Edit on The IDEA #7

 Boob Wavey
 Bumpy 2003
 Guitar Groove
(music by Shankar Barua)


Yes, I wasn't too sure about The IDEA being back after #6 either,.. and it certainly has been a long time, hasn't it?

But well, here you have it ~ back on the back of all sorts of global undercurrents of appreciation, recognition, encouragement and even 'public demand' from amongst an elite community of all sorts of e-artists and associated individuals/organizations all over the world who know about it. And it certainly doesn't hurt that a small part of that process seems to be a spreading light of understanding that I too am a sort of e-artist, and The IDEA a sort of e-artwork ~ all the way up from the rigorous slog by which we individually identify, pursue and persuade (over months of communication in some cases) e-artists and associated individuals/organizations from all around the world to share everything ranged from summarized doctoral theses through to even entire archives of years of e-creative work with us,.. and through us with the ever-evolving global constituency of approximately 1,000 recipients just like themselves, to whom original copies of each CD-gazette of The IDEA go out for free.

And yes, we still view this as a sector of *key* Creative Technology Power-Users, Power- Buyers & Power-Motivators at the dawn of an age of burgeoning creative-empowerment of individuals being spread everywhere around all of us by (mainly) computers. A rapidly emerging 'new' world they in fact change just a wee tad more than your average other soul does, every day, on the basis of bewilderingly ballooning banks of creative technology tools and talents, the artworks they create, the mediums they've chosen, who and what they are, what they represent and what they influence.

And so, I am of course quite a bit disappointed to have not rustled up more rousing partnerships of support from the sectors of associated businesses and institutions, who're having a big-money ball out of the whole shindig. For example, manufacturers of computer-printers and printer-inks are really the only ones making any good money from digital-prints, whether 'creative' or not. Meanwhile, public institutions seem to have deployed most of the new funding funneled into the sector behind largely 'traditional' academic practitioners, processes and practices, that are all to often just too slow for the 'creative' cutting-edge of this rapidly emerging, ever-spreading and continuously evolving ICE-age. In fact, while there certainly are exceptions, such as Germany's ZKM, which published an 'Artists CD-ROMagazine' through the late nineties (with, unfortunately, just 3 artworks carried aboard each), and the Electronic Music Foundation in New York, which is looking to its 10th anniversary this year (of activities ranged all the way through to significant support for The IDEA), I'll even go so far as to say of *many* institutions associated with the e-arts, that they are caught looking endlessly backwards at a subject that is hurtling endlessly forward.

But of course, it must be said that our own inadequate outreach on account of raising support for The IDEA still remains the main bottleneck in this direction, even after compensating for the difficulty many people seem to have in understanding the varied nuances of this project (e.g. at the simplest level, it is just a 'magazine' isn't it?).

At the edge, where true art is always expected to be, this is all about territories that are always spreading, moving ahead and continuously morphing at a pace often too fast for even many mainstream practitioners to keep up with. And it is all spiraling into every territory of human experience and endeavour by the day, just as we had predicted when we launched The IDEA #1 in January 2000, with many brave words like, "DTP / Imaging / even Digital-Video and Music have all come to hand ~ just like has happened with so many of you too, along your own streams of work and interest."

Well, if you didn't believe it then, you better believe it now. Today, there are continuously evolving Computer Based Creative Practices (CBCPs) behind almost every single thing touching upon almost every moment and aspect of our lives, right down to my newest pair of sneakers (yours too?!?). And they're changing everything, even themselves as streams of practices and products, ever more rapidly as time goes along.

Which means, my new sneakers are now already almost "obsolete" (yours too?!?).

And all of this translates all across the board of course. For example with regard to digital-imaging, folks on the street have begun to understand that they're being bombarded from every side by ever possible media in the normal course with images that even they too are now producing, often as 'by-products' of simple everyday tools like their telephones. A candy-shop I hopped into yesterday, here in Delhi, even had a new "Sketch Express" vending machine that digitally produces a simulated pen & ink 'drawing' of a customer (or whatever else it is shown) within minutes,.. for peanuts. Meanwhile, music has moved to where practitioners are now routinely upgrading desktop computers into professional non-linear multi-tracking studios (so what if it's in the bedroom?), while my own latest gizmo is a pocket-sized *professional* audio-recorder. And, boy-O-boy!, all of the same and a lot more too can be said of what's happened, and what is increasingly happening, with video.

As we'd projected in the IDEA #2, mid-2000, these continuously emerging new e-creative tools, products and practices are seamlessly taking in even those "who may never pursue the profession but will nevertheless improve their talents and capabilities in this direction, as a matter of routine computer-usage through the rest of their lives."

The downside is of course brutal, and bloody. Digital-imaging artists who gleefully abandoned other careers just a few years ago to pursue this vocation are often finding no buyers at all for their prints today. E-music composers who charged about USD $1,000 for a half-minute jingle just 2-3 years ago in Delhi are being offered a tenth of that for the same thing today. Television producers who used to go through weeks and months and years and reams of proposals, fund-raising, planning and team-building to develop an exciting 'reality' documentary film or video towards the end of just the last millennium are today usurped to the broadcast screen by teeming mobs of "non-professionals" such as the adrenaline junkies who just tie a camera to the tops of their heads and jump off the nearest high cliff, bridge or building with a parachute; or "amateurs" who patch together travel-documentaries from holiday videos,.. or 'action-series' from standard surveillance and police camera footage.

So then, is this whole business of Computer Based Creative Practices addressing "Art for Art's Sake" doomed?

Actually, I don't at all think so, and nothing is really changed from my old position that we should just see unprecedented new forms of art and 'Super Art' beginning to emerge. At the simplest level, with digital still-imaging for example, I personally think that we've only just begun to see any really meaningful explorations of what are it's most unique potentials to me; that for infinite detail (precision, perfection), and that for infinite size (walls, floors, ceilings, buildings). Meanwhile, Tom Chambers is well down the road of exploration towards infinite simplicity (minimalism?) with his stunning 'Pixelscapes' series, which bring 'movement' to still-images on screen rather than taking stills to the print-shop or the movies. And Tibor Kovacs-egri walked a middle road in recently taking the no-print route of compiling 300 images by 22 artists (including myself, with e-images and e-music) into a perpetual audio-video loop for a major arts festival in Budapest. And of course, many artists have married projected or printed digital-imaging into the context of installation-art and various streams of performance art.

The institutions and artists mentioned above are of course featured in this gazette (see contents), but with regard to the basic content of The IDEA on an ongoing basis, we do certainly recognize that we're still far from managing to draw in anything much more than just the tiniest of most overtly 'creative' little fragments of the entire ever-growing territory of Computer Based Creative Practices (CBCPs),.. even though the content of this particular gazette is distilled from more than 11,000 original files received on CDs from all over the worlds.

So what missing? Well for one, that designer behind my sneakers.

And-you guessed it-knowing that and looking to drag him/her aboard in time (with lots else too) has also always been a part of the idea of The IDEA.

P.S. I'm pleased to report that, amongst much else that happened with The IDEA in the long gap since #6, it was specially featured in the "Digital Content Consortium ­ 2003" of the University of North Carolina @ Pembroke alongside 3 other seminal works from different countries,.. and also in Geoffrey Caban's beautiful new book "World Graphic Design".

Keep well ~ Shankar Barua

below: a hilarious HTML+Javascript e-artwork that I received by e-mail

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