Digital technology is the fundamental backbone of all operations of our artistic, academic, cultural and professional lives, especially in a world where physical distances need to be maintained by people for their own safety.
Welcome to the proceedings of the 9th Conference on Computation, Communication, Aesthetics & X, also known as xCoAx 2021, which took place online from July 12th to July 16th 2021.
After our first experience of an online version of xCoAx in 2020, we were eager to return to a traditional physical format where we could meet artists, performers, researchers and friends in person. Despite incredibly quick strides towards a massive vaccination campaign, at least in some parts of the world, we are not there yet and we had to settle for an online edition also this year. In an evolving situation where compromise and safety are key more than ever, we opted to have participants meet and show their work in a digital space once again but, as usual, we try to learn from our past experience and the helpful feedback of our guests, and made sessions more interactive, relying on pre-recorded videos only for part of the event, and going live with performances, Q&A sessions, round tables and keynotes.
We took a risk, and we hope that the participants felt rewarded as handsomely as we did. We have no idea for how long this new kind of social life will have to go on. Anyway, we are made more and more aware that digital technology, whether it is used for creative purposes or for communication necessities, is not an additional, ethereal layer added to a consolidated stack, or a sophisticated enhancement of our traditional ways. Instead, it is the fundamental backbone of all operations of our artistic, academic, cultural and professional lives, especially in a world where physical distances need to be maintained by people for their own safety.
We are still recovering from a traumatic past and we are facing an uncertain future, while grappling with the power and the meaning of the tools at our disposal. Let this book be a support in this task, and a reminder that there will always be communities you can count on. Wherever you are, we are very happy to have you here.
The 2021 xCoAx Organizing Committee
xCoAx is an exploration of the intersection where computational tools and media meet art and culture, in the form of a multi-disciplinary enquiry on aesthetics, computation, communication and the elusive X factor that connects and characterises them all. The focus of xCoAx is on the unpredictable overlaps between creative freedom and algorithmic rules, between human nature and machine technology, aimed towards new directions in aesthetics. xCoAx has been an occasion for international audiences to exchange ideas in search for interdisciplinary synergies between computer scientists, artists, media practitioners, and theoreticians at the thresholds between digital arts and culture.