AW: [iDC] death of the artist?

Robert Praxmarer cubic at
Thu Feb 9 09:35:45 EST 2006

you mean Interface Cultures in Linz?
and greetings to trebor from prague if it happens that you are around in
prague give me a shout.
dobre den,

-----Ursprüngliche Nachricht-----
Von: idc-bounces at [mailto:idc-bounces at]Im
Auftrag von Curt Cloninger
Gesendet: Donnerstag, 9. Februar 2006 01:30
An: idc at
Betreff: [iDC] death of the artist?

Hi Trebor,

What you are saying definitely resonates with me.  Here are two
personal anecdotes that seem related:


I'm applying to 4 low-residency graduate programs to get my MFA.  The
schools range from "totally get it but are in Linz," to "get it a lot
less but are right down the road."

 From the school in Austria that gets it:

  "The program is intended to lift the boundaries between applied and
fine arts, traditional and new media, artists and scholars. Students
are free to pursue work in any media art-related genre...

Genres include: Animation, Architecture, Curatorial work, Cyber Art,
Film / Video, Game Design, Graphic Design, Installation Art,
Interactive Art, Interdisciplinary Art, Performance Art, Photography,
and Sound / Music...

students create Art Projects (i.e. a film/video, an installation, a
concert, a campaign, a performance, a website, a documented
intervention, a book of photographs, etc.)...

  The art work itself, the ideas, content, process and presentation
are the focus of the program. Your choice of media is up to you. It
should be the media that best expresses what you have to communicate.
New media is an open term and is intended here to be inclusive of
genres and media not traditionally considered "fine art" as well as
analog work like photography or film that do not necessarily involve
digital processes. It also implies an awareness of current media and
media practices. Although one needs to have some interest in new
media, it isn't necessary to work digitally to reach the goals of the

They don't accept slides.  They don't even want a CD.  They prefer a
URL or files uploaded to their server.

 From the school down the road that gets it a lot less:

"Our 2D component with emphasis on painting is the first fully
implementted one in the program.  We are, however, taking a limited
number of students into the 3D and integrated media componenets which
are in the process of being developed...

The painting component is one of a handful of programs nationwide
that actually address the issue of 'paint' in the 21st century.  We
consider this the backbone of the MFA program...

We do accept students whose focus is cross disciplinary, including
those with 3D and integrated media backgrounds in order to enliven
the discourse and to set the tenor for a fully invested, cross
disciplined MFA program."

They prefer slides, but will accept a CD.

I know a student in this program who works with time-based media.
She said during the first group critique, one of the professors asked
how they were going to critique her work when it couldn't be hung and
immediately comprehended.  "We only have 15 minutes in critique to
spend on each student.  It will take that much time just to watch one
of your video pieces."

In my application, I want to foreground the
"de-contextualizing/curatorial" work I've done here:
through which I've hosted an international contest involving
non-conceptual web art and hand-sewn prizes based on each winning

But how do I effectively represent the scope of that artistic
activity with a slide?


I'm working with a group here in Asheville to organize a
collaborative derive/lecture/performance/installation.  The first
evening will begin with a lecture at a first gallery on the history
of the derive and instructions for that evening's derive.  It's a
"Bring Your Own Digital Capture Device" event.  After the lecture, we
divide the "attendees" into groups of three or four and send them out
into the street.  They drift and capture and arrive later in the
evening at a second gallery to upload their data onto a computer.  At
the second gallery, a live VJ improvisationally remixes the digital
content gathered that evening in real time.

Then we upload all the content to an open server (each group's derive
content in a separate folder) and invite artists to remix it however
they like.  My wife is planning on sewing a quilt based on a collage
of the images.  Another artist has talked about doing an installation
based on capture GPS coordinates.

Then a month later, at a third gallery, we have a show of the
artworks that were created from the derive source material, with a
computer on hand containing the original source material.  All three
galleries are in the same downtown area where the derives will take

Only today we discovered that the thirid gallery who had agreed to
host the show now has the following requirements:

"* Resume
* Artist's Statement
* 10 slides or digital images
* Slide list of titles, dates, sizes, and mediums

Group or individual applications are accepted. In the case of a group
proposal, please have each artist submit all of the above."

