> Mentionning Documenta VII, Les immateriaux, the 1986 Venice Biennal, Mediascape at Guggenheim Soho as "exceptions" is interesting as they were a) the biggest art fairs worldwide (Miami was not existing) and b) two of the most important contemporary/modern art museums worldwide. This shows that the divide between contemporay art and media art was not existing.
I was intrigued that Mediascape came up in this discussion of the divide between Europe and America, and between "new media" and "mainstream" art worlds. The show may have taken place in New York, but it drew much of its inventory from ZKM--which would seem to corroborate the European pedigree of the New York art world's interest in high-tech art.
However, Tom Krens, Guggenheim director at the time, agreed to host Mediascape--and indeed to turn the Guggenheim SoHo into a center for art and technology--after seeing lines snaking around the block three years earlier for a show entitled Virtual Reality: An Emerging Medium. Apart from a cameo by Jenny Holzer, the VR show drew its roster not from art museums and galleries but from technology hotbeds like CMU and Silicon Valley and their crossover artists like Eric Gullichson and Thomas Dolby. That, plus the fact that 1993 was the peak of hype about VR, drew in a lot of people who might not have otherwise visited a mainstream art museum.
Now, of course, digital curation is all the rage among historians, librarians, and folks from many non-art disciplines. The University of Maine is capitalizing on this reality in its online Digital Curation courses launched last fall. We've got two more online courses starting later this month--I'm co-teaching the preservation course. Please email me or visit http://DigitalCuration.UMaine.edu if you're interested.