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NEW-MEDIA-CURATING  July 2012

NEW-MEDIA-CURATING July 2012

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Subject:

Re: July Theme: Collecting New Media Art

From:

Pau Waelder Laso <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Pau Waelder Laso <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sat, 14 Jul 2012 13:04:56 +0200

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text/plain

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Dear List,

Thanks Domenico for pointing out these facts about Maramotti, for the sake of brevity I only mentioned those works that can be seen on the permanent exhibition at the Max Mara factory, but it must be said that they keep collecting art and as you mentioned they acquired works by John F. Simon Jr., hopefully they will collect more works by new media artists in the future. But as you said (and we keep coming to the central issue here), that depends on the works by new media artists being perceived as culturally relevant.

I also share your concerns about [s]edition and its selling of foriginals, merely digital merchandising, and that collectors may identify new media art with these cheap sub-products. But I am also worried that initiatives such as [s]edition, the VIP Art Fair or Art.sy create a perception of new media as only a tool to show "traditional" contemporary art and that, as some of the most outstanding features of new media art (interactivity, connectivity, etc.) are integrated into our daily experiences with smartphone apps, advertising and so forth, it becomes harder to explain the cultural relevance of the artworks, particularly those which, as the TATE indicates: "critique or comment on the same digital technologies" (this Greenbergian definition could be the subject of another debate).

Finally, and following your statement: "I'm pretty sure new media art will never achieve it as a whole, and under this definition", I think that this is quite possible and that we may start to think about getting rid of this label. The question "why do we call it new media art and not just art?" has come up frequently in talks with artists and in my opinion we are kind of trapped in this self-made ghetto that is at the same time quite comfortable because it creates a separate art world in which artists, curators, researchers, etc. can gain recognition quicker (within the boundaries of this particular art world).

I may have gone off topic a bit, but this discussion is raising many interesting questions...

Best regards,

Pau

-------------------------
Pau Waelder Laso
Email: [log in to unmask]
Site: www.pauwaelder.com
skype: pauwaelder



El 11/07/2012, a las 11:44, Domenico Quaranta escribió:

