Dear Jess Loseby,
As a small group of people who meet to realize and perform the work of
artists other than ourselves, we find these debates on gate keeping
especially interesting. We number among eight members artists, art
historians, designers, and a couple more (along with talking partners who do
not belong to our group, one of whom in his other life is a curator with
deep interest in new media).
While we recognize the validity of your comments, we also suggest that there
are several generations of important new media artists who work is routinely
overlooked becasue they belong neither to the current British scene nor to
the current American scene.
One must ask, therefore, whether your complaint is a plea for genuine broad
inclusiveness with a full overview of past and present new media practice,
or a form of special pleading to give British artists a place in the
We'd like to see a larger, more inclusive world on all counts. At our last
supper, we found ourselves discussing the work of Dieter Roth. Mr. Roth's
work is now the subject of a major retrospective exhibition in New York, a
project that took the curator some fifteen years to develop. What interests
us in the context of new media is the fact that Roth was one of the most
proliific developers and inventors-adapters of media, expanding the
definitions of media at a time when most of us were in school uniforms and
some of us not yet born. When we read complaints about Lev Manovich --
interesting enough, to a point -- without reading a call for renewed
attention to pioneers such a Roth, the Sharits brothers, or the late Dick
Higgins, we tend to see these debates as conflicts over territory rather
than calls for a deeper view.
We understand your letter and we sympathize, but we also feel you do not go
far enough. If you wish a broader perspective, you've got to call for a far
broader view than simply adding a few more of us Brits to the speakers'
>As the number of these major UK conferences increase, I have been generally
>disturbed by seemly institutional obsession with following the american
>lead in curation and conference thematics, despite the recognized short
>comings of this model (need I refer to the Walker dialogue on CRUMB?). The
>fact that Dietz is the keynote speaker reflects this (Lev not available
>for this one eh?:) Don't get me wrong, I respect Dietz work and his many
>achievements but as I am sure many on this list will agree, curating new
>media in the UK is really quite distinct from curating in the US. We also
>have articulate, inspiring and experienced UK curators so couldn't one of
>them be asked as the keynote on a conference of British New Media
>practice? Simon Biggs has mentioned that he is not included and I think
>we could all think of a number of other similar significant British
>innovators of whom are conspicuously absent. Disappointing again, this
>conference (with all the authority of the Tate) simply does not well
>reflect British new media practice curatorially or artistically. Even Arts
>Council funded projects are not well represented, as many of the
>significant new media practitioners who have run or contributed to high
>profile ACE funded ventures and works (well within this 'historical'
>timeframe) are also strangely absent.
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