i think the symposium you are discussing sounds great. i have just returned from a
festival/symposium in estonia, the northern most baltic country and co-hosting isea at the
capital tallinn (i guess you were just there ian). it was held in a small rural village of
400 people called mooste. there were 25 sound, media and performance artists from all over
the reason i mention this is that the isolated aspect of the event added a whole dimension
to the experience which would not exist in a metropolitan setting. the village was only
about 4 hours drive from tallinn (estonia is a small country) so it was easy for high
quality speakers to be lured in for the seminar (the editor of estonia's art journal
Kunste.ee, one of the curators of isea etc).
the presence of high speed wireless internet (ubiquitous in est.) was a bonus but not
really essential. plenty of data projectors, excellent sound equipment and a reasonably
equiped media lab were more important, with separate rooms for people to set up laptops
and sound equipment etc. (the finnish sauna was excellent to help sweat out the superb
local vodka and the nearby lake was good to wash that off)
apart from the seminar postsovkhoz was a practice driven event but it could easily be more
discursive also. the village had a rich history which generates potential dynamics for
site response etc. . the artists slept and ate marae style in the ex soviet culture house.
i think the advantages are that the atmosphere is very generous and collaborative and that
the cost is much lower.