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NEW-MEDIA-CURATING  2002

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Subject:

Re: curating critically etc.

From:

Murphy <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

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

Date:

Mon, 4 Mar 2002 19:14:50 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (107 lines)

on 2/28/02 6:05 AM, Josephine Bosma at [log in to unmask] wrote:

> I think what is clear from it is that, contrary
> to popular belief, the discussions and developments around art in new
> media have by no means come to an end. In fact, we still need more of
> them.

There's actually quite a bit of informal criticism, still, on lists.
Artist essays, statments and interviews through the years build up a very
good framework for a net art critique. While a few books have been published
including some of these they don't seem to have made the kind of impact that
would influence the writing of reviews that Beryl mentioned of the SFMOMA
exhibit. I instigated a dialog with John Klima on thingist a while back
about the Whitney exhibition (particularly one review that blasted his
work).

Unfortunately, none of this gets collected in an easily accessed location,
something I've been thinking about doing on my own. That was something
Wolfgang Staehl has wanted to do on The Thing since its inception in 1991.
It's something the art institutions should be doing but, well ...

Art criticism, of any kind, has been made invisible in the US since the art
wars of the early '90s and the subsequent defunding. Wolfgang and I tried to
get grants to do a critical art site but there was absolutely no interest.
The Jerome Foundation even told him not to ever submit another proposal to
them! That says so much about the state of US art funding and the kinds of
people who run the foundations.

Lately I've been thinking a lot about Rosalind Krauss' seminal 1979 essay
"Sculpture in the Expanded Field" in which she gives a critical
postmodernist framework to the then current trends in sculpture using
diagrams borrowed from mathematics and structuralism. In my spare time I've
been trying to reconcile her formulations with the virtualization of Pierre
Levy into something like "Art in the Expanded Field". I'm less interested in
"new media" than I am in concepts of the virtual and the idea of art as a
field in play, no matter what the medium used. Something Alexi Shulgin said
early on keeps comming back to me: It's not the computer, it's the modem
that's important.

> I have seen many people give up
> in frustration and move to working outside the on line networks. I am
> not an optimist by nature, but I love my work. I think media art has
> many unexpected marvels still to be discovered.

Like a heroin junkie, I want that first taste of the internet I got way back
before the web when I used gopher to browse for 12 hours straight after I
finally got my modem connected and linked to the server. Being offline for
eight months (or trying to use what they charmingly call "public internet
access" here) gave me a new perspective.

> I was very happy to read the mail by Rosanna Flouty, to see that better
> structures for supporting new media art (and especially net art) are
> still being created.

That was very interesting and I'll post a response to it later.

> I also liked very much Jean Gagnon's remark about
> the curators discourse being overwhelmed by special artworks. There were
> many more interesting remarks the past few weeks, forgive me for not
> coming back to all of them.

That made me wonder just what is the difference between a curator's
discourse and art criticism? I do like curators and I do like critics and I
especially like those roles combined in an artist. As an artist the
critic/curator in me always wanted to be overhelmed.

> Cream is still in a stage where the
> contributors get to know eachother, yet good things come out already. It
> is a slow quality process I do not want to hurry, and I think that slow
> is the only way it can really be if you don't meet eachother regularly.
> Contrary to what people seem to think about on line collaborations and
> mailing lists they fully depend on social networks (with all their
> sensitivities). Seeing how these social networks develop inside
> technological structures which are half public half private has always
> been fascinating and challenging to me. The position of critics in them
> has been critical from the beginning.

Slow is good for me. I'm a very slow thinker and admire fast thinkers like
Miltos Manetas etc. who seem to be able to absorb what is current and give
it form. I can't do that and seem to work in five year plans.

> The reason is that on line everybody can be a critic. Everybody is now a
> (bigger or smaller) media player, of course. But everybody making
> 'meaningful media', as the artist Graham Harwood likes to call it, does
> not mean all content is of the same level of quality and interest to
> everybody. We have the difficult task to balance between opening up to
> new and unfamiliar voices, skimming the broth and trying not to enforce
> a new rigid criticism.

Formalist criticism can be very useful if you don't make it an ideology.
Pierre Levy's utopianism drives some people up the wall (including me
sometimes) but I've learned how to use it to my advantage. Criticism
shouldn't be about saying "this is good, this is bad" (reviewers and, to
some extent, curators, do that) but about ... well, about describing
possible paramaters, I guess, while at the same time suggesting those
paramaters might not exist (I'm no Greenburg).

> So I think the main reason there was not much criticism of
> the art works in these exhibitions was that they (we) wanted them to
> have a chance maybe.

As Beryl proposed, the only way we can have a voice is to get our voice
published. That may be one project CREAM can work on.

Rpb
offshore|online

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