Re: congestion/indigestion?

Imma Sarries-Zgonc (
Wed, 20 Aug 1997 19:09:33 +0000

Dear Mark and List,

I write this from Berlin in response to Mark's comments about hype and
the marketing of techno-art events. Sexy theroretically it all might be,
but in terms of art practice, I would certainly agree that the marketing
of these events so often verges on delusion. Yet marketing is always
strategic hype, and the verve with which publicists jump on the band
wagon of techno / art glee is at least understandable even if it makes
limited digital art, seem even grimmer. Some of this, certainly in the
UK and the Republic of Ireland is to do with funding structures, - New
Collaborations in the UK, and a similar funding pool in Eire. For both
contexts, using new technologies in performance is part of the Zeitgiest
and fundable stuff indeed. Last year, an Irish performance company
Desperate Optimists had funding from New Collaborations and worked with
a digital photographer, who simply took photographs during the
performance of the other performers, altered them quickly and projected
them. The show had other strengths, but the use of this technolgy was
just plain dull, and seemed much more to do with the demands of the
funding than the integrity of the work.

Another side to working in technology and performance is that the
contradictions between the economics of both is laughable. Big bucks /
quids / marks in the hands of corporate sponsors may produce slick hype,
but it doesn't mean that such talk has much to do with the work itself
or the process of making it.

As you've said with Troika, obviously you market your work and you talk
about the technology, and your work seems vigorously interested in the
performance of technology and the technology of performance. Last night,
having dinner on the balcony with Johannes (Birringer) and Imma
(Sarries-Zgonc) talking about work, we discussed some installation work
coming out of our work last week in Dresden, and maybe it doesn't have
any technology in it at all (digital). But then, of course we run up
against the marketing of AlienNation Co. which is a multi-media company.
Trouble for the digerarti indeed.

Another discussion I had with Johannes yesterday was the difference
between technical 'tricks' - such as the filters in photoshop, certain
fades in video-editing programmes etc. and how wearisome these can
quickly become. At the same time I defended a sense of joy in the
impossible complexities of technology, and that as much as I personally
am interested in not concealing the computer and my colleagues back
stage, I am also interested in the pleasure of digital wizardy -
especially when it is evocatively and intelligently thought-through. And
I thought your description of the sink sounded like this. An object with
no computer in sight, but laced with the resonance enabled by the
computer's abilities. I want such delight. And I also don't want to hide
the computer for the sake of it. Marketing either requires a contingent
intelligence that is also profoundly sensitive to the demands of getting
an audience for the work.

Jools Gilson-Ellis
University College Cork,

ex-member of dtz