Because October is the busy start of term for colleges, I propose to
carry this Theme of educating curators through into November.
I'd like to pick up on some of the things that Rodrigo Alonso and
Hannah Redler said in their postings, as I think that although Alonso's
points were mostly practical and Hannah's concerned the "conceptual
integrity" of the artworks, they have some relationship:
The reasons why net art has been absorbed into mainstream art museums
and galleries whilst physical new media has been left put in the cold
seem to be both conceptual, and practical. Conceptually, net art fits
rather neatly into existing curatorial debates around conceptual art,
and the 'death of the object' (although at some later point, if the net
art happens to be participative, then all sorts of very different issues
arise). Practically, at first sight net art seems to have simpler
technical needs (although at some later point, the invisible
complexities of server-side maintenance and access tend to become
horribly apparent to curators only when problems arise).
The main problem for curators, and educators, is that the conceptual and
practical skills needed cross over the different media: net art may be
narrative, time-based, conceptual, interactive, or none of these.
Whilst I agree that the curatorial challenges of different kinds of new
media relate strongly to existing debates, it is the question of which
hybrid of skills is most useful:
Thus video curators have the conceptual tools for dealing with time and
narrative, community/activist arts workers have grounding in
participation, performance curators can deal with 'live' issues, public
art specialists know about site-specificity, and new media might cross
all of these areas.
Can a curating course hope to cover this hybridity of skills without
specialising? Which returns us to the question, do we need specialist
new media curating courses?
P.S. Sarah Cook and I have a short article about curating new media in
this month's Art Monthly magazine. Let us know what you think.