> Dear List,
> 
> thanks Pau for your feedback on my first post, but thanks even more for pointing out to two very interesting case studies: Collezione Maramotti and [S]editions.
>> 
>> Very interesting things have been already said, so I'd like to start by agreeing with Domenico's statements about the fact that new media art is collected and that there are also many examples of unstable art being collected. To mention one example I saw recently, the Maramotti Collection in Reggio Emilia (Italy) owns a sculpture by Mario Merz (La frutta siamo noi, 1988) partly made of fresh fruit which has to be replaced every week. The instability of this work is not a problem for the owners of a large collection of paintings, some sculptures and just one video (if I am not mistaken), so I wonder if the problem is not that the art is unstable but that it is digital.
> 
> The problem is twofold, in my opinion - and, sorry if I insist on this - it's mainly "our" fault (where "our" means all those who create the discourse around new media art: curators, critics, gallery owners). When Mario Merz and other artists, back in the Sixties, started working with fresh fruit and vegetables, faggots, organic and industrial materials, etc., the center point of the discussion was not "can we collect and preserve this?", but "is it culturally relevant?". A small cultural elite decided it was, started collecting it, created a system around it, and now museums and collections are taking care of all this "unstable" art, regardless how much expensive it is. On the other side, along the last twenty years, we failed in persuading the art world about the cultural relevance of new media art, and we did an excellent job in frightening collectors about "digital art conservation", to quote the title of the last iteration of this masochistic approach (see http://www02.zkm.de/digitalartconservation/).
> 
> Luckily, other people started doing this work for us. In 2009, Collezione Maramotti made a show with works by John F. Simon Jr. from the collection: a good selection, from the early CPU (1999) to more recent works. The acquisition was made with the mediation of Paolo Diacono, an old contemporary art critic who was attracted by Simon's ability to reconnect to minimalism and to abstract painting tradition with radically modern means. They didn't buy "software art", they bought art that they considered culturally relevant also, but not just, because it was software based.
> 
> Another kind of understanding of their own work is what many so-called new media artists are pursuing with all their strengths. It takes time and, as Pau noticed about Seghal, it requires a system around the artist. In the case of Simon, it took years, the continuous support of a bunch of galleries, the effort to work out of the usual mind frames and to present his work out of the usual circles, but it was successful.
> 
>> The reproducible nature of digital files, as Domenico states, may also be a problem if we follow the usual scarcity=value model that is usually applied in the art market. But there are ways to create this scarcity. Among the different ways in which the mainstream art world is looking for new models of selling art using technology, an interesting example is [s]edition <http://www.seditionart.com/> which, as you know, sells digital copies of artworks by blue-chip artists to the masses (we may call that high art for the Long Tail). In some way, sedition achieves what Wolf states as a possibility, to have one's art collection at the tip of one's fingers, on any screen. Yet instead of distributing digital art, they create digital versions of sculptures, installations, paintings, videos, etc. and sell them at a (relatively) low price. By keeping these "artworks" in a centralized "vault" and making it accessible to your iPhone, iPad or TV, they control the number of copies and even give you a certificate.
> 
> I think [S]editions is a very interesting initiative, but also a very problematic one. Its strong point is that it familiarizes collectors with the idea of buying the digital. Its weak point is that it familiarizes collectors with the idea that the digital is cheap, and that it provides no originals, just copies. Which of course is true, but should be corrected by creating different conventions, as Seghal successfully did with performance. Selling a jpg by Damien Hirst for 9€ levels digital collecting to buying a Damien Hirst umbrella in the Tate Store. It's no more a work of art: it's merchandising for your iPhone / iPad.
> 
> That's why I was so upset when I bought a Rafael Rozendaal piece on [S]editions. Upset with Rafael, because with his artwebsitesalescontract <http://www.artwebsitesalescontract.com/>, where the website is sold as unique and the collector is forced to keep it public, he made a masterpiece comparable with Seth Siegelaub's sales agreement and Tino Seghal's rules. You have the chance to create a new convention, and you go back to the old art market rules, further downgraded to adapt to the digital. And upset with [S]editions, who sells me something and dowsn't even allow me full access to it (as I documented here: <http://intheuncannyvalley.tumblr.com/post/25429872192/experiencing-s-editions-the-art-cloud>), turning me in the sad owner of a digital certificate - foriginals, as once Ubermorgen.com called them.
> 
>> I think this could be a good platform for new media art, but it has been applied to good old contemporary art, which is quite understandable, because it seems reasonable to try such a risky business model with something as attractive as selling Damien Hirst for 9€. So I think that, as Wolf suggests, we are already living in a nomad culture and we are working in more flexible ways, ready to buy online and own digital content that only appears on our screens. But most people still do not understand new media art as art in the same terms of mainstream contemporary art
> 
> Do we? Maybe this could be a good starting point...
> 
>> In a conversation some time ago, Wolf mentioned Tino Seghal, whose work exists only through oral transmission, and I think that this is a very good example. Seghal's work exists because there is a whole system supporting it, based on the fact that performance and conceptual art have been sanctioned by the art world. And this is precisely what new media art hasn't yet achieved.
> 
> Which is exactly what I meant above, with a difference: I'm pretty sure new media art will never achieve it as a whole, and under this definition.
> 
> Sorry if I may seem caustic. Maybe it's because it's about 40 degrees here in Italy, while I'm writing. I just want to inflame a discussion that I'm enjoying a lot, and that I'm sure can turn out to be pretty useful.
> 
> My bests,
> domenico
> 
> ---
> 
> Domenico Quaranta
> 
> web. http://domenicoquaranta.com/
> email. [log in to unmask]
> mob. +39 340 2392478
> skype. dom_40
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 

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