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Subject:

Showing it: Two case studies

From:

patrick lichty <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Curating digital art - www.newmedia.sunderland.ac.uk/crumb/

Date:

Wed, 2 May 2001 22:00:22 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (68 lines)

> Showing it: As curators, we get to show new media art to people. How
> do we show it? How do artists ensure it gets seen as it should be?
> Big dark rooms? Squashy lounges?  White boxes? Seamlessly with 'old
> media'? Purely on-line? Computers on desks? Group shows rubbing
> along, or singular experiences?

In considering such a question in the often unenviable position of curator,
artist, AND writer, the subject gets quite sticky from a practical and
ideological standpoint. Two instances in which I'm wrestling with the
representational issues of the work in a musological context are my show of
last year, Through the Looking Glass, and this year's information appliance
art show, (re)distributions.

First, let me define that both shows are very, very different from one
another.  The first was a hybrid space consisting of a survey of works from
over 80 artists and scholars from every continet.  The other is more tightly
focused on issues relating to portable, wearable, and nomadic technologies.
By definition the second show technically does not need a space, but will be
in one from time to time.

Through the looking GLass served four critical functions.  Frist, it stated
that the internet-based art community was socially 'flatter' than the
conventional art world, and that in asserting this, a member of that
community could get a wide variety of works without heavy reliance upon
large institutional bodies.  Secondly, it served as a snapshot of
contemporary technological art practice, albeit incomplete, at the turn of
the millenium.  Third, it introduced the Cleveland, Ohio area to this genre,
which was conspicuously absent from the scene until this time.  Lastly, it
asserted that technological art is not just confined to the computer, as we
had neon, laser, hologography, weaving, etc.

Conversely, (re)distributions is more concerned with exploring the creative
possibilities within the the emerging technologies (which have actually been
around for a few years now) of PDAs, Pagers, WAP phones, embedded systems,
and the like.  Technically, I really should not need to have a physical
gallery for this show, and one will only be present at cewrtain points in
the existence of the show.  Also, for the initial onlne run of the show, I
am going to leave it open for evolution, capping it off in September.
Hopefully this will act as an icubator for ideas relating to this genre.

Back to the display problems, the Cleveland show had one Internet terminal
(which didn't work half of the time) along with all of the physical works
(which are documented in the QTVR on the extant archive site).  Fortunately,
we were able to have a nice mix of multimedia terminals, wall-based pieces,
and I even embedded sensors throughout the gallery to create a responsive
soundspace environment.  In this way, TTLG was a real success in meshing the
more traditional techniques with the new media works.

(re) distributions is going to be very different and far more problematic.
Do I just set up a series of PDAs and let people tap?  I've got one person
who does paintings on a Palm III who did a stellar large-format work.  How
do I merge his work with Matt's SMS documentation?  It's going to be thorny.
In short, at this time I don't feel that there is a mandate for a physical
show except for the fact that the audience seems to expect one, and to this
I'll answer the call.

This may sound rather flip, but one thing I do when I organize exhibitions
like this is question what the very representational nature of the
exhibition is all about in the first place.  Can we say that an information
appliance show is best served in a museum or gallery, when the point of such
technology is to be nomadic and distributed?  The issue here is that
traditional forms (which define certain aspects of accessibility in regards
to the show itself) still assert themselves when coordinating exhibitions
and obtaining support.

I could expound a little more, but I'm tired and would like to open the
floor to discussion about the matter. .

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