Day 3, Stream 2
Creation, Collaboration and Consumption
Sarah Cook: University of Sunderland, UK
Vince Dziekan: Monash University, Australia
Amanda Slack-Smith: Queensland Art Gallery/GOMA, Australia
Keir Winesmith: Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, Australia
Angelina Russo: Museum 3, Melbourne, Australia
Lubi Thomas: Digital Media, Queensland University of Technology, Australia
Based on the research of the co-chairs, the intention of the panel is to precipitate critical reflection on wider issues affecting contemporary art curatorship in response to ISEA2013’s theme, ‘Resistance is Futile’. In 2012 Claire Bishop was resoundingly criticised by the media arts field for her article, published in ArtForum, on the question of why the contemporary art scene has ignored society’s larger digital transformation. Critics lamented that Bishop had deliberately disregarded, as part of her argument, the ever-expanding field of arts practice that engages the digital, as something separate. As new media art and digital arts are already in museum collections from Taichung to Preston, this resistance to acknowledging its place within the art world, and its further collection and historicisation, seems futile. In contradiction to Bishop’s position, it is now possible to examine the subtleties of how collected new media and digital art works are exhibited, interpreted and contextualised as part of the wider field of contemporary arts. Festivals, which famously allow for the latest or newest work-in-progress, play a strong role in museums acquiring artworks, many of which are first shown in festival exhibitions.
Therefore, this panel will share knowledge concerning contemporary curatorship; the invited panellists work across the contemporary arts, including festivals, museums and collections. They will discuss a range of curatorial issues where the qualities of new media, electronic and digital arts can be seen to continue to challenge museums as a result of the character and nature of their associated practices. Institutional functions including communications, interpretation, audience engagement and access will be discussed, including issues of creation, presentation, participation and consumption, i.e.: designing exhibition spaces as mediated environments; preserving media art histories; the expansion of curating platforms, including new modes of content curating, collaboration with artists and publics, social media and curatorial approaches that support expanded publication in a global context.
Lubi Thomas: Same Same but Different: Curating in the digital landscape (whilst staying out of the rain).
What is it to be a part of the gallery based curatorial profession, whilst curating in the digital landscape?
The ‘same same’ is the curatorial purpose and intent: communication, engagement and access. The ‘different’ is the landscape in which I work; the digital landscape is a place of ever-morphing modalities of creative practice, experimentation of production and reframing of display. All of which seem to be gleefully romping off into unchartered territory. The role of the curator is in the keeping up with, the seeking out of, and the inclusion of practices and outcomes that are not always recognized within the current cultural discourse. And then exhibiting these practices within the galleries structure and systems, in ways that best suit the works, and discourse on show. If we take too much comfort in the programs of festivals, competitions and non-traditional sites, as the home of digital experimental practices, then we ignore the continued role that the gallery, museum and institutional collections sector play in the legitimization of the culture of our time. The challenge is in accepting, and still curating the digital landscape into the gallery context. And in doing so, know that these shows will often problematise both the gallery conventions, and the audience’s perception of an exhibition experience.
As Senior Curator-Digital Media at QUT Brisbane, Lubi Thomas has extensive experience in the development and delivery of digital media focused exhibitions and associate public and educational engagement programs. Lubi continues to lead the creative industries precinct programs team, whilst working on developing an innovative STEAM focused program for the Cube – QUT Science and Engineering Centre. This program includes key partnerships with LEGO Education, Ars Electronica and the Australia Council for the Arts. Lubi works locally, nationally and internationally on exhibition programs, creative projects, public art opportunities for digital media and consultancies. She has also developed an ever-growing curatorial internship program at QUT focused on mentoring the next generation of digital media curators.
Angelina Russo will speak to her research, which focuses on the connections between cultural communication and media from a design perspective. Angelina is currently the Director of Higher Degrees Research in the School of Media and Communication at RMIT University, Melbourne. She has spent the past six years leading two major Australian Research Council projects in conjunction with 10 national and international cultural organisations. This research investigated digital content creation and multi-platform distribution and the impact of social media on learning and communication. Angelina is a former Australian Research Council Post Doctoral Fellow (2007-2010) and Queensland Premiere’s Smithsonian Fellow (2005). She is a co-founder and Director of Museum 3, a not-for-profit organisation established to explore the future of cultural organisations.
