Provocative and playful, BLUR is a biannual seminar exploring new creative practices that embrace the pleasure, seduction and energy of new technologies while calling for deeper reflection and critical awareness of our actions in digital art and culture. While there is consistent organized discussion abroad regarding creative innovation through new media, little formal dialogue occurs in the United States outside of industry-focused conferences. BLUR has been created to provide a much-needed forum in New York for creative practitioners to share their work, discuss how current technological culture has influenced their process, and generate new ideas.


BLUR 02 | Power at Play in Digital Art and Culture
is structured around the central themes of power and play. For this second BLUR event, an internationally diverse group of artists, technologists, and cultural theorists accepted our invitation to participate in two days of private think-tank sessions, and two evenings of public performance/presentation (web cast here). An extensive archive of the exchange will launch on this site in May 2002.

There is a distinct continuum of commonly held preconceptions that are used to articulate an artist?s position and agency within contemporary cultural production. At one end, there is the over determination of the artist being only interested in ?values-based? strategies that resist engagement in the larger economy -- although gallery representation and museum endorsement is acceptable to signify professional maturity. At the other end, is the emergent frame of the new media artist as a small businessperson in pursuit of economic and artistic success within the larger entertainment complex. Through a hybrid practice of commercial and non-commercial projects, this profile often runs the risk of tainted artistic integrity in the name of commercial success. The gap between these oversimplified perceptions marks a territory that defines the cultural practitioners who are building a critical language of power in relationship to art and the public.

?Power at play? allows for the discussion of implicit dynamics within existing power structures and the possibility for artists to influence these dynamics in meaningful ways. In addition, "at play" embraces the activity of those who are working within entertainment genres such as computer games, electronic music, and animation. These industries wield not only economic power but have become dominant and wildly popular cultural forces. The "play" of feisty creative practitioners and incisive critical thinkers offers a multiplicity of voices in this cultural arena that is ripe for examination.

What is utopian? Delusory? Obstructive?

We are in a remarkable cultural moment. A creative convergence is underway in which shared technologies and networked communications encourage a common language of production and transparent exchange between fields.

Too often, unchallenged and long held axioms become hindrances to actual truths -- be those economic, artistic, or social. Rather than attempt to predict a singular future of our field, there is a critical need to examine various forces that can guide the possibilities and limits of various sustainable new media based cultures. Blur 02?s planning sessions reveal the heterogeneity of practitioners? visions to reinvigorate practices, engender cross-pollination, and recognize the value of difference in the field.

Blur 02 | Power at Play is not intended to illustrate a specific conclusion. Instead, it offers a range of distinct, even contrasting, viewpoints in response to this transformational moment. It is our hope that these enterprising individuals and their pursuit of artistic integrity will inspire you to consider the ways in which your practices engage this vibrant and challenging terrain.

link: return to blur main home page

All rights reserved ? New School University // 2002