n.e.w.s. is a collective online platform for the analysis and development of art-related activity, drawing upon contributions from around the globe, bringing together different voices, accents and outlooks from the North, East, West and South. | Read more..

Launch of n.e.w.s. at ISEA 2008

n.e.w.s. was launched on July 28th, as part of ISEA 2008 (International Symposium for Electronic Arts) from 19:00 to 22:00 @The Substation, 45 Armenian Street, Singapore.

n.e.w.s. is a horizontally-organised, cumulative knowledge-based website for contemporary art and new media framed by curatorial contributions from around the globe, bringing together voices and images from North, East, West and South. n.e.w.s. reflects geographic diversity and facilitates a framework for collaboration, content and visions of change outside the normal parameters of the established art world networks.

Launch at ISEA 2008

With the support of ISEA and Substation, n.e.w.s. was spotlighted with a symposium/event in which members of n.e.w.s. and curators attended in order to discuss and give feedback during this time. Contributing curators and n.e.w.s. representatives talked about building the platform, the way content is determined through curatorial positionings, and further collaborative tactics. Feedback was given by the audience and incorporated into the discussion.

Contributors: Ade Darmawan/Ruangrupa, Ingrid Commandeur, Thomas Berghuis, Inti Guerrero, Mia Jankowicz, Rich Streitmatter-Tran, Mustafa Maluka, Stephen Wright, Yuliya Sorokina, and Branka Ćurčić/Kuda.

Moderators: Lee Weng Choy/The Substation, Renée Ridgway/n.e.w.s.

Comments and user feedback welcome! Please add your events to our calendar or subscribe to our mailing for further projects and announcements.

For more information please contact admin@substation.org

n.e.w.s. foundation: Sannetje van Haarst, Renée Ridgway, Tiong Ang

n.e.w.s. is supported by the following institutions:
ISEA, The Substation, Mondriaan Foundation



Opening introduction Lee Weng Choy, moderator and co-artistic director The Substation

7:30 Cloudland opened yesterday at Substation, despite the frenzy in the street. Glad you all could show up.

Thank you's to ISEA and the Modrian Foundation. Weng will introduce everyone and then Renee will speak about the project.

Each of the contributers will speak, then Weng will speak about why the project exists. Finally, we'll take questions from the audience.

7:46 Weng is introducing the contributors now.

7:48: Weng discusses the tech aspects about tonight's event. Comparing last evening's and tonight's lo-tech/hi-tech setup.

7:50 Renee thanks ISEA and the Mondrian Foundation. Thanks the web designers, without their help this site would not exist. 1.5 years of research we are finally able to present news. Development of the platform, the process, the technology.

Gate Foundation. Publication. Different artists in the Netherlands working in video over the past 25-30 years (hold up book).

Explains early work in Netherlands. exhibitions and conferences, such as Flight or Fight. 2006, became a Board Member of Gate Foundation. Priority to find new home for the artists archive, library of over 3,000 books donated by artists over the years.

The changes within the Gate Foundation. Gate Foundation was given as a gift to the Van Abbemuseum. Creation of a space different from Western hegemonic notions of discourse. Focus on cultural diversity.

Sebastian Lopez coined the name "n.e.w.s". Advisory board then traveled and met with curators and arts critics. Asking questions. How to make a significant contribution to discourse.


Web 2.0: Research into the types of technologies to help facilitate the new discourse. A folksonomy via a tag cloud. A CMS (content management system), focus on community oriented systems and open source options. 6.1 Drupal, a content management framework. Basic site functionality can be managed with little or no programming.

Renee is guiding the audience through the interface of the site.

Drupal (English "Drop", or "Dorp" in Dutch which means village)

Definition of curator is very broad. 10 contributors and one moderator. Thanks all contributors both present and abroad.


Contemporary art discourses are still very fragile in Asia, the distribution is not so strong.

New publications

How we are engaging with each other. How we are interacting to develop discourse. ways of mediating that significance. An oportunity to work with a different network.

Questions about teh meaning of news. We've been playiing with a range of ideas. We need to loosen up and are still inding ways of speaking to each other.

I suggested every time we get people together, there are expected to collaborate but teh possibility of news is that things can happen in parrallel. We have specific geographic.

The possibility of using news as a platform for discussions. There are oportunities there.

How we write about art

Visiting Documenta and writing about it is like travel writing, are you really expecting to see and review everything in a few days without bracketing your limitations. What are the limitations of Bienalles. We are demanding things of bienalles. What do pictures want, we never think that pictures have agency of us, a returned gaze.

If you went to Documenta 11, there was so much video work, some work went on for 8 hours. There are works like the video work of Stan Douglas, looped work, it takes a long time to see and understand.

