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NEW-MEDIA-CURATING  January 2015

NEW-MEDIA-CURATING January 2015

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Subject:

Curmudgeon

From:

WILLIAMS Richard <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

WILLIAMS Richard <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 23 Jan 2015 10:38:48 +0000

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Hi folks - just wanted to say I'm an old curmudgeon, but genial with it (hi Joanne!) and not to be taken too seriously. Do take me to task.... :) R 

________________________________________
From: Curating digital art - www.crumbweb.org <[log in to unmask]> on behalf of WILLIAMS Richard <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: 22 January 2015 16:28
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: [NEW-MEDIA-CURATING] Hello from Richard Williams

Hi folks -

SOME THOUGHTS ON EXHIBITIONS

Richard Williams here, Prof. of Visual Cultures at the University of Edinburgh. I teach in art history, though my interests extend a good bit beyond that. Just like to offer a few thoughts on the topic of exhibitions.

I've worked in an intellectual environment - history of art - that privileges the experience of 'real' art objects in 'real' space, and many people in the area are involved in curating as a result. It's been a bit slow, consequently, to embrace both new media artforms and the dissemination of existing art.

At the same time, on a personal level, I've really come to loathe art exhibitions to the point at which I will do almost *anything* to avoid them. I'm not making this up. It's a pathological dislike. I don't much like crowds, and nor being in highly controlled environments, and spending money on things I don't like puts me in a bad mood. Perhaps more than anything though, I've just lost the habit. I don't watch broadcast TV, buy newspapers, or eat Instant Whip. Exhibition-going just seems to be one of those old habits, and the colossal production of exhibition space at the end of the 20th century is rather baffling.

So what about new media? Well, I can't think of anything about it that I don't like (apart from email. But no-one on earth will be using it in about 18 months). I still like art, and talking to artists, I love films, the whole world of image production is still of enduring fascination - and so on. What's great about the new technologies is how they let you experience all of these things in spaces of your choosing. To be able to watch high quality streamed video content in a decent teaching room with students, where we're in control of the situation, is a real pleasure, and one that feels no less authentic than the coercive space of the exhibition. It seems closer, if anything, to the studio, where there's a sense of things being (productively) incomplete.

Many people in the art world have a powerful residual sense that new media means somehow second hand or second rate. I don't feel any of that. I'm no techno-utopian, and I recognise as well as anyone that some technologies are as coercive as anything in the material world. But my sense from experience is that new media generally means 'better'. And if it helps me avoid exhibitions...well, that's fantastic :)
--
The University of Edinburgh is a charitable body, registered in
Scotland, with registration number SC005336.

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