John Southworth Interview 2004

John Southworth 2004

"OUTER SPACE: The Past, Present and Future of Telematic Art - 10"
INTERVIEW WITH JOHN SOUTHWORTH ABOUT EARLY TELEMATIC ART AT OPEN SPACE GALLERY IN VICTORIA, CANADA.
BY JEREMY TURNER (Conducted by e-mail, January, 2004). 
 
JT: I was wondering if you could recollect details of your collaborations with Robert Adrian in Vienna and Bill Bartlett in Victoria? If a new project were to come up similar in spirit to Interplay and ARTEX, would you be interested in working with Bill Bartlett and Robert Adrian again? And if yes, in what capacity?
 
JS: That was certainly early in my work with international telecommunications here at the University of Hawaii Laboratory School. We were part of the Colorado Video Scannet that provided surplus slowscan TV equipment to educational institutions. As I recall, we communicated on the Electronic Information Exchange System (EIES) as part of Murray Turoff and Roxanne Hiltz global networking. (See next comment)
 
JT: I just heard that Worldpool is reforming for more Telecom performances. Would you and/or your institution in Hawaii be interested in participating in new telecom projects?
 
JS: Sure....depending on what my specific job assignment is. It could fit our Distance Learning - Enrichment (DL-E) model where periodic activities can complement the normal classroom activities. I am puzzled by the term "WorldPool" or is that another name for "24 Hours Around the World" event?
 
JT: I have noticed that some of the major players in Telematic art are from relatively remote regions: Hawaii, Pender Island, Victoria and the Cook Islands to name a few. These locales were often billed alongside New York, San Francisco and Paris. Is there something unique about more remote locations that allows our thinkers, writers and artists to embrace and assume a leadership role in this Telematic age? Also, do you feel that Telecommunications art has the potential to decentralize the Art World away from major urban centres?
 
JS: Since I didn't really know those in the other locations I can only speculate on their motives. All I know is that Hawaii is one of the most geographically-isolated areas of the world so this kind of global linking makes us feel more included and not excluded. Since I am not really in the arts I can't speculate on the potential to "decentralize the Art World..."
 
JT: B.C.'s rainy climate and neon signage is very well known for inspiring authors such as William Gibson to invent the phrase "Cyberspace" and for Philip K. Dick to develop his novel that became the movie "Blade Runner". Is there anything about Hawaii's climate that inspires artists to experiment with New Media work such as telecommunications?
 
JS: From those artists I know, I would agree with that statement since one can operate in the environment without risk of life and limb as is the case in some other locations. 
 
JT: What was the general reaction in Hawaii at the time to the "24 Hours Around the World" performance? Did the results of these global interchanges directly inspire any Hawaii-based artists that you can think of? 
 
JS: It was a curiousity as I recall. Can't say I saw that much involvement of artists in it at our location.

JT: In my interview with Robert Adrian he mentions how your WorldPool Collaboration in 1977 was at a time when experiencing the fax medium back then was equivalent to experiencing "magic". I think it was Arthur C. Clarke who felt that any good science was "indistinguishable from magic". Was the WorldPool '77 experience also "magical" for you? Do you feel that there is still "Magic" left in some of the newer technological experiences out there?
 
JS: If you mean the 24 hours event, yes....otherwise I don't recall the term "WorldPool '77. In many ways we really haven't gone much further in terms of interactive telecommunications. We can do it cheaper now that IP connectivity has pretty much replaced expensive phone/ISDN methods.
 
JT: What is your opinion on the current state of telematic art and/or emailed art?
 
 
JS: Have really not been involved with it to any extent. Perhaps you mean examples of shared "white boards" or "smart boards" where collaborative creation is possible.
 
JT: What kind of future do you envision for telematic art and/or emailed art? 
JS: I see increased audio and video collaboration as being possible for remote participants.
 
JT: Are you interested in the increasing trajectory towards video- game environments and software emulation as an art-form? 
JS: Only if they are not violent and anti-social as too many are now. I see a great potential for EDUCATIONAL gaming where learning more than manual skills is the product.
 
JT: Do you have any advice for online artists of today's generation?
JS: Seek ways like the KidCast for Peace on EarthDay that Peter Rosen has been doing to allow kids to share artworks depicting a peaceful world.
 
Bios: 
 
John Southworth is currently Director of Technology for the University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR) Student Ambassador Program. He works with Distance Education at the University of Hawaii Education Laboratory School as a member of the Science Department. He grew up in (Pomona) California and attended Pomona College (Chemistry major), the University of Bristol, England (Biochemistry studies), and the University of Hawaii (Oceanography major). He taught science and math in the United States Peace Corps in Malaysia for 18 months. He has been on the staff of CRDG and UHS since 1980. From 1995-1998 he served as Coordinator for the Technology Collaborative for the Pacific as part of ARC Associates, Pacific Region. This project involved implementation of the Regional Technology in Education Consortia program of the United States Department of Education.
 
He started the Lab School Distance Learning - Technology elective class that was part of the CTAHR's "Student Ambassador Program" during that year. The class is now entitled DL-E: Distance Learning - Enrichment. Students from the DL-E class work as mentors with the Technology Coordinating Teams (TCT) of each StAmP Net school. In November 2001 he began working with the technical aspects of StAmP and will be continuing through the 2003-2004 school year. 
Email: south@hawaii.edu
 
Jeremy Turner is the current Digital Archivist working on contract at Open Space. He is also an interdiscplinary artist, writer, composer and curator. He is a Co-Founder of the 536 Media Collective in Vancouver. In addition, he is a Co-Producer of the very first Machinima Documentary, "AVATARA". To date, he has conducted interviews and written articles about innovations in New Media for: C-Theory, Shift, Intelligent Agent, Extropy, Rhizome, Offbeat and Front Magazine. He is on the Board of Editors for the Digital Salvage Online Journal hosted by Trace Reddel at the University of Denver, Colorado.
 
Email: jerturner536@yahoo.ca