29 January – 30 April 2011, The New Art Exchange, Hyson Green, Nottingham, UK.
"New Art Exchange is delighted to present an exhibition of works by world renowned Magnum photographer Raghu Rai, for the first time in a public gallery in the UK, including new work from 2010.
Rai's work proclaims the rich diversity of contemporary India, with its juxtapositions of ancient and modern, where the people are the landscape. He photographs an India teeming with colour, history, beauty and brilliance whilst uncovering a continent's domestic rituals with these striking images of Indian street life, festivals and the changing seasons.
'Over the centuries, so much has melded into India that it's not really one country, and it's not one culture. It is crowded with crosscurrents of many religions, beliefs, cultures and their practices that may appear incongruous. But India keeps alive the inner spirit of her own civilization with all its contradictions. Here, several centuries have learnt to live side by side at the same time. And a good photograph is a lasting witness to that, as photography is a history of our times: being a multi–lingual, multi– cultured and multi– religious society, the images must speak these complexities through a multi–layered experience.' – Raghu Rai"
(The New Art Exchange, 2011)
Fig.1 Raghu Rai (1964). 'Traffic At Chawri Bazar', Delhi
"Hundreds of thousands of Africans, Asians and Latin Americans have started blogging, opening up a library of human knowledge in local languages to those who are willing to listen, and making the internet a far more multilingual and multicultural place (Block, 2004). A recent Technorati study found that Chinese and Japanese have overtaken English as the dominant languages of the blogosphere, and that growing native–language communities are emerging all over the net.6 Thus, the language issue in the context of Web 2.0 technology is increasingly less about content–creation and access, and more about content–transfer. Translating between two languages requires an appreciation of the 'intellectual, ideological and social understandings upon which speech is based' (Powell, 2006: 522). This is certainly one of the areas where Web 2.0 faces some serious challenges. Specialised sites, such as Global Voices Online (see Box 2), however, have been developed to organise, translate and distribute this local knowledge. And even when people are not blogging in their native languages, they are sharing knowledge about their local realities. Knowledge–creation is itself a hugely empowering experience for any individual, and the benefits of such empowerment will become more diffused as more people from the developing world join the global online discussion."
(Alberto Masetti–Zannini, p.21,22)
Alberto Masetti–Zannini, Web 2.0 and International Development NGOs
Knowledge Politics Quarterly, Volume 1 Issue 1 (Oct 2007), edited by Craig Berry
In April 2008, FOB Mixtape brought their music to the Australian public in their first live show at Federation Square in Melbourne. Armed with 'music with a difference' but a modest budget, FOB Mixtape used the social networking website, MySpace to garner support and interest in their show. The band members created a promotional video and viral marketing: digital promotional strategies that are increasingly used by emerging and established artists to engage instantly with large audiences, without huge overheads. FOB Mixtape is an Australian hiphop group with a social conscience and their music aims to challenge racial stereotypes of Asian migrants in Australia. FOB Mixtape draw on their experiences as second generation migrants to write humorous lyrics such as 'I ain't the type of guy that you're used to seeing, the human being that's a few between a gook and a European'. The group takes a tongue and cheek look at the plight of being labelled an 'Asian' in Australia today, as seen in the group's name FOB Mixtape or 'Fresh Off the Boat'', which is immigrant slang used to describe newly arrived migrants. Recently featured on the SBS series mY Generation, FOB Mixtape can be seen as typical of Generation Y's expressing themselves through digitally sampled music, their ease with using online marketing – all of which was created in the basement of one of their parent's home. This experience of FOB Mixtape is an example of a new form of civic engagement that uses everyday, digital technologies to address some of the racial intolerances that exist in the culturally diverse societies of Australia today.
Mia Thornton (University of Brighton)
With the accelerated spread of globalisation and multiculturalism, questions surrounding cultural difference are becoming increasingly prominent and complex. The recent events surrounding the Mohammad caricatures show how representations of culturally significant figures can elicit a multiplicity of reactions from people, including anger, violence and intolerance. In the media, different groups responding to these events were described on one side as "not giv(ing) up their critical spirit out of fear of being accused of Islamophobia" and on another side as "what we are looking for is that you take our sensitivities in your definition [of freedom of expression]". These and other similar events reveal the complex issues involved with understanding the relationship between interpretation and cultural difference. Even if in the past few decades there has been decisive moves against perpetuating monocultural or international stereotypes, particularly in the visual communication field, there still remain many issues to be resolved in the domain of cultural difference.
