Showing new media art



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SHOWING NEW MEDIA ART
Tactics for exhibition and display, including debate from the Crumb Curating New Media seminar at the Baltic (7000 words).
Following are edited excerpts from the New Media Curating discussion list . They have been spellchecked, edited, and arranged in order to follow a particular thread of debate. The full postings can be seen and searched via the web site.
The list is the public forum for the web site The Curatorial Resource for Upstart Media Bliss .
Beryl Graham 1.Jul.01

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Date: Tue, 1 May 2001 08:40:03 +0000

From: Beryl Graham

Subject: Showing it: May theme of the month
Showing it: May theme of the month
Showing it: As curators, we get to show new media art to people. How do we show it? How do artists ensure it gets seen as it should be? Big dark rooms? Squashy lounges? White boxes? Seamlessly with ‘old media’? Purely on-line? Computers on desks? Group shows rubbing along, or singular experiences?
We’d like to discuss examples of installation design tactics which have worked well in particular contexts, and, as installation shots rarely feature on museum/gallery web sites, we’re starting to gather good clear visual materials for the CRUMB site (curators with examples they’d be willing to make public should contact Beryl or Sarah directly, as images may be too big for the List).
Invited respondents: Matt Locke, Michelle Hirschhorn, Chris Byrne, Peter Ride, Giles Lane.

Baltic Seminar special guests.


P.S. On May 10th-12th, CRUMB is involved in the seminar ‘Curating New Media’ . The event, like past Baltic Seminars, is an invitation event, but those who aren’t there can participate via this discussion list. A series of “Soap Box Moments” during the seminar will highlight ‘issues arising’ and will be discussed both on and off-list.
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Date: Wed, 2 May 2001 22:00:22 -0500

From: patrick lichty

Subject: Showing it: Two case studies


In considering such a question in the often unenviable position of curator, artist, AND writer, the subject gets quite sticky from a practical and ideological standpoint. Two instances in which I’m wrestling with the representational issues of the work in a museological context are my show of last year, Through the Looking Glass, and this year’s information appliance art show, (re)distributions.
First, let me define that both shows are very, very different from one another. The first was a hybrid space consisting of a survey of works from over 80 artists and scholars from every continent. The other is more tightly focused on issues relating to portable, wearable, and nomadic technologies. By definition the second show technically does not need a space, but will be in one from time to time.
Through the Looking Glass served four critical functions. First, it stated that the internet-based art community was socially ‘flatter’ than the conventional art world, and that in asserting this, a member of that community could get a wide variety of works without heavy reliance upon large institutional bodies. Secondly, it served as a snapshot of contemporary technological art practice, albeit incomplete, at the turn of the milennium. Third, it introduced the Cleveland, Ohio area to this genre, which was conspicuously absent from the scene until this time. Lastly, it asserted that technological art is not just confined to the computer, as we had neon, laser, holography, weaving, etc.
Conversely, (re)distributions is more concerned with exploring the creative possibilities within the emerging technologies (which have actually been around for a few years now) of PDAs, Pagers, WAP phones, embedded systems, and the like. Technically, I really should not need to have a physical gallery for this show, and one will only be present at certain points in the existence of the show. Also, for the initial online run of the show, I am going to leave it open for evolution, capping it off in September. Hopefully this will act as an incubator for ideas relating to this genre.
Back to the display problems, the Cleveland show had one Internet terminal (which didn’t work half of the time) along with all of the physical works (which are documented in the QTVR on the extant archive site). Fortunately, we were able to have a nice mix of multimedia terminals, wall-based pieces, and I even embedded sensors throughout the gallery to create a responsive soundspace environment. In this way, TTLG was a real success in meshing the more traditional techniques with the new media works.
(re) distributions is going to be very different and far more problematic. Do I just set up a series of PDAs and let people tap? I’ve got one person who does paintings on a Palm III who did a stellar large-format work. How do I merge his work with Matt’s SMS documentation? It’s going to be thorny. In short, at this time I don’t feel that there is a mandate for a physical show except for the fact that the audience seems to expect one, and to this I’ll answer the call.
This may sound rather flip, but one thing I do when I organize exhibitions like this is question what the very representational nature of the exhibition is all about in the first place. Can we say that an information appliance show is best served in a museum or gallery, when the point of such technology is to be nomadic and distributed? The issue here is that traditional forms (which define certain aspects of accessibility in regards to the show itself) still assert themselves when coordinating exhibitions and obtaining support.
I could expound a little more, but I’m tired and would like to open the floor to discussion about the matter. .
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Date: Thu, 3 May 2001 08:25:24 +0100

From: Alison Craighead

Subject: Re: Showing it: Two case studies


>still assert themselves when coordinating exhibitions

>and obtaining support.


