18 August 2004

Love boat

My first cruise ever just took place on the Baltic sea between Finland, Sweden and Estonia. The weather wasn’t quite like the tropical feeling you imagine from the idea of a cruise but the confinement in one location of hundreds of people gathering for the same purpose is rather a playful concept. A bit like a music festival where by the second day you feel you know everybody already.
So was the ISEA cruise.
Arianna, Valentina, Stefan and I went on this little crazy adventure where in between cocktails and hot tubs we were talking about work and of course, like it is expected of all of us to do, networking. As it turned out, the women sauna was probably one of the most interesting place to meet people.
I went to few talk sessions, like “African network” that I happen to discover by chance. The speakers came mostly from Zimbabwe and talked about interesting initiatives of teaching new media and promoting African artists. I found some echoes to my research with RAW and went to chat with one of the speaker about it at the end of the presentations.
But for me, the most interesting event, as a personal experience, was an afternoon session called the “French Rendez-vous” where, on the initiative of Anne Roquiny, most of the French artists and personalities on board were gathered. I came by curiosity and ended up participating. Each person was to introduce herself for few minutes. I was given this opportunity at the very end and talked briefly about my forthcoming presentation of RAW in Helsinki. But I wanted to mention something about how I was happy to be working abroad like I did in Vienna and like I do now in Dublin but that I felt some resentment that there were no research lab as such in France and that money was missing to back up the development of media art projects. I wasn’t sure it was the right place to talk about that but with some relief, many people came to see me afterwards to reflect on that problem.
Later on, I participated to two other initiatives that had in common the objective of making people meet and converse. The first one happened at cocktail time, by the open deck, when Sara Diamond mixed the concept of drinking martinis with giving advices to people and matchmaking them for possible collaborations. With my kalhua martini in hand, I came to see her and asked “Who do you think I should meet?”. After a following short conversation to get better acquainted, she introduced me to four different persons. I thought that her idea was really great, as in those events, networking isn’t an easy task and we lack unusual opportunities to approach people.
The second initiative was a dinner conversation to which you had to sign-up and it took place in a separate area of the restaurant. It felt like a society dinner where you have to demonstrate your talent to entertain the guests at the table with any kind of assigned subjects. Our host suggested we talk about food. I can’t remember exactly how, but the conversation resolved quickly around talking about the diet of the place where we were living, as being a drastic change with the place we were coming from. All the guests at the table had a story to tell about that: giving a hint that “media art people” travel a lot?
In that day, I also took part in the most surreal bus tour when the boat stopped at Marienham, some Swedish town on the way, that looked too quiet to be true. Arianna was reminded of the movie “The Truman Show” so you get an idea about it.
A late music set from Scanner showed very nice visuals with which I ended up my day and started my night awarded with good sleep and sweet dreams.

-- Joëlle

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