WB05 e-Symposium, Panel 6, “How Much Asia?"


e-mail exchange panel; 01/06/06 - 02/28/06. Panelists: Genco Gulan (Istanbul), Fatima Lasay (Quezon City), Kaoru Motomiya (Japan),  Atteqa Malik (Pakistan), Kathryn Smith (South Africa), "Derya Yucel (Istanbul Asian side), Basak Senova (nomad), Ali Miharbi (Istanbul), Gokhan Mura (Malmo), Monica Narula (New Delhi), Aditya Dev Sood (Bangalore), Nathalie Boseul Shin (S. Korea) and other contributers.


Introduction: With the title "How Much Asia?" We have couple of things in mind, first of all "How much Asia is Istanbul or Turkey?" We are living in Istanbul which is both on Asia and Europe hence would would like to see how this is observed from abroad? Secondly "How much Asia others fro Example Africa is represented in global art context, especially in New Media Art?" thirdly "How much Asia is Asia?" We can not really talk about a single Asia but multiple ones but how many; China, India, Korea, Philippines which one is more Asia? The last but not the least "How much does the electronic networks combine or divide Asia?" Is the Internet really a brige to combine or an instrument of the digital divide?


On 02/ 03/ 06, Kaoru Motomiya wrote: Thank you for the explanation of the title. i think the meaning is so wide. and my english is not enough for discussion. i have no idea about Turkey or more global things. ;-) but i can stay as an almostly observer, sometimes can talk what i know. anyway i will be kind of busy for next week, i am still working writing over deadline. so please feel free about the timing, i will catch you somehow as much as possible. But what is your nationality?why you are taking up about Asia?


On 01/ 26/ 06, Kathryn Smith wrote: Although I have never been to Asia it seems that the interest in contemporary Asia is very similar to that shown in Africa, especially in South Africa, about ten years ago. The questions you pose have extremely close parallels to issues we continue to speak about here. And we are still dealing with the 'hangover' from sudden international exposure after democracy, and the related identity crises and postcolonial politics. And the fact that Africa so often is represented as a country rather than an enormously diverse continent of many - often conflicting - cultures. I suspects the ghosts of Africa haunt Asia and vice versa?


On 02/ 06/ 06, Hou Hanru wrote: I think the best way for me to participate in your panel will be to have an interview with you next time I'm in Istanbul. I'll be visiting Istanbul quite regularly (once a month or two). you can contact Celenk at the Biennial Office for my schedule.


On 2/ 07/ 06, Genco Gulan wrote: My first question to all panel is; The network of the networks has been presented as the World Wide Web (W.W.W.) since it first emerged. But is it so? Now accoarding to your research, experience and daily practices how much does the electronic network combine or divide Asia, Africa or the others?


On 2/ 09/ 06, Atteqa Malik wrote: To be honest the only Asia that I am more connected to more as a result of the World Wide Web is my Asian (Pakistani) friends who have moved away and live in countries in other parts of the world. Other than that as a result of my being a freelance designer, I have found institutions in Asia that have appreciated my work not as a fellow Asian but as someone with a good idea! Travel prospects available on the Internet with information of Asian countries have definitely brought them together as they are easy to travel to and if information is available then one can make bookings and plan individually instead of relying on a travel agent.


On 2/ 09/ 06, DERYA YUCEL wrote: It is difficult to determine whether the technology and also as a consequence the network is good or bad as a dividing a factor. As the global capitalism or consumption culture spreads enormously, it is diffucult to form a boundary of network and information technologies. In my opinion, the network has a uniting effect. however, of course, it is significant to determine who possesses the power. Today, in a world like this, I don't believe that it's right to mention tough boundaries such as Asia, Europe, east, and West when art is our subject.