Why not act more like a PR company and use The Media strategically to give distributed/nomadic works a visibility and have a series of launch events (in the way most PR company’s might)?
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Date: Thu, 3 May 2001 10:27:03 +0100

From: Matt Locke

Subject: Re: Showing it: Two case studies


Patrick wrote:

>(re) distributions is going to be very different and far more problematic.

>Do I just set up a series of PDAs and let people tap? I’ve got one person

>who does paintings on a Palm III who did a stellar large-format work. How

>do I merge his work with Matt’s SMS documentation? It’s going to be thorny.
interestingly, some of the mobile projects we’re developing at the moment look at location based-services triggered by information in real space. so its probably easier to present this work in a gallery, and in fact you can use the specific social ergonomics of the gallery space as a context for the work.
this assumes that most visitors will have, say, an SMS-enabled mobile phone (a pretty easy assumption to make in the UK), and therefore you can simply display the keyword/access information in the gallery space, so that users can then access the work via their own phones. that way, users’ phones become a gateway for the work triggered by information presented in a specific location - in this case the gallery.
i’m far more interested in this form of location-based services, where location is determined from the ‘ground up’ (ie by access information only being viewable in selected real world location) than i am in the telco’s current hype for ‘top-down’ location services (where you are idientified as a specific point on an abstract communications network).
The former privileges the users’ actual location in existing social spaces, such as an art gallery, and uses the ergonomic and social conventions of these spaces as the context of the work. the latter treats the individual (with their associated patterns of production and cosumption) as a point in free space, and rarely makes a reference to the context of their actual physical locations.
This means that the factors we tend to find most problematic about gallery spaces in relation to new media - namely their historical presentation rhetorics embodied in their architectures - become interesting contexts for ‘site-specific’ location based mobile projects.
i find mobile work more interesting at the moment for precisely this reason - web-based work by comparison seems too rooted in a specific context (the desk or home terminal) to be able to dal with these architectural rhetorics without substantial changes in presentation modes.
finally, i’ll mention something that Mark Tribe said in a rhizome panel session about the Whitney Biennale in 2000. He mentioned the term ‘net.installation’ as a bifurcation of net.art practise that tried to deal with the specific physical challenges of the gallery/museum space. I think its a good term to use, as it gives us a vocabulary to recognise artists that make work that is reliant on communication networks, but accommodates the specific presentational rhetoric of the museum. a good example of this would be ken goldberg’s ‘mori’ - especially in its recent presentation as part of steve dietz’s ‘telematic connections’ exhibition.
Matt Locke
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Date: Thu, 3 May 2001 13:10:06 +0100

From: Sarah Thompson

Subject: Re: Showing it: Two case studies


Matt Locke wrote:

>this assumes that most visitors will have, say, an SMS-enabled mobile phone

>(a pretty easy assumption to make in the UK),
I don’t think that it is an easy assumption to make, although having made it, this would indicate that ‘the gallery’, as an architecture, no longer takes sole responsibility for the public *literally* accessing the work. This is interesting.
>This means that the factors we tend to find most problematic about gallery

>spaces in relation to new media - namely their historical presentation

>rhetorics embodied in their architectures - become interesting contexts for

>’site-specific’ location based mobile projects.


by substituting one form of social definition with another? i.e. techno-mobility rather than art -historical/establishment context? All technology requires skill on the part of the user. Currently, its seems to be easier for more people to use mobile phones than computers. By sharing responsibility with the participant for accessing techno work the gallery/museum is losing some, if not alot, of its control over distribution. (In fact a big part of that control now lies with the new media-industries)

Which is why, Patrick Lichty says “I don’t feel that there is a mandate for a physical show except for the fact that the audience seems to expect one”


>i find mobile work more interesting at the moment for precisely this reason

>- web-based work by comparison seems too rooted in a specific context (the

>desk or home terminal) to be able to dal with these architectural rhetorics

>without substantial changes in presentation modes.