But we don't yet know who the "source content providers" are, because
they will just be members of the "audience" who show up the first
night.  And we don't yet know who the "remix artists" are, because
they will anwer a call for paraticipation that won't be issued until
the source material is available for them to remix.  The best we can
do is submit work by the organizers/curators, but there's no
guarantee that any of us will have "content" in the show.


Note in both instances, the discrepancies are not the result of
people unfamiliar with "the art world."  In the former case we are
dealing with art professors.  In the latter case we are dealing with
a committee of art gallery curators.  In a sense, these people are
too familiar with "the art world."

I will deal with the discrepancies that arise in these two instances
because the academy and the galleries have intersected my path.
Otherwise, I'm sure I wouldn't bother dealing with the discrepancies
at all.


p.s. Regarding conference organization,  I love Nikola Tosic's approach:
He used to maintain an online list of all the people who attended
each event, and there have been some fascinating, diverse people.

>From: Trebor Scholz <trebor at>
>Date: February 5, 2006 12:12:38 PM EST
>To: IDC list <idc at>
>Subject: [iDC] death of the artist?
>Who organizes? In the context of event organizing it is worth noting
>that it is not exclusively curators who conceptualize and organize.
>Recently I was in conversation with one of my graduate students. We
>mapped his work for the semester. We looked at readings that may be
>appropriate for him. Then I asked what he planned in the line of
>cultural production. "I want to organize an event. A conference
>perhaps." He also intends to explore blogs as artistic medium,
>investigating and making strange the characteristic of that format. A
>writing and sound practice. Conference and blog go hand in hand. This
>approach is not at all exclusive to "new media." It is just as common in
>filmmaking, for example. But it is still hard for traditional narratives
>to wrap their head around ideas of an expanded practice (not aimed at
>the museum)! Should we, along the mid-90s theme of the death of
>everything, claim the death of the artist?
>How do encyclopedias tackle the "a"-term? Wikipedia talks of the artist
>as "a person who engages in an activity deemed to be an art. It is also
>used in a qualitative sense of a person creative in, innovative in, or
>adept at, an artistic practice. Most often, the term describes those who
>create within a context of 'high culture', activities such as drawing,
>sculpture, acting, dancing, writing, filmmaking and music Ð people who
>use imagination, and talent or skill, to create works that can be judged
>to have an aesthetic value. Art historians and critics will define as
>artists those who produce art within a recognized or recognizable
>discipline." High Culture? Art as merely visual, aesthetic pursuit?
>Wikipedia, you are not alone! The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is as
>out of sync with today's living culture. For the cigar-smoking OED
>editors an artist is a: "follower of a pursuit in which skill comes by
>study or practice - the opposite of a theorist." Wake up, you editors of
>this world. Leave your downtown cubicle or university capsule, go out,
>have some air! See what really happens in the world. We should edit that
>Wikipedia entry! Let's look at what Francis brought up.
>ReadMe (From Frequently Asked Questions)
>What is it? " is a software art repository, launched in January
>2003. It is an open, moderated database to which people are welcome to
>submit projects they consider to be interesting examples of software
>art." Who initiated it? " is a collaborative and open project
>that was developed by Amy Alexander, Florian Cramer, Matthew Fuller,
>Olga Goriunova, Thomax Kaulmann, Alex McLean, Pit Schultz, Alexei
>Shulgin, and The Yes Men. In summer 2003 Hans Bernhard and Alessandro
>Ludovico have joined the expert team." The Runme initiators are artists
>who write. Writers who produce art projects. Software artists who
>organize. Media theorists who produce artwork. Artists who run
>magazines. Some of them teach wearing all these hats in rotating order.
>What is happening here? Whatever it is-- it surely transcends the field
>of new media. I could immediately extend the list of people who work in
>this manner by about half the subscribers to this list, myself included.
>Then there is Bruno Latour who is a French sociologist of science. He
>frequently organizes event. Most recently "Making Things Public" (With
>Peter Weibel). Geert Lovink, grand seigneur of new media, media theorist
>and activist. Geert organized countless initiatives and wrote alongside
>them. Most recently there is "Incommunicado." Matthew Fuller writes
>"Media Ecologies" and part of "Mongrel." He also puts on conferences
>through Piet Zwart. Do we really need to provide more examples? Should
>we be worried?
>"Praise ye Van Gogh!" That's the immediate association with the term
