Marketing Matters on Wed, 12 Aug 1998 22:50:51 +0200 (MET DST)

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<nettime> Fw: Goodbye ISEA98TERROR

For those of you in the dark, Dr Future is actually Richard Wright.....

Dear Dr Future

Thank you for taking the time to explain your last minute withdrawal at
such length.  Feedback of this kind is always of use to us in planning
future events.
I have also passed your message to John Hyatt who devised the programme,
but who does not appear on the list of people to whom you CC'd your

We would appreciate your letting us know which of your concerns was
paramount, as this is the only communication we have ever had from you.  It
would have been more helpful had you contacted us earlier, in order that we
might have had the opportunity to discuss your concerns and perhaps make

To deal with each paragraph of your message in turn, firstly, I am sorry
you have decided not to participate in isea98terror. 

Secondly, yes, we will happily waive terror registration fees for any
presenter without institutional funding.  We also have a range of diversity
initiatives in place to avoid anyone being prevented from attending by fees
alone.  The one area we do not assist is travel expenses - for obvious

Thirdly, if you required more time for your presentation, I would have
happily allocated you a Soapbox within a session, giving you fifteen
minutes to construct your argument, followed by ten minutes audience
debate.  The Cell format is designed to encourage a "round table"
discussion session around a central theme, with the Activator opening the
session with an introduction establishing the central structure, and then
activists offering additions or new  perspectives before the debate opens
to the floor.  We asked each presenter to place their abstracts, comments,
papers on the website expressly so that pre-terror information was
available to all before the events, and presenters' email addresses were
supplied for you to make contact with fellow sessionists.  It was not
possible to circulate the session formats at the call stage - simply
because the session formats were devised according to submissions received.

Fourthly, we do indeed have five concurrent sessions - and have a
"webcast", so that delegates may see sessions they did not attend.  We have
not programmed sessions of similar theme to run concurrently, to avoid
conflicts of interest.  The inclusion of presenters is based on their
submissions for terror and not their academic status and possibility of
fees.  A number of submissions were not included, despite coming from
academics who would certainly have had sufficient institutional funding. 
We have absolutely no "hidden" issues.

Fifthly, we are not defining isea98terror as academic.  We are inviting
artists who wish to attend to share their work and their perspectives on
the world with an interested audience.  We believe that debate and
discussion are more likely to "engage" than traditional presentation
formats.  As to the benefits for artists, they are multiple - an audience
of relevant, interested delegates and fellow presenters, the chance to
network with peers and initiate new collaborations, the opportunity to put
work onto the isea98 website, inclusion in the isea98terror publications,
participation in the largest ever UK event of this kind and complete
freedom to state their case.  We did not circulate papers, we put them on
the web.  We allowed complete freedom for presenters to place their choice
of information and we placed no limits on access to the information.  The
amount of preparation done is entirely a matter of individual commitment to
isea98.  There is certainly no reason for any attendee to be short of

In terms of practice as opposed to theory, I can only draw your attention
to the incredible number of exhibitions surrounding isea98 - some artists
are also speaking - and the website, where ALL relevant parties are able to
place anything they wish.  The site is currently extremely well visited. 
It was designed expressly to allow familiarisation with presenters and
their work before isea98 took place, in order to contextualise the
discussion sessions, linking theory and practice. We also hope that
delegates will go away inspired to explore the works of presenters with the
new insight gained from discussion.

Sixthly, it may well be difficult for some artists to present full papers -
precisely the point of having Cell sessions where the theme is more
general, artists are only required to fly solo for a few minutes and can
then take part in a far freer discursive form.  We tried to cater for all
types of presenter in our session formats.  We have also made kit available
for artist to show sections of their work, in order to avoid concentration
on theory alone.  Almost all of the artists involved in isea98terror are
enthusiastic, happy with their slots and looking forward to being part of
the event.

