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NEW-MEDIA-CURATING  2001

NEW-MEDIA-CURATING 2001

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Subject:

Re: the role of new media art education and curators

From:

Beryl Graham <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

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

Date:

Thu, 22 Mar 2001 15:11:20 +0000

Content-Type:

text/plain

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Dear list,

[This is actually a response to Simon Bigg's message of Mon, 19 Mar
2001, titled "Re: NEW-MEDIA-CURATING Digest - 16 Mar 2001 to 17 Mar
2001(#2001-16)" but I'd like to keep this debate in the education
thread/topic.]

I'm just returned from the mostly-educational Museums and the Web
conference <http://www.archimuse.com/mw2001/> with some interesting
questions.  Simon's experience of curating new media art for an
'educational' museum <http://www.nmsi.ac.uk/nmpft/> seems to have
been an interestingly problematic one, but concerning 'the
education/art thing' what I've noticed is:

a)  that institutions such as the Walker Art Gallery
<http://www.walkerart.org/ > with a good reputation for curating
net.art, also have excellent educational/interpretational web
elements.

b) that museums with good reputations for hands-on educational
exhibits <http://www.exploratorium.edu/> and the Science Museum,
London <http://www.nmsi.ac.uk> also seem to have worked with artists
on art exhibits and/or artists in residence. They are also
institutions who have done research from an early date, and are big
enough to share that research (Science Museum staff have shared
excellent accessible tips on <http://www.big.uk.com/exhibits/>).

My conclusions are that these things are not coincidences, and that
we need to learn from each other. Art curators are sometimes a bit
sniffy about user research, but in my experience this can actually be
a useful defence against shallow 'hands-on fun for kids'-type
marketing. John Stevenson's research at the Science Museum, for
example, showed real impacts on long-term memory and learning, as
opposed to it being a case of kids just 'running around and pushing
buttons'. Educational museum curators obviously need to take more
seriously the authorship of artists/curators, and the fact that the
aims of education and art may be different, especially if they are to
benefit by winning awards!

Any more examples of what worked well and what you wouldn't do again
(in an art/educational context)?  ... One specific thing which Simon
raised made me think - was the stipulation for a dwell time of three
minutes inherently opposed to Simon's desire for "more focused and in
depth" interaction? My own studies of artworks in galleries showed
times ranging from 30 seconds to 90 minutes, with some averages for
some 'sit-down' pieces of about 7 minutes.

Beryl


>Beryl  wrote:
>
>>Do you think that there is an age difference in how people might
>>respond to big busy spaces vs. more intimate ones? Do you think the
>>NMPFTV context of also having educational hands-on exhibits in other
>  >parts of the building helped or hindered? [...]


>----- Simon Biggs wrote:
>The NMPFT's main remit is to document, archive and communicate data and
>artifacts concerned with moving and still image reproduction media. It has
>no particular remit regarding the arts. Over the years, more as a means of
>survival than due to curatorial vision, it has taken on more and more a
>role in providing materials for the UK's National Curriculum. This means it
>has come to regard its main audience as school kids. Half way through the
>curatorial process for the digital galleries we were asked to ensure that
>1. no exhibit had a dwell time of more than 3 minutes (generous in
>museological terms) and 2. a target age of 12 years old.
>
>For a more extensive discussion of this see the archives of the Museum and
>the Web list between myself and Steve Dietz.
>[...]
>I guess we hoped that even though this had been our primary agenda that
>some people would engage with projects in a more focused and in depth
>fashion...but by and large I do not think this happened, simply because of
>the type of audience the museum attracts. The fact that the galleries have
>thousands going through them every day, and an often pretty rowdy audience
>they are, sort of works against that.
>
>As for critical feedback...I think it is the lack of anything substantial
>like that which speaks volumes. No serious arts or cultural magazine or
>journal ever reviewed the show or its contents - a little surprising for a
>show that cost around 1 million GB£'s to put up, although the same has
>(not) happened for the Science Museum's (in London) new galleries, which
>feature a number of works by artists. The NMPFT galleries were covered in
>the popular press in a gee-whiz fashion and won a prize for best designed
>exhibition that year...but we, as curators, had finished and gone on to
>other things by then. The museums publicity machine ensured it was marketed
>in a certain way. When it won a prize we were not even informed...
>[...]
>[log in to unmask]
>http://hosted.simonbiggs.easynet.co.uk/ ...

_________________________________________________________

Curatorial Resource for Upstart Media Bliss
http://www.newmedia.sunderland.ac.uk/crumb/

Co-Editors: Telephone: +44  191 515 2896
Beryl Graham: [log in to unmask]
Sarah Cook: [log in to unmask]

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