The Total Artwork in the Age of Telematics

April 7, 2021, 6:30pm UTC+2

A Lecture/Performance by Randall Packer (Creative Director, Third Space Network)

Hamburg University of Music and Drama / HfMT Hamburg

Over 150 years ago, the German composer Richard Wagner in his historic essay “Outlines of the Artwork of the Future,” defined the Gesamtkunstwerk (Total Artwork) as the integration of the arts through music drama and the community of theater. In the virtual realm of Wagner’s theater, he imagined the future of multimedia as a darkened arena for the immersive synthesis of music, poetry, visual effects and surround-sound reverberance. Wagner’s objective was to suspend the audience’s disbelief, and to “forget the confines of the auditorium… which seems the wide expanse of the whole World.” Fast forward through the annals of media histories, we discover a trajectory in which artists, technologists, and visionary thinkers have imagined a new kind of Gesamtdatenwerk (Total Datawork), the totalization and synthesis of the arts unfolding in the cloud. According to British theorist Roy Ascott, “the individual user of networks is always potentially involved in a global net, and the world is always potentially in a state of interaction with the individual.” Today more than ever, in the wake of the pandemic, the wide expanse of the whole world resides on our desktop, a stage for networked experiences we engage in daily, as well as those that don’t yet exist. This lecture/performance by Randall Packer is an invitation to venture together into the Deep Third Space to imagine and explore new multimedia potentialities and realizations of the community of theater in a globally connected culture.

Randall Packer
Creative Director, Third Space Network

Since the 1980s, multimedia artist, composer, writer and educator Randall Packer has worked at the intersection of interactive media, live performance, and networked art. He has received critical acclaim for his socially and politically infused critique of media culture, and has performed and exhibited at museums, theaters, and festivals internationally, including: NTT InterCommunication Center (Tokyo), ZKM Center for Art & Media (Karlsruhe), Walker Art Center, (Minneapolis), Corcoran Gallery of Art (Washington, DC), The Kitchen (New York City), ZERO1 Biennial (San Jose), Transmediale Festival of Media (Berlin), and Theater Artaud (San Francisco). Packer is a writer and scholar in new media, most notably the co-editor of Multimedia: From Wagner to Virtual Reality and the author of his long running blog: Reportage from the Aesthetic Edge. He has written extensively for publications including: MIT Press, Johns Hopkins University Press, the Leonardo Journal for the Arts & Sciences, LINK, ART LIES, Hyperallergic, and Cambridge University Press. He holds an MFA and PhD in music composition and has taught multimedia at the University of California Berkeley, Maryland Institute College of Art, American University, California Institute of the Arts, Johns Hopkins University, The Museum of Modern Art, and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore. At NTU he founded and directed the Open Source Studio (OSS) project, an educational initiative exploring collaborative online research and teaching in the media arts. He also organized the Art of the Networked Practice Online Symposia in 2015 and 2018, global events that featured speakers, live performances, and participants from more than 40 countries around the world. Currently he is developing the Third Space Network (3SN), an Internet broadcast channel for live media arts and creative dialogue from his underground studio bunker in Washington, DC.