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From humble beginnings, brainstorming in West End cafes 18 months ago, the Queensland Multimedia Arts Centre (QMAC) has grown from a core of seven to nearly 200 members, creating a strong support network for Queensland’s fast-growing art and technology community.

The success of projects such as the Multimedia Arts Forum at which 150 people braved thunderstorms last April to attend workshops and lectures and Byte the Big One, a series of workshops and concerts broadcast live to TV and the internet in November has helped solidify QMAC’s role in serving artists.

In May and June of this year as part of the Brisbane Fringe Festival, QMAC will present eMedia, a festival of Brisbane’s emerging and electronic arts with a hefty program of exhibitions, film showings, seminars, workshops and performance art. The festival is designed to enhance the emerging arts and technology industries in Queensland by assisting artists in creative development and distribution while also showing businesses multimedia market potentials.

eMedia will inhabit various sites around Brisbane, the major event set for the Grand Orbit on Sunday, June 8. Overload will inundate the senses with exhilarating artwork and fast-paced, techno rhythms. Satellite link-ups will beam participants into New York for interactive seminars from some of the city’s new media artists; experts around the world to discuss technical, commercial, creative and philosophical developments in multimedia. Overload will also launch three of Queensland’s most exciting art websites: the Queensland Museum, Brisbane City Council’s Suburban Stories and Artscape.

Elsewhere during eMedia the Griller Girls will take over H Block Gallery at QUT with a multimedia exhibition spinning off from New York art terrorists Guerilla Girls. The festival will also host the Queensland premiere of Mic Gruchy’s new documentary, Stelarc/Psycho/Cyber. As a development project, QUT Communications Design students will create an eMedia commercial to be aired on Channel 7.

QMAC president, Scot Thrane says “eMedia is designed to provide a structure for artists to create, develop, produce, exhibit and distribute their work. Queensland doesn’t have a central multimedia core. There are many different groups and they all do their respective bits but they’re not all interconnected yet. This festival has been initiated so that the artists can have a place to create work and distribute their art. Queenslanders haven’t realised the potential of their content yet. We’ve got things happening here that aren’t happening anywhere else. Equipment like QANTM’s Silicon Graphics studio—there are only three of those in the world and one of them is in Queensland. eMedia is providing a pathway for artists with no computer experience to be able to work on any level of technology they choose”.

According to electronic artist Paul Brown, Brisbane resident for two years, “I think there’s a far more egalitarian art scene here than in southern centres. It has helped a lot of arts communities. John Tonkin came up here on a residency a couple of years ago and he was quite amazed at the number of mature-age students embracing new media technologies. It was clearly part of an encouraging Brisbane culture”.

Brown is concerned about the so-called brain drain of Australian artists shifting overseas and Queensland artists taking their talent south and hopes that eMedia will help stimulate the state’s industry. “eMedia and QUT’s Communications Design course and other initiatives will make it attractive for artists to stay in Australia. Being exposed to what’s being produced is very important for an emerging art, which is why eMedia is important for students. When you’ve only seen a small amount of work with a new medium it’s very hard to know where to push the limits and where the potential is. It is a fundamental relationship between the Arts and Industry which makes up the foundation of the eMedia philosophy. Neither can survive without the other and when united they form a powerful cultural force. It is hoped that the energy created by this union will provide Brisbane with a showcase of what’s really happening in the nether regions of our mother boards."

eMedia Brisbane, May 23-June 9.

RealTime issue #18 April-May 1997 pg. 25

© Mary Gilliver; for permission to reproduce apply to [email protected]

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