Singapore Bienalle

I have to apologize for not giving the singapore bienalle enough time. We are too quick to judge bienalles as a single thing. We should be more patient with our judgement and take more time.

Finding a way to steal time, and thinking of ways of curating. If bienalles were done by the US military or Hollywood, they would be done every 3 months, they have the resources to do it. Cities don't have the money to do it that fast.

We are dealing with a vast geographic expanse. You can see a huge inequality about how recources are distributed.



Renée Ridgway co-initiator n.e.w.s.

Renée Ridgway discusses how n.e.w.s. came about, technology and content


Rich Streitmatter-Tran, contributor

Rich Streitmatter-Tran will talk about his practice and n.e.w.s.

hello, Rich here. He is improvising, he is based in Ho ChiMinh City, background: school for interrelated media. Hybrid background, the critique would be seen as the rejects from the school. The programme gravitated t new media performance and sound art.

We had no intense art curriculum, so I did much of my studies at MIT, new media lab. Visual arts department was kinda my thing but new media, i realised was not my thing. Couldn't do math, so I would up doing performance. I started experimenting with my body, though love design and technology...

Moved to Ho Chi Minh city and they formed Project 1, the performance group, a 'dumb type', dreaming of a merging of mediums. Two became pregnant. But now defunct. 2005, Mogas station, was first founded in Singapore, and created art magazine.


'Real places are almost never

'Real places are almost never found on maps.'
Herman Melville.

They made aflotation device off the coast of Vietnam, for Migration Addicts, curator was Biljana.

Now Jekyl and Hyde, tecahing during the day and making performance by night. Most students are going into the field of media, web design, introducing non-commerical and encouraging students not to become artists. But showing the arts as a practice to contextualise their lives in society.

Then I get fired.


after getting fired

tecahing students how to use and be creative with software, mobile phones, content from devices.

Weng: could you talk about the reserach grant?

Yes, The AAA manages the Martell grant where I am looking as the Mekong region:
Myamar, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand

Infrastructure of each nation, how they relate and their diversity in the way it would continue on. 2006

Next year, Asia PAcific Triennale with Russell Storrer from the Queenslands Museum


why am I doing n.e.w.s.?

My reasons are personal...

Bad education by Almodovar? any body see it?

Guy gets up every morning, sees his breakfast and a pile of newspapers, tabloid news... then he has scissors, then he cuts out clips... creates stacks of papers, these clippings.

'That's my next movie'
Aggregating content, getting together information and finding their own connections.

Through n.e.w.s. I interpret my world, mediating informations.
I am a news addict!

So this offers new possiblities: wulu, artists site, Saatchi, but all those art sites have no personality, they are self promo sites. I am hoping this site is not that, but may be utopian... there might me a possiblity of creating new projects.

Like a new drink.
'September sweetness' is my project in Singapore... please come, a temple made out of sugar.


Ingrid Commandeur, contributor

Ingrid Commandeur will discuss her practice and n.e.w.s.

Metropolis some of the latest theme issues: the market, state and private funded organisations.

My specialisation is Southeast asia. These cities in are the basis of my research as the basis. GHanzou, Tokyo, Shangai, Beijing, Hong Kong, Seoul resulted in various kinds of writing.

I found a stance outside of a Eurocentric view of art, Which was my goal.

The winner is the one who knows two sides of the battle scene.

Art, entertainment, society how they mingle and mix wre my interests.

At that time in 2002, there was very little info so I started up a website, artlog.nl

Publishing on the Internet allows you to find your own niche.


why n.e.w.s.?

Because of the online publishing and finding this voice, or niche.

Using the Documenta project from the 12, people could access each other through this database and have contact, peer to peer, so that one could gain knowledge this way.

I gained much insight and knowledge, through this blog like structure. N.e.w.s. is direct, whetehr blog,m lengthy text, or image... only 10 contributors is small, intimate. It is really building up a local community wher you can experience differnte publishing potentials.


what will result

don't know yet


Mustafa Maluka, contributor

Mustafa Maluka isdiscussing his practice and experience with n.e.w.s. so far.

Bio: born & raised in South Africa. First international experience: got a residency in Amsterdam.

He does not teach, does not write. Has a background in Cultural Analysis. Didn't finish my Phd on Urban African youth. This interest in writing about urban African youth arises from his own background,

A co-founder of African HIp Hop dot com -- 11 years ago.

Important to emphasise, the approach has been not to ask for funding, but to self-fund.


African Hip Hop Radio

contributors from several countries doing shows.

we've done what politicians haven't been able to do -- to give young people from all over Africa, a voice, and a sense of what each other is doing.

this is but one part of who I am, and where I come from.


reformed new media artist

Mustafa talks about his own arts practice, as distinct from his collaborative work.

developing a series of characters, painting them. they are intercultural, trans-racial characters -- people you find in cities like Amsterdam, New York, Cape Town, Singapore.