"Some say Melbourne is a cultural melting pot. Jeffrey Shaw sees it as a series of giant cylinders, each identifiable by its ethnic origins, part of the city, but different from its neighbours. The idea has been translated by large amounts of computer cunning into a virtual environment, Place Urbanity, that is running at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image at Federation Square.
Shaw, a Melbourne–born new media artist who is director for visual media at the ZKM Centre for Art and Media in Karlsruhe, Germany, has built 15 digital cylinders, essentially movies–in–the–round, of some of Melbourne's ethnic settlements, and set them on a broad virtual plain.
The digital video camera images were stitched together on a big Apple Macintosh computer using Adobe's After Effects software. Each of the 15 is a four–minute video loop. On the platform on which viewers stand are a PC with a powerful computer games card and a G4 Power Mac that handles the audio channels. A Sanyo digital projector lays the images on a nine–metre cylindrical screen.
Visitors stand on a rotating platform in the centre of the nine–metre circular screen on which the movies are projected. The platform rotates and can be 'driven' forward and swung right and left to move around in the digital image.
You aim at a cylinder sitting on your horizon, penetrate its borders like an aircraft entering a cloud, and suddenly the movie is all around you.
Maybe you have chosen Carlton, and find yourself on Lygon Street. You steer for the kerb and suddenly a comedian is hanging upside down in front of you, playing a guitar and singing The Aussie Wife Blues.
'I was in the multimedia space very early; we were right on the edge of development,' Shaw says. 'That was the mid–1970s. I built a kit computer and then got an Apple II that I used to make my first interactive piece – just a wire–frame virtual world you could navigate around. The limit then was 100 straight lines in black and white that could be animated in real time at about 12 frames per second, about half standard television rate.'
Since leaving Australia in 1965, Shaw has lived and worked in Milan, London, Frankfurt, Amsterdam and Karlsruhe. He founded the ZKM institute in 1992.
'I have always been interested in interactivity as a component of the art experience; giving the viewer some way to steer, control, interact and be part of the work,' Shaw says.
'Early works of mine just had simple things such as switches: switch it on, switch it off. In the late 1980s, I started to work with big Silicon Graphics work stations, which opened the door to much more sophisticated effects. But the big breakthrough now are the computer games boards. They are incredible; inexpensive and very powerful.
'Because of the game industry's appetite for bringing video data into virtual environments you have extremely sophisticated tools for texturing video. For the first time you can take cinematic data, real–world recorded data, texture it into a virtual environment and handle it like plasticine.
'That allows us to produce a work such as Place Urbanity, where the video panoramas are textured on to cylinders and you can navigate around and among them.'
Just as internet pornographers chasing more money pushed technology to improve computer imaging, so have games makers provided more capable software for new media artists. 'In the Silicon Graphics days you'd get a significant improvement in the technology about every two years. Now it's every three months,' Shaw says.
Place Urbanity pushes some of the artistic boundaries, but more is to come. 'I am interested in stereo projection and in multiscreen projection. The next generation of GeForce computer games boards will do all of that. You can do polarised stereo and, using genlock (generator locking using a device that enables a composite video machine, such as a TV, to accept two signals simultaneously) do multiscreen projection to produce a complete immersive environment. All of that will become available on an affordable home computer,' he says.
When new media art enters the home it won't be in a conventional home cinema. 'We seek to create new kinds of environmental experiences of the film image. The cinema is an idiosyncratic environmental experience. It is a dark room in which you sit with hundreds of other people for a couple of hours and that is the architecture of watching a movie. But you don't have to have that format for a cinematic experience.
'In Place Urbanity you have cylinders that you walk into and out of. You spend as much time as you want and the cinematic information is a loop that goes on and on.'
Shaw has been appointed visiting professor at the University of NSW's new iCinema research centre that will examine the future of home media. 'At the moment it is a bit regressive,' he said. 'They build themselves cinemas in their homes, but that is not what new media is about; it should be more than just going to the movies.'
Media is converging from a wide variety of sources – television, the internet, DVD interactive movies on computers and TV screens, even on appliances and mobile phones and handheld computers.
'I have recently done some multi–user art works,' he says. 'The visitor enters the art work and can meet other visitors there and talk to them. The art work itself becomes a social space. But voice is essential.
'It will be a virtual environment where you can visit a movie and when you step out you will be able to meet others who have also been there and you can talk to them'."
(Garry Barker, 31 March 2003, The Age Company Ltd.)