Finally, we are happy to take on board any suggestions for future isea
symposia.  To this end, the isea Summit session takes place on Monday 7th
September at 16.30, in the Royal Northern College of Music, and all
delegates are welcome to attend and have their say.

I would be delighted to hear you had changed your mind and decided to
participate.  If the only source of your dissatisfaction is the brevity of
your allocated slot, please contact me to arrange a longer one.  If you
still do not wish to take part, please let me know by email.  I can waive
fees for any presenter without institutional funding, but if you attend
only as a delegate, you need to contact me to discuss this.

Kind regards

Gina Feay 

For anyone who missed it, and for reference, Dr Future's message follows.

> Date: 09 August 1998 23:50
> 	I am writing to inform you that after due consideration I have decided
> to withdraw from participation in ISEA98 Terror. My reasons are as
> follows.
> As I'm sure you are aware, the registration fees for ISEA have been the
> cause of some controversy, specifically among artists who do not have
> academic positions, or positions with significant expense budgets. I
> understand that ISEA Manchester has been prepared to waive fees for
> those in this position, although this was not the case for ISEA
> Liverpool where because of this I was forced to withdraw my presentation
> a while ago. These are important issues, for all attendees as well as
> speakers, but not by far the only ones.
> The duration time I requested for my presentation was 30-40 minutes. The
> time I was allotted was 5 minutes. Now I assume that the intention
> behind this was to put emphasis on debating time over presentation time,
> something which, it is true, is too often truncated through pressures of
> timetabling. But it is also important that presenters have adequate time
> to build up an argument that is worthy of debating, otherwise audiences
> are simply at a loss as to how to proceed. In any case it would have
> been wiser to inform people of this format at the call stage so that
> they could have had the chance to prepare and submit their proposals
> with this in mind.
> This is not the only pressure on ISEA speakers. The preliminary
> programme indicates that there are no less than five parallel sessions
> going on at once at the Manchester symposium and what looks like will be
> a similarly crowded schedule at Liverpool. I understand that organisers
> probably wish to be as 'inclusive' and 'diverse' as possible. I know it
> is also a hidden issue that unless academic delegates are presenting
> something they are unlikely to receive funding from their institutions
> to attend at all. But when we reach the point where presentations are so
> short they are incapable of generating any engagement and where they are
> so many parallel sessions competing for attention the result is
> self-defeating and simply causes frustration and disappointment on the
> part of attendees. Another strategy might have been to circulate papers
> to everyone before the conference so that audiences would be prepared,
> though this would have meant the close reading of dozens of papers - not
> really what a conference is for.
> These problems eventually come back to the central issue of what use
> these conferences are to practicing artists. If it is accepted that they
> are academic events then we all know where we stand - the issue then
> becomes that of the role and relevance of theory as it becomes
> increasingly isolated from practice. The ISEA art exhibition programme
> is organised independently and the question of how well it advances the
> interests of artists is not a question I will address here. If artists
> are to take a meaningful role in the symposium itself then there has to
> be something in it for them. They do not need to accumulate public
> outcomes for university research audits.
> It is very difficult normally for artists to enter a theoretical debate
> full on because they simply do not have the time and resources to
> research, plan and present carefully written papers. If artists limit
> themselves to writing only about their own work they run the risk of
> being accused of trying to do the critic's job. But we have seen in the
> past the results of what happens to theorists when they are not
> adequately aware of current developments in media and arts practice and
> we should appreciate the dangers of the two becoming (further)
> separated. 
> There are other symposium models that could be explored to cope with
> these different pressures, if there is will on the part of organisers to
> do so. For my own part, the best thing I can do now is just to travel to
> ISEA as a visitor and meet the attendees informally (I have already sent
> you a copy of my original paper and you are still free to use it as you
> see fit). You might be lead to ask why, after all this, I am still
> bothering to concern myself with such events in the first place. But
> that, of course, is entirely the point.
> Yours,

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