Say, an American moves to Europe, it's funny how depending which part you move to, people will react to the accent, either positively, neutrally, negatively, etc.

Mustafa's played with this idea of accents, and their reception.


working with the Gate Foundation

M was one of the artists working with the Gate Foundation.

The Netherlands is a very multi-ethnic society, but after Sept 11, there were changes.

Last experience with the Gate Foundation, was a project that didn't get realised, but there was concern that his work might "offend" the Queen.


role in n.e.w.s.

sees his role of an artist who is critical of critics.

his approach in responding to critics is not to be emotional, but to engage fundamentals and facts.


self funding

Important to emphasise, the approach has been not to ask for funding, but to self-fund.
I'm not there right now, so I don't have access to the full complexity of what this note refers to - but it is making me think about the current debate in the UK on artistic autonomy in reaction to state and charitable funding, well summarised in the discussion held by Munira Mirza around the time of her editorship/curation of the Irish curated publication Printed Project. Her issue was called "Artistic Freedom – Anxiety and Aspiration".

The discussion she held aired the idea that often, we're better off self-funding. I tend to agree with anything that problematises the increasingly instrumentalised and corporatised aims of the Arts Council of England, or the 'development' strategies of international funders. But, specifically in the UK context with its sixty-year history of public funding traditionally held at 'arms-length' from policy, it is worrying that this sort of discussion now passing as truism. BY doing this instead of resisting its aims, are we talking ourselves into a nice, precarious, neoliberal corner? Isn't this a very convenient reaction for public funding discussion to elicit? While I don't see private funding as the philanthropic horror that I used to, in the UK we seem to be discussing artistic autonomy as though there is some viable option other than participating in the art market. There is in fact only one fully independent, self-supporting, not-for-profit art initiative in the UK (that I know of), which is the Cube Cinema in Bristol. And it got there by adhering to something far more closely resembling anarchist, rather than neoliberal, principles.

Meanwhile, Mirza has happily confirmed her rightwing credentials by taking up the post as Director of Policy, Arts, Culture and the Creative Industries to London's hard right mayor of 'picaninnies' fame, Boris Johnson. The lesson: if it looks like a shift to the Right, it probably is a shift to the Right. (The question of whether you're against that, and what that means, in the arts is another, highly situated, matter altogether).


interesting conceptual practice

I feel a great deal of affinity for any art practice based on the criticism of art critics.
But doesn't it tend to give artists the hero's role? That's a problem inasmuch artists are by and large responsible for the failure of art (along with their henchmen the critics, of course).



I tend to agree with your point about the pitfalls of giving up on pubic funding, but isn't it also largely a question of scale? I mean doing art can be quite inexpensive whereas applying for funding can be incredibly mind-numbingly time consuming. So sometimes it's just better to self fund, as it were. I have seen great projects, which would have been easy to fund, never get off the ground because the funding didn't materialise, which leads me to believe that funding is not just about cash but about symbolic capital: conferring a certain stamp of legitimacy on the project. Participating in performing it.



Applying for funds is in a way conferring certain stamp of legitimacy to an art project, but very often it is question what kind of legitimacy it is. Here I predominantly think of experience with-already-discussed-in-many-occasions Soros support to Eastern European radical and progressive art scene. Soros, or rather his donations (through many Centers for Contemporary Arts), was often the only guarantee for the independence of not only “non-neoliberal” art institutions, but also of the autonomy of the critical public almost extinguished by chaotic breakdown and nationalistic authoritarianism, and of an anti-nationalistic, pacifist, even leftist political activism, how Buden points out. So, it is really a question what kind of legitimacy some art projects get...


symbolic capital

I take you to be saying that the funding source is actually part of the art project, rather in the way pigment is part of painting. It's a sad day when art must owe its non-neoliberal (or other) credentials to the funders. And by funders I mean those who lend symbolic capital to the project (a text by Buden in the catalogue is also useful in this regard). In the artworld, one can produce the identical discourse but depending on the framing alone (including funding as frame) it can be interpreted as wickedly reactionary or wonderfully radical.


ad hominem

I'm a big believer in ad hominem attacks. :D


Audience questions

Audience joins the discussions.

Jasmine Stevens (Australia): We can't see the blogs, is it because they are moderated. Are some of the curators logged on and if so, can we see their responses and comments? Why can't we see it. Renee explains the interface. Rich: maybe we should have told you that in the beginning, so you could log into.

