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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:

Steve Dietz <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

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

Date:

Tue, 27 Mar 2001 00:09:37 -0600

Content-Type:

text/plain

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This issue of the crossover between art and ed raises two issues for
me.

The Walker is building a new building (herzog & de Meuron), and we
know that it will not "double" our audience. The goal is not a huge
increase in numbers, but a significant increase in audience
engagement. Our working assumption is that this will involve
technology, although certainly not exclusively.

For instance, in past studies at the Museum of Natural History
(London), there seemed to be identifiable differences between
audiences we might describe as older than me (liked watching), my age
(liked chosing--pushing buttons), and younger folks, who liked
navigating themselves. As difficult as it is to swallow, sometimes,
especially in an art context, I don't see how we can ignore such
demographics, except at our institutional peril.

What is more directly in my purview, however, is the potential
symbiosis of informatics and artists' projects. I think it's accurate
to say that aspects of many artist projects--Muntadas's 1994 File Room
being a good example--often become or are becoming mainstream
practice. The idea of an open source database at the time was anathema
to the practice of "responsible" institutional authoritativeness, but
increasingly it seems necessary if not irresponsible not to figure out
ways to facilitate audience participation, even in the precious realm
of informatics. And so on.

s

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Curating digital art - www.newmedia.sunderland.ac.uk/crumb/
> [mailto:[log in to unmask]]On Behalf Of Beryl Graham
> Sent: Thursday, March 22, 2001 9:11 AM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: the role of new media art education and curators
>
>
> 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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