I am prompted to write in response to Reiner Strasser. I have not yet
contributed but have enjoyed and learned from the posts so far. I am a
professor of cinema and photography at Ithaca College in New York state, a
writer and theorist, and also a curator, so my interests span the educational
venues, writing and theorizing, and curating within the college-university
setting. I have been writing and curating for over 20 years.
Because I teach in a large school of communications (second largest on the
East Coast of the US!) and I work in a cinema department, this issue of HOW
and WHY to exhibit digital forms (which I have defined as a fairly wide
plethoria--DV, installations, CD ROM, net.art, interactive etc)is without
question the most difficult theoretical and practical issue I have confronted.
For the most part, we have programmed digital work in these variety of forms
for the last five years. HOWEVER, our programs fold analog (film and video)
with digital. We've yet to do a show or series or event that is exclusively
digital, not because we are not interested, but because we work in an
educational context where we need to anchor debates historically and lure our
audiences in. Attracting audiences for digital work is ALWAYS difficult--no
matter what the interface. However, we find that if shows are mounted that
are TOPICAL and CONTENT marketed, we attract audiences because, we think,
there is a certain hysteria out there about digitality, a kind of repressed
horror of the new and the mysterious.
For example, when we curated a Flaherty Seminar at Ithaca College three years
ago (the first digital Flaherty, BTW), we ran a digital salon curated by 15
people from all over the world, CD ROM and net.art. With a huge staff of high
end engineers, the problems to run all of this wrok required enormous
labor--different plug ins and software, some works still a bit too beta to run
smoothly, and lots of labor with gallery helpers. HOWEVER, we also invited
selected artists to SCREEN work through projection (Muntadas, Branda Miller,
Reggie Woolery, for example) in a sit-down exhibition venue, more of a
permforance with the CD ROMs and web sites. For the uninitiated, it worked
really well and was in fact interactive, not in a technological sense but in
an audience participation sense.
This year, we are running a week long festival to celebrate 20 years of
feminist programming at Ithaca College. Our curatorial mission is ALWAYS to
mix up genres, formats and ideas. So we will shown traditional film, but also
bring in digital arts who will do performances/show and tells. And, we will
mount installations that use digital work, and have ALL of our receptions in
the digital galleries, to expand beyond analog, on the wall/screen film adn
video shows. However, we are also inviting a headliner feature filmmaker who
we hope will draw in the audience for the edgier work.
Just a few weeks ago, we brought in African American digital artist Art Jones.
One of his shows was a live mix, video and cd roms, a performance of layering
images--both analog and digital from CD ROMs and loops)(Rodney King, military
industrial complex etc)improvisationally. We brought in a DJ who did a live
audio mix, and we worked with large speakers. The topics was ostensibly black
music and political activism, and we attracted over 200 people. It was an
amazingly successful event--but ultimately, we think that the livenees of the
event and the DJ and the loud dance music brought in the audience. We know
from email responses that most of the studetns and faculty haven't thought too
much about digital art (they think digital is AVID editors!!), so we opened
the envelope a bit there.
I am finding this list really really insightful and smart, and it has given me
ideas for my exhibitions, which are perhaps more academically and
theoretically based (as a professor in a college, I am not interacting with
big museums but with college adminsitrators who are scared of digital and
political!) that those on this list who work with galleries and museums. I am
working on a muchsmaller scale and much more low end.
Finally, I would like to reach Reiner Strasser off list--I want to ask you
something. Can you contact me? My email is [log in to unmask]
Thanks for this eye-opening list--exhibiting and curating digital is the major
political issue of our era.
Patricia R. Zimmermann
Patricia R. Zimmermann, Ph.D.
Department of Cinema and Photography
Ithaca New York USA 14850
phone: 607 274 3431
fax: 607 274 7078
email: [log in to unmask]