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The Best of Canadian New Media 2003
by Martha Ladly

Shine: To emit light; to reflect light; glint or glisten; to distinguish oneself in an activity or a field; to excel.1

With SHINE, the 12th Issue of HorizonZero, we look up into the night sky to locate and celebrate the very best work of 2003 from the brightest, shiniest stars in Canadian new media. Together, they form our interactive constellation.

Star: A self-luminous celestial body consisting of a mass of gas held together by its own gravity in which the energy generated by nuclear reactions in the interior is balanced by the outflow of energy to the surface, and the inward-directed gravitational forces are balanced by the outward-directed gas and radiation pressures; a graphic design having five or more radiating points, often used as a symbol of rank or merit; one who is highly celebrated in their field or profession.2

To be star-like is truly an act of balancing the interior forces with an outflow of creative energy, requiring an act of will in order to rise to the surface. Our council of ten excellent "experts at large" has been chosen to advise us about their favourite examples of Canadian new media excellence in ten categories. They are your celestial guides, and I present them to you:

For Best Audio Artwork: Alain Mongeau, Director of Montreal's MUTEK, an annual festival of music, sound, and new media, delights in a performance entitled [ flüux :/ terminal ] by the Montréal-based artist duo "Skoltz_Kolgen" (Dominique [T] Skoltz + Herman W. Kolgen) whose works combine complex graphic manipulations in a moving image and sound format.

For Best Book on Digital Culture: Mark Glassman, the proprietor of Pages independent bookstore in Toronto and a radio and print journalist, film programmer, and documentary producer, picks Digital Play: The Interaction of Technology, Culture and Marketing by Stephen Kline, Nick Dyer-Witheford and Greig de Peuter.

For Best Convergent Media Project: producer, writer, and documentary filmmaker Patrick Crowe jousts for Odd Job Jack, which dubs itself the world's first "sit dot com", from Toronto-based Smiley Guy Studios.

For Best Digital Animation: Dan Fill, the founder and head of Decode Entertainment Interactive, warms to Chilly Beach, an animated comedy based in a fictional Northern Canadian town, from March Entertainment and the CBC.

For Best DVD Artwork: Daniel Canty, writer, director, and highly esteemed erstwhile Director and co-originator of HorizonZero, honours Salut, Riopelle!, an evocation of the great artist's life work, from TRAM Design Multimedia in collaboration with the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec.

For Best Game: Kris Abel, one of our country's top video game gurus, singles out Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell from Ubi Soft for its exceptional achievements in visual design, conceptual imagination, and innovative gameplay.

For Best Digital Imagery: Valérie Lamontagne, Montréal-based artist, freelance art critic, and curator designates Natural History Museum by Janieta Eyre, a Toronto-based digital photo / performance artist whose work explores notions of motherhood, the uncanny, and the double.

For Best Interactive Installation or Performance; Danièle Racine, programmatrice for the International Festival of New Cinema and New Media in Montréal (FCMM), favours Frequency and Volume / Relational Architecture 9, an installation in which spectators become actors and composers of a sonorous symphonic environment, by artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer.

For Best Software Artwork: Richard Lachman, a leading software developer for entertainment and art projects, adopts the young Canadian genius Erik Demaine's work in Computational Origami, a discipline that applies complex computer models and mathematical proofs to the centuries-old art of paper-folding.

And coming full circle, for Best Web Interactive: our very own HorizonZero team has collectively chosen Peter Horvath's online project The Presence of Absence, a multi-screened, quasi-narrative cinematic artwork that unfolds with the participation of the viewer.

Come celebrate with us, and bask in the glow of the season's holidays and the year's end: a time to relax, reflect, and consider 2003 as a year well spent - it was truly Canada's chance to shine!

Martha Ladly is the Director of HorizonZero.

1. Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary

2. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition

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