>artist! Take that thing from the hook in the gallery and put it on the
>hook over the couch of the collector. In the 1990s we witnessed the
>emerging paradigm of the artist as cultural producer. This was meant to
>disappoint the beforementioned expectations of the art world. The artist
>as suffering, socially isolated entertainer and oddball. There is an
>entire aspect of this practice of the cultural producer/cultural context
>provider that I will not address here. It concerns  the setting up of
>contexts (for others to participate) rather than providing content
>themselves. The cultural context provider blurs the lines between the
>artist, theorist, and curator! She may alternate between a writing
>practice, curatorial work, and production of artwork. Ten years ago
>there were few theorists who could speak to the technical backend of
>computer-reliant work. There were only a handful of organizers who were
>invested in showing such work. This vacuum demanded multi-functional
>personas. That has changed to an extent and cultural production has
>specialized a bit more. But a significant shift has taken place. The
>role of the curator has changed along with that of the artist. The media
>art curator is not exclusively the ‘middle person1 between artists and
>museums or galleries anymore. Curators do not merely organize
>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.
>However, the once clear line between curator, artist and theorist is now
>also blurred. Jon Ippolito, artist, theorist and professor at the
>University of Maine, looks at this phenomenon within academia. The
>widespread, harsh misperceptions of contemporary cultural production in
>the field of computer-reliant work lead to tragic misjudgment in the
>academic tenure process. In this context Ippolito writes: ‘While 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 curators1.
>Standards_of_Recognition#Differences_of_content>. I hear it all the
>time. People like us who follow such an expanded practice often struggle
>with stubborn "art disciplinarians" within academia. (I know many of you
>on this list could not care less! Who cares about academic afflictions?
>Well, OK, but they are a model for cultural phenomena outside the
>university and worth acknowledging for that reason). Many colleagues
>across the US tell me that they have difficulties because their culture
>practice, as multi-faceted as described previously, is not easily
>attached to an "area." Some academics perceive such expanded practice as
>indecisiveness. Is that person a critic or an artist, a curator or a
>software engineer? The lack of insight behind such questions is part of
>the tragedy of academia right now.
>Artists can generate platforms such as mailing lists, websites, and
>independently organized exhibitions to circulate their ideas and set up
>stages from which they can interact with an audience. The power of the
>media art curator is somewhat decentralized but she is still important
>as expert and cultural legitimizer. She can contextualize projects as
>part of culturally discursive currents or historical processes.
>I see graduate "media art" students who are not too concerned to be part
>of the traditional art world. They know that they can create their own
>venues. They realize that they can have a dialogue, a platform, an
>audience, and influence without being in the Biennial "x." And to be
>among the 2% mark of art students who can make a living with their work
>is a rather unrealistic objective perhaps. It is one that many don't
>even aspire to. They have seen and acknowledge the potential of
>self-organized cultural production.
>"Real" artists have galleries that represent them! (Or at least
>traditional narratives make us believe that that is the case.) But the
>museum is not the most suitable venue for new media. 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
>such as the one that we inhabit right here.
>The division of camps, of areas equally makes little sense. Why divide
>artists/cultural producers into filmmakers, video makers, software
>artist, electronic geeks and media theorists when in fact these
>practices are blurred? The cultural practices of people in front of us
>show that such specialization is not always the case. I see an expanded
>cultural practice that includes event-based cultural practice,
>production of texts, production of artworks, and production of software.
>The "cultural producer" or "cultural context provider" is at odds with
>the definitions of the gallery artist. To define cultural production
>based on its behavior rather than its medium is a more useful idea that
>was discussed on other lists extensively.
>I introduced this excursion about the "death of the artist" into the
>context of the social event machine because it matters who is behind
>such initiatives. I am curious if my brief rant here resonates with some
>of you, if you analyze the situation along similar lines or maybe not at
>But when I look into the eye of the event organizer I see writers,
>artists, engineers, and ... What do you see?
>Trebor Scholz
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