Arrived at the first day of , the Institute for Network Society annual (). Realized today's talks are all in Chinese. This must be what it's like for non-English speaking folks coming to most tech politics conferences. Being a native English speaker is a privilege that's hard to recognize until I find myself in this kind of situation.

My first ever experience of being in the linguistic and ethnic minority at an event was as a teenager, attending Ngā Manu Kōrero, the annual Te Reo Māori speech competitions. It blows my mind that many people have never had such an experience.

The first speaker at , a woman in a pink lab coat, does an amazingly visual presentation on the mobile device as a magic mirror biased towards making everything "beautiful". She plays with these tools live on the screen, demonstrating "beautification" and then hacking this concept to showcase the more creative and expressive use these same tools can be put to.

program is here:

The speaker names are all in Chinese, which I can't read 😞

The second speaker is a young man in a cap and hipster glasses. He starts off with demonstrating something that involves a group of audience volunteers standing in a circle, numbering off. Then moves on to something about and continuous consciousness.

This second speaker is making minimal use of the presentation screen, as I often do. I'm having an experience maybe akin to that of a visual person attending one of my presentations 😏 He seems to be talking about various examples of applications, and a ? A tool for recognising emotions in human faces based on a schema? A photo of a person doing calligraphy with a brain scanning web attached. Who is Rosa? Why are these posts turning into bad haiku?

The third speaker, another young man in hipster glasses is talking about , and various other famous arts figures including John Cage. A B+W photo of an old French protest march. A photo representing infinite regression? Photo of the issue with "You" as Person of the Year.

Fourth speaker is a young woman wearing a grey overcoat and orange and black stripey pants. I approve 😉

Fourth speaker seems to be talking about of notable architecture. She quotes . A photo of a set of sails above a city. ? Photos of white folks in period aristocratic costume, and of palatial built environments, The White Palace? A photo of the contrast between low-rise and high-rise housing, in China? Photos of an old, communal neighbourhood. She quotes and others. A video of lit-up city nightscapes with massive group dancing.

What would you call a that turns up predictably at the same time every week? That's a common sight in public squares in China. Most of them seems to be huge dance classes.

The fifth speaker is a young woman in a black Matrix coat and glasses whose presentation is entitled "Blindness". She seems to be talking about or "" and how much time people spend on average online.

Fifth speaker is talking about "Computer Vision Syndrome" and quoting . Now she's talking about MS Windows and maybe how the overlapping nature of windows on a desktop contrasts with paintings like Alberti's Window and Magritte's window painting, and Friedberg's writing about windows. She quotes and . Then moves on to "trees blindness" and tree walks. Then to teen use of#SocialMedia and discourses of .

More images infinite regression. Photo of . A surrealist painting. ? a space suite on a couch. Everything is quite surreal when I have no idea what's being said 😏

Today's speakers seems to come from a range of universities around China. Now we seems to be moving on to a panel discussion and/or Q+A with the first group of speakers.

The first panel at was 'Spiritual Life in the Network Society'. The second panel is 'Political Economy Criticism of Social Media'.

The third panel at , is called 'Media Archaeology'. I really wish I could understand Chinese because all three of the panels today had fascinating topics. Mind you, even if I had been studiously working on my skills since before we got here, I imagine I'd still be struggling to follow academic lectures ;)

Still, I'll head back for what's left of panel 3 once my devices finish charging and interpreting what I can from the slides ;)

I got lost on the way back to venue yesterday so I missed the third panel. Today I couldn't get on the WiFi until now, so I took lots of handwritten notes. Watch out for a long blog post. Fingers crossed for more live-posting tomorrow.

Michael Goddard. Focusing on . Recycling of media modes using new waves of technology. "Claims to novelty" reflect cultural amnesia. Media technology develops in spirals rather than linear progression. Presence is the "holy grail" of VR. Part of a history of "audiovision", Zelinski. "post-cinematic", still primarily concerned with sight and sound. References 'Virtual Reality', 'Spasm'.

warns against the fantasies of disembodiment and lack of materiality of , citing the relationship between VR and . describes VR flashbacks from an artist project in 1991-3 that sound like psychedelic flashbacks, "alternate world syndrome".

In the 2000s mobile computing eclipsed VR in the public media imaginary, but higher processing power led to the current resurgence of VR. VR is limited as a kind of "". But returning to fine arts as a source of new VR aesthetics could break new ground. In those contexts, only part of the story is in the media, much of it is located in the theory that prompts it, and the conversations it provokes.


So what fine arts contributes to the aesthetic development of new media, like cinema in the 1960s, is an exploration of process and the possibilities of what can be done with new creative tools and experiences, outside of a tunnel vision focused only on producing marketable products. There would be no products - movies or merch - without the artistic experiments that prefigured cinema VFX.

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