Maybe the architecture of the gallery is not such a problem here as much as the technical participation structures within networked art itself? How can the gallery/museum ‘control’ participation when it also becomes a matter of the audience’s technical skill and personal technological investment?
Sarah Thompson
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Date: Thu, 3 May 2001 18:45:08 +0100

From: Matt Locke

Subject: Re: Showing it: Two case studies



>Maybe the architecture of the gallery is not such a problem here as much as

>the technical participation structures within networked art itself? How can

>the gallery/museum ‘control’ participation when it also becomes a matter

>of the audience’s technical skill and personal technological investment?


well, in a recent SMS project we did with Knowsley Local Education Authority, nearly 90% of 16 yr olds in the Knowlsely/Liverpool area had mobile phones. this was way in excess of the 60% we were anticipating. I’d suggest that, at least for younger audiences, personal technological investment is far less of a barrier to access than the rhetoric of a museum/gallery space...
Matt Locke
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Date: Thu, 3 May 2001 16:11:56 -0500

From: Christiane Paul

Subject: Re: Showing it: Two case studies


>By sharing responsibility with the participant for accessing techno work

>the gallery/museum is losing some, if not alot, of its control over

>distribution. (In fact a big part of that control now lies with the new

>media-industries)


Considering that many of the art works are time-based and/or rely on continuous input from the audience, there is a loss of control over content, too. Not to mention that many of the pieces are in a state of ‘permanent beta’ and never resemble a finished product and commodity.
>Which is why, Patrick Lichty says “I don’t feel that there is a mandate for

>a physical show except for the fact that the audience seems to expect one”

>

>>i find mobile work more interesting at the moment for precisely this reason



>>- web-based work by comparison seems too rooted in a specific context (the

>>desk or home terminal) to be able to dal with these architectural rhetorics

>>without substantial changes in presentation modes.
In my opinion, there should be no “model” for presenting networked art or net art other than a case-by-case one. There are works that lose their inherent net-ness when shown as an installation/projection, and I would tend to leave them alone and use the “traditional” computer/monitor set-up. Since net art has been created to be seen by anyone (provided they have access), anytime, anywhere, it shouldn’t just flow above, beneath and around the institution but also through it. Museums/galleries are just one of the possible contexts for this art.
There are other works that beg to get out of the confinement of the browser window (and it makes sense to project them), and many net/digital artists are interested in establishing connections between the virtual and physical world. I think one shouldn’t assume that there is a clear separation between the 2 realms (as different as they may be), not all of the artists take a “net only” position when it comes to the presentation of the work. I think any approach should be artist-based, as close to the artists’ intentions as possible.
I also don’t believe in the “media lounge” as the presentation model of choice — it entails a certain segregation and mostly just becomes a necessity because museums aren’t sufficiently wired yet and only certain areas are appropriately equipped for showing the art.
>Maybe the architecture of the gallery is not such a problem here as much as

>the technical participation structures within networked art itself? How can

>the gallery/museum ‘control’ participation when it also becomes a matter

>of the audience’s technical skill and personal technological investment?


which I think is the key question at this point. You are dealing with audiences that are ranging from interface-challenged to -knowledgeable and everything in between, and it will take some time until there is a willingness and skill for personal technological investment among the audience at large.
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Date: Thu, 10 May 2001 12:42:39 +0100

From: Sarah Cook

Subject: baltic new media curating seminar

 

Dear list,



A brief update from the baltic new media curating seminar which kicked off this morning... you can now find participant biographies and the full schedule on the crumb site. please send us questions and queries for particular speakers and we will pass them along. Julian Stallabrass has just spoken about "Art and Money Online" -- an interesting thread of discussion has emerged... in bringing new media work into an institution that has familiar habits and patterns (i.e. a sparse method of hanging work, or spaces devoted to single artist exhibitions), is it more beneficial to the artist or the exhibition to continue in the mold and already established frame, or to break it in favour of something new? (Julian's exhibition included three artists in a programmed space usually showing monographic exhibitions - however, his was the first exhibition in that space to show non-commercially represented artists). I suppose it is a question of radicality - but can curators interested in emergent forms of art move further towards resolving the neverending problem of new media in the museum by first tackling what's already available to them? (i.e. turn the bathroom into an office so you can start putting stuff online, and work your way up to finding the gallery space to take the commissions the next step later, rather than rushing into corporately-sponsored media lounges)... without wanting it to be too obvious a question, perhaps we need, in our naming of parts, to identify the strengths of the museum - highlight its parts - and move from there...

