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May 5, 2005: Hyperpolis at Polytechnic University, Brooklyn


It's a bad sign when the head of a conference admits freely from the audience that he made up the name of the conference at the last minute. The title, Hyperpolis, is catchy and connotates "a polis distributed over the entire surface of the world." Too bad more wasn't done with the theme. The subtitle, "Age of Reason 2.0" is also interesting but nothing much was done with it. This has more to do with the structure of the conference and the fact there weren't many people in the audience. Though I don't have a great deal of experience with these kinds of presentations I do think this was better suited to a smaller, more intimate setting than the auditorium at Polytechnic University in Brooklyn.

One of the themes brought up many times in many variations was of what is commonly thought of as the divide between "virtual" and "real" in this emerging hyperpolis. Philosopher Stephen Wright attempted to clarify this common misunderstanding of "virtual" when asked about the political importance of the difference but admitted it's a common misunderstanding that wasn't the focus of this conference. Too bad that it wasn't. Beth Coleman was brilliant and provided almost all of the "artist" POV in the first round of questions. Mark Amerika came off as oddly academic (or should that be akademic? explaining to us who the Situationists were.

I left during the second section after one too many references to Slavoj Zizek by the first speaker. I would have liked to have heard Ken Wark and to feast on the promised sandwiches but I felt the call of the office...

We do really need to develop better ways of staging these conferences. I just can't sit in a large auditorium and pay attention to someone beefing up their CV. I don't have the time and I don't have the interest.