On 2/ 10/ 06, Fatima Lasay wrote: Technologies, like electronic networks, are contextual. The functions that technologies serve are dependent on the context within which they were shaped and formed. The 'net' and the 'web' are all technologies that emerged within the context of war: a means of communications meant to survive a nuclear attack. The heart of such a culture for war is in the U.S., a nation that has, since Hiroshima, bombed over 40 different countries. Recently, a BBC report on a newly declassified document written by the Pentagon in 2003 stated: "As the world turns networked, the Pentagon is calculating the military opportunities that computer networks, wireless technologies and the modern media offer." It's open season, a time for harvesting, not only in the US or North America, but also in Asia, Europe, Africa, etc. Within the dynamics of globalism, the so-called "network of networks" does not divide or combine, rather it numbs and hollows, making any form of social organization - whether electronic or real - inutile. To re-contextualize network technologies, there is a need to get out of the framework of the "net" and re-visit the unique social and cultural meanings of the machinery that underlies it, the computer.


On 2/ 11/ 06, Monica Narula wrote: Delhi, like many cities of the South, has had to respond to and absorb the accelerated global transformation of the last 200 years. The travel of commodity traders through trade routes as well as various violent military (mis)adventures of impatient traders/ empires, sometimes with 'civilizing' missions, have also played themselves out in the making of this place. Delhi, like many cities of the South, got re-built, planned and expanded through an optic that separated home from work, work from leisure, rural from the urban, private from public. The incremental growth of cities however have put these hegemonic binaries into confusion. The violence generated by this is what all these cities live with on a daily basis. The great dream of modern infrastructure - a network of piped water for all, toilets connected to sewage pipes, all household with metered electricity - remains a mirage; incomplete and always aspiring to some future completion. Delhi, like many cities of the South, is very dense and continuously expanding in terms of people and material flows. This is not possible without the constant formation and reworking of networks of various kinds. These networks are sometimes a continuation of earlier networks of migration, of monetary credit, of work, of making dwellings, of forming associations etc. Entry into city life is often through these networks and anonymous entrants have always drifted in order to find or form new networks. Delhi, like many cities of the South, imploded in the 90s through the acceleration of various forms of global flows, mostly experienced through the easy availability of media goods. Entry into these new networks prised open latent desires and capacities into the visible public realm. Neighbourhoods are cluttered with Public call offices (PCO), Cyber cafes, computer grey markets, computer recycle markets, computer training institutes, digital studios, DTP operators, cable operators, music shops, DVD rentals, magazine shops, electronic shops stacked with mobile phones and cards, etc. These shops work within a tense policed environment of global intellectual property and violations of the 'planned city'. We need to remind ourselves that these infrastructures emerged outside of the mega-plans of state- and corporate-driven infrastructure building. The everyday innovations and production that expanded these media networks happened within the incremental city, the city outside the plan. How these networks will survive, how they will re-align power structures, how they will negotiate asymmetries and connect even as they speak various dialects remains to be seen. Given this context i would like to suggest that categories and concepts that derive from earlier developmental paradigms will be highly insufficient to comprehend this, at times, bewildering transformation. The simple binary of inclusion or exclusion does not make us aware to the entanglements of various interests, flows, uncertainties, threats and possibilities that mark this moment.


On 2/ 13/ 06, Ali Miharbi wrote: I think it's hard to distinguish between the World Wide Web's contribution in combining and dividing different geographies. In the late 90's it was easier to view the Web as a merely global network. However after the dot-com bubble burst, the Internet returned to the real: It was no longer the magical cyber-space, but just another medium integrated to our daily lives and to the 'old' economy. It still has the unifying effect, though: Many people around the world can access news and several other information despite their suppressing governments. Accessing information is easier than ever before. On the other hand, real world boundaries can also be reflected onto the network, as in the example of the Great Firewall of China which was designed and supported with the aid of multinational companies. In this respect, we can talk about the 'glocalization' effects of the Web.


My response leads to an art-related question. Most of the internet-art works deal with the global aspect of the Internet by praising, criticizing or by only using its power. Is it possible to localize Art created for the Net similar to the software products that are translated as well as modified according to different cultures' expectations? How effective would such an approach be?


