A special workshop chaired by Timothy Druckrey (US), the CD-foROM on Thursday, November 23, 1995, initiated a critical discourse about the CD-ROM medium and about the question whether the end of the 'Read Only Memory' might already be in sight. Artists, designers and critics, among whom historian of popular culture Mike Punt (Gwent/UK), screen design researchers Jorinde Seydel and Geert-Jan Strengholt (Mediamatic, Amsterdam), and Andrew Cameron (UK), co-creator of the Anti Rom on show in the exhibition, discussed problems concerning CD-ROM technology, design, reception and distribution, and investigated the impact that these factors might have on the future development of CD-ROM as an artistic medium.
In the short period since its launch in the early 1990s, the CD-ROM has experienced a rapid growth in numbers of productions and sales figures. It has proven the potential for being a very useful platform for the new multimedia applications which have been spurred by the development in computer hardware, combining a huge storage capacity for text, sound and images, both still and moving, with a fast and complex hypermediatic structure that allows for multiple creative links between the different data formats.
'Interactivity', the catch-word of the new range of multimedia productions, is a crucial issue for the evaluation of CD-ROMs. As a medium with a fixed, enscribed content, the CD-ROM can only offer interactivity in the form of a multiplicity of choices given within a complex structure and leading to often unexpected results. While the design for many of the commercially successful CD-ROM productions follows the existing formulas for computer games and computer-based encyclopedias, the CD-ROMs that tackle the specificities and the unexplored potentials of the new medium are few and far between.
The exhibition of a select number of CD-ROMs during DEAF95 seeks to provide an informative insight into the most interesting productions that have come out of the artistic field in the recent past. CD-ROMs which have been produced and published under the auspices of the major players on the market are presented side-by-side with the independent productions of artists or groups, documenting a broad spectrum of what is possible in contemporary CD-ROM design.
One of the main current obstacles of the CD-ROM platform has been identified in the lack of a critical understanding of the particularities of the medium. The different genres within which individual productions are placed often follow the conventional system of the library, distinguishing between rubrics like entertainment, music, children, or reference. The DEAF95 exhibition will offer an opportunity to test the limits of such a system of genres. On four separate computer terminals, fifteen CD-ROMs will be presented under the four categories of: Archive, Narrative, Games and Educational, and Experimental.
The DEAF95 CD-ROM exhibition includes:
An Anecdoted Archive from the Cold War
George Legrady (HyperReal Productions, San Francisco, 1994)
Legrady's private archive of memories, stories, images, home-movies and
relics relating to his family's emigration from Hungary to Canada in the
Nobuhiro Shibayama (4D Corporation, Tokyo, 1994)
The sophisticated interface allows for the interactive re-animation
(through morphing) of the 19th-century stop-motion chronophotographs by
Rehearsals of Memory
Graham Harwood (Underground, London, 1995)
The clickable photographs of human body parts trigger the personal
narratives of criminals in an English prison who relate the memories of
their scarred bodies.
(VPRO, Hilversum, 1995)
The recorded conversations and interviews can be sampled and put
together according to a variety of choices, creating a new audiovisual
document every time.
H. Shono, K. Ueno, H. Nabekura (Synergy, 1993)
The narrative unfolds as the users find their way through a dead-tech
urban environment by trying to read the coded information provided by
characters and objects.
Laurie Anderson with Huang Hsin-Chen (Voyager, 1995)
The users have to find their way through a dark and playful labyrinth of
intelligent rooms and unlock the underlying narrative by discovering
the different interfaces.
ScruTiny in the Great Round
T. Rice Dixon and J. Gasperini (Scrutiny Ass., 1995)
A multi-layered dreamworld that combines original designs with
historical text sources, books of wisdom and the evocation of an erotic
Games and Education
Cosmology of Kyoto
The players have to solve many tasks in the ancient city of Kyoto before
they can unravel the mysteries of the palaces and temples.
P.A.W.S. (Personal Automated Wagging System)
Domestic Funk Products (Voyager, 1995)
The dog in this cartoon-like work has to be taken round the garden,
chasing the cat, digging up bones; at other times, it flies like a
helicopter, or noisily digests the food it picks up.
Pop Up Computer
Gento Matsumoto (Saru Brunei Comp., 1995)
Just like pop-up childrens books, this CD-ROM shows various interactive
and three-dimensional environments made up of two-dimensional graphic
elements on the flat computer screen.
The Way Things Work
David McCauley (Dorling Kindersley, London, 1995)
The attractive and varied interface supports the discovery of everyday and specialised objects, processes and their functions.
SASS/Andrew Cameron (London, 1995)
Offering a highly interactive interface to the collected sounds and
images, this work is an exploration of the limits of what the CD-ROM
medium can actually handle.
Linda Dement (Australian Network of Art and Technology, Sydney, 1995)
A radical interactive display, inspired by cyberfeminism, of sexual body
monsters that make noises, fly, spurt fluids, bump into each other.
Creative Disk with Attila and Kas Oosterhuis (Den Bosch, 1995)
The work explores the possibilities of using CD-ROM for the development and presentation of new architectural designs.
V.O.L.V.O. (Mediamatic, Amsterdam, 1995)
A multi-layered tableau of images, sounds, interviews, random and futile
information displayed in a format that defies the restrictions of the