New Media Theory

To what degree, and in what ways, does a new medium, a new type of representational practice, fundamentally change our perception and, in turn, our world? Do we see differently today than people did prior to the advent of photography, of cinema, of the internet? As cyberspace and a proliferation of cable and satellite TV offerings re-configure the familiar media landscape, we must ask how these new digital media in turn are also recasting notions of subjectivity, of experience, of presence, and the ‘real’.

The New Media Theory project is a collaborative programme established to explore these issues, and co-ordinated between the IMCC (David Cunningham, Alison Craighead), Princeton University (Thomas Y. Levin), Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, and the media research company BLIP (Peter Cornwell). It currently comprises three central projects:

The International Distributed Display Initiative Network

A collaboration between the IMCC, Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London, Princeton University in the US, and the International Academy of Media Arts & Sciences (IAMAS) in Ogaki, Japan, the IDDI Network provides for staff and students an unprecedented platform on which to explore contemporary media-theoretical issues in a very concrete fashion.

The IDDI Network uses a series of large-scale, state-of-the-art LED displays developed by Peter Cornwell, which can be connected to form completely flexible display shapes. These have been installed in public spaces on three different continents, and support still, moving and interactive computer-generated imagery. The display at Westminster will be installed during summer 2009 at Wells Street, joining up with screens already up and running at CSM, Princeton and Ogaki. Using an interface that has been designed such that no prior programming skills are assumed, students at the IMCC will be making work for this experimental new media laboratory that will allow them to explore in hands-on fashion what it means to translate, phenomenalize, or even perform media-theoretical issues as, and in, new media.

There is a permanent internet link between the four installations, based in the UK, US and Japan, such that each organization can load and display content at the site of the other organizations. Students and artists from each organization will make various forms of text and image content and load it both locally and on remote sites. Exhibitions of participants’ work will then be curated at all sites. Later projects will include the development of interactive imagery working both locally and remotely using real-time internet communications.

New Media Theory for Practitioners

The situation of current media developments in relation to the history and evolution of technologies such as writing, print, perspective and photography has not been addressed comprehensively in most vocation-oriented courses. Instead, cultural and media-theoretical education has developed in many conceptual courses independently of technical and practice concerns. Yet with the accelerating pace of change in new media it is increasingly difficult to make spectacular content with labour divided among theorists, creative practitioners and technicians - it is essential that creative practitioners know more about what can be achieved with current and imminent technology; just as technicians must know more about what they are making.

Media Theory for Practitioners addresses these issues by bringing together in a full-time, commercial ‘burst-mode’ course key theoretical material from programmes at leading institutions with state-of-the-art practice. The course is co-delivered by the University of Westminster, Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, and The Moving Picture Company’s MPC-Digital - one of the major production companies. Prominent academics from Europe and the US will deliver selected seminars, which are designed to interlink with projects using the latest equipment and technologies, creating an environment difficult to emulate in a single institution.

The course is administered in London and its seminars will be delivered at Central Saint Martins’ Innovation Centre and at the University of Westminster’s Regent site. Workshops will take place at MPC-Digital and projects and will use the IDDC Network at Central Saint Martins, Princeton and Westminster.

Media Architecture Conference 2010

Media Architecture 2010 follows on from the successful Media Architecture event held at Central Saint Martins in 2007.

A new conference to be held in 2010 will bring together a range of international speakers, architects, and new media presentations so as to focus on the impact of large-scale integrated displays on architecture and urbanism.The conference creates a new discourse among the latest theoretical and practical approaches and, while also addressing current developments in display systems, its central themes are the cultural and theoretical implications of intelligent building surfaces in the urban environment. Technology has allowed the creation of very large display surfaces which can carry moving imagery, but which are integrated with the architecture and no longer flat and rectangular. These displays can be bright enough for daylight use, potentially creating a paradigm shift in architecture, but they are also heavy energy consumers at a time of increasing environmental concern and their prominence at night has raised charges of pollution.

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