course this doesn't mean that it's easy to work as a group, especially when we are not using any particular working method.

Stewart Ziff :

entropic ! ...akin to cinema, but not cinema, akin to broadcast, but not broadcast,akin to theatre, but not theatre, akin to soccer, but not soccer, akin to rock'n'roll, but not rock'n'roll. Each player in the group contributes their differing ideas as vectors of action and perspective, & their varying skills with craft & studio practice to project & enterprise (a shifting whole of moving boundaries). We recognize implicitly that no one is skilled in all the areas of practical necessity with the tools and technologies of new media ... it is the collective capital of skill that allows us to develop potentially mature work.


Katerina Gregos :

Can you briefly outline some of your previous projects and their principal areas of interest.

Ilias Marmaras :

Personal cinema has organised a number of collaborative events outside established or expected institutional venues. "Video Show" (1999), for example, brougth together a group of contemporary visual artists who often choose to work with/in spaces that are not "artistic"but are ruther areas where intense everyday activities,commerce, and city rhythms are in evidence.This event showcased a selection of video works in the front windows of electrical goods shops in central Athens.Since this took place in a pablic area ,store employees,customers,office worker s from the adjoining buildings all became ,in a sense visitors to the show. One feature of the show was that it did not alter the appearence of ,or interfere with, the normal function of these shops.

"Glimpses" (2001), on the other hand , was proposed to various artists from around Europe as a web project in which they could comment of the events of 9/11 and it's consequences.As the media spectacle continued to rage, Personal Cinema wondered whether artistic responses to the events could serve as the starting point for a contructive discourse that addressed the causes of terrorism.


Katerina Gregos :

"The Making of the Balkan Wars: The Game", which you will be presenting at the New Media Lab, is a multi-disciplinary project which fuses the visual and performing arts and the use of new media; it makes use of the formal characteristics of the epic adventure video game as a metaphor for the geo-political "games" that occur in reality, with a focus on the Balkan region. What does the project consist of and how does it operate? How does it fuse experiment, critique and play?

Alex Spyropoulos :

.....The Balkana city is full of critique primary focusing on the internal structure of the Balkan territory, the relations with the internal and external "other", the outside pressure and intervention. This last argument is the argument that makes the Balkan reality very similar to the structure that is used for the construction of a video game, since Balkanism is one of the primary objectives of many strategic imaginary constructions. That's why the video game approach is essential to understanding and communicating with the Balkan territory -especially if you transform the metaphor to a god like video game (*). The balkana city is trying to focus on many factors that transform and create the Balkans: all the empires that ruled the area from the Byzantine era to the current Occidentalism, the crossroad of the religions, the struggling for self identification, the social whole that is excluding the person and many more. The new media is just a vehicle with G.P.S.(Global Positioning System).

(*) Where the player plays with the avatars while s/he is trying to conquer the world.

Stewart Ziff :

a Babel like world of multi-linguistic, multi-theocratic, oppositional forces in which there are no evident pathways to any evident goals and in which there is a no obvious distinction between either 'good' or 'bad' and constructive or destructive action.the heroic and the despotic become one in labyrinth of ever shifting historical reference.

Ilias Marmaras :

The so-called “New Media” are mainly the new medium of administration of memory in general. The Balkans or in other words – depending on the circumstances- South-Eastern Europe and the issue of administrating memory, the policy of this administration, to be more exact, draws its origin from the global recess of the beginning of the 20 th century. This policy was applied eventually also regionally in the new states incorporating fresh forms of political empowerment, which initially attempted to encompass them in order to manage the local crisis’s. The necessity of the creation and the sustainability of this policy of these permanent national crises, owes its existence to a failure. If the Balkans were in historical perspective, the peak of the epic of the Ottoman Empire, then they were respectively the essence of European failure; of the permanent and obvious incompetence (inspired by Hegel) of the plans of central Europe to impose and manipulate a mosaic of states over a pre-existing mosaic of nations.From the times of sovereignty, when the empires were fighting for territorial control,alternating their action moves (turn based action), underlining borders and creating nationalisms (while territorial morphology and distances were important factors in the (process of the game) until the star wars of today, the Balkan nations seem like eager digital avatars, doomed to re-birth in an arena that some times reminds us of the arena of Unreal and other times of textures of Medieval War. . In no other area, did nations as a whole change borders, languages and religions so many times. A platform that records this psycho-geography can be easily found in one of the categories of video games,known as Epic Strategy Games. The fall of the wall of Berlin and the ordeal of Yugoslavia in the 90s, adds more levels in the imaginary production of history.The innovations in the propaganda production techniques of image are very well known. A new element in the tradition of European failures is the “accident” of high- tech, that transfers the war to a virtual roof, with the essence of the ground still active only during the pre-election debates and in general in the aims of the local barons. Games that suit this period are those of a first perspective i.e. shoot’em up games with organized tasks and with the objective of a quick adrenalin rush accompanied by a respective spectacle.To resume, before video games appear as a new platform that fuses different disciplines of representation, existed as mechanism of thought and culture production. Balkan mall video game like platform that we create, has the ambition to be a tool of investigation of the archaeology of thinking in question. (More at the text : Si les Balkans n’existaient pas, il faudrait les inventer)


Katerina Gregos :

Though employing universalising new media tools, the project has a very specific local character. Apart from the desire to challenge dominant historical narratives associated with the Balkan region what other issues does the work aim to address? How does the notion of media bias - one of the key concerns of Personal Cinema - come under scrutiny?

