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Subject:

interview with Barbara London, MoMA - excerpt- re media lounges

From:

Sarah Cook <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

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

Date:

Tue, 23 Oct 2001 13:20:49 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

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Dear list
This is an excerpt from an interview with Barbara London, Video and
Media Curator at The Museum of Modern Art, New York. The conversation
took place on March 22, 2001 on the occasion of MoMAís first Website art
commission, Timestream by Tony Oursler. The entire interview will be
available from Crumb later this fall, but we wanted to post this section
as it relates to this month's discussion concerning new media spaces and
lounges. In this excerpt Barbara London and I talk about MoMA's "Cafe
Etc." space.
-Sarah


BL: Every time I create a Web project for MoMA, I ask myself Ďwhat are
the particulars of the Web? How can we expand upon a kiosk?í You not
only have to have a terminal and give the user/viewer here in MoMA
access to the new web work, but you also have to add something and make
it a little different. So Tony bit the bullet and we installed
Timestream downstairs in our Cafť Etc. space - which has been our
incubator for the expanded MoMA, which will reopen in late 2004.

Cafť Etc. has been open for a year and a half, and we have explored
different kiosk situations. For example, Tony put up some of his
research for Timestream, which includes slides from early TV
experiments, and all kinds of cockamamie gizmos. Every experiment isnít
always flawless or polished when it rolls out of somebodyís garage, so
thatís what some of Tonyís Cafť. Etc. material represents.

SC: Do you think museums have legitimated new media art through their
support of original production? My question is in relation to both MoMA
commissioning Tony Oursler and in England the Tate commissioning
Harwood@Mongrel and Simon Patterson (one known for web-based work and
one not). Whatís interesting is that in England there hasnít been as
long a history of new media-based technological installations in gallery
spaces. Institutions have very easily gone to the web before giving up
gallery space. I find in North America there have been cases where
museums have taken risks and put large complicated installations into
gallery spaces first, for instance the National Gallery of Canada
producing Char Davies VR installations. Generally, Iím curious about on
the one hand, the institutions who have committed themselves wholy to
new media and commissioned artists who are unknown in any other field,
and on the other hand, those institutions who have commissioned artists
who are more familiar to an audience for their work in different
formats, creating a situation wherein the museum commission has served
to bring new media into the artistís practice. In your opinion, how have
these two different approaches worked to place new media within the
larger field of art? Perhaps it is not a geographically-based
distinction at all, though from my perspective most institutions have
really picked one or the other. (For instance, the Walker Art Center in
Minneapolis: there, the visual arts department has given up very little
gallery space to new media with the exception of video exhibitions --
Diana Thater for example -- and yet the new media department has sprung
up on its own and leapt to the front of the pack, but only with work on
the web, excluding the joint Shu Lea Chang "Bowling Alley" project. The
only other instance of new media art in the galleries so far is the case
of the visual arts exhibition Letís Entertain which included web-based
work (in the form of an online exhibition called Art Entertainment
Network). They created a portal to have in the gallery to access the
online works, but when the exhibition toured to other venues, the portal
didnít tour with it. The shows became separated.)

BL: Why do you think Rosalind Krauss wrote one essay about video art in
October years ago? She wrote that article about the artists she knew.
She knew their work from other mediums ? Richard Serra, Joan Jonas,
Lynda Benglis, and a range of others. They were well known to her and so
she could write about them and their artistic practice. On top of that
was the issue of video and her pet subject, narcissism.

Itís really about Website and gallery real estate, and you need both.
Some institutions will stress one over the other, and thatís fine. At
MoMA itís not one or the other. Timestream (www.moma.org/timestream) by
Tony Oursler is the first in a series of MoMA commissions. There will be
around three per year. Subsequent ones wonít all be by well-known
painting/sculpture/installation artists. We devoted considerable gallery
space to Cafť Etc., where for a year and a half we have installed a
range of projects that are truly media. Weíve worked with the collection
-- we projected Andy Warholís screen tests there. And now we have twelve
kiosks with Tony Ourslerís Timestream. But if you do all of one and all
of the other I donít think it works as well. Iím all in favour of
including both.

During the construction of the new MoMA building on 53rd Street, we will
open a versatile, large exhibition space on the other side of the East
River called MoMA QNS. Formerly the old Swingline stapler factory
building, it is around the corner from PS1. In this environment we will
continue to present media and some rougher, less polished contemporary
forms. Itís a time for us to experiment and be certain that when we
complete our expansion project in late 2004, we have the right gallery
configurations and the right equipment. With technology changing so
fast, we will be more prepared. I think the Web will play a more
important role for us over the next few years. We will experiment with
the Web in the same way we experiment with our Project series. We have a
visionary director, Glenn Lowry, who is very open to media and
technology art.

SC: Iím also interested in the Cafť Etc. space, in regards to say the
Dia Centre where they opened a new book shop which features video art
but as of yet havenít given over any screens there to what theyíre doing
on the web. Do you want to say any more about how you are
contextualising the web-based work downstairs with other material? I
think itís an interesting model because it allows people to see a little
bit behind the scenes, and yet you have also included that material on
the Website. How do you define or do you see those audiences overlap?

BL: Certainly there is an overlap. In Cafť Etc., a coffee drinker could
be someone who has never visited our Website. This person trundles over
to the Timestream kiosk, because Tony Ourslerís ancillary video and
slide projections are engaging and caught their eye. As a result, later
the person might visit the Website from home. During the first six
months my dot.jp curatorial dispatches Website was online
(http://media.moma.org/dot.jp), we had a kiosk in Cafť Etc. We installed
a video wall with short tapes by Japanese video artists in the MoMA
collection. We also created a listening area, where someone could listen
to portions of the Video Viewpoints lectures given by Mako Idemitsu,
Teiji Furuhashi, Fujiko Nakaya, and Shigeko Kubota. The viewer/user had
more information, more of a framework for the new work included on the
dot.jp site.

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