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NEW-MEDIA-CURATING  March 2007

NEW-MEDIA-CURATING March 2007

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Subject:

Do It With Others (DIWO) E-Mail-Art at HTTP Gallery

From:

Ruth Catlow <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Ruth Catlow <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sun, 4 Mar 2007 01:22:35 +0000

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 >>>
In the meantime, perhaps someone from http can tell us how the
opening of Do It With Others (Open Curation) went last night? I am
curious about this model of exhibition making - where subscribers
have a say (a bit like fans being asked to program the next All
Tomorrow's Parties festival?) - does collaborative filtering create
interesting results?
 >>
Hi Sarah,

Thanks for your interest in our Do It With Others (DIWO) E-Mail-Art  
project at HTTP.

re:  subscribers having their say
I will have a shot at addressing your question. Obviously we have  
thought a lot about these things, but we are certainly also working  
things out as we go; ) so...

I guess the thing to note in this context is that we initiated the  
(DIWO) E-Mail-Art project so that "subscribers" to the NetBehaviour  
email list and the technologies they deploy are ALL artistic  
contributors to the project. Not sure I've identified ANY "fans" as  
yet; ))) The idea deliberately draws on the tradition of earlier Mail  
Art exhibitions in that the project started with an open-call and  
every post to the list, between 1st February and 1st April, is  
considered a work - or part of a larger, collaboratively created  
artwork. I can even imagine arguing that lurkers are also  
contributors. It's certainly true that the contributor:lurker ratio  
on the list has gone up from approx 1:25 (through January) to 1:4  
(through February).

Historically Mail Art has a difficult relation to the old question  
about whether it belongs in a gallery (obvious eg Ray Johnson's "Dear  
Whitney Museum I hate you" mail art). What we try to explore and give  
room to in this approach to curating is a more dynamic and maleable  
context for the work. At HTTP we are in the fortunate position to be  
able to give space to this approach because of our relative  
informality, autonomy and independence, a decent-enough technical  
resource and our small but enthusiastic and broadly-skilled team of  
artist/producers and (for the time-being) curious and engaged  
visitors. Of course lots of people are not interested in all these  
different parts of the process. Many contributors prefer to leave the  
issues surrounding the display and dissemination of their artwork to  
others. But one of the reasons we chose to focus on the Mail Art  
theme was because of its reflexive nature. It considers all aspects  
of the artwork's passage through existing communication channels  
(through time and space) to the recipient(s) as contributing to the  
raison d'etre of the work. This is interesting to us as artists.

One danger that I can see of this approach of focusing on the  
curation and protocols of selection (especially with the current  
hoopla surrounding the so called democratisation of culture laid at  
the feet of networked tech) is that other aspects of the work can  
begin to be overshadowed. I'm not sure that many of the visitors to  
our (un)private view on Thursday evening were so interested in these  
issues or even in the particular technologies used. What seemed to  
grab people was the dynamic transformation and repositioning of  
materials and ideas as they flowed between approx 90 contributors.

The exhibition consists of "Threads"  (series that directly involved  
mixing and dialogue, action and response) and "Streams" (of images,  
texts, movies instructions etc by single contributors) in print,  
sound, html, movie and text . Also a couple of installation works  
devised especially for the space. This was all argued and bashed out  
during our Sunday afternoon open-curating event. All submissions were  
sorted and categorised and displayed within a mailbox that was  
available for visitors to explore and redistribute (by clicking  
'Forward Mail' ; )

Here are some pics (lots more to the website soon).

Installation shot from early in the evening- Showing some printed  
"Threads" and "Streams" http://www.netbehaviour.org/pipermail/ 
netbehaviour/attachments/20070302/c6b0110f/DIWO2.jpg http:// 
www.netbehaviour.org/pipermail/netbehaviour/attachments/20070302/ 
c6e6284c/DIWO8.jpg

Sim Gishel's 'Will Work For Food' - Vehicle drawing over an image of  
Marx's Grave in London http://www.netbehaviour.org/pipermail/ 
netbehaviour/attachments/20070302/c6b0110f/DIWO1.jpg

Projection of 'The Wreckers' a drawing produced within Dave Miller's  
online collaborative drawing software- being viewed by a visitor via  
the DIWO mailbox http://www.netbehaviour.org/pipermail/netbehaviour/ 
attachments/20070302/c6e6284c/DIWO9.jpg

 From my perspective as a subscriber to NetBehaviour email list I  
find the process fascinating, informative, amusing and constantly  
surprising.

cheers!
Ruth

http://http.uk.net
http://furtherfield.org

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