Cultural Exchange via Internet - Opportunities and Strategies
Net-forum, House of World Cultures, Berlin

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  Statement:   Andrea di Castro
 
   The Multimedia Center of the Centro Nacional de las Artes in Mexico City makes new technologies available to artists and offers interested parties training in their utilization. With the Internet as a remarkable tool we realize our projects, among which is the website development for the National Council for Culture and Arts (Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes), the public institute responsible for the coordination of cultural projects in Mexico. I think this website has to be one of Latin America's most comprehensive in the cultural arena. After one year on the Net, it has had over 30,000 hits per day, most from other parts of the world. It presents the variety of our country‚s cultural activities. We also use it for experiments and education, as with virtual rooms - designed with Quicktime VR and VRML - which illustrate museums or archaeological digs.
   However, our work with the Net comprises more than this website. We have begun to transmit courses in continuing education to other parts of the country over the Internet, which easily tackles the geographical distances. This is how a literature course is given by a lecturer who lives outside Mexico City. He receives the texts via e-mail and, in this manner, maintains contact with his students who are spread throughout the entire country. At the moment we are working on a chatroom as a meeting point for students.
   On the Internet we have also created the virtual ambience for »Mi casa es tu casa / My house is your house«, an installation by the North American artist Sheldon Brown. In this installation, children from Mexico and San Diego, California - locations with similar technological conditions - interact with the help of virtual reality. Their movements are filmed by a video camera and their coordinates (the change in their positions) are then transmitted over the Internet to other places, where they appear as three-dimensional characters. This playful environment has already been visited by 3,000 children in Mexico City alone. The installation shows further uses of the Internet which exceed even the notions of many a visionary and keep us pinned to the monitor.
   For a country like Mexico, the utilization of the Internet - especially for culture and education - offers miraculous possibilities to minimize distances and pass on experiences.

(Translation: Rebeccah Blum)


Andrea di Castro: independent studies in photography, film and video. Since 1970 he develops experimental works in these fields. Director of the Centro Multimedia del Centro Nacional de las Artes, since 1993. Simultaneously, he is the director of Imagia, agency for video and multimedia productions as well as for art with new technologies.
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Forum of the House of World Cultures, Berlin, on the use of Internet in the cultural exchange with and between Africa, Asia/Pacific and Latin America. 1998/1999