Beryl Graham On New Media Curating Discussion List's Latest Debate
Beryl Graham just summarized an excelent discussion going on at New Media Curating list. Here is what she wrote.
1. "IT'S ALL ART ... BUT ..."
There are many excellent arguments as to why new media art is simply one of the contemporary arts and shouldn't be treated as a special case or kept in a ghetto. Unfortunately, these arguments are often elegantly used by arts institutions and curating courses which do not actually in practice show, see, archive or research new media art. This argument also does tend to exclude all knowledge of technological or scientific histories, which might be useful for understanding "not just art". There was debate about namings of newmedia art (see also CRUMB theme September 2004). However, if the history of art might provide some useful 'handles' for helping conventional art curators understand new media (if only, as AnnaMunster points out, via their pleasure in pointing out that it has all been done before), then the question arises: "What is new media art most like?"
2. "WHAT IS IT THAT IT IS MOST LIKE?"
This simple question puts us at the crux of "Continuity v Rupture"(Ed Shanken), and although the point of new media is not that it is new (Andreas Broekman, and the debate around The Art Formerly Known as New Media), there is still an argument that rupture is necessary: In issues of disembodiment, immateriality, and process, it is a bit like Conceptual Art, but as Matt Fuller points out, "pasted conceptualism" is not adequate. In issues of reproducibility, time, and a relationship to theory, Sean Cubit has pointed out that there are some parallels with Photography and Video, but Sarah Cook pointed out that Lev Manovich's film and video basis for The Language of New Media is only a partial picture. In issues of interaction that Andy Polaine raised, there is remarkably little art history - socially engaged art being largely undocumented, and as Sarah Cook points out, Nicolas Bourriaud's Relational aesthetics being inadequate. In issues for net art in particular, the means of production being the same as the means of distribution has few art historical precedents. Perhaps the most sensible solution to this question comes, unsurprisingly, from artists: Alison Craighead says that the solutionis "just getting on with it" rather than trying to second guess. Matt Fuller quoted by Ryan Griffis said: "So in short, yes, there are potential parallels to conceptualism, as if this were a marker of anything particularly significant, but as a question of understanding the particular conditions and capacities of art systems and the particular historical conditions in which a crisis of multiplicity might be made. On such a basis we can, not recapitulate stylistics, but, make art."
3. CRITICISM, PRESS, ARCHIVING AND DISAPPEARANCE
Ryan Griffis, Marc Garret and others raised the importance of good reviews, and criticism of new media art (see also the CRUMB list theme on the subject in May 2003). Press coverage is often all that remains of certain exhibitions, and unfortunately often never gets beyond technological hyperbole or an understanding of interaction as 'hands-on fun' (see Steve Dietz's excellent historicalparallel commentary on Robert Morris' exhibition Neo Classic at https://webmail.netcabo.pt/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=http://www.yproductions.com/). Press coverage obviously relates to historical documentation, and Charlie Gere and others raised the fact that the technical difficulties of preserving the artworks themselves are seriously affecting scholarship. Further reviews of The ArtFormerly Known as New Media are still very welcome - the show is not touring, and Banff's geographic position tends to mean that national press coverage is difficult to obtain.
4. NOT PRODUCT BUT PROCESS
An important thread brings us back to one of our starting questions.In a very important point, Christiane Paul clarified that the reason that her contemporary art museum colleagues would find it difficult to work with her was not so much that they weren't aware of the media, or the new media artworks (the product), but more that they were not aware of the different process of curating new media (a curatorial process that she likens to Schleiner's 'filter feeder'model). As Rudolf Frieling points out, the media art history debate itself is in a state of process, and an early one at that. As inThread 3, the process of documenting itself meets many practicalchallenges which effect end scholarship. papers, etc. As JohnIppolito et al pointed out in the Variable Media project, it is necessary to document the intent of the artist, and the process of interaction, as well as the object itself.
So, as a suggestion for future debate, is the key difference to address when considering new media art as opposed to other contemporary artforms one of process? This could include the process of artmaking (versioning), the process of curating, the process of distribution, the process of documenting, the process of criticism, the process of historicising. What do you think?
(sent by Beryl Graham to NEW-MEDIA-CURATING@JISCMAIL.AC.UK on fri 21-10-2005 15:46)