 

more soon, Sarah



 

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Date: Thu, 10 May 2001 18:19:29 +0100

From: Beryl Graham

Subject: Re: baltic new media curating seminar

 

Some brief notes from this afternoon's session:



 

In a sum-up session, I put forward these points from the day, and asked for further key current issues which should be discussed tomorrow:

 

1. The concept of 'lag' - what is old news to new media artists may be grasped by large institutions some years later. Also what is fundamentally new to one audience will frustrate another. Tamas Banovich said that "the period of instruction is over" but some audiences are still new to it. Which leads onto:



2. Audience: Again Tamas Banovich talked about some fundamental differences between younger and older audiences. And Peter Ride talked of how audiences might be developed, but we have little hard information on who they might be.

3. Categories. Are we moving towards 2 areas?: of net.art and 'other' (other including physical, and 'first generation' artists like Perry Hoberman? Which curatorial department does new media art go in? Video? Marketing? When big organisations 'buy in'media curators, they can also buy in new challenges.

4. Aesthetics: how do we show this stuff? Aesthetics are taught to curators but not at media school?
From the audience:

1. The perils of seeing 'audience' in terms of 'benefit'

2. Education vs a deep understanding of the media.

3. Locating 'where the art is' within the artwork.

4. Location and grounding of artworks and festivals.

5. The wide range of work on 'other' (CDs, Embodied work, robotics).

 

more later



beryl

 

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Date: Thu, 10 May 2001 15:00:33 +0100

From: Matt Locke

Subject: Re: baltic new media curating seminar

 

At 12:42 10/05/01 +0100, Sarah Cook wrote:



 

> without wanting it to be

>too obvious a question, perhaps we need, in our naming of parts, to

>identify the strengths of the museum - highlight its parts - and move

>from there...

 

One part of this is to examine the ergonomics of the museum space, and understand how this affects users before they even get in front of a piece of work, new media or otherwise... Bill Hillier's work on Space Syntax is really relevant here. His book 'The Space is the Machine' uses the term 'space syntax' to describe the visual grammar of built environments, and how this affects users' interpretation of the space and its contents.



 

On his website there's a really interesting analysis of the Tate Millbank, and how users navigated the space. In their analysis, the layout of the architecture had a much greater affect on what visitors saw, and in what order, than any curatorial decision or signage. (http://www.spacesyntax.com/museums/museums.html)

 

To relate this to new media, we have to realise that the whole architecture of the building is relevant to how users encounter the work, not simply the product design of the desk or kiosk the technology is housed in. Maybe some media lounges are unsuccessful because they are trying to work against the architecture of an entire building, which makes local product design decisions (comfy chairs, funky desks, low lighting, etc) pretty irrelevant.



 

Museums strengths are the powerful effect of the 'space syntax' of the whole building. To take the Tate as an example, I'm always in awe of the place from the moment i walk up those huge steps. This is enhanced by the grand porticos around the entrance, so that by the time you actually get to any work, you're in a suitably reverent state of mind. Trying to make workstations look friendly and appealing in this type of space is as effective as throwing a few beanbags around a cathedral...

 

matt


 

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Date: Sat, 12 May 2001 13:10:17 -0700

From: Steve Dietz

Subject: Re: baltic new media curating seminar

 

Matt+



 

I agree with you that the experience of the whole place/space must be taken into account, but it sounds like you're suggesting that museums can't/shouldn't create informal or "non-religious" spaces, which being in the process of "experience planning" for a Herzog & de Meuron-designed addition to the Walker, I would disagree with.

 

s

 



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Date: Sat, 12 May 2001 15:15:09 -0500

From: patrick lichty

Subject: The Gallery as serious space

 

Dietz Wrote:



> Matt+

> I agree with you that the experience of the whole place/space must be

> taken into account, but it sounds like you're suggesting that museums

> can't/shouldn't create informal or "non-religious" spaces, which being

> in the process of "experience planning" for a Herzog & de

> Meuron-designed addition to the Walker, I would disagree with.

