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Reviewing the Future: Vision, Innovation, Emergence:

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This is my report on my School of Visual Arts sponsored participation in the international conference on new media: “Reviewing the Future: Vision, Innovation, Emergence: The First Summit Meeting of the Planetary Collegium” which took in Montreal, Canada from the 19th – 22nd of April 2007. The conference was hosted by the CIAM (Centre Interuniversitaire des Arts Médiatiques) and by Hexagram. Both organizations acted as partial sponsors. Activities mainly took place at le "C∫ur des Sciences", the new scientific complex at University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM).

I arrived the evening of the 19th after my Thursday SVA class and left after the conference was concluded on the 22nd. While there, I spoke, attended all the sessions possible given the 2 track structure of the session (Pierre Levy’s talk was for me the highlight).

Roy Ascott's “Reviewing the Future: Vision, Innovation, Emergence” gathering was inclusive of all past/present Planetary Collegium members. Network consciousness, telematic interactivity and the media and metaphors of technology and science, informed the “Reviewing the Future: Vision, Innovation, Emergence” conference. Developments in computing, communications, biophysics, cognitive science, hypermedia, telepresence and robotics - as related to the fields of painting, architecture, performance, dance, narrative, music and design were investigated. New discourses emerged and theory was not to be left behind. These subjects set the context of the Planetary Collegium's Summit Meeting “Reviewing the Future: Vision, Innovation, Emergence”, a forum which provided for a review of the future.

While there was some celebration of past achievements, the thrust of the Summit Meeting's lectures, round tables, workshops, performances and exhibitions clearly strategised individual and collective initiatives that moved the digital art agenda to another level. There was a good deal of imaginative and informed speculation here which aimed at an inspiration to the worlds of arts, technology and consciousness research. Developments in the nanofield, biophysics, and quantum computing fields were stressed.

I spoke the 20th at 9:45 AM for a bit over half an hour on a panel with the architectural theoretician Dr. Peter Anders and Dr. Edward Shaken. Dr. Shanken researches post-WWII experimental art, with a focus on technology. He is editor of the book Telematic Embrace: Visionary Theories of Art, Technology, and Consciousness by Roy Ascott (University of California Press).

This is the Abstract to the paper I delivered, which is published in the “Reviewing the Future: Vision, Innovation, Emergence” booklet (page 52). In addition to the book of Abstracts designed and edited by Peter Anders and the subsequent production by Mike Phillips of a DVD that will include my SVA sponsored presentation, Roy Ascott is editing a book on the Collegium to be published by Intellect which will include selected papers from the Summit.

My Abstract, which has already been published in the “Reviewing the Future: Vision, Innovation, Emergence” booklet (page 52):

“In this paper-presentation I will address the specificity of digital technology and viral a-life techniques as they are used to revolutionize our habits of artistic thinking in exhilarating ways. I will demonstrate and explore here how digital technology facilitates changes in cultural consciousness by primarily allowing artists to operate differently through what I have come to call methods of “viractuality”.”

Key Words:
viractuality, a-life, generative painting, cellular automata, uni-media, viral symphony, visionary art, computer viruses

I stayed at The Lord Berri Hotel - which was in walking distance from the conference.

Joseph Nechvatal

School of Visual Arts (SVA) in New York City and Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey.