March 10, 2005

CALL | Mesh 18

Calling for papers from Australian and international writers and artists that explores the meaning of art.

How do interactive media arts transform the familiar reality of our everyday lives? How do they open up imaginative spaces in which we can discover the extraordinary within the ordinary fabric of our lives? How do they invoke that sense of childish wonder and awe that we experience when we are confronted by the mysterious and the magical in the seemingly banal and mundane?

These are the themes Mesh publishers Experimenta - “where creativity and technology meet” - is hoping to hear your informed opinion on. An intimidating mind he may have been, but Albert Einstein’s words could be used as a starting point:

"The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed."

There is a persistent sense that media arts, and particularly screen based media arts, can be traced back through the evolution of the cinema and its attendant desire for verisimilitude. However, there exists a somewhat more complex genealogy at work in many 21st century media arts works. This genealogy places media arts along a trajectory that links it to such antecedents as the Phantasmagoria, the hippodromes (or spectacle theatres) and the luna parks of the 18th and 19th centuries. These were places where people went to be engaged, fascinated and confounded by the spectacle of the illusion. It was at these places, alongside the freak shows and carnival rides, that spectators could see such technologically based forms of popular entertainment as the diorama, the stereoscope, the praxiniscope and Pepper's Ghost. Ostensibly scientific devices created to test research into optics and the persistence of vision, they became enormously popular attractions.

These were devices that favoured theatrical display, spectacle and stimulation over narrative absorption. The illusions that they produced were designed not to create immersion but wonder and astonishment in their audiences. These forms were eclipsed by the popularisation of narrative cinema in the 20th century with its heavy reliance on realism, characterisation and immersion. But perhaps the rising popularity of new media arts is signaling a resurgence of interest in spectacle and illusionism.

Experimenta first wishes to receive abstracts of no longer than 500 words, to be sent Lisa Gye:
(Editor - Mesh #18) by Friday 18 March.
Deadline for the submission of final papers is Friday 6 May.
Mesh is a partially peer reviewed journal. Authors may opt to have their papers blind peer reviewed in accordance with the DEST guidelines. Please indicate your preference for peer review in your abstract.
Mesh #18 Vanishing Point will be produced online and as a printed publication as part of the Experimenta Vanishing Point catalogue.