Show art in the age of new media
Abandon Normal Devices Festival
24th Sep 2009, John Moores University Design Academy, Liverpool.
Showing time-based art is very different to showing art objects. How is art which uses the Internet, interactivity, social systems, or real-time computing different from video, live art, or performance?
This one day conference shared the knowledge of those involved in exhibtion practices beyond the object of art, and asks, should we abandon 'normal' curating practices, or adapt these modes to integrate 'the new'? The event invited experts and researchers from the fields of art making, curating, history and criticism to confront the slippery question of time... including the timelines of production, of showing, and of participation.
Here are the notes from the workshops I attended throughout the day:
Showing video (discussion prompted by Oliver Laric and Guthrie Lonegan and Michael Connor; notes relayed by Michael Connor)
History of how new media forms become recognised, is there a crisis of digital technology - art and wider cultural products
Different audiences for art and web, and video on the web in particular
How video is shown in physical space - spatialisation or suspension of time of the video/viewing experience
Gallery is both opportunity and challenge. This is different with web based works, and web-based video work - creating arrays of projections,
Creating an object for the work. These strategies are symptoms of the gallery as a constraint.
Greatest inventions yet to come after moving past modes from art history - cinema
More to discuss: showing web-based work in the gallery (video is institutionalised in the gallery)
Showing live art (discussion prompted by Kelli Dipple and Helen Sloan; notes relayed by Charlie Gere)
Tools - real time, no latency networked collaboration - what can be good for artists
Play with reality as key to this.
Process is an art form in itself.
Tools developed elsewhere but artists come up with better ways of using them, thinking about them, and thinking about what they do culturally
Telepresence as tool of art making.
Network space for virtual meeting
How and why to collect new media art - current economic crisis as a factor: "it's a big ask"
Not just curators need to be educated - but all staff within museum, security guards, etc.
Low-tech interventionist new media art - find its own presence both online and in other spaces to be remembered (or does it get forgotten?)
Galleries should get used to ideas of temporality and impermanence (does this go against ideas of value for money?)
V&A - early computer art -- what is being collected?
Different models of what might be collected - instructions over objects, anthropology museum model, performance vs. documentation
What happens when BBC puts its digital archive online and becomes like a museum, while Tate becomes more like a broadcast org? Who owns rights? What other issues of documentation?
Showing interaction and participation (discussion prompted by Beryl Graham and Axel Lapp; notes relayed by Laura Sillars)
What is meant by participation? Artworks with participation built in as part of a structure although work designed for gallery space.
Lots of ideals and ethics around participation, inclusion, consultation. We are layering lots of these ideals on to artists - is this a good idea or not?
Example of the Yes Men: very explicit about the frameworks they are using.
How do you manage risk and trust with audiences/participants?
Is a museum or gallery a sure-fire way of killing participation?
Hard to disentangle subjective experience from participatory practice.
The ladder of participation - much art is reactive rather than participatory.
Deterministic experiences - constructed that way, so not truly participative.
Art in the public realm garnered more debate than participatory art in gallery spaces.
Example of the "Fourth Plinth" project: social interaction around it is the work rather than the work itself?
Cultural variables that stop or start participation in different places.
The radicalism of participatory practice can be lost; we are so exposed to it in public spaces.
The language of participation can be done very poorly but used very broadly - how do we use political tradition of the word in terms of the radical traditions it came from?
What values are we using to identify, judge, give status to a work?
Commissioning process - offers opportunities to break down or create new social rules - frameworks into which participation can take place (i.e. the work of Olafur Eliasson).
Participative process in relation to the participatory end product
Credit to those with the skills to reach the lower levels of ladder in order to create good participation and reaction.
Maybe it doesn't always work very well in a gallery? More conversation needed here.
More doing less showing!
Showing process rather than product (discussion prompted by Kathryn Lambert and Sarah Cook; notes relayed by Paul Amitai)
A number of people in the group were working with artists in residencies or educational contexts. Their role is to explore artist process and make it explainable i.e. through website blog, public engagement with working process - weekly lunches - ways to make process of work accessible.
Museums - different in different countries / contexts, i.e. education depts are tasked with building programs around exhibitions. Tate calls their department "Adult programs". The goal is to create social spaces within the gallery; get people interacting with the work to lead them into the process of the artist.
Residencies, i.e. at Eyebeam, there is not always a final product. Could be prototypes or versions; create a moment for interaction with audiences, and then going back to the lab - feedback loop.
Integrate programs within institutions to get them to speak to one another - i.e. cinema to gallery. (Discussed example of Cornerhouse).
How is participatory work documented? Challenge at all different institutions. I.e. documenting software code is very different from performance. How can the documentation lead to the adaptation of the work?
Think of archiving as a performative act? Use oral histories as a model?
Artists using the public to document their work (i.e. collecting other peoples' photos from flickr).
Our group noticed that during the conference a lot of curators didn't talk about their process, and showed images of their 'products'.
Our question to Michael Connor about his Marian Spore project -- how might that process be documented? Should what travels be the platform or the process (a set of instructions) as opposed to the objects amassed there?
Could or should there be instruction kits for curatorial practice?
Why don't we care more about the product? Why aren't we more positive about product? Is it because we have shifted so much towards highlighting processes?