25 JULY - 3 AUGUST 2008

ISEA, the International Symposium on Electronic Art initiated in 1988, is the world’s premier media arts event for the critical discussion and showcase of creative productions applying new technologies in interactive and digital media. Held biannually in various cities throughout the world, this migratory event is being held in Asia for the second time in its history, after Singapore successfully secured this bid.

This symposium consists of three aspects of peer reviewed conference, internationally juried exhibition and various in-conjunction and partner events. ISEA2008 is proud to announce an Artists In Residence programme supported by the National University of Singapore that will run for the year leading up to the 2008 Symposium.


The global and unequally distributed proliferation of information, communication and experiential technologies has led to the development of a highly differentiated and structurally complicated media arts field. Even as the advent of some technologies is actively celebrated and their potential exploited by some, some others have barely come to grips with the possibilities of ‘long-obsolescent’ technologies.

Even as some struggle with the newness of certain technologies, others somewhat jaded with the determinative influence on their lives and creativity are consciously opting for “old” and “low” technologies. In such a globally differentiated situation, the very notions of “new” and “old” technologies though pandered as an issue of relative sophistication is revealed as an issue of relative access largely determined by historical, political, economic and cultural contexts. That such technologies have become important engines of economic development has made a critical evaluation of their complicities in and complex relationships to particular socio-cultural, economic and political ways of being especially difficult.

That one can simultaneously critique technologies and yet enjoy the benefits and pleasures of some particular technologies might seem like a compromise and sell-out for some, but is a necessary aspect of one’s being in a world infused with such technologies to a point where opting out is both pragmatically impossible and ethically irresponsible.

In the art world, the problems of how one critically evaluates creative uses of technology are often confused with the questions of how one creatively enables the critical uses of technology. The themes for ISEA2008 Symposium have been selected to respond thus to the challenges of new and old technologies in creatively engaging the critical problems and possibilities of our age.


Alongside the conference, a crucial component of the symposium is an exhibition that premieres 16 artworks that have been developed specifically for ISEA2008 by international and local artists during their time as artists in residence in Singapore.

These projects were selected by the ISEA2008 committee after an open call for submissions in 2007. New media artists were required to submit proposals that took their inspiration from the conferences five themes: Locating Media, Reality Jam, Wiki Wiki, Ludic Interfaces, and Border Transmissions. The artists whose projects were selected have had the opportunity to work intensely for three months as artists in residence in a number of new media and technology labs based at the National University Of Singapore. They have created the artworks within the lab environment, gaining access to advanced technologies and the expertise of researchers. This confluence between art, research, science and technology has opened up many possibilities for further exploration in both of these fields.

The resulting exhibition is an exciting glimpse into the questions and concerns of new media artists in 2008. Eclectic, restless and always surprising, the artworks in AIR take on a wide range of subjects from the refiguring of surveillance; body language and communication; mapping electromagnetic fields; the flow of water and information on the internet; they address civic spaces and the natural environment, along with the immersive qualities of sounds and smells, and much more.


Isea 2008 will be also rich of conferences, workshops, media presentations and live events. Check the whole program on the official website