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NEW-MEDIA-CURATING  2004

NEW-MEDIA-CURATING 2004

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Subject:

Reverse Engineering

From:

Grant Kester <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Grant Kester <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 8 Sep 2004 10:17:58 -0700

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (39 lines)

In response to Gloria, and Steve Dietz on issues of patronage and 
institutional support… It's probably useful here to differentiate the 
"art world" (defined by art museums and galleries, curators and 
critics) from the academic art world (defined by university and college 
art departments, graduate programs, funding sources and exhibition 
venues). "New Media" has achieved a level of institutional 
accommodation in the academic art world that is truly mind-boggling. 
Most of this is enrollment driven. For the past ten years or so the 
demand for various courses and programs in computing and new media has 
increased exponentially (especially for software skills and lower 
level/basic programming skills vs. the kind of training one receives in 
a straight computer science/engineering program). In most cases this 
enrollment demand is driven by students (and compliant parents) who see 
(rightly or wrongly) computer skills as a guarantee of employment but 
want to avoid the déclassé associations of “technical institutes” like 
DeVry, etc. At the same time, research universities in the US, which 
are increasingly coming to function as adjuncts to corporate biotech 
and engineering interests, like to channel money to the arts 
(especially to art that parades some connection to “science” or 
“technology”) to help preserve their aura of high-minded scholarly 
inquiry and renaissance learning. The result of this pincer movement is 
an unprecedented flood of money and resources into art departments in 
the US that can present themselves as committed to “new media” or 
“computing and the arts”. There are numerous faculty lines opening up 
in this area, in some cases with levels of research support for 
individual artists that would have been unimaginable (and certainly 
unavailable) to studio artists ten years ago. Of course most of the 
artists fortunate enough to benefit from this confluence of forces want 
to imagine that they are, in fact, subverting the corporate-industrial 
power structure from within (the question of who is really subverting 
whom might be worth pursuing at a later date on this list). It seems to 
me that any attempt to outline a sociology of the “new media artist” 
(relative to his or her level of institutional cooptation or privilege) 
needs to consider academic institutions as well as traditional art 
world institutions, as a locus of power and ideology. I’d be interested 
to hear how the situation in other countries differs.

Best,
Grant Kester

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