Hi, just picking up on an old thread and taking it forward:
I believe that in places like Refresh, it is necessary to highlight
senior, mid-career, junior, even student and independent work equally
to match the vision of the culture that spawned it. Secondly, I also
feel that it is incumbent upon people like the Graus, Naranjans,
Molinas, Weibels, Shaws, Diamonds, Kacs, Ascotts, Scotts, and so on
to take time to engage with the rank and file public to create desire
in mass culture for the topics for which they feel so passionately.
I also think that we should make a difference between history (conf
like Refresh, Replace, the Langlois Foundation DOCAM project, etc.)
and art critic and theory (conf. like ISEA, etc.). One is about the
past, the other about the present and the issues and methodologies
are not the same.
I've been thinking about this, because while i take Annick's point
that history conferences and criticism/theory 'events' (conferences?
symposia?) are potentially different... they are often playing to the
same audiences with their exhibition/festival strands (most have
them, viz. Preston's Digital Aesthetic) and we all go to all of them
(mostly). Surely the way for the Weibels, Diamonds, Scotts, Dietzs of
the world to engage with the public is through the art they make or
the exhibitions they curate (or both), and the discussions they
facilitate (as much as the books they write and the papers they
give). And so if it is through their curating, then I'm not sure I
agree with Annick that methodologies are different (if you are
dealing with the past or the present).
For instance, at the moment I am working with Sabine Himmelsbach at
the Edith Russ Haus in Oldenburg to curate an exhibition which
skewers, in the nicest (and funniest) possible way, some of the hype
about Web 2.0. My methodology involves both looking to the past
(recent histories of net art; artist's use of peer to peer networks
before the advent of contemporary social software) and engaging with
issues of the present (what happens when everyone is part of a social
network, where is the value and the aesthetic experience?). I'd like
to think the show could, as Patrick invites, "create desire in mass
culture" for the topics I feel passionately about - I won't hold my
breath, but surely, this is what the curatorial drive is about?
I would like to suggest that the nice thing with the new media is
that a lot of intermediary bodies and people are present in the
Blogosphère or the Internet, that are not exactly "amateurs" but
operating outside the university settings. These people are found in
many traditional or non-traditional institutional settings. What I
want to point out is that knowledge is dependant to a certain degree
on validation systems. Rather than a crisis of knowledge, I'd suggest
it is a crisis of certain validation systems.
I'd like to add to this and suggest that the crisis of the validation
system that is the museum/gallery/exhibition is certainly a part of
this. Hence the collaborative filtering, group curating, and non-
hierarchical distributed event organising (a la node london) we're
seeing such a rise in (which has the funding bodies in a complete
tizzy - are these people gatekeepers, or consultants, or agencies?
how do we monitor their success?). But if I learned anything from the
Crisis to Bliss Centre at ISEA it was not to take the crisis too
seriously - to sit and think about it for a minute with a cup of tea,
and find other ways to define what is interesting about this moment
in time, and then to play that up instead.
As crisis-calming tactic, I'd strongly suggest reading the essay on
'unpopular culture' that Tom Sherman has written, about amateurs and
professionals and structuralist film / video art / YouTube. It was
published in Canadian Art magazine - if anyone has a digital version
of it, please forward!