How are artists different?  1979-2007

Stephen Wilson, Conceputal Intformation Arts (CIA), San Francisco State University


What the times were like then?
How different now, How the same
How some of the same issues persist

My Background

MFA 1981  Generative Systems, Art Institute of Chicago
Worked with Bryan Rogers to establish Conceptual Design Program - SFSU
Started working with computers, internet, physical computing
Writing articles, books
First book on computers for artists  - Using Computers to create Art 1986

What was it like in 1979?

Saturday Night Fever

What characteristics did artists need then?

Toleration for Loneliness/ Isolation
few colleagues, showing venues,
art history not accept
art world not interested

Personal anecdote
MFA show Kent State Interactive Photo

Exception Journal Leonardo

Resourcefulness to learn strange things

Information obscure
Disciplines not artist friendly
few schools
not many artists interested, networks

exceptions: Generative Systtems
Sonia Sheridan, other programs

Challenge to invent new ways to think about work
People want to assimilate to new media or sculpture
Discourse not include larger cultural issues

Martin Newell - Utah Teapot

Innocence about popular culture, science, research worlds

Issolation of art/media world
Optimism about cutlure transformation

Transforming Events:

The computer revolution.  The microcomputer

Non professionals could become inventors, innovators, entreprenurs
Expectation of technical interest, literacy
Artists as researchers, not just users

World Wide Web

Break down barriers between disciplines
Can locate information for any project
Can find other artists
Can be found by others

What is Different Now

Tolerance for Isolation

Many more people working
Web has changed information exchange.
Access technical information, colleagues
Disseminate work

We Make Money Not Art Web Site

Resourcefulness to learn

Many educational programs
Networks to discuss issues, provide information & support
Open source, DIY, make magazine


CIA Program - SFSU

New Ways to Think about Work

Theory, books, critique


Loss of Innocence

What is arts avant garde role in culture or technology?
Relation of art/media/research/commerce?


Moving so fast - todays radical innovation is tommorrow's yawn
Engines of innovation reved up
How should artists respond

Personal Anecdote -  The 1997 Telepresent Project
World's first mobile, gps enabled, automatic web camera

wilson - Telepresent 1997

What's Similar?

Still Marginalized

Museums and Art World still don't get it
Someone working in experimental areas still on the fringe

Evelina Domnitch, Dmitry Gelfand
Camera Lucida (sonuluminescent chambers)

Theoretical Confusion

Can there any separation of art world from world of commerce/government/media?
Is there any possibility of genuine invention and innovation?
Are there possibilities of cultural advance from researh
Are there possibilities of cultural advance from art?
How should we think about the relationship of science to the larger culture?

Interflow of science, invention, and culture

18th&19th century
Science as entertainment
Gentlemen inventors

Cult of the amateur:  "a person who engages in a study, sport, or other activity for pleasure rather than for financial benefit or professional reasons"

Will the development of biological research duplicate microcomputers?

Popular involvement with development of the microscope