Conference to Focus on Fabrication of Public Opinion in an Era of Concentrated Media Ownership

Number of independent outlets explodes at same time corporate count shrinks

Release Date: April 15, 2004 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Recent years have seen a spectacular rise in Internet activism, the use of a variety of "tactical media" by protesters, growing international political dissent, talk of a "transnational civil society" and the circulation of global governance models. These have not changed the structure of mainstream media, however.

In fact, according to many, including German-born media artist Trebor Scholz, assistant professor of media study in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University at Buffalo, quite the opposite has occurred: The concentration of media power in fewer and fewer hands is now unstoppable.

In the face of what many observers fear is the closing of the media mind, Scholz and Geert Lovink, well-known Dutch media critic now based in Brisbane, Australia, who has founded many Internet projects, will convene a conference at UB on April 24 and 25 to look at what opponents of the single media voice are up to these days.

The conference, "networks, art and collaboration," will look at the many means of dissent devised by media artists, theorists, activists and critics, and consider their long-term goals in the face of global media consolidation.

A new magazine about online collaboration also will be launched during the conference.

Scholz says the conference participants, most of whom will be from Europe and North America, will discuss current critical models of computer-mediated and computer-generated artistic practices "that go beyond decoration and empty self-expression to speak to its social context -- art that does not give itself up to the golden cage of the institutionalized art world."

The conference is expected to draw concerned participants working in the fields of art, sociology, English, art history, political science, education, communication, anthropology, e-poetics, informatics, biotechnology, media activism and computer science.

Among the topics they will address are:

• Anti-universities, "open source" and other kinds of free software, collaboration between artists and scientists, ABCs of collaboration, technical media and children, 1960s Play Theory, open content initiatives, archives and shared authority and attribution

• How education in new media can go beyond the training of students for corporate "dot.bomb" jobs

• Whether Weblogging suggests that an alternative "tactical media" is becoming a small parallel world

• Social-network architectures, collective literary practices, artistic collaborative practices, critical deviance and splintered subversion, self-activated oral histories, data programming for community, collaborative storytelling and community radio

• How to encourage the creation of experimental, Web-based artwork that re-inscribes historical memory and untold histories

• The spectrum of possible critical interventions for cultural producers online -- from facilitating Web-based artwork to technical support for what often is called "the movement," which embraces global peace and justice efforts by thousands of groups connected by the Internet

• What Web-based practices embrace new technologies optimistically, while not losing the necessary skepticism -- practices that incorporate theory

Sessions will include "Lists, Blogs and the Quest for Meaning," workshops offering technological skill exchange, a discussion of "The High Art of Collaboration" and an analysis of "Global Social Movements/Participatory Networked Cultures."

Sponsors include the UB Center for Applied Technologies and Education (CATE), the Office of the Vice President for Research, the Edward H. Butler Chair in the Department of English, the Department of Media Study, the College of Arts and Sciences, the Department of Comparative Literature, springerin (magazine for contemporary art in Vienna, Austria), c magazine (Toronto) and Neutral Magazine (Italy).

Registration fee is $40 the day of the conference, but registration will close on April 24. Further information is available at the conference Web site at Scholz may be contacted at

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, the largest and most comprehensive campus in the State University of New York.

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