 

I'm not sure where I'm located here except that I feel that museums, which Adorno likened to materialist 'cathedrals', have to have a range of experiences that are driven by the context of the content and the curatorial vision of the experience that is desired. For example, there are some spaces that deviate from the usual sterile white box stereotype. The Let's Entertain show a the Walker had a really nice installation that incorporated bean bag chair in cubicles for video viewing. I nabbed a little of this in the Through the Looking Glass show in which we piled up a dozen or so floor pillows for a playful video area. Similarly, I also installed a series of generative soundspaces into the flooring so that the patron could not move through the gallery without engaging in some element of play when in certain areas of the exhibition hall.



 

However, there were areas that were also nonresponsive for the traditional gallery goer.

 

But then, what am I to do for my Information Appliances show? In a show that is based solely around the concept that art of the nomadic body is even more fragmented than the Net, the ideal model would be to give a person a Palm, a Cassiopeia and a Wap phone and tell them to curl up and knock themselves out. However, the logistics for this would be problematic to say the least, as there would be guaranteed some loss of devices.



 

In addition, the concept of a nomadic show once again begs for networked gallery space only. For the first six months this will be the case, but there will have to be physical venues in order to address the public more directly.

 

To me, everything must be held suspect and a potential site for reconfiguration and experimentation.



 

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Date: Tue, 15 May 2001 16:24:17 +0100

From: Matt Locke

Subject: Re: baltic new media curating seminar

 

At 13:10 12/05/01 -0700, you wrote:



>Matt+

>I agree with you that the experience of the whole place/space must be

>taken into account, but it sounds like you're suggesting that museums >can't/shouldn't create informal or "non-religious" spaces, which being

>in the process of "experience planning" for a Herzog & de

>Meuron-designed addition to the Walker, I would disagree with.

 

hi steve,



 

i wasn't trying to say that museums shouldn't create informal spaces, just that this process needs to take into account the whole building. If you're working with architects on a whole new wing, that sounds like the right way to approach these issues. also, the FACT centre in liverpool is trying to come up with architectural solutions to a range of participatory conditions, from cinemas to 'medialounges' (although clive hates that term!) and production workshops.

 

I was thinking about when i went to see 'tech-nicks' in sheffield, and how different the 'ambience' of this mobile participatory project was in different locations. In the backspace-like RTI access space, the ambience of the space (very informal, low-tech and accessible) matched what techn-nicks were trying to achieve really well. The Site gallery, who have recently built a gorgeous new white-cube space that is superb for showing photography and installations, had used informal furniture (including bean-bags!), artists at work, magazines, books, etc, but no matter how informal and accessible it was supposed to be, the austere architecture made it look like an exhibit, not a place you were likely to get dirty and play around in.



 

matt


 

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Date: Thu, 17 May 2001 00:20:56 -0700

From: Steve Dietz

Subject: Re: baltic new media curating seminar

 

hmmmm. At the Walker, there is a space called the Andersen Window Gallery (http://www.walkerart.org/programs/andersen/), which is intended as a hybrid space and is, I would say, hit-and-miss as a more informal space. Fundamentally, it is a table in a room lined with multi-media devices (video display, computers, slide shows, text, images, etc.) But when we showed Dan Graham's Three Linked Cubes/Interior Design for Space Showing Videos 1986 (http://www.walkerart.org/va/letsentertain/le_artframe.html) or various older U.S. sitcoms with bean bag chairs in front of tvs as part of the home show (http://www.walkerart.org/programs/vaexhibhomeshow.html), they were always being used, it seemed. It definitely wasn't a bar scene, but there was use, which is probably the goal.



 

I wonder if "soft furniture" is, in fact, an interesting strategy. Graham talks about this in the context of tv and video in an essay at http://thegalleriesatmoore.org/publications/grahamdg.shtml.

 

s

 



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Date: Thu, 17 May 2001 14:41:05 +0000

From: reiner strasser

Subject: Re: baltic new media curating seminar

 

dear Steve and others -



 

[i have not the time to read all posts here - to visit all links - and wasn't at any curator conference]

 

(s.mile a.way - i am sorry when mis- or dis-reading but was ............ by 'soft furniture') as al.ways it depends on what you wanna get - reading 'soft furniture' - i am thinking at people flacking lazy in front of a screen - eating pop-corn and drinking beer --- not at all a situation you may get any 'inspiring' experience. well - video is a stream - and might be - when sitting comfortably you will not be 'overwhelmed' by visual short cut overload.



