Thank you list! A great start to this week’s discussion. ; )
And thank you Irini for your post! As Johannes notes, you have provided us with an impressive range of your curatorial activities at the V&A and Waterman’s, which focus on ‘bringing people together to exchange ideas and collaborate’ rather than the outcome (making things).
Your desire in the V&A to use the ‘Museum as an exchange and ideas lab’ has brought together ‘artists, designers, engineers, makers, scientists and other practioners with the public via a hybrid programme of regular, annual and bespoke project platforms.
Raising one of Olga’s questions here… Can you talk a little about ‘How do we ‘maintain and prosper these values of autonomy-quality-experiment-freedom.’ within your multi disciplinary and inter sector programmes?
At Waterman’s you present a range of collaborative exhibition models where you ‘invites artists to develop work as part of the exhibition and in collaboration with visitors.’ Within the context of a gallery programme where ‘the format is the more traditional exhibition as a way of presenting work’
The projects you present are all tangible examples of a much more ‘distributed’ (artistic and curatorial) authorship approach within a gallery space. Can you talk a little bit more about the impact this approach had on your role as curator in these projects?
‘Most collaborations in these programmes happen over time and are based on trust and people’s relationships rather an at an organizational level.’
It would be great to hear more thoughts from the list on commonalities and divergences between organizational and individual practices in relation to collaborative projects.
‘One thing I find important for these events is to be flexible and open as much as possible, so rather than having a very strict structure, we try to develop and respond depending on the content, participants etc’
Again, this way of working is often at odds with more traditional, existing structures and systems within galleries, museums and organizations, who often need to programme activity and exhibitions, significantly in advance of delivery, often offering little opportunity for the flexibility and openness you mention. It is interesting that you are based in the Education team at the V&A and curator at Waterman’s – how do these two different contexts impact on your ability to be open, flexible and responsive?
How well do you feel your programmes fit within existing structures of the V&A and Watermans? Or, do you feel, as Johannes suggested of Danny’s programme, that they are an entirely new strand of activity for these organisations?
Thanks a million!
e:[log in to unmask]
Curator & Arts Producer
Thinking Digital Arts
On 14 Mar 2015, at 20:50, Irini-Mirena Papadimitriou <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Hello all
> I am very pleased to be part of this very interesting discussion, thank you Suzy for the invitation!
> First I should apologise for joining the discussion so late, but I have been working in Hong Kong with limited email access. I thought I should maybe mention the project I joined there, as it's relevant to the work I have been doing at the V&A too.
> The project, called Bodies of Planned Obsolescence is an art-science research networking project led by Dani Ploeger, and involves a group of artists, scientists, cultural theorists in practice-based explorations, workshops, symposiums and an exhibition on the materiality of obsolete and discarded electronic devices. These events are taking place in Hong Kong, Lagos and a final one in London coming up in June at Watermans. Sharing of the research is being published on the website and blog http://www.e-waste-performance.net.
> I share my time between the V&A and Watermans. At the V&A, I am responsible for a few of our Digital Programmes (we set up our team in 2008), and at Watermans I have been curating the exhibition programme since 2010 as well as an annual festival, which I started two years ago, the Digital Performance Weekender. I thought I should briefly mention some of the programmes both at the V&A and Watermans, which are most relevant to the discussion.
> Since we started our team (and since we are part of the Learning Dept), I have been interested in using the Museum as an exchange and ideas lab, where we could share more processes rather than finished work and engage artists, designers, engineers, makers, scientists and other practitioners with the public in collaborative work, discussions and workshops. Often the work we do is linked to the collections or temporary exhibitions too.
> Some examples of these programmes include:
> - a monthly show & tell/tinkerspace and activities event taking place in the galleries, where artists/designers/makers etc are invited to bring in a part of their studio to share work in progress and enable discussions by hands on sessions or open activities. In the past this programme has also taken place in temporary exhibitions such as Power of Making in the form of a tinkerspace.
