In November of 1990, ANAT coordinated the attendance of a cultural delegation at the Second International Symposium on Electronic Art (SISEA) in Groningen, the Netherlands. SISEA was organised by SCAN, The National Institute for Computer Animation, Groningen State Polytechnic and Academie Minerva of the Groningen Polytechnic.

The aim of SISEA was to bring together experts in the field of the electronic arts, to focus on the most recent developments in computer graphics, computer music, interactive art, video art etc.

As part of the proceedings, ANAT was announced as the coordinator of the Third International Symposium on Electronic Art (TISEA) in Australia in August, 1992.

The delegation was sponsored (as was the 1988 delegation which attended the First International Symposium on Electronic Art, and which ANAT coordinated) by the Cultural Activities Division of the Australian Film Commission, the Visual Arts and Crafts Board of the Australia Council, the Cultural Activities Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and SISEA. ANAT is grateful to these organisations for their foresight and ongoing support.

The core event of SISEA was a Symposium held over three days, at which papers addressing recent developments and current concerns in the field of the electronic arts were presented. Additional events included workshops, exhibitions, film and video programs, concerts and performances. The program highlighted speakers of international renown, speaking about the arts, sciences and technology as interactive, rather than as discrete disciplines.

The number and diversity of the Australian participants drew particular attention to the delegation. As a promotional strategy, Australian attendance as a culturally identifiable group was very successful. It had the effect of focussing attention on Australia, the work which is being produced here and also demonstrated a determination to be a key international player in the developing field of new technologies in the arts. The performance of each individual in the delegation was a credit to the Australian profile, and it seems appropriate to extend thanks to them here.

Australians in attendance at SISEA were: Stelarc, Brian Langer, David Worrall, Sally Pryor, Paul Brown, Gary Warner, Ken Wark, Ross Harley, Linda Wallace, Tim Gruchy, Anne Marie Chandler, Virginia Barratt, Jay Younger, James Knox and Mahalia Middlemist. Those exhibiting works, but not in attendance included: Lynne Roberts-Goodwin, Phil George, John Waller and John McCormack.

Tim Gruchy presented a work called Glitch, involving the use of projected imagery computer programmed to synchronise with an original soundtrack by Tim. Dancers behind the screen merged with the changing lightscape.

Stelarc presented Amplified Body, Laser Eyes and Third Hand. This performance was one of a series of works proposing to redesign the human body for the future. The concepts embodied (or disembodied) in his piece provoked lively discussion.

Paul Brown presented his paper titled Communication and Cargo Cults during a session which he was sharing with expatriate Australian artist Simon Penny. Paul’s paper discussed “…the coming era of human-machine symbiosis and its ethical and moral implications. Science as the dominant religion/belief structure of the present era.”

David Worrall presented an overview of the Australian Centre for the Arts and Technology (a high tech educational facility), its rationale and operation, during an institutional panel.

Sally Pryor presented a paper titled Thinking of Oneself as a Computer. She was one of the few delegates to discuss women and technology. The paper posited “the idea of the human being as a computer, that is a combination of hardware and software, seems to assume a Cartesian mind/body dualism… in which attributes of one are seen as incompatible with the other”.

Linda Wallace presented a paper titled Region, which served to focus on some of the issues at stake in art and technology within an Australian and regional context. “I think Australia’s dream of the present incorporates all the technologies scattered across its body… It is not clear whether this dream is in fact a nightmare, though day will soon break.”

Virginia Barratt presented a paper on TISEA. This followed the announcement by ISEA of Australia as host of TISEA in 1992. She also appeared in Tim Gruchy’s performance, Glitch.

In terms of the aims and objectives of the delegation, our goals were met in excess of our expectations. The positive experience of SISEA has helped secure a place for us as a key player in the international field.
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