On 2/ 13/ 06, Genco Gulan wrote: Responding to Ali Miharbi's question, actually I think this panel is about localistation as well; You might take it as "How Much (local is) Asia? Now, I have a general question for all; "How do you see Turkey from the Asian side? and Gokhan Mura has some more specific questions below;


On 2/ 13/ 06, Basak Senova wrote: I could not reply you earlier as I have been really sick in Berlin for the last few days and I know I've been delaying my response in the frequency of traveling over the last month..Amsterdam..Istanbul..New Delhi..istanbul..Berlin..Istanbul and now I'm just setting off to Skopje in 5 hours..so my answers and questions will arrive within few days..promise...


On 2/ 20/ 06, Aditya Dev Sood wrote: sorry for the delay in my response. i began traveling back and forth between india and the united states in the late eighties, when email was very new. only friends on american campuses had email, and i used it only intermittently. certainly, it was of no use in communicating with people in india. and i scarcely knew anyone else in any other part of the world. i did use the mail and telegrams on occasion. by the early nineties, of course, things had changed dramatically, and my family and friends in india were all getting on email. widespread use of the web quickly followed in india and around the world in the mid-nineties.


i think the net is a tool that facilitates networking and dialogue among those who seek to be in touch. it does not necessarily promote understanding or collaboration between those who do not already seek it. for instance, as a student in the united states in 1990, i wanted to get an internship at an architecture firm in paris. i went to a public library in the states, where i found a copy of the yellow pages of paris. i then met two visiting architects from paris and we pored over the pages i had photocopied. they highlighted practices that they had heard of and new to be doing innovative work. i then wrote to about 20 of these places, and was accepted by two of them -- all by snail mail. all this would be handled very differently today. in 2001 i received a call on my cellphone from a man named jogi, who was affiliated with the doors of perception conference. he was visiting bangalore (where i work) though i was at the time in another indian city. he wanted to meet and talk about this event that i had never heard of. over time, of course, i became very involved with this conference. jogi had got my name from contacts and friends in bangalore. my organization, cks, had no web presence, and i had no knowledge of the doors of perception conference or community either, even though they are very prominent online, and had been since 1993. jogi and i ended up working together with john thackara in the netherlands only because of the interesection of jogi's personal and professional networks with mine, and this intersection was made possible only by jogi actually visiting the city and personally looking for partners.


in the past two years i have been fortunate to have been involved in subcultural festivals in northern europe and have also traveled to east asia to meet with media artists and curators. in preparation for these trips i was able to identify possible collaborators and people to meet using a variety of means, including personal references sent via email, google searches, cold calls and so forth. all this is possible at a rate and a speed that did not exist earlier. the critical thing, though, is that i am interested in making such contacts and collaborations. if the internet did not exist my travels would have to be longer and my preparations more painstaking. the tool should not be confused for the agency of its user. the prospect of increased collaboration and knowledge sharing between india and other parts of asia, including turkey, therefore, will rest on the interest and energy of individuals who become nodes for the exchange of ideas and contacts between individuals and small groups working in these different parts of the world. to be sure, they will use all means at their disposal, immediate and remote, which will include the internet. in my view, therefore, one of the key uses of the internet is to ensure that the right kinds of people come to the right kinds of international events, and make personal relationships.


On 2/ 22/ 06, Aditya Dev Sood wrote: Like the emic and the etic, the exotic is a function of one's topos, but also of one's theory of otherness. that which is beyond the local, and beyond the distal, that which is immensually foreign, is exotic. what is foreign in asia? this is hard. Cultural flows have always connected the near east asian regions with the south asian and with the south east asian and the east asian. spice, silk, coinage, language, literature, religion, has continuously flowed from one region in asia to another. mixage, commingling, the presence of others from distant lands within one another's cities and ports. so exotic would not quite be right. higher degrees of diversity, perhaps, and greater appetites for diversity, and perhaps also greater experience with the rivalries and competitions that such such diversity engenders. as compared with parts of the lesser known world, perhaps this is truer of asia.


On 2/ 23/ 06, Paki TV wrote: a very worthwhile question! but the bidding began long ago!

anyway, we at http://paki.tv/will attempt to answer you in the coming weeks.


