STAETIM – Fourth Year New Media Festival at Ryerson University

I just returned from the opening of STAETIM which is the New Media Festival put on by the fourth year students in Ryerson’s New Media program. I mentioned in a post some weeks ago how passionate I am about this program in terms of its distinctiveness. In an era of rapid technological change New Media is an important cultural phenomenon as it pushes the boundaries and thinking around traditional media including those recently emerged. However after experiencing STAETIM it is evident how far the program at Ryerson goes beyond mainstream conceptions of New Media.

If you follow internet stories such as I do, one often associates New Media with technologies and applications created with applications such as Flash, Silverlight, Air, Blu-ray or Web 2.0. They are often mistaken singularly as killer apps. Don’t get me wrong as the students in Ryerson’s New Media program are well tutored in those tools but when one looks at the body of work on display at STAETIM one realizes that the program goes way beyond the Internet as the single platform to both deliver and practice New Media.

The vast majority of the thirty-odd installations tied in a variety of electronic and robotic components as well as many elements different art forms and disciplines. To experience the festival interaction is required by the participants often through various forms of touch or motion. And when one counted the variety of materials used, software employed, electronics assembled and contrasted them with the diversity of the projects on display, one quickly realizes that study of New Media goes way beyond clever graphics, database integration and the talk of interactive social media that dominates today’s Internet. Quite simply the STAETIM Festival is not your “grandparents” or your “corporate” New Media Festival. It’s fresh and edgy in terms of its scope and it is true to the concept of New Media.

The Festival started this evening with a kickoff ceremony that kept its focus on the students work. There were a small number of awards that recognized the distinctiveness of some of the installations but my favorite award was the one where a first and a second year in the New Media program decided on an award to a fourth year student who had an Installation in the festival. That’s a nice way to get recognition from your peers in my opinion. One highlight of the ceremony occurred when Sympatico / MSN announced a three year $30,000.00 scholarship commitment to the students who are enrolled in Ryerson’s New Media program. That’s a great gift to Ryerson and it will go to good use in helping to encourage some of these young artists to continue pushing the boundaries of Media

There is little use for me to go into detail about the installations. It’s truely something that that needs to be experienced first hand. If you’re in the area STAETIM is running Friday March 28th and Saturday March 29th from 12 pm to 6 pm. daily in the Image Arts building at Ryerson University. The festivals website is for more information on the show, exhibits and its exact location.