Introduction to @banff
a collaborative bookwork by
A. Marsh Stevens
The idea for @banff came from the installation of a web based email server
in the Media and Visual Arts Department at the Banff Centre for the Arts.
The list serve, installed by web artist Heath Bunting, was created with the
idea of establishing an uncontrolled email system that would replace other
archaic systems previously established by the institution and at the same
time challenge the hierarchies of bureaucracy. In addition to creating
another channel of communication, the list serve was set up with the unique
opportunity for people to communicate anonymously. Because of the
opportunity for anonymity, @banff became not only a virtual blackboard of
email postings but a place for staff and artists to post serious,
hilarious, often sordid and always controversial comments, without the
fear of reprisal.
Every posting that was made to @banff, during a difficult period of time
between Management and Labour, has been compiled into this book work. Many
issues, from security to fundamental discussions about art making and
authorship, have been discussed openly in an exposť of uncensored
Censorship is avoided and, as a line of action, fundamentally opposed by a
liberal arts institution that promotes the freedom of ideas and social
critique. Thus, the intense period of time that this compilation
chronicles, is unique in a very poignant and painful way.
The intent of the compilers is threefold. First, to present a body of
virtual communication into a traditional book form, a process of reversal
that is unusual in this age of technology. Secondly, to examine how the
transformation of text from one interface to another may influence the
interpretation of meaning. Finally, to expand authorship without asserting
a point of view.
Tara Neish / A. Marsh Stevens March 1, 1999