Kathleen (Los Angeles). Background in contemporary Asian art, Chinese in particular. Excited about the potential to transcend. What about translation? Renee: The platform supports this but the question is about who? Who will translate and will they be compensated? Rich: This is free for borrowing as a model. So other groups that might find aspect/modules useful, then they can be made in particular languages.

+ Prayas (India) - What about the expansion of curators? For example, I am involved with Art India.
- The initial discussion was that existing curators would invite another, but that doesn't necessarily be how it plays out.
+ Prayas - It's text intensive. Is there other capabilities, such as media?
- Curators- There are links to videos, books, etc. This will probably expand. You will be rickrolled if you delve deep.
+ Prayas: Needs articulation for forum topics.

Cyberspace (Italy): First of all thanks. Simple question, about the acronym n.e.w.s., remember where I first saw this. Singapore artist who used this acronym in a Haiku (Weng: yeah, so she might sue us).


Lin hsin has used the term

Lin hsin has used the term n.e.w.s. before in a Haiku poem...


contributors, any questions?

please ask now, thanks for being online!


Is it possible?

On the International conference for New Media in PAN (Naples) I heard an interesting topic about Microsoft initiative – they wanted to provide a special equipment and software for most of countries in Africa, for supporting people, who are AID’s infected, so they can test their health condition. It was a huge and important contract, but finally it was not realized. Just it was not electricity in the most places… My question is to all contributors: what do you think, how can we talk about equality, or diversity, or have any ethical discussions, if the half of the world just have not electricity/internet/English language possibilities/etc/? I mean not only Africa, our Tajik artists, for example, have electricity 2 hours a day after the Civil War, most of the people on Post-soviet territory doesn’t speak any language except Russian or their native exotic language. Some of the artists in Kazakhstan, for example have not Internet and they even do not know how to use computer… Is it possible to be contemporary artist without computing, Internet searching, English and electricity? What do you think?


an artist who cannot speak english is no artist -- stilinovic

Do you know the work by Zagreb conceptualist Mladen Stilinovic, "An artist who cannot speak English is no artist"? It had a critical edge when he did it in the 90s, but it has become something of a tautology now in worldart circles. Pristina-based artist Jakup Ferri made that point when he took up the title in a video he made of himself speaking jibberish, using English words but with random syntax.
Russian conceptualism was never restricted to Moscow alone, but it's hard to imagine someone moving their way up in the reputational economy of worldart without any knowledge of English. Fortunately, there are countless other plausible artworlds that they could be part of.


With reference to the basic

With reference to the basic question of technological and infrastructural access to this new-media 'global inclusivity' that n.e.w.s. is implictly (or explicitly?) trying to foster... well, I can't answer the full question.

But it makes me think of the largely egalitarian ideals of critical media and new media practice, which though inheriting its central ideological principles of openness and access from FLOSS, often remains fixed rather unimaginatively on many of the same technologies and languages (spoken and programming) only available in certain privileged contexts.
With reference to the basic question of technological and infrastructural access to this new-media 'global inclusivity' that n.e.w.s. is implictly (or explicitly?) trying to foster... well, I can't answer the full question.

But it makes me think of the largely egalitarian ideals of critical media and new media practice, which though inheriting its central ideological principles of openness and access from FLOSS, often remains fixed rather unimaginatively on many of the same technologies and languages (spoken and programming) only available in certain privileged contexts.

It's one of the reasons I'm so interested in Mumbai-based (pace Rich) critical media practitioners Ashok Sukumaran and Shaina Anand who are very critical of this, and have been much more locally-specific in their media idealism. If eurocentric new media initiatives evangelise over public access to and control of the internet, presuming that we all have laptops, Sukumaran and Anand's initiative CAMP and their earlier practices have looked at localised electricity and cable TV networks as the far more relevant 'open access' media that are currently being 'enclosed' by corporate interests in India. By comparison to laptop-enabled technologies and languages, these media are cheap, localised, accesible, analogue, yet in the Indian, and many other contexts, are easily the more relevant media to configure within the typical new media debates.

It's also a general concern that the curator Anna Colin and I tried to see addressed in the third of the four phases of the seminar for our project Disclosures, though I think in retrospect it remained very eurocentric.

How this works for n.e.w.s. remains pretty unresolved, I think. In many contexts a project like n.e.w.s. would be far more relevant as a radio project, for example.


Wrapping up

After two hours, we wrapped up the launch event. Thanks to the audience, the speakers, the contributing curators from afar, the sponsors, and ISEA. We received very positive feedback from the audience; there was a lot of enthusiasm about what we were doing, and received some very constructive feedback. We invited the audience to keep in touch, go to the website and subscribe to the newsletter. There are many issues we raised about the next steps of n.e.w.s., and we'll be discussing amongst ourselves (contributors and the audience) over the next weeks where to go from here.

More later ...