 

for interactive works - (ie. net/web/i-art) i would prefer NOT to imitate the intimate situation 'every' user has more or less at home or at work. 'intimate' not meant as a 'sexual stimulating' place but as a place where you know the environment (furniture, walls ........ up to voices, noises etc.). it is a bit like: when i am looking (as a mac user) at the 'terrible' blue top of the window of win - in opposite to a win user replying: "which blue stripe?" + intimacy means the unique 'one to one' situation of the experience (viewer-piece).

 

in an installation - and every digital piece in a 'strange' room becomes an (artificial - artistic) installation - the environment should integrate with the piece (and transform its meaning at the same moment). you might to prefer to sit on a 'chaiselongue' in front of one piece, to stand in front of the other, to walk around the next, to kneel in front of another. (i still like my idea of semi-transparent white tents - or a japanese desk from which you are eating art - from the screen embed in the top plate.*) [*sponsors well.come ;)]



 

in my sight there exists no real concept or has to - but a diversity of possibilities (which reflects the diversity of the art (pieces) at the same moment).

 

only a short comment i put in your hand (and maybe mind)



 

best


 

Reiner


 

> I wonder if "soft furniture" is, in fact, an interesting strategy.

> Graham talks about this in the context of tv and video in an essay at

> http://thegalleriesatmoore.org/publications/grahamdg.shtml.

 

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Date: Thu, 17 May 2001 16:46:26 +0200

From: Ittai Bar-Joseph

Subject: Re: baltic new media curating seminar

 

As an artist, I personally find the idea of exhibiting my work in a "spacy" "soft" "comfy" "funky" space quite intimidating. Every artist wants their work exhibited in a way that the presentation serves the work and not the other way around. Funky, cool "lounges" or "bars" might be very compelling and inviting to sit and hang out in, but tend to overshadow the works. It is difficult to give an artwork the proper semi neutral environment in a dominating place over-designed in order to achieve a certain "effect". An example: Last year I participated in a group exhibition of Israeli Photographers in Flensburg, Germany. I exhibited photographs (b&w prints on the wall) and an interactive project which had to be shown on a Mac. I was asked whether it could be shown on an iMac, and although I love touching and working with iMacs, I insisted on a regular gray monitor. Try exhibiting a very cold, b&w work on a strawberry-flavored machine... It's showing an artwork within an artwork (not such a bad concept when intended...) It's the same with the exhibition space. When designing a permanent new media exhibition "lounge", this must be taken into consideration. Most artists will show their work anywhere they are invited (as long as it's not a total dump). Sometimes, curators tend to forget that when planning expo spaces with designers and architects (who are usually artists at their own right). The same questions were discussed regarding SFMoma's 010101 site design.



 

Ittai Bar-Joseph http://www.mousymedia.com/commentator http://www.mousymedia.com/redemption http://www.mousymedia.com/exhibition2001

 

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Date: Thu, 17 May 2001 16:07:37 -0700

From: Steve Dietz

Subject: Re: baltic new media curating seminar

 

Reiner+ Right. I agree about the physical interface being specific to the work, ideally. I think this is one of the important things that Christiane Paul and artists tried/did with Data Dynamics.



 

s

 



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Date: Fri, 18 May 2001 00:14:29 +0100

From: Chris Byrne

Subject: Re: baltic new media curating seminar

 

I recently visited the Media Lounge at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, and personally, I felt it worked reasonably well. Whilst it does feel slightly like an adjunct or extra to the main exhibition space, its ambience is different and the less imposing dimensions lead to a certain user-friendliness. It's semi-dark, and there's a seating area (with unusual 'sausage' shaped benches which are quite comfortable) plus a more flexible modest exhibition space. The lounge is accessed through the museum bookshop, which is ideal, as the visitor is already in 'inquiry' or 'browse' mode. Whether this positioning was intentional or not is rather beside the point - it seems to function well. The lounge is also free admission, unlike the main museum exhibition space.



