[iDC] Curating New Media Art

Trebor Scholz trebor at thing.net
Wed Apr 12 12:21:11 EDT 2006

As examples for context provision I listed 
Mongrel, Nine (9); Miranda July, Learning to Love You More; Josh On,
They Rule; The Institute for Infinitely Small Things, and Radioqualia.

I will elaborate by posting a bit from an essay that I wrote for
"Curating Immateriality. Work of the Curator in the Age of Network
Systems" ed. Krysa, J.  

>Cultural Context Providers

 ³We (Jackie and Natalie) are the initiators and coordinators rather
than the absolute authors. User participation and contributions make up
the fundamental core of the work that needs to be done. ³

-From FAQ agoraXchange,[Internet], Available from:

 ³Is drawing a distinction between the artist on the one hand, and those
mediating art on the other hand still justified in this context, or
should everyone be viewed as a producer of culture under rather similar,
often precious circumstances? ²
(Ramirez 2004: 68)

The following section suggests the model of the cultural context
provider. Currently, there is much advocacy for cultural practices that
demand a particular involvement on the part of the audience, creating
situations in which art projects are co-produced. People interact with
networked computer systems and artifacts evolve out of experimental
relationships between several people. The media art curator is not
exclusively the  Œmiddle person¹ between artists and museums or
galleries anymore. Curators do not merely organise exhibitions and edit,
filter and arrange museum collections. Now, her practice includes
facilitating events, screenings, temporary discursive situations,
writing/publishing, symposia, conferences, talks, research, the creation
of open archives, and mailing lists. Curators become meta-artists. They
set up contexts for artists who provide contexts. The model of the
curated website has become a useful recognition mechanism. In media art
many cultural context providers function in various registers including
that of the curator. However, the once clear line between curator,
artist and theorist is now blurred. Jon Ippolito writes:

 ³While art professors typically divide clearly into critical (Art
History) and creative (Studio Art) faculties, new media¹s brief history
often requires its practitioners to develop a critical context for their
own creative work. This is why so many pre-eminent new media artists are
also critics or curators².

- From Standards of Recognition website, [Internet], Available from:

The model of the well-informed expert advances to that of the cultural
editor who channels the perspectives of other cultural producers. The
prevailing standards of recognition that are prevailing in the art world
are slowly ported to their online equivalents (i.e. gallery, museum,
cafe, community center versus self-published, peer-curated, and museum
website). The hopes of early net artists for the democratisation of art,
that would make them independent of the traditional museum curator
because of the publicness that the Internet affords, have largely not
materialised. Online projects can remain very intimate spaces without
institutional promotion while there is definitely the opportunity for
self-organization. Artists can generate platforms such as mailing lists,
websites, and independently organised exhibitions to circulate their
ideas and set up platforms from which they can interact with an
audience. The power of the media art curator is somewhat decentralised
but she is still important as expert and cultural legitimiser. She can
contextualise projects as part of culturally discursive currents or
historical processes. Experiments with collaborative forms of curating
that would expand the notion of the sole curator are rare and have so
far not sparked much following. But curators have the ability to foster
participation in open artworks by drawing attention to them. Problems
occur due to the continuously evolving nature of audience-oriented
works. The properties of an art object have drastically changed and now
curators are faced with projects that are ephemeral, based on networks,
appear in many copies, and are often grounded in the form of
communication rather than a physical object. Sometimes context-based
artworks are dismissed by curators as service rather than art. Less
enlightened museums curators frame new media art in modernist terms that
are based on familiar rules for institutional inclusion or exclusion. On
which aesthetic criteria should institutions base their decisions in the
face of constantly changing forms of new media art works? Possibly the
museum is not the most suitable venue. Many emerging practices can be
experienced at media art festivals like Transmediale, Ars Electronica,
Dutch Electronic Art Festival, or ArtBot but when it comes to more
traditional art institutions the validity of much of this work as art is
questioned. Venues for new media practitioners are not predominantly
festivals or museums but virtually distributed communities: [...]
organisations are using the traditional commission model for determining
which individuals will receive electronic archive and display space.



>Amanda wrote:
>>I also pointed to examples of projects where artists don't make  
>>"works" per se, but rather make "frameworks" for others to  
>>contribute, and I sited examples such as r a d i o q u a l i a 's The 
>>Frequency Clock; Mongrel's Nine(9) and Linker; and Marko Peljhan's  
>>Makrolab.  These kinds of work only *become* works of 'art' when  
>>other artists, community groups, researchers - participants in  
>>general in fact - contribute to the project.
>I believe Trebor would refer to this as 'context provision', and
suggest that the 'artists' (ie, Marko, 
>Mongrel & r a d i o q u a l i a) are 'context providers' in these
>( 'Context-provision' here refers to the way the term was used by Maja
Kuzmanovic & Nik Gaffney 
>in their paper 'Multiplex Translations / Entangled Aphasia', 2001, 
><http://f0.am/publications/2001_mtea/index.html> )
>Would that be your take, Trebor?
>.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
>honor harger
>present location: yverdon-les-bains, .ch
>email: honor at va.com.au
>mobile: +41 794252349
>- > w o r k
>av festival, .uk: http://www.avfest.co.uk/
>z-node, ch: http://ics.hgkz.ch/
>- > p l a y
>r a d i o q u a l i a: http://www.radioqualia.net
>-> l i s t e n
>radio astronomy: http://www.radio-astronomy.net
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