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Sean Clark's Blog

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Wed, 03 Jan 2018
Archive Update

I've been hosting my own websites since October 1993 - that'll be for an astonishing 25 years this year. Over this time I've built up a pretty extensive on-line archive of my creative activities that includes copies of websites, pictures, videos, software and so on.

My plan for the future is to turn this archive in to something of an annotated record of early "digital culture" (from my personal perspective). Perhaps with reflections and eventually interviews with the people I have worked with over the years. I've been making some progress towards this, with the Cyberculture exhibition in summer 2017 being the first public outing.

You might think that "preserving" digital materials is easy. After all, unlike physical objects you don't need much space to store them, and you can make as many copies as you like. However, this is not necessarily the case.

Websites can stop working due to changes in how the web works. Plug-ins change, older video formats no longer work and links break. Also, old software may not run on modern computers and CD-ROMs, videos and other physical media my no-longer be readable. For this reason I regularly check through my on-line archive and have build up a collection of old computers to run early software.

For artists in particular there's also a very practical consideration. If (like me) you think that reflection is a vital part of the creative process and you don't document your activities (and update your archive regularly) you will end up not updating it at all. Forgetting to document is a perpetual problem, and just taking a few pictures on your phone is rarely enough.

I've just finished this year's review. Pictures have been uploaded to Flickr and sorted, web pages have been updated and I've run through old sites looking for broken links. Everything seems in good shape. I just wish I could say the same for those shelves of non-digital things currently taking up shelf space in my studio!

If you want to have a look at my web archive then visit http://interactdigitalarts.uk/archive. Oh, and not forgetting http://theartofcrass.uk, http://seanclark.me.uk and http://nemeton.com...

Wed, 06 Dec 2017
Resonance Exhibition Opening

The Resonance exhibition of work by myself and Esther Rolinson is now open at the LCB Depot in Leicester. It runs until Friday 22nd December, with the last night coinciding with the famous Canteen street food event at LCB.

I'm very pleased with the exhibition. I think it is a coherent presentation of work by two artists who work in very different ways, but have shared underlying interests. Both Esther and myself are interested in "systems" and you can see this interest expressed throughout the work in the exhibition.

I am particularly happy with my new digital pieces. Both the larger and smaller framed LCD screens look really smart and build on the work I have done before on hiding the technology I use as much as possible. These new frames are down to local woodworker Steve Lynch who laser cut, assembled and painted the screen mounts.

Expect to see the framing of my work to develop more over the coming year.

You can find photographs from the exhibition opening at http://interactdigitalarts.uk/resonance.

Thu, 30 Nov 2017
Resonance: Esther Rolinson and Sean Clark Exhibition

On the 6th December at the LCB Depot in Leicester atwe will be opening an exhibition of new work by Esther Rolinson and myself. This exhibition will be an opportunity for both of us to show some of our new individual work, as well as the collaborative pieces we are currently working on.

It will be the first time that we have exhibited together in this way and is the first time we have shown joint work in my creative hometown of Leicester. The exhibition will open around 6pm and continue until 9pm, with talks between 7pm and 8pm. There will, of course, be drinks.

If you want to come along, it is free, then see the details on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/events/350194088739601/) or the exhibition web page at http://interactdigitalarts.uk/resonance.

Sun, 27 Aug 2017
The KLF Welcome Us To The Dark Ages

After a 23 year absence Jimmy Cauty and Bill Drummond aka The KLF, The JAMs, K Foundation etc. returned with a three day event in Liverpool called Welcome to the Dark Ages. The 400 of us with tickets reflected on the past (why did they burn a million quid?), explored the present (we were all given pages of their new book to look after. I am custodian of page 281) and were introduced to the future (the KLF are now funeral directors).

It was an amazing spectacle to be involved in. It was also one that will take a while to sink in. So, rather than write about it in detail I am simply sharing the media I captured during the event - video and photographs. At some point I will write a post about it on my blog. I've also added links to press articles and web pages about the event.

I could see that lots of people were recording things over the three days. I think we should collate it and make a film to document the event. Maybe after a suitable break to allow reflection? If you like the idea please get in touch.

You can find my video and pictures of the event all in one place here, or on YouTube and Flickr.

Sun, 18 Jun 2017
REND386 World

As part of the Cyberculture exhibition in Leicester I've launched my first Google Cardboard Virtual Reality app. REND386 World takes classic VR "worlds" from the 1990s and presents them for Cardboard v2. Currently it is only on Android, but iOS, Oculus and Vive versions will be coming soon. Download it for free now from the Google Play Store. Search for "REND386 World" or follow the link to http://interactdigitalarts.uk/rend386.

Sun, 11 Jun 2017
Cyberculture Pt3: 25 Years Later

Twenty five years on and the era of 'cyberculture' seems like a long time ago. The internet (no capital 'I' any more) is now an integral part of our lives, Virtual Reality less so, predictions of the end of national borders havn't really happened, but we do have Facebook and social media, which are sort of borderless. Connectivity is truly ubiquitous and we have faster internet in our pockets that we every imagined possible in the 1990s. In fact, smartphones encapsulate much of what we imagines the internet could be.

When thinking about those times I was struck by the fact that 25 years means that an entire generation has grown up taking the Internet for granted. They probably can't imagine that there was a time without it, nor do they realise that there was a time when the rules were up for grabs. For those of us who were around I'm sure memories are fading and we may not realise how important those times were.

