iliyana nedkova on Fri, 17 Jul 1998 13:00:22 +0100

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Syndicate: re: isea98 criticism

dear syndicalists,

i hope the statement below will bring some new light in the thread of
isea98 discussions going on.

i do share the heated arguments raised by andreas and lately by kathy,
aileen, elisabeth and the rest from the faces list about giving authority
to the 'fringe' events off the main programme. ironically, i am committed
to curating & organising such parasite events [like leaf97,
crossingover97/98 & virtual revolutions98] but i have recently got involved
with the isea98 research unit, too. just trying hard to reconcile these


				       15 July 1998


There is criticism of the level of fees payable for attending ISEA98.  Some
of this criticism is ill-informed.  This statement aims to contribute to
future criticism  being  better-informed, accurate and constructive.

ISEA98 is an academic conference as previous ISEA symposia have been.
Universities pay their academic staff to produce research.  When this
research is published the University is paid, in turn,  by its  funding
authority.  Research can be "published"  by way of exhibition, publication
in various media and presentation at conference.  Thus Universities pay for
their academics to attend and present at conferences as an effective means
of recouping  expenditure on previous research and advance funding new
A number of academics wishing to present at ISEA98 have been refused funds
from their own universities to do so.  This may be because these
universities have pre-allocated their research monies to other projects, it
may be the academic has already received significant research subsidies
this year and to receive more would not be equitable, other reasons,
etc.,etc.,.    A smaller number of academics to whom their own institutions
have refused support have requested subsidy from Liverpool Art School.  The
School's prime task, like any other university, is to maximise the
excellence of its teaching to its students.  To this end it has a limited
research programme for its academic staff, to be used as described above.
To suggest these resources should be used to subsidise proposals rejected
by their originator's own institutions is  unfortunate.

It is gratifying that artists wish to attend an academic conference.  At
ISEA98 they do.
(A) Registration fees have been waived for the sixty invited artists
participating in the  FACT / ISEA98 programme.  This is extra to any fees
and expenses payable to them directly via  FACT.  Alongside the exhibition
programme, Liverpool Art School has commissioned and curated an evening
programme of electronic music performances.  Obviously, participating
artists are not paying to attend, additional fees and expenses are being
paid in many cases.
(B) Shockingly, sometimes artists and academics can be one and the same
thing.  Liverpool Art School is not exceptional in that the majority of its
teaching staff are practising artists.  A significant number of artists
will attend at ISEA98 at the expense of universities and academies
(C) A number of artists, without institutional funding and not
participating in the FACT/ISEA98 exhibition programme, wish to attend at
ISEA98 but maintain  their fees should be waived and their expenses met.
This is debatable.  Attending ISEA98 is not an obligation, it is an option
like buying food from a supermarket or a ticket for a  music concert.
Perhaps some artists believe all these things should be free to them simply
because they are artists.  If this were granted, would everyone seek these
benefits by becoming an artist? N.B. a status not conferred (by institution
or qualification) but (self) declared by the individual.

Registration fees represent the income needed, without profit, to cover the
real expenses of hosting ISEA98.  Like for like, they equate with, and in
some cases are less expensive than, comparable events including ISEA97 at
Chicago.  Since ISEA98 registration fees were fixed, the Pacific currency
crisis has worsened thus  increasing real expense values for delegates
attending from effected regions.  Two observations:  ISEA98 is not
responsible for this and  costs to  the institutions hosting ISEA98 in the
UK remain the same.

It is obvious (?) that waiving registration fees and other charges for
attenders at ISEA98 does not 'disappear' the  real cost to the host of
such non fee-paying attenders actually being there.  If this were the case
then the hosts would waive fees for everybody cleverly reducing their costs
to nothing. In other words if you are not paying to be at ISEA someone else
is paying for you.
The actual attendance of diverse and  traditionally excluded people at
ISEA98, as opposed to those expert in describing them, is and remains
axiomatic.  Having limited resources -  no central university subsidy to
the actual  school hosting the symposium  (unlike Chicago), no major
private sector or corporate sponsor  and the absence of any Inter-Society
resources for the purpose, the  partners hosting ISEA98  have had to be
imaginative, precise and consistent in  formulating and  implementing a
support initiative.  This, I believe ,has been acheived and a fascinating,
challenging programme as a result.  As illustration enclosed below is the
standard text used to decline grant of subsidy.  it serves to spell out our
criteria and use of it.

"Dear  XX  XXXXX  @ 15 July 1998
Regarding:  ISEA98 Diversity Assistance Status

To date Liverpool Art School has invited 153 artists, academics, inventors
and commentators to participate in the Revolution Symposium programme at
Liverpool as part of ISEA98 (the Ninth International Symposium on
Electronic Art).  Together with the Inter-Society for the Electronic Arts
and Manchester Metropolitan University, Liverpool Art School has granted
Diversity Assistance Status (DAS) to twenty-five of these invited
They will not pay fees to attend at both Liverpool and Manchester.  The
Universities will pay their accomodation expenses whilst at ISEA98 and any
associated travel costs within the U.K. In a number of cases we are paying
for trans-continential travel and additional expenses.  In terms of real
costs and waived income this represents significant expenditure. To help
defray these costs the Inter-Society requested the Universities to redirect
the fees payable to itself (for the right to host the symposia) to
supporting the DAS initiative. In principal, Liverpool Art School's
approach has been to maximise benefits to the most excluded. The majority
of those granted DAS are from under-achieving economies with minimal IT
infrastructure access to which is restricted or difficult.  In practise
this has resulted in minimal subsidy to North America and Western Europe.
These criteria, like all others, are subject to challenge. North America
and Western Europe are not without poverty and exclusion.  However, the
resources Liverpool Art School have to deploy are limited, as I am certain
they are in every other university including your own.  Under such
circumstances criteria have to be defined and applied.  Liverpool Art
School is currently unable to waive registration fees on your behalf.
Best wishes,

John Brady
ISEA98 Research Co-ordinator
Liverpool Revolution Symposium"

Incidently, the majority of those asking for fees to be waived and, in some
cases, for expenses to be met have access to telephone, fax and computer,
have an email account and in many cases a personal web-site or two.  By
definition they are part of that 10% of the global population having more
wealth than the remaining 90% combined.

In  an ideal, fully sponsored world everybody would  attend at ISEA free
and even be paid a large fee.  (Would this devalue ISEA? ).  In the actual,
virtual world , in addition to the above, the ISEA98 partners are
committing resources to a webcast / jam aiming to make acceessible as much
as possible to those not physically at the symposium / exhibition sites.

John Brady
ISEA98 Research Co-ordinator
Liverpool Revolution Symposium
*  UK
*  T++44 (0)151 709 3420 F++44 (0)151 231 5096