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NEW-MEDIA-CURATING  December 2012

NEW-MEDIA-CURATING December 2012

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Subject:

Re: What's (Really) Specific about New Media Art? Curating in the Information Age

From:

Sarah Cook <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Sarah Cook <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 12 Dec 2012 10:40:09 +0000

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text/plain

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Hello Domenico and others

As Beryl has said, we do not want to sideline the discussion about curating art online and offline, and moreover, I do not want to turn the discussion list into a slanging match about our own work (even if I really don't want to be referred to as an American Knight! Though I know Andreas did not mean for that to go the list!) but I recognise the manifesto-like argument present in Domenico's article that the field of curating new media art, (or as we call it art after new media) needs itself a rethink. I am not opposed to this, having no interest in maintaining disciplinary boundaries just for the sake of ownership of some sector of academic discourse. I think the entire field of curatorial scholarship needs a shakeup, nevermind this pocket of it here. So let's briefly consider what has been done in the name of curatorial studies of new media art / media art / art formerly known as new media, and take it from there.

Domenico writes that his subject, which he has based around the books by CRUMB is the "attempts to bring new media art in front of a generic contemporary art audience of "non experts"."

Actually this is only one part of our intention and modus operandi at CRUMB. We founded ourselves to bring knowledge to all curators, expert or not, about exhibition making with forms of media-interactive-participatory-systems based-networked art. Yes, art. And not necessarily to address art audiences but curators. We seek to share knowledge about models of curating, exhibition structures, experimental practices in museum work, including how curators roles change when they work with different forms of art which demand different ways of working.

I think we've made a pretty good effort in that direction, mostly organising (but also participating in) numerous academic and non-academic workshops, conferences, drop in centres, and symposia, through which a range of curators and arts professionals - experts and others, from art, new media art, design, performance, video, art-sci, and other areas of interest - have shared their experiences and know-how. These public events have taken place in NZ, Australia, Singapore, Japan, the US, Canada, Mexico, here in the UK, and in Europe, (though not as much as we would like). We'll be doing the same with Sarai in India in the spring.

Naturally some of these discussions have necessitated another discussion about 'what this stuff called new media art really is' - and we've never stifled that discussion even if we have tried to address it predominantly through consideration of how the art work is produced, distributed, exhibited, disseminated - its relevance to curators. We have been criticised for this focus. But we are not Rhizome, there are plenty of other places to discuss the aesthetics / politics of the art work itself including the media art histories academic conference strand where some of that naming and categorising of artistic practices can take place. 

A look back over the decade-plus of what this list has discussed, alongside the events mentioned above, shows our primary area of research, which greatly informed the book Rethinking Curating has included consideration of the spaces of art, how size and scale affects art's presentation, artist-curator models, exhibition-producer models, critical curating, curatorial education, archiving, copyright, writing histories, funding, documentation, residencies and then a handful of themes which address specific challenges brought on by specific kinds of media art (and its behaviours), i.e. curating sound, curating mobile and locative artwork, curating open source artwork, curating art-science projects, curating ephemeral artwork, curating activist artwork, curating public art, curating web-based art practices, curating streamed or broadcast artwork, etc.

I think if you're still worried that the field of curatorial scholarship does not sufficiently address the art in the art formerly known as new media, then I hope this recap clarifies our position, alongside the artwork on our book's back cover which visualises the content of the book, with the word 'art' appearing as the most discussed thing in the book.

I'll finish with just one more aside to Domenico, I wonder how familiar you are with the scholarship of curatorial studies and whether you would understand our book differently considering its address to that audience of readers? We run a masters course in curating, and have an ongoing cohort of PhD students who are all curators (some artist-curators) engaged in questioning how art reaches its audience. Andreas has just pointed out, first offlist and now onlist, the lack of consideration of actual curatorial practice in the manifesto you've written, and we can add to that the lack of good exhibition histories too! If anyone on the list has useful suggestions on how we can change the wider field of curatorial scholarship further - so that it is not just the same handful of exhibitions which get mentioned, and the same handful of curators whose practices are cited - we'd more than welcome those suggestions!

meantime, back to the business of discussing the curating of media art, in this case, how curating online differs from curating offline. Marialaura, over to you....

thanks
sarah








On 12 Dec 2012, at 08:26, Domenico Quaranta wrote:

> Dear Andreas,
> 
> Il giorno 11/dic/2012, alle ore 19:24, Andreas Broeckmann ha scritto:
> 
>> dom,
>> 
>> am i missing something, or is there an explanation why you do not mention the exhibitions of the ars electronica (since 1979), of V2 (since 1986), of the different festivals and biennials in europe, MUU media festival, WRO, Ostranenie, videofest/transmediale, DEAF, and then of course the ICC, the ZKM and the curatorial work of peter weibel, to name just a few? most of this was well under way before your american knights came on the scene.
>> 
>> to present this story as something that was pioneered in the US and the UK in the early 2000s is - dare i say - ludicrous.
> 
> thank you for taking your time to read the text, and to send your reply. I really appreciate it and, as you already know, I like your German straightforwardness :-)
> 
> Ludicrous? Of course you would be right, if this was my subject - which isn't. You can't blame me because I don't talk about cows and chickens, if my subject is goat husbandry. In this text, I'm not focusing on "curating new media" in broader terms, but on attempts to bring new media art in front of a generic contemporary art audience of "non experts". All the events and venues you refer to in your email are specialized media art events, usually attended by media literate people who have no concerns about technology and its legitimacy as an art medium. 
> 
> As far as I know, the presentation of new media art in mainstream contemporary art institutions started, with a few exceptions (Documenta VII, Les immateriaux, the 1986 Venice Biennal, Mediascape at Guggenheim Soho) in the late Nineties, both in Europe and in the US. Probably my list of "american knights" should be completed by Julian Stallabrass (for Art and Money Online at Tate), Erkki Huhtamo (for Alien Intelligence), Peter Weibel (for coordinating and touring Net Condition) and a few others. But again, my point was not making lists and my focus were not exhibitions (that were discussed extensively in the mentioned book), but the curatorial debate. And this became aware of itself only later, and mainly thanks to this list
> 
> Hope this helps to clarify
> domenico
> 
> ---
> 
> Domenico Quaranta
> 
> email: [log in to unmask]
> skype: dom_40
> 
> http://domenicoquaranta.com
> http://www.linkartcenter.eu

------------------------------------------------

Dr. Sarah Cook
Reader
MA Curating Module Leader
Faculty of Arts, Design and Media
University of Sunderland

Curator for the Festival of New Media and Video, Transitio_MX05 "Biomediations", September 20-29, 2013 in Mexico City

Co-editor and co-founder, The Curatorial Resource for Upstart Media Bliss, www.crumbweb.org

Read our books:

Euphoria & Dystopia: The Banff New Media Institute Dialogues.
http://www.banffcentre.ca/press/39/euphoria-and-dystopia.mvc

Rethinking Curating: Art After New Media. http://mitpress.mit.edu/catalog/item/default.asp?ttype=2&tid=12071

A Brief History of Curating New Media Art, and A Brief History of Working with New Media Art.
http://www.thegreenbox.net

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