Ilias Marmaras :

By examining the conditions under which this media bias is formed.This engages several techniques referring both to the representational matters and to tactics concerning organization and production. Talking about media bias is somehow putting the question: why western cultures are based so much at the representational? What historical necessities had formed this fact? War maybe? The specific means of war as they have been formed and perceived in the west? Alex stop putting your name always first!!

Alex Spyropoulos :

Certainly there is a local character to the project "The making of Balkan wars: The game" but we shouldn't forget that some issues that personal cinema is considering about this project apply in many circumstances.The racism is formed with similar procedures everywhere. The "toponymization" for national identities is the same from Alexandria to Tito Veles . The linguistics of the mass media at the periphery have long been applied with exactly the same way (and pepper).

Stewart Ziff :

It is important not to over emphasize this matter of the 'universalising' character.the issue has more to do with the condition of potential iconography defined within thevisual state of new media tools as defined by the strategies for their application in a corporate mass media context. it is mostly 'not' an intrinsic condition of the tools that they are universalising - the issue of addressing biased historicism is a matter independent of these tools of new media - this despite a significant biased condition in the common products from hollywood and kyoto in the games and movies of popular culture. We seek to distinguish in our work between the formal matters of the tools we use and the discourse through which we explore social & political issues.


Katerina Gregos :

As I understand it, players and spectators have the opportunity to learn how to "behave" and "act" in a simulated Balkan reality. How does this happen?

Alex Spyropoulos :

Had it been easy for a player to learn how to behave and act in a simulated Balkan Reality from this game, then there wouldn't be any Balkan problem at all in the region.We have often faced very sensitive matters concerning minorities and identities while we creating the game. If one considers that around 700.000 people died in the past decade in the former Yugoslavia, it becomes apparent that it is impossible to learn how to behave and act in the region without actually leaving there -or in a region with similar "sensitivities".

Stewart Ziff :

through confusion, disorientation & moral subversion.

Ilias Marmaras :

Same as in life. By applying personal cultural characteristics to a not so familiar environment.


Katerina Gregos :

How do you see the development of new media art? Are artists embracing the tenets of globalization in their practice, or are they using their practice and networks to dissect, resist and re-work the dictates of globalization and a homogenised global media culture?

Alex Spyropoulos :

The homogenised global media culture is a reality. The transformation of this media culture bi-directional ( Center , Periphery) is what has great importance.Specifically at the Balkan periphery the amalgam of the newly imported media and the old soviet approach creates a new language that remains immuned from the pluralism of the accelerated west media production but it also retains a skepticism towards the propaganda. However, this language has difficulties expressing itself because it is astonished by this new era. The intention may be the complete imitation of the western method, nonetheless there are many cases that are between the two and some others that completely refuse to collaborate.

Stewart Ziff :

The matter of globalization is irrelevant to the context ... except of course that the technologies are produced and economized as a relationship between producers and consumers within a globally distributed economy.

Ilias Marmaras :

Depends on the artists. Though, there are certainly differences at the perception and the use of new media in United States and in Europe.


Katerina Gregos :

How do you see the aesthetics of new media art? How would you describe the new aesthetic possibilities, which have arisen as a result?

Alex Spyropoulos :

The aesthetics of new media art are based on a mixture of the military , advertising, software and film industries. It is very difficult to overpass these industries and focus on what is art. Most of the new media artists are influenced by the tools that they are using.On the other hand the options are so many and the last two decades are not enough for the creators to mature.

Stewart Ziff :

the aesthetic potential rests in the possibility of shifting the gaze of the viewer from passive observation to active engagement. aesthetic consideration is in flux being no longer engaged in the formal consideration of idea and expression defined through static iconography, heroes and certainty in form.

Ilias Marmaras :

If modernism failed finally to give an essence to the subject, that overpasses the network of power relations, which define that subject, new media practices seem to imprison it, in that game in long terms.


Katerina Gregos :

How do think the shift to computer-based media has redefined the nature of art practice and how would you describe the effect of computerization on visual culture?

Stewart Ziff :

to render potentially obsolete practices that invest in fixed, static & socially detached aesthetic experience.

Ilias Marmaras :

I don’t know the long-term consequences of the computerization of aesthetics but for the moment the ‘’poetic’’ essential element so well known in Europe, seems to give its place to the mechanic. But this shift is a much vaster phenomenon. Just to look at the downgrading of human sciences in favor of the so called technological ones , one gets a flavor of the future to come.

Stelios Gianoulakis :

Offering immence pottential for analysis, realisation and comunication of art, new technologies don’t really change much, as far as low level processes are concerned. Paradigmatic shifts and unexplored areas may be attractive and influential but only by shedding new light to ancient problems.


Katerina Gregos :

In an art world still very much dominated by physical objects, is there a future for net art?

Andy Deck :

It's not physical objects that threatens the health of net art, it's the media entertainment industry. But perhaps this is not the right question.In a world so thoroughly dominated by war and environmental collapse, is there really a future for art?

Stewart Ziff :

the question is best answered with a question ... "in an art world exhausted with the suspension of ideas of old in 'new' objects - for how long will there still be investment in the continued accumulation of objects ?"

Ilias Marmaras :

Capital's production today has shifted from material labor and controlled time production, to the immaterial labor of the networks (mostly linguistic production processes) that occurs 24 hours per day and recognises no specific locale. Any attempt to control this given situation with the modernistic meanings of control on time and space is a waste of (time and space) if not tricky. I think that the division between physical objects and virtual ones proves a luck of adaptation of an art scene that try to uses Newtonian tools to control the speed of light that creates the global real-time.

Stelios Gianoulakis :

It would be like asking if there is future for poetry in a world dominated by architecture..

Greek-English translation: Maria Skamanga

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