Building a House on Sand [Is the Digital World Suffuciently Solid to be a New Foudation for Artists?]
Inter/@ccess is a non-profit artist-run centre, founded in 1983, which provides a community network and resource base to enable artists and the public to explore the intersections of culture and technology through the creation, exhibition, presentation and discussion of electronic art forms and new communications media. Located in Toronto, Inter/@ccess operates a bbs about electronic art, and offers access to computers to artists working in digital media, in addition to presenting events and exhibitions of electronic art. We also provide an on-going context for critical discourse, and present alternative views of the use of new technologies to those provided by the mainstream media and government policy-makers. The evolution of the centre illustrates recent developments in many interwoven wider spheres. Globalization has caused contempt for anything which does not contribute directly to the bottom line, while dwindling government funding for arts is reviled as philistinism by some, and hailed as a return to the good old days of elitism and artists' patrons by others. At the same time, corporate sponsors are refusing the traditional "arm's-length relationship" and demanding more decision-making power in exchange for their funding. CD-ROM manufacturers are eager to get their hands on cool multimedia content to move their products off the shelves, but few artists in this situation have creative control over their work. The potentials for electronic art creation are expanding constantly with the increased sophistication of hardware and software; however, this means even steeper learning curves for the electronic artist. In addition, rapid obsolescence makes it unfeasible to invest heavily in equipment. Computer Inter/@ccess has tried to respond to, maybe even take advantage of, these fundamental changes. One of our goals is to make this a place for the entire electronic media arts community of Toronto and beyond, to offer something for emerging artists, senior electronic artists, critics, students, and the public. Most policies of our organization have been re-thought: membership, the computer studio, the bbs, exhibitions and events, staffing. Is is possible to define a stable place for ourselves in this digital rush hour? What should be the position of the artistrun electronic media arts centre? What is the role of the creative artist in the digital world?