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Ars Electronica is nearer than you think this year, located in Downtown San Jose from August 7 - 13.  No need for that expensive plane ticket, just take the train (an hour and forty minute ride max; from San Francisco it’s $13.50 round trip, about the price of parking).  There are shuttles, buses, and light rail to take you downtown or you can walk for about a mile to get there.
ZeroOne San Jose: A Global Festival of Art on the Edge and ISEA 2006 (the 13th International Symposium on Electronic Art) is the place to be in August.  From 1800 submissions, reviewed by 200 jurors, about 130 projects and 70 papers and presentations from 40 countries (and about 25 locals) were chosen by organizers Steven Dietz and Joel Slatkin. 
As I gleaned from a press conference staged on June 14th at the San Jose Museum of Art that included several San Jose luminaries, there are many agendas surrounding this event,  from the city’s “branding opportunity” (Art as Logo) to Silicon Valley businesses’ need for tourist dollars and a cultural environment to attract the talent of innovative workers (Art as Bait).  Ignore the hype.  What the ZeroOne Festival and ISEA Symposium, modeled after Ars Electronica and comparable in size, means is an “experience that technology can provide when it is in the hands of artists,” as Dietz comments.
In fact, you can start now.  The Web site is www.01sj.org for the schedule of events, some free, some ticketed.  Click the ISEA Symposium where you will find abstracts, or in some cases entire papers, on which you can comment in an on-line forum.  The four general topic areas are Interactive City, Community Domain, Pacific Rim, and Transvergence.
As a preview, on display at the San Jose Museum of Art is a grid of 231 mini-LCD screens called The Listening Post, developed from a collaboration between artist Ben Rubin and statistician Mark Hansen.  With words culled from live Internet chat rooms streaming across the screens, like an electronic tower of babble, it includes an audio component periodically repeating selected words.  Scrabbled and difficult to comprehend, but shocking when you see the word “Sunnis” cross your visual field, it captures one of the two main political themes in several projects, the environment and surveillance. 

Check it out!

— Allegra Fortunati

- Meredith Tromble [Sunday, June 18th, 2006]

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