Amanda Slack-Smith is Assistant Curator, Australian Cinémathèque at the Queensland Art Gallery/ Gallery of Modern Art. In 2008 the Queensland Art Gallery initiated the first of three acquisitive award exhibitions at the Gallery of Modern Art surveying contemporary new media practice in Australia. Funded by the Queensland Government, the project comprised a $75,000 acquisitive award and a $25,000 scholarship for an emerging Queensland-based practitioner. The project enabled the Gallery to engage with a wide range of practitioners working with media art, develop this collection area for the museum and focus on issues surrounding the ongoing installation, conservation, and preservation of media art. It was also an important opportunity for the Gallery to develop new audiences and understanding for practices under represented within the art museum context. Reflecting on these challenges and experiences, QAGOMA curator (and co-curator of the 2012 Award) Amanda Slack-Smith will discuss the award series and the ongoing conservation and presentation of works held in the QAGOMA collection.
Kier Winesmith: A Living Catalogue for Anish Kapoor: Revealing Untold Stories in Rich Media Museum Publications*
Every art exhibition is rich with the untold stories. Digital platforms offer new opportunities for us to see behind the scenes and to hear the voices of the audience in museum publications. The Living Catalogue is an experimental initiative by the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia that explores the possibilities of rich media publication to discover new ways of engaging audiences. The first Living Catalogue was produced for 2012/13 for the exhibition Anish Kapoor – the first major solo showing of Kapoor’s work in Australia. The exhibition offered an ideal context for this experiment as the visceral perceptual effect of Kapoor’s work on the audience poses a challenge for any traditional publication about his art. The Living Catalogue for Anish Kapoor exploited the relational dynamics of networked reading, in which the downloading of a publication establishes a channel of communication between the museum and the reader (who is now also a watcher, listener and, potentially, speaker). The living catalogue appeared as a series of iterations throughout and beyond the duration of the exhibition. Each iteration included fresh content that responded to and included the reactions of the audience to the exhibition and the experiences of the staff who realised the show. Firsthand accounts of people’s experiences of the exhibition (including experts as well as members of the general public) were recorded and integrated into the final iteration of the catalogue, adding the audience’s voice to the in depth documentation and critical contextualisation of the exhibition.
(* Co-authored with Lizzie Muller)
Sarah Cook is a curator and writer based in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK and co-author (with Beryl Graham) of the book Rethinking Curating: Art After New Media (MIT Press, 2010) and co-editor (with Sara Diamond) of Euphoria & Dystopia: The Banff New Media Institute Dialogues. She is currently a Reader at the University of Sunderland where she co-founded and co-edits CRUMB, the online resource for curators of new media art and teaches on the MA Curating course. She is a member of the advisory board of the Journal of Curatorial Studies and co-chaired Rewire, the Fourth International Conference on the histories of media art, science and technology with FACT in Liverpool (2011).
Having grown up in Canada, Sarah has a longstanding association with The Banff Center where she has worked as a guest curator and researcher in residence for the Walter Phillips Gallery, the International Curatorial Institute and the New Media Institute, developing exhibitions, summits, residencies and publications. After completing her PhD in 2004, Sarah worked as adjunct curator of new media at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art funded by the AHRC. In 2008 Sarah was the inaugural curatorial fellow at Eyebeam Art and Technology Center in New York, where she worked with the artists in the labs to develop exhibitions of their work. Sarah has curated and co-curated international exhibitions including Database Imaginary (2004), The Art Formerly Known As New Media (2005), Broadcast Yourself (2008), Untethered (2008) and Mirror Neurons (2012).
Vince Dziekan is Director of Graduate Research in Design in the Faculty of Art Design + Architecture at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. In addition, he has research affiliations with Museums and the Web, the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; the Foundation for Art & Creative Technology (FACT) in Liverpool, UK; Kasa Galleri, Istanbul, Turkey; and is Digital Media Curator of The Leonardo Electronic Almanac (LEA).
Vince is an artist, curator, academic and researcher, whose work focuses on the impact of digital technologies on curatorial design and the implications of virtuality on exhibition-based practices. This interdisciplinary investigation has been articulated most recently in his first book, Virtuality and the Art of Exhibition: Curatorial design for the Multimedial Museum (published in 2012 by Intellect Books, UK). He has published extensively in relation to his research in various peer-reviewed journals and presented at numerous refereed conferences, both nationally and internationally. In addition, he has exhibited nationally and internationally in solo and group exhibitions and through his independent curatorial practice. In August 2009, he exhibited his demonstration exhibition, The Ammonite Order, Or Objectiles for an (Un) Natural History at Ormeau Baths Gallery in Belfast, Northern Ireland as part of the ISEA2009 juried exhibition. He has co-curated The World Is Everything That Is The Case for ISEA2011, which formed part of the satellite program of the 12th Istanbul Biennial, as well as providing creative direction for the exUrbanScreens project (2012-13). Most recently, he is leading a new exhibition initiative for Museums and the Web, the leading international conference in the field of museums and advanced digital technology.