Decolonising the Digital:
critical media practices by Australian experimental artists
The project proposes the CREATION and PUBLICATION of a collection of critical essays by Australian experimental artists and media theorists, under the title ‘Decolonising the Digital’.
It will offer a set of exemplary media practices from Australian artist-researchers involved RIGHT NOW in actively creating new aesthetics and uses of technology. With relevance to artists, researchers, and the wider public, it will provoke critical thinking about TECHNOLOGY AS CULTURAL PRACTICE, and offer tangible case-studies of experimental media practices from a range of art practitioners in diverse cultural contexts. Equal parts provocation, inspiration, and user guide to thinking about and working with emerging digital technologies in a critical way.
It will be launched in late 2017, as an Open Access book.
About the project
Keywords: technology as cultural practice, postcolonialism, timely, pragmatic, Indigenous experimental art, digital media art, case-studies, Australia, polemic, open access, artist-researchers
The editorial panel for the book will be made up of the contributing artists, and joined by Andrew Newman and Candice Bowditch. With ‘Decolonising the Digital’ we intend to bring together a diverse set of Australian experimental artists to showcase their various art-research practices. Taken together, the collection will form a polemical exploration of TECHNOLOGY AS CULTURAL PRACTICE and a toolbox of strategies for critical, postcolonial engagement with emerging digital aesthetics.
We consider this book a timely opportunity to pre-empt (or at least keep up with) the emergence of new digital representational technologies and critically discuss their implications, looking especially to challenge the notion of normative conventions of representation, and the privileging of one form of cultural practice over another.
All contributors are cross-disciplinary artist-researchers, and the aim of the collection is to engage in a very broad issue of colonial thinking in predominantly Western forms of knowledge production. For this reason we consider the audience to extend from experimental artists to the wider public: through contributors’ case-studies, the collection will challenge ‘conventional’ thinking on appropriate forms of cultural expression and the apparent neutrality of digital technology.
We intend to launch the book in October 2017, published and distributed as an open access eBook with physical copies available Print-on-Demand (PoD). The book will be released under the Budapest Open Access model, published under Creative Commons attribution license:
By “open access” to this literature, we mean its free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself. The only constraint on reproduction and distribution, and the only role for copyright in this domain, should be to give authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited.
Advantages of the Open Access model are that the book is immediately universally accessible, aiding its visibility and discoverability and by extension it reach and local and international exposure.
Publication, distribution, and promotion for the book will be provided by the Research In Art and Technology (RIAT), with PoD printing organised through the US-based Amazon CreateSpace service to eliminate the need for a bulk initial investment in printing.
Professor Ted Snell, Director of the University of Western Australia’s Cultural Precinct, has offered support for the book and a venue to host the West-coast launch event for the book, fitting it into the Precinct’s wider cultural program, and offering promotion and a wide audience.
dLUX media arts has also expressed support for the book, and has offered to facilitate the East-coast launch of the book, with Professor Sarah Kenderdine of the National Institute for Experimental Art offering the use of the iGLAM advanced visualisation system at UNSW Art & Design as a venue. In addition to the launch event itself, dLUX will organise a series of promoted regional artist talks and symposia.
A limited number (200) of physical books will be printed for the launch events in Perth and Sydney, and for contributors and pre-orders. Post-launch, the publishers will be able to sell these PoD books via a drop-shipping service from the US.
In support of ‘Decolonising the Digital’ launch, we intend to create an online presence (http://decolonising.digital) which beyond information about contributors and access to the eBook itself, will host relevant news and an open index of experimental media artists and researchers working in Australia and internationally. The website and social media streams will be kept updated by the contributing artists, and through online community partners dLUX and the Centre for Indigenous Digital Excellence (IDX) to provide broader news of relevant activities.
‘Decolonising the digital’ is a collaborative project between a number of Australian experimental media artists with diverse backgrounds and practices. It intends to contribute a set of challenging perspectives and artistic case-studies that will encourage more critical engagement with digital aesthetics. The aim is to bring benefit and a broader appreciation for emerging experimental practices to the Australian media art landscape.
Through its overarching theme of framing technology as a cultural practice, and examples of culturally diverse forms of media art (e.g. the work of our Indigenous contributors, showcasing examples of experimental Indigenous art), ‘Decolonising the Digital’ will encourage and support the promotion of diversity of cultural expression in Australian experimental art.
This support will be extended with regional art talks and symposia on the theme of the book, organised by dLux Media Arts as part of the post-launch activities. These talks and wider promotion continue dLUX’s ongoing aims to engage regional communities with public art events and exhibitions, educational programs and community workshops at the intersection of art, science and technology. The publication also reaches an international audience through promotion by partner Artistic Bokeh at various international media arts festivals in 2017-18 that they participate in.
The project website’s online network of artists and researchers will offer inspiring case-studies and a forum for developing local and international collaborations. Beyond its ability to connect like-minded artists, there is potential for building collaborations across diverse art forms, through the showcasing of productive inter-arts and intercultural initiatives such as Australia Council’s Geek-in-residency program and IDX’s technical facilitation programs for Indigenous art groups.
Finally, the project has the ability to engage young people in experimental art, through the compelling aesthetics of digital technology. Practices featured in the project utilise cutting-edge technologies such as Oculus Rift, game engines, robotics, and UAVs. Experimental media art mobilises the expressive, creative, and disruptive potential of emerging technologies, and so sit at a crucial position in promoting both STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Maths), and the creative articulation of these skills.