CSAA ‘Everyday Transformations’ Conference :: Jane Simon

December 2004 :: Murdoch University, Fremantle

The Cultural Studies Association of Australasia’s Annual Conference 2004 theme was ‘Everyday Transformations: The Twenty-First Century Quotidian’, based loosely around the question of new technologies and the changing nature of everyday life. Over three days I attended numerous panel sessions and presented a paper as part of a panel entitled ‘Fields of Uncool: Counter-Heroics and Counter-Professionalism in Cultural Studies’. This panel formed as a result of an email dialogue between Kris Cohen from INCITE (Incubator for Critical Inquiry into Technology and Ethnography) London, Melissa Gregg from the Centre for Critical and Cultural Studies University of Queensland, Jean Burgess from Creative Industries, Queensland University of Technology, and myself. We collaboratively formed a theme for the panel based on a number of discussions we had over a three month period concerning new media, obsolete media, vernacular and amateur practices.

Our panel discussed a diverse range of media practices from blogging, digital storytelling and Super-8 filmmaking. I gave a paper titled ‘Amateurism, Experimental Film and Australian Super 8 Culture’. My paper argued that Super 8 film practice is an example of how new technologies redefine and resituate, rather than replace, earlier technologies. It was great to be able to meet up with my fellow panelists offline, and further establish our interests and potential future collaborations. We are currently formulating a proposal to edit an edition of a journal based around the theme of our panel. After presenting our papers, there was a useful discussion time. I received feedback on my paper from a number of people from different disciplines. Especially pertinent was a discussion I had with Ben Highmore who had useful suggestions about the relationship between amateur uses of technology, ethnography and the role of the artist/critic.

I attended many interesting panels over the three days. Of particular relevance was a panel on ‘Creative Production and Everyday Life’. This panel addressed contemporary art practices, and everyday experiences. Janine Randersons’ paper ‘Sampling Tradition: Three Recent New Zealand Digital Art Projects’ gave insight into the translation of traditional cultural forms through current technology. She explored the concept of ‘remixing’, which is relevant to my own art practice, which explores the relationship and translation between new and obsolete media. Ingrid Richardson’s paper ‘Not just Interfaces: Household Media Spaces as Windows and Containers’, which was part of a panel loosely themed ‘New Media’ gave insight into how media forms part of our physical environment, and is always an embodied experience.

Most panels I attended had a stimulating and respectful discussion following each paper. The conference gave me an opportunity to listen to a diverse range of thinkers across a number of disciplines and to consider the relationship between the artist and the academic. On the final day of the conference there was discussion of the relationship between industry and Cultural Studies. This discussion followed a paper given by Ien Ang, Professor of Cultural Studies and the Director of the Centre for Cultural Research at the University of Western Sydney. Her paper addressed the ‘future’ of the field of Cultural Studies and she outlined a number of projects the centre has undertaken which include industry involvement.

The debate was particularly heated because of a recent spate of attacks on the humanities by Andrew Bolt, a conservative journalist. The discussion about industry led to a number of smaller discussions about the arts and humanities in Australia, and ways to sustain a critical and artistic practice without becoming over reliant on industry for funding.

I left the conference feeling inspired. Over the three days I received important feedback on my own projects, made connections with others working with forms of new media, and broadened my knowledge of the field of Cultural Studies.


Tags: , , ,

Leave a Reply