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Screengrab 2013 - New Media Arts Award

2013 Theme : Ambience

“see like a camera, listen like a microphone, track like a satellite”

The 5th Screengrab International New Media Arts Award and associated exhibition is looking for challenging creative works by media arts practitioners working in screen based media to submit works on the theme of AMBIENCE.

The Big beautiful data is everywhere. Sounds are everywhere. Images are everywhere. Our lives are tracked relentlessly. The network sends and receives everything. We capture, post, follow, share and archive. Data becomes us.

March 2013 was the 100-year anniversary of the publication of Luigi Rusullo’s Art of Noises, and in the ensuing century the proliferation of mechanical noise has reached a critical density. Our accumulated audio-visual virtuality has been working towards a zeitgeist moment for some time. David Gelernter, researcher at Yale, has been foregrounding the concept of “life streaming” for several decades. Now it would seem, the stream has become a torrent.

Today we live to the beat of signals, alarms and alerts – a constant stream of audio-visual reminders that we live in increments of time amidst layers of metadata. We move and we are tracked by GPS, recognised by software, matched against databases, evaluated by life-tracking devices and mapped by our profiles and usernames. This new aesthetic of machine ambience is at once an embodiment of our private present selves but also an ambient beautification of what lies in our wake. Photo streams, playlists, check-ins, recommendations, resolutions, bucket-lists, posts, comments and feeds all embellishing the spaces and flows of our virtual habitats. We have become the exquisite beast in the garden, with all her flair, colour and boundless expression.

Images of you and me and us are embedded into this fanfare as icons of our identity. This aural and visual accumulation of our lives has created an immense data pool that is embellished by everything we see and everything that we say on the network. This meta-ambience is cross-fading our public, commercial and private spaces like tracks on an iPod Shuffle. We remix our environment by just being present in it. We bring our own signal noise with us wherever we go. We are fast becoming the sample bank of a dense ambient mix of images and sound.

But what does this look like? With what forms of expression is this data being exposed? How do we construct our own ambient worlds? How is Big Data constructing it for us? What do we show and what do we choose to conceal and what is beyond our control? Where does our ambience end and where do that of others begin? How do our rituals of culture, work and family inform who we are through the ambient streams we leave in our wake?

The 5th International Screengrab New Media Arts Award seeks works that explore the theme of ambience – personal, virtual and commercial – and all its private, political and social connotations. Creators, imagineers and explorers of big data, augmented reality, data aesthetics, generative art, audio/visual collage and interactive environments are encouraged to submit works that address the theme of the ambience.

SCREENGRAB is now entering its fifth year with an international call out for the AUS$5000 New Media Arts Prize and the companion exhibition in July/August 2013 for short listed applicants. We invite digital practitioners working in screen based media to submit works on the theme of AMBIENCE.

All forms of screen based media are encouraged including multi-channel video, digital illustration, audio sculpture, photography, generative media, 2D & 3D animation.

Existing works and those specifically designed for the award must address the theme of AMBIENCE to be eligible for the New Media Arts award.

This project is sponsored by James Cook University’s School of Creative Arts and the eMerge Gallery.

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