defining scope

The last few weeks have been mainly caught up with my (still fulltime) job where I’ve been on a roadshow around Australia promoting some research. It’s been a great tour with excellent turnouts and discussions, and the twitter hashtag #connectarts hasn’t stopped! I’m quite proud of what we’ve gathered with the whole research / blog post collection, so feel free to go have a rummage if you’re interested in how Australian arts audiences use the internet and social media: http://connectarts.australiacouncil.gov.au

What this has meant for me personally is the time (and travel) to say farewell to some of the lovely folk I’ve played and worked with here for the last couple of years. And of course the opportunity to talk to them (and total strangers) about this project. Which has increasingly resulted in me re-considering the scope of what I’m about to do.

There’s no denying it; this is a massive endeavour. Possibly (… no, definitely…) too massive. I do have a penchant for somewhat large concepts and I always seem to bite off more than I can chew. But I’m getting old now (seriously…) so I have to try to be slightly more rational (well, I can try, eh?).

brainstorming template, courtesy Ky Lee Menzies (@bimyou_bimyou)

brainstorming template, courtesy Ky Lee Menzies (@bimyou_bimyou)

So I’ve been trying to define the scope of this project; what am I actually going to try to achieve, and what is outside of the remit of this thing. Of course I will want to tangent all over the place, and I know I’ll get distracted and go off-topic frequently, but hopefully you’ll forgive me so long as I actually end up with something solid and centralised at the end.

So here’s my latest thinking…

What I am trying to do:

  1. Showcase (by documentation & interviews) some of the amazing media arts / creative digital culture ideas & people out there.
  2. Explore (by survey and factual data gathering) how (if at all) practice differs from country to country, culture to culture (and maybe sector to sector…).
  3. Question if those differences (if any) are affected by Government policy or other financial considerations, or if / how media arts / digital culture practice sits outside of traditional economic infrastructures.

What I am not trying to do:

I am in no way pretending to be a professional researcher, academic or curator; others are far more knowledgeable than I in those fields. I’m simply gathering data in the only way I know how: by reading, listening, questioning and trusting my gut to learn what the combination of those things leads me to next. I do not aim to present myself as an expert; I will rather point to other people’s expertise where I find it and do my best to – respectfully – stand on the shoulders of giants. In doing so hopefully some of their smarts will rub off on me too!

What I think I’ll end up with:

  • This blog, full of video and text interviews, media art work documentation, sample data snippets as the survey gets populated, and my (for the want of a better word) ‘reportage’ (i.e. my blatherings as I’m thinking all this through).
  • An actively engaged social media community all sharing info about creative digital culture and (hopefully) helping me to find amazing people/work to add to the collection.
  • A pretty organised database of media arts practitioners around the world, including artists, funders, arts orgs, venues, audiences, etc. I’m currently aggregating 15 years worth of contact info from my own practice (around 3000 names) and will obviously add to this as I go.
  • Analysed data from the survey (a survey which I hasten to add has yet to be compiled and is causing me a large amount of stress at the moment!).
  • Material that could potentially become a documentary film / book / PhD resources… who knows?
  • A series of papers / conference presentations (maybe even teacher’s notes?).
  • Possibly (this might be a bit too cocky, but I’ve clearly been working for a funding body for too long!) an advocacy document that other artists can use to support their ‘niche’ and ‘experimental’ proposals for funding, or even that policy developers can refer to when considering what this ‘sector’ is.
  • An artwork? This is a biggie for me. I’m still working out what this might mean, how this project could be an artwork in its own right, and even whether it is appropriate to be so (that could easily be a whole other project).
  • Some idea of what I should do next! Am I a producer / consultant / broker / researcher / any other role where it is much easier to earn a living? Or am I really an artist, and if so, what kind? Where should my practice take place? How will I ‘pay the rent’? What role should I expect to have in society?… And all those other questions that keep a girl up at night (seriously, I didn’t get a wink last night…).

This is all still work-in-progress. In fact I reckon it’ll always be work-in-progress to be honest. No one knows where this digital phenomenon is going, and I’m damned if I’m going to pretend otherwise! That’s what makes it totally awesome, right?

So, whaddya think? Make sense? Make no sense? Still too much? Not enough?? Please tell me what you think. I need your help here, if you’re prepared to share it. To chat, you should know I just changed my twitter name from @artsdigitalera to @bigtripco (& sorry, now to @feesable), you can comment below, and you can also talk to me via Facebook and now Google+.