Response(s) to '2010 Experimental Media Congress', Dated September 12 2010

By James Missen

They want to get out of here
But they can’t find the exits
They cling to the cinema
Then they can’t find security
Then they finally got recognized
So they left in obscurity
And misery

From the song “Bright Paper Werewolves” by Guided by Voices, on the 1996 Matador Records album Under the Bushes, Under the Stars,


Spent my days in the balcony, attendant
Waiting and wanting
For something said
To hear
To puncture and move me anew.
Inaction, instead, weighed me down
The semantics did not add up, only cementing perceptions
That everything made and meant
And dreamt and dripped
Is for naught
Not futile, but certainly fleeting.

So then
What of the publics never mentioned at all
Therefore, unimagined, unengaged, un(der)represented?
Missing our films / videos / (formerly/currently ‘new’) media
Which they never knew
Were built for them alone to feel
Degrading, discordant works
People were never helped to care to see.
Instead, these incessant circular debates
The “cinematic” versus the “cinematographic”
Yet nowhere near such outdated, still-useful concepts
Like ‘resist’, ‘revolt’ or ‘reform’.
The avant-garde project lost
Or found, at long last?
An ongoing experiment

“Statistics available in the Canadian Heritage report (The Arts in Canada: Access and Availability, Prepared by Decima Research Inc., 2002) that are not available from previous Statistics Canada surveys include an estimate of 34% of respondents attending a media arts presentation and 17% attending a literary or poetry reading.  Regarding the types of art that respondents enjoyed most, 45% of respondents described their tastes as leaning toward ‘traditional’ or ‘classical’ works, 29% toward ‘popular’ works and 15% toward ‘innovative’ or ‘avant-garde’ styles of art.  Many focus group participants equated the arts with the ‘fine arts’, including activities such as the ballet, symphony orchestras, theatre, museums and art galleries.  Many were ‘surprised’ by a broader definition of the arts, one that included all kinds of live performances, arts exhibits and craft shows.”

Excerpted from Arts Research Monitor 2, no. 8 (March 2004),

Click here for Congress Dossier


From fall 2000 to June 2002 and from August 2003 to September 2010, James Missen was an active programming member of Available Light Screening Collective, which regularly presents curated experimental media art in Ottawa, Ontario.  Missen’s writing has appeared in periodicals such as FUSE and Public, in various edited academic book collections and catalogues, and as part of presentations at academic and arts policy conferences throughout Canada.  He is also a past Ontario board member for the Independent Media Arts Alliance and, when time permits, pursues his own creative work in music, writing and performance.



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