AW: [iDC] death of the artist?

Curt Cloninger curt at
Thu Feb 9 10:31:53 EST 2006

the program in Austria is:

The other low-residency MFA programs to which I'm applying are:


At 2:35 PM +0000 2/9/06, Robert Praxmarer wrote:
>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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