Once Upon a Time in the West
We keep on talking about “new media”, while in actually fact these media are anything but new. The Net is twenty years old, if we start counting from the advent of the Web, forty if we start from Arpanet. Spacewar!, the first videogame ever, is more or less the same age. Virtual worlds are the updated, lighter versions of a technology acclaimed as “the future” when Second Life programmers were still in diapers; social networks are the bastard sons of Fidonet. As for the computer, it is younger than Lord Byron, but certainly not than his daughter Ada.
Once upon a time there was the electronic frontier, an abandonware myth which was able to regenerate itself thanks to the continuous advance of the frontier itself. Like in space, in technological progress there’s no ocean at the end of the trip. But, unlike the space race, the race to the next technology is endless, and endlessness is boring.
Yet, while we got used to innovation and the day-after rhetorics, we have never got used to the loss of the past. We look back to what was new yesterday and is trash today, and we feel a deep sense of nostalgia. Commodore 64 and 386dx. The first Apple Macintosh. Bulletin Board Systems. Animated gifs. Glittering images. Web buttons. Super Mario. Doom. Napster. Jennicam. Mosaic. ASCII art. MIDIs and MOOs. Not to mention VHS, vinyl, audio cassettes, cathode tubes, portable radios, faxes. It is the kind of nostalgia that we feel for a relative who died young, once the pain abates: you are left wondering what kind of man he would have been. Or for someone that, once grown up, does not live up to his or her promise. Sometimes nostalgia develops into historical research, and becomes media archeology. We don’t look for the technologies that we once loved, but those we have never seen in action.
But in both the cases, in the artistic field this sentimental look at the past is producing some brand new, interesting stuff. Reviving dead media and obsolete technologies, retrieving and rekindling their aesthetics, making them do things they were never expected to do, and telling stories about them with other means is proving to be a sound artistic strategy – undoubtedly more so than “the exploration of the artistic potential of new media” which became the mantra of most New Media Art. This happens because, when you give up on the rhetorics of novelty, what is left on stage is the human element: the man of the past who domesticated the media, put his own life into them and was changed by them; and the man of the present, who looks back on that past with the same sentiment as the venerable Sergio Leone looked to the West.
On the occasion of its 10th Birthday, Pixxelpoint festival wants to explore this feeling. Clean out your attic, the folders you haven’t touched for years, GIF repositories, your university’s warehouse, and the dumps of Silicon Valley – or its small-town emulators. Get your hands on this stuff, and send us your finds. Any media is allowed, apart from new!
Domenico Quaranta, curator
Rules and conditions
- Pixxelpoint 2009 International New Media Art Festival will begin on December 4th 2009 in Nova Gorica, Slovenia in Nova Gorica City Gallery (Mestna galerija Nova Gorica) and it will last for eight days, until December 11th 2009.
- Competitors can choose between categories:
- New media installation (new media work that is exhibited in spatial arrangements)
- Computer based art (new media work that doesn’t require physical space, for example, programs, computer games, internet art, etc.)
- Digital print
- Other (work in traditional media – ie drawing, painting, sculpture, embroidery and so on – that may fit thematically or conceptually in the exhibition)
- Submissions must be sent free of charge to:
- Pixxelpoint (Att. Blaz Erzetic)
- Kulturni dom Nova Gorica
- Bevkov trg 4
- SI 5000 Nova Gorica
- Works can be sent on:
- e-mail (email@example.com)
- Label on the media must contain the name of the author and the work. Every single work must be accompanied by entry form. Works submitted without this entry form will not be valid. In case of sending by email, attach scanned filled form or send it by fax to 00386 33 540 19. Media will not be returned.
- There are no software and hardware limitations.
- Competitors agree that their work can be used for promotional purposes for the festival Pixxelpoint and catalogue for Pixxelpoint festival.
- Submitted works will be selected by the curator on the basis of artistic achievement. Autors whose works are admitted to the contest will be contacted by the oragnizers.
- Author guarantees the authenticity of his/her work. In case that work is partially or completely not competitor’s property, he/she assures that he has all the rights and permissions to use this work.
With this statement the author frees the festival of any misunderstandings regarding copyrights.
- Pixxelpoint will not sell artworks or copyrights of the submitted works. The festival is meant only as exhibition and promotion for the artists.
- All submitted works must match the given theme ‘Once Upon a Time in the West’ as described on this page.
Deadline is September 30th 2009, arrival date.