In the meantime see our message of the West Essex Zapatista to PGA Asia: html (urdu and english):










and here's an extract from an article about HOW MUCH EUROPE from last year,

called "Over the Resnik Horizon": Europe as Male: Belgrade as Genitals


On 2/ 25/ 06, Atteqa Malik wrote:This is a very good question as it is very important to see in who's eyes is Asia combined through the exotic? For those who know not much about Asia as a group of countries with very old and distinct cultures, religions and traditions, there might be a tendency to group it all together as exotic. this is very dangerous as labelling so many differents as one just because they are alien to someone can cause problems when an understanding of each is required. The results of such misunderstanding are obvious these days in the volatile global politics that has emerged. On the other hand from a media point of view the different regions of Asia are forgetting their originality and trying to copy what they experience through media as the norm. This has a lot to do with media conglomerates controlled mostly by Western points of view. This even applies in the arts where many cultures are just eroding and being taken over by a more generic global culture.


On 2/ 22/ 06, Genco Gulan wrote: The Asia Panel is going slow but steady. Why do you think it is slower? Is it because of technology or culture?


On 2/ 25/ 06, Atteqa Malik wrote: From Pakistan I see Turkey as a very friendly country. This is because when I visited Turkey I was amazed by the respect given by the Turkish people to us just because we were Pakistani.Even when I have met Turkish people in other parts of the world we have bonded because 1)we share a history when our Moghul leaders were friends with Turkish leaders before the twentieth century. This history also constitutes the history of Islam in the modern world. I saw the gifts they sent to each other at a museum in Istanbul. 2) This friendship continued in the twentieth century with friendship between our leaders and help during political times of distress 3) Now after the October 8 earthquake Turkey has renewed that friendship by giving us a lot of help thus winning the hearts of a new Pakistani generation 4) we share similar struggles, biases against us, and identities So we Pakistanis see Turkey as a Muslim country with an environment that is progressive and adapting to the needs of the modern world, something that poses a challenge to all closed societies today.


On 2/ 27/ 06, Monica Narula wrote: Turkey as a space is not dissimilar to the spaces that we inhabit in India, poised between traditions, and different approaches to modernity. Present day Turkey, like contemporary India, is home to many cultures and ways of life, and there exists a fascinating interplay, balance and tension between the sacred and secular aspects of social and political. In both places, we see the authoritarian tendencies that mark secular nationalism on the one hand, and religious fundamentalism on the other. Both countries are nation states that have deeply conflictual relationships to their past as the playground of local as well as global Empires. In both spaces, Europe and Asia have interacted and encountered each other over a long and complex history.


Further, from the 13th century till late into the 19th century, there has been a steady traffic of people, including movement for the purposes of immigration, asylum, learning, pilgrimage and trade, between people in what is present day Turkey and India. All of this makes us view the history and culture of the peoples and nationalities that inhabit present day Turkey (including Kurds and Armenians) as something very closely linked to the historical experiences and cultures of the peoples and nationalities of South Asia.


We are particularly aware of the many historical links between the city that we live in, Delhi, and the cultures that Turkic speaking people carried with them, wherever they went. From 1216 - 1413 AD, a period of nearly two hundred years, Delhi was ruled by Turkish Sultans, and was for all practical purposes, a Turkish city. This period of Turkish presence in Delhi, and in South Asia in general, has left us with many elements that are part of our languages (Urdu, and several other North Indian languages have many Turkish words and expressions), food, dress, and other details that make up, or once made up, the fabric of everyday life. Turkish influences were briefly dominant again during the reign of the first Moghul Emperor, Babur, who also wrote his elegant memoirs in medieval Turkish.


Dwelling on the links in the past is definitely interesting, but what might be exciting is to think about would be to try and get a conversation going between the contemporary realities. Here, we would have to begin to see each other's spaces not as the repositories of exotic heritages, but as the fulcrums of the cultures of the present and the future in Asia. Here, the concerns and realities of people and their everyday lives today, would have to play as important a part as the consciousness of our past historic links. It is in the possibilities of a dialogue between the inhabitants of cities such as Delhi and Istanbul; (and others all across Asia), between writers, artists, filmmakers, intellectuals and lay people that we can hope to find the foundations of a dynamic space for contemporary culture in all our societies.


