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The changing face of 'control'

How contemporary society exerts ‘control’ is the subject of a new JCU international competition open to screen-based media artists.

First published 21 May 2012

How contemporary society exerts ‘control’ is the subject of a new James Cook University international competition open to screen-based media artists.

The Screengrab competition, now in its fourth year, has invited people from around the world to enter the AUS$5000 New Media Arts Prize.

The deadline for entries is Friday, July 2, 2012.

The subsequent exhibition of shortlisted applicants and announcement of award winners will be held on Friday, August 10, 2012.

The project is sponsored by JCU’s School of Creative Arts and the eMerge Media Space, based in Townsville.

Creative Arts lecturer Mitch Goodwin said digital practitioners working in screen-based media were invited to submit works on the theme of ‘Control’.

“The contemporary media landscape would suggest that the traditional notion of the ‘society of control’ is receding,” he said. “The boundaries of social, economic and even government institutions are no longer defined by the rigid and defined perimeters they once were.”

Mr Goodwin said there were new ‘enabling technologies’ people could use, such as the web browser and the smart phone, to “experience and participate in the wider global cultural conversation”.

“This is reflected online and on the street, in our political discourse and our social interactions and it is most visible via the mainstream media’s wild proclamations of ‘new freedoms’ accompanied by ‘real change’.”

Mr Goodwin said at the same time there were new, far less visible forms of control emerging that used the same technological platforms to monitor, record and analyse our online behaviour – and even our physical movements.

“These include surveillance networks, GPS technology, social media applications such as Facebook, data mining algorithms used by Google and Microsoft, privacy interventions, sophisticated image gathering techniques and drone technologies employed by governments around the world.

“These technologies are producing massive amounts of data which are stored, syphoned and sold for marketing purposes and retained for safe keeping by governments for ‘national security’ measures. The London Olympics is a classic example of the extreme lengths governments, committees and corporations will go to employ modes of control.

These practices, if taken together as a wider societal shift, are rapidly translating our private, public and social lives into valuable sets of relational data – re-writing our notion of personal identity, and weaving new paradigms of control.”

Mr Goodwin said all forms of screen-based media were encouraged to enter, including multi-channel video, digital illustration, audio sculpture, photography, generative media and 2D & 3D animation.

“Screengrab is now in its 4th year and has grown to be a truly international media art exhibition with recent competitors submitting from Germany, USA, Hong Kong, UK, Italy, France, Portugal, Taiwan, Canada, Spain, Sweden, Brazil, Netherlands, Romania, Tajikistan and Australia.”

Existing works and those specifically designed for the award must address the award theme to be eligible for the New Media Arts award.

All Screengrab New Media Arts Award enquiries to screengrab@jcu.edu.au phone +617 4781 3142

Artist application and information: http://screengrab.info

For interviews/photos, contact Mitch Goodwin at mitch.goodwin@jcu.edu.au

JCU Media contact: Caroline Kaurila (07) 4781 4586 or 0437 028 175