Day 2, stream 5


Creation, Collaboration and Consumption


Sarah Cook


Sarah Cook: CRUMB/University of Sunderland, UK

Dominic Smith: Pixel Palace, Tyneside Cinema/ University of Sunderland, UK

Marialaura Ghidni: University of Sunderland, UK

Suzy O’Hara: University of Sunderland, UK

Victoria Bradbury: University of Sunderland, UK

Graham Harwood: Goldsmiths/University of Sunderland, UK

Roddy Hunter: York St John University/University of Sunderland, UK


Based on the research undertaken at CRUMB, the online resource for curators of media arts, this panel gathers together knowledge from different experiences of producing and presenting digital arts, from the perspectives of both curators/producers and artists. In response to ISEA2013’s theme, ‘Resistance is Futile’, this panel will share their work concerning how art allows us to imaginatively experience and critically reflect on the implications of new technologies and digital media in our everyday lives, from databases to information visualisation to how we act in a social network. The invited panelists work across art, design, technology and scientific collaborations, and are undertaking or have completed PhDs with the University of Sunderland in relation to the CRUMB research unit. Digital media projects including apps, streaming radio, responsive designed objects in gallery spaces, and participatory experiences in public spaces will be addressed, alongside questions concerning audience engagement, and new platforms for the distribution of work.


Graham Harwood’s doctoral project and ongoing artistic practice is concerned with database machinery as understood as cultural objects. With many of the most significant changes in the organisation and distribution of knowledge, practices of ordering, and forms of communication taking shape around it, the database has remained surprisingly resistant to anything other than technical forms of analysis. Whilst data-visualisation has provided fertile ground for many contemporary visual artists, the emerging sensoria created by the formal-technical machinery of databases has remained largely outside of artistic, critical and historical exploration. In this presentation he will talk about understanding database machinery as a cultural, social and historical object, exploring through artistic processes how the formation of the database has played, and is playing, a critical social, technical and political position in shaping our lived logics.

Victoria Bradbury’s doctoral research investigates the performative aspects of code in interactive installation art, considering the private act of coding and the public act of performing. In this presentation she will discuss artists’ works that encompass both code and performativity. Through these practical examples, she considers how computer code, objects, and participants act together as performative members in an installation environment. The nature of code and performativity will also be addressed by discussing her own installation works, focusing on recent projects that are emerging under this research. These projects include Toast, a speech to speech bubble interface created and tested at Makerspaces and studios in Beijing and Shanghai in 2012, and Witch Pricker (2013), in which a participant is invited to prick metaphorical ‘witches’ while sorting out guilt and innocence. In this installation work, a disjunction between technology and flesh is established while mediated responsibility is questioned. Throughout the presentation and examples, Bradbury asks us to consider when the performance is happening: at the time of coding?//implementation?//compilation?//installation?//participation?

The aim of Marialaura Ghidni’s doctoral research is to investigate the changing conditions digital culture has established within the contemporary art field, and in particular to examine the impact the Web – as an interconnected system of distribution, as well as a technical tool, method and material – has had on contemporary curatorial practices and artistic production. Marialaura is a curator who directs the online project Her talk will present a series of curatorial models online that have arisen with the progressive simplification of web tools and spread of ready-to-use web-based platforms, and the consequent modes of distribution that have emerged from such ways of working. Taking as a starting point a series of case studies, this presentation with look at how such ways of curatorial operation re-adopt other models of display and distribution ‘offline’ – such as the gallery exhibition and print – as part of their process of production, highlighting the tensions existing between online and offline modes of display and the possibilities of generating ‘other’ ecologies and understandings of the art object.

Roddy Hunter’s doctoral research project aims to identify existing, and develop new, curatorial models of practice in the present era of globalisation that articulates the principles of The Eternal Network created by artists Robert Filliou and George Brecht in 1968, in which the network itself is the artwork. Roddy Hunter is a practicing artist with a long history of performance work. In this presentation/performance, which will be given via Skype, he will address ideas of collaboration, exchange and dialogue across space and time; the notion of spontaneous and ‘permanent creation’ (Filliou 1996); the seeming ‘immateriality’ (Krysa 2006) of ‘avant-garde’ networked art practices; and the ‘postmedium condition’ (Cook & Graham 2010) as reflected in a system of communication.

Suzy O’Hara’s doctoral research investigates through the practice of curating how the evolution and convergence of new technologies are impacting upon the production, dissemination and engagement of art, with a focus on collaborations between the arts, technology and the often silent partner, commerce. In her talk Suzy will present the first of a series of practical, curatorial case studies, Dear Angel. Reflecting upon an almost outdated form of communication, the handwritten letter, Dear Angel seeks to explore the gap between the written letter as a physical, tactile object and communication technology in the digital age. Dear Angel is participatory project that examines curatorial issues relating to: online and offline communication tools and platforms, opportunities for mass, global audience participation afforded by digital technologies in the production and experience of art, and contemporary engagement with ‘place’ in the context of an evolving digitally pervasive society. In this talk she will explore the impact of developing, convergent, digital interfaces on contemporary curatorial practice, the art that is being produced and distributed, and how contemporary audiences engage with these art experiences in both physical and digital space.

Dominic Smith’s PhD research (completed in 2011) sought to examine and compare modes of open source software production with emerging modes of collaborative and participative organisation within the new media art world, including analysis of practical project experience. His research asked how open or closed a system is in practice, and whether it is possible to use one aspect of the OS model successfully without applying the others, such as the social interaction and active participation that is expected of the end user / co–developer. Since completing his PhD Dominic has been working as programme manager and curator of The Pixel Palace, a residency and commissioned based programme within a cinema, as well as initiating and leading the online streaming project BasicFM. In this talk he will reflect on examples of his own artistic and curatorial work and consider the different ways of working in each different context.

Sarah Cook is the co-founder of the CRUMB resource for curators of new media art, based at the University of Sunderland, UK. Cook is the author, with Beryl Graham, of Rethinking Curating: Art After New Media (MIT Press, 2010) and co-curator of the upcoming exhibitions at Transitio_MX05, the biennial festival of electronic arts and video in Mexico City (September 19-30 2013).