On 2/ 27/ 06, Aditya Dev Sood wrote: it strikes me that your dichotomous phrasing of the technology / culture question is rather dangerous. not perhaps immediately to our conversation here, but rather more widely. we know that techne+gnosis, tech-knowledge, the knowledge of how to make things and how to do things with things is learned not only into the body of a single self, but also into the body collective. knowledge is deeply cultural, and tech-knowledges no less so... to return to the mundaneties of the given case, however, several points, gradiently mundane on themes:


not all of us have equal anxieties about our asian-ness

not all of us think in terms of representation on the web

what we think of the web, in fact, may be entirely discontinuous

and now some points on interactional aspects of a webinar:


introductions never happened

themes were not fully laid out

protocols of interactivity never specified

discourse could be further constrained and focused

rationale for invitations of various participants not indicated

outcome expectations remain unclear

so, at the risk of being a bit harsh here, i think we can learn much from the most successful forms of online interaction, which rely on quite rigorous constraints on discourse in order to promote discourse -- think of flickr, for instance, or the most successful blogging sites, where the protocols for commenting on comments on comments etc are handled with a dexterity that actually promotes intertextual annotation...


On 2/ 27/ 06, Genco Gulan wrote: Some wrap up notes: I have to mention that it is not easy - as it seems- to make an online panel and a panel on Asia is a grand thing. I am trying to promote communciation and not a specific media. I am totally aware of the constrains. But i am glad that it kind of worked. I would like to thank all of the panelists for creating such a rich panel.


On 2/ 28/ 06, Nathalie Boseul Shin wrote:


When I got your question of "How Much Asia?", another question came up in my mind.


"Is there Asia?" For sure, there is Asia in the map,


but if you have a chance to visit some countries in so we called Asia,


it is quite difficult to find some common things in-between them.


for example, my parents lives in Malaysia so I went there at least 4 times a year.


compared to Korea, Malaysia is also very much different country.


different religion, different language, different tribes, for sure different nature.


India, wow! I love India.. so many different things co-exist, I should say that Inida is absolutely unique country.


I was shocked when I had been in delhi, people in India live in comtemporary and traditional culture.


then what about japan, china and Korea?


Most foreigners cannot distinguish who is Japanes, Chinese or Korean.


but we, I mean North-East Asian, can distinguish at a glance.


let go into a bit more deep. We (Japan, China and Korea) have totally different language,


even we also use similar (not same) chinese letter.


Cultural background? needless to say, it is quite different!!


Well, where we can find some link between so much different countries.


furthermore, why we would like to make some meta-name for these countries.


next, let we accept "Asia" in general meaning. Then what kind of role of technology in Asia.


to me, as a curator specialised in media art field, technology just makes platform to meet these differences.


for example, media arts in Japan and Korea, are different each other.


it is much more clear to review Indian media art. Media art in India is closely related to their own culture.


it is not surprising thing, cauz art cannot detached from society.


in my opinion, technology doesn't combine or divide Asia, rather it bring Asias into one platform.


therefore we can see each other more clearly.


Internet and technology make possible the discussion about this topic.


however we still focus on our own situation.


in that sense, to me "combining Asias" sounds exotic.


and that give me lots of question marks?


"WHY we'd like to combine "so much different" Asias?"


"WHY we'd like to discuss in meta language like 'Asia'?"


Frankly speaking, it sounds like another stratigic aproach against Westerners.


to me, much more important thing is we look at ourselves, acknowlege of differences.


and make synergy from that differences for the better world.




well, I just opened the exhibition "On_Difference" in Stuttgart.


7 countires join for this world wide long-term project. (it takes 2 years for whole project)


it focused on "locality" but not against a kind of globalization.


we speak on ourselves(in my section, I talk about our division situation), and discuss the current situation.


If it is ok, then I would like to talk about locality and globalisation.


cauz. Globalization is very much a tricky word, especially for us


(one of asia country where highly technology-driven society)