> - Digital Design Weekend, an annual big-scale event at the V&A (part of the London Design Festival) bringing together artists, designers, engineers, scientists exploring intersections of art/design/tech with an interest in contemporary issues and impact of technology e.g digital/cultural value, data & privacy, open source technologies etc. The purpose of the Digital Design Weekend is to explore and present new work and research projects giving audiences the opportunity to meet participants and take part in open workshops and labs. The Weekend is also a networking event with opportunities for artists, engineers, scientists and the industry to meet, work together (not only at the V&A but also longer term). A big part of this event involves collaborative activities and labs, such as hackathons e.g. climate change and wearables in collaboration with the Met Office and makers, fashion designers and the public, or the most recent Open Collaborative Making, which focussed on activities around digital value, e-waste, data and more - again bringing together professionals from different disciplines and visitors. This is the link to a publication from these activities and work presented, supported by AHRC - you can download the publication here: http://uniform.net/blog/october-2014/digital-design-weekend/
> You can find the programme from DDW 2014 (theme: digital value) here: http://www.vam.ac.uk/whatson/media/uploads/files/Digital_Design_Weekend_Programme_-_Online_2.pdf
> and from 2013 (theme: art, design and science collaborations) here: http://www.vam.ac.uk/whatson/media/uploads/files/Digital_Design_Weekend_29.08.pdf
> - finally, Digital Futures, which I started in 2012 to sustain all these collaborations that developed from the annual Digital Design Weekend. Digital Futures is a monthly meetup, open studio event & showcase for researchers, artists, designers and other professionals working with art, design, technology and science intersections. The aim of the event is to offer a space to network, present and share new projects, but also to nurture discussion and future collaborations. As we have been working with many universities and start ups, DF is also an opportunity to share academic and artistic research with the public. Digital Futures has been taking place at the V&A and beyond, with events in tech city, BL-NK Old Street, Mozilla Festival, Dundee Contemporary Arts, Mobile World Centre Barcelona, EVA London Conference and recently in collaboration with SPACE/The White Building.
> The sessions format is changing depending on the content, hosting space and participants and it includes talks, panels discussions, work display, open workshops and prototyping. Themes are ongoing linking work and research from different disciplines and include digital value, open data, open/co-design, technology and physicality, making, technology and activism and more. Examples from the recent Money No Object and Disobedient Objects sessions can be found here:
> These programmes that I have been running at the V&A offer a very different format from the work I do at Watermans, where I have to look after our gallery programme, so the format is the more traditional exhibition as a way of presenting work. I was very interested in finding ways to engage visitors with the work developed for or presented in the gallery (expect from talks & workshops), so a few years ago I started a series of exhibitions inviting artists to develop work as part of the exhibition and in collaboration with visitors.
> Some of these projects included:
> - Isoculture by Michael Burton & Michiko Nitta exploring a city of the future isolated from the wider environment where humans become self-sustaining. The artists set up a lab conducting experiments with a group of visitors every week and developing together the exhibition. We also had a group of visiting scientists and organisations such as Horizon. You can see some of their experiments on the website http://burtonnitta.co.uk/isoculture/index.html.
> - The Romantic Disease: An Artistic Investigation of Tuberculosis by Anna Dumitriu; in a similar way, we had an open lab in the gallery run by Anna and leading microbiologists (Modernising Medical Microbiology Project) on techniques and methods for artistic engagement with bacteria http://theromanticdisease.tumblr.com
> - Is Technology Eating My Brain? by Paul Granjon; a residency-exhibition project where Paul worked with a group of local people in a wrekshop making things using recycled technologies and open source electronics http://www.zprod.org/zwp/robot/is-technology-eating-my-brain-pt1/. The project raised questions about our relation to technology and explored creative approaches to low-impact living, electronic-waste upcycling, social dynamics for alternative futures and artificial creatures.
> - More recently the Living Data exhibition by Michael Takeo Magruder, where Michael and 3D visualisation technologies researcher Drew Baker collaborated with a group of young adults to create work for the exhibition.
> Another programme at Watermans, which looks at collaborations between artists, technologists, performers, makers, scientists as well as audience participation and dialogue is the annual Digital Performance Weekender (Networked Bodies), an event about performing practices and technology.
> Most collaborations in these programmes happen over time and are based on trust and people’s relationships rather than at an organisation level. One thing I find important for these events is to be flexible and open as much as possible, so rather than having a very strict structure, we try to develop and respond depending on the content, participants etc. From open labs, to hacks and collaborative making events, bringing people together to exchange ideas and collaborate is more important than the outcome (making things), so there is no pressure in creating something (although this fortunately happens most of the time :-).
> Looking forward to the rest of the discussion.
> All the bestIrini