It was for these reasons that I thought it was time to start cataloging my collection of materials from the era and looking for opportunities to exhibited. The first outcome of this work are what I am now calling the "Nemeton Archive" at nemeton.com. This collects all of my online materials from the early 1990, the websites for The Shamen and other early websites, lists of books and videos and so on.

The second is the exhibition "Cyberculture: The Beginning of the Modern World" at The LCB Depot in Leicester. This will run until 17th June 2017 and culminates with an all-date event of music, performance, videos, talks, Virtual Reality art by William Latham and a rare show by the Oscillate Sound System and Higher Intelligence Agency.

See http://interactdigitalarts.uk/cyberculture for details.

Hopefully this will lead to more activities in the future. If you have any materials to contribute to the archive please let me know. Follow me on Facebook for Twitter for future news.

Sat, 20 May 2017
Cyberculture Pt2: ...and the Birth of Cyberculture

The rise of the Internet was not just about technology. For many people it was part of a vision that saw digital technology as having the potential to create a new world without national borders or governments, where all information would be free and where human consciousness would be lifted to a new level. The Internet was a new electronic frontier, a place they called "Cyberspace".

People interested in this vision met online in places such as the The WELL (established in 1985) and at night clubs like Cyberseed and Megatripolis in London (1993). Their ideas mixed with those from previous counter-culture movements and new figureheads emerged. John Perry Barlow from the Grateful Dead formed the Electronic Frontier Foundation (1990) to protect online rights, R U Series published Mondo 2000, essential reading for all would-be cyberpunks. Bruce Sterling wrote about The Hacker Crackdown (1993). Fans of electronic music, computer graphics and Virtual Reality became involved and by 1993 "Cyberculture" was fully formed and ready to make use of the newly-public Internet and World Wide Web.

For me it meant using my Internet skills for more than University research. From running cybercaffs at the Oscillate club in Birmingham, homebrew VR at Megatripolis, websites and live events for The Shamen and other bands, writing for the new Internet press, to touring as a VJ at gigs and festivals.

But almost 25 years later does any of this matter?

http://interactdigitalarts.uk/cyberculture

Fri, 19 May 2017
Cyberculture Pt1: The Rapid Rise of the Internet...

In the late 1980s and early 1990s I was a researcher at Loughborough University specialising in "co-operative computing". It was interesting work and allowed me to develop expertise in use of "IP networks" well before they became available to the general public in the UK.

Initially, in 1989, my internet (lowercase 'i') was limited to accessing computers on the University campus. It was useful for "Talk", email, file transfer and X Windows, but was not much like the service we have today. It was possible to connect to the global Internet (uppercase 'I'), but this was done via a single 9.6kbps gateway that connected the UK academic network to the US. So, if I wanted to get a document from the 'Net I would first have to search through the index of "anonymous FTP" services for its location, then request the file from the server, the request would be queued, then downloaded from the US to a computer in London, where I would use the UK's X.25 network to transfer it to my own computer.

Then, in 1991, the UK's academic network moved over to using IP (first as well as, then instead of, X.25) and all of the things I had been doing locally could be done globally. The transatlantic link got a boost too and the result was amazing - I could download a document from the US with a single click! IP (which if you don't know stands for "Internet Protocol") glued everything together so seamlessly that the same technology you used to share files, or send messages, between two computers in the research lab could be used to do the same between two computers anywhere in the world. It was also very flexible, and new IP-based services arrived almost weekly and I would experiment with them all - anonymous FTP, Usenet, Gopher, WAIS, CUSeeMe, and so on.

Everything was still something of a well-kept secret though - in fact I remember being mocked by friends for having a "nerdy" email address on my business card. Most Internet users were academics, or people from computer companies or multinationals, and home Internet access was rare. I was able to dial-in to the University from my Mac SE at home, but most people didn't think they were missing anything. This was all about to change with the arrival of two things.

The first in 1992 was tenner-a-month home Internet access using dial-up from Demon Internet. This made home Internet use a reality, and kept it affordable. The second was the release of NCSA Moasic in early 1993. This gave the Internet a simple user interface via the World Wide Web. Plus, Demon gave you some "web space" to host your own documents.

The bits were in place and the Internet was ready to go.

http://interactdigitalarts.uk/cyberculture

Wed, 26 Apr 2017
Steve Ignorant at LCB Depot 18th May 2017

After a great 2016 show as part of The Art of Crass exhibition in Leicester in 2016 Steve Ignorant's Slice of Life are back to to LCB Depot on the 18th May 2017. People will know Steve from seminal punk bands Crass, Conflict, Stratford Mercenaries and more. His current work is no less visceral, but delivers a softer sound with some very talented musicians in tow. Tickets are available at http://www.wegottickets.com/event/391446. Let us know if you're coming on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/events/1312846472129364/

Sat, 01 Apr 2017
Interanerki Zine Issue 1

Anerki is a multi-disciplinary arts collective that was established in 2011. They hold a monthly event of underground artistic expression in Leicester. Lots of Music, Live Art, Spoken Word, Rap, Dance, Comedy, Film and Free Speech. Always free of charge, it is entertaining, educational and conscious.

They performed during The Art of Crass exhibition last year in June and then my Cybernetic Ecology exhibition at the LCB Depot in December at a couple of cross-over events we called "Interanerki". They are an amazing group of people and I thought it was about time they appeared in print.

Interanerki Zine Issue 1 is the first of our paper collaborations and is filled with work by many of the regular performers on the nights. It's a free download from interanerki.uk and you can pick up a paper copy (while stocks last!) from the monthly Anerki night. This is also free, but a donation to the collective would be great.

Details what we have planned for the next issue will be posted soon.

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