 

Whilst it can be argued that such spaces ghettoise media art, at least they make the work accessible in a more informal setting. Some (though not all) computer-mediated art is made to be viewed in a domestic environment, and 'lounge' spaces attempt to bridge the gap between institutional space and domestic space. It is interesting that many of the end results resemble (at least superficially) night clubs, also home to a particular (group participatory) variety of digital culture.

 

Chris


 

>As an artist, I personally find the idea of exhibiting my work in a "spacy"

>"soft" "comfy" "funky" space quite intimidating. Every artist wants their work >exhibited in a way that the presentation serves the work and not the other way >around. Funky, cool "lounges" or "bars" might be very compelling and inviting

>to sit and hang out in, but tend to overshadow the works. It is difficult to

>give an artwork the proper semi neutral environment in a dominating place

>over-designed in order to achieve a certain "effect".

 

Chris Byrne, New Media Scotland



 

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Date: Fri, 18 May 2001 19:14:53 -0700

From: Michelle Hirschhorn

Subject: Re: baltic new media curating seminar

 

>Whilst it can be argued that such spaces ghettoise media art, at least they



>make the work accessible in a more informal setting. Some (though not all)

>computer-mediated art is made to be viewed in a domestic environment, and

>'lounge' spaces attempt to bridge the gap between institutional space and

>domestic space.

 

I think that this is a very interesting point. I think that space, time and comfort must be taken into consideration when presenting media work (I'm thinking here of single channel video, in particular) and I don't think that by creating an environment that will encourage/enable audiences to engage with this type of work does it a disservice or lessens it's importance within the institution.



 

If time is an integral aspect of the work (as in much performance), then viewing the work in its entirety can be crucial. And if an exhibition contains numerous lengthy works,then walking around a wall projection or watching a monitor on a pedestal just doesn't cut it.

 

Over-designing a traditional space doesn't necessarily work either. I was recently in Los Angeles and went to see Making Time: Considering Time as a Material in Contemporary Video and Film at the Hammer Museum. It was a comprehensive show that included around 30 works of varying length, many with a running time of more then 20 minutes. I was told by friends that the installation had been widely praised as a way of addressing some of these issues, however I don't think that certain aspects worked at all.



 

In the first gallery space (a darkened room), a line of monitors were suspended from the ceiling and two sets of headphones (per monitor) were attached to the back wall, along with some type of padded vinyl that you could sort of lean against, but not actually sit on. The works were quite diverse in both form and content and although the headphones prevented an audio babble, I found the competing images very distracting. Although other aspects of the show were more successful (video and film installations and small viewing rooms with mid-scale projections), I think that a quiet, comfortable area for watching the longer, single channel works would have been favourable.

 

Cheers,


 

Michelle Hirschhorn

 

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Date: Sat, 19 May 2001 14:03:05 -0300

From: Taylor Nuttall Organization: Folly Gallery

Subject: Re: baltic new media curating seminar

 

Hi friends on Crumb list.



 

This thread of posts made me think a little more about my own experiences of seeing work in different spaces. Vuk was talking at the Crumb conference about the difficulty of audience participation with work shown in the gallery space - computer often seen as office equipment / communications tool - so visitors expected the computer to be used as such - browsing - sending e-mail and thus bypassing the art work available to view.

 

I have shown work in environments such as Internet Cafes and have witnessed similar responses. Here is a computer - let me get on do with it as I want.



 

So I thought about how video installations have become a standard format for viewing single channel works. Here the work is placed in front of us - we are presented with an opportunity to engage / spend time or walk away. Yet often the environment provided is a crucial aspect of this. A dark difficult to access space may put people off entering - especially if there is another viewer in the space experiencing a personal relationship with the work.

 

In other situations I have been within an even more simple arrangement projection / video monitor with a seat / chair to watch. One person may be sat there for a short period of time - but other visitors hover nearby for a few seconds then move on because someone else is there already.



 

To summarise it is evident that consideration must be made for the environment in which a work is seen - but also consideration of whether the display of a piece of work is intended to support a single viewer or not.

 

As a final thought - most of my 'art' consumption now takes place before a computer screen in non gallery environments (say 90% vs. 10%) - this is clearly now having an impact on the way in which I now respond to gallery based forms of art. Anyone got any thoughts on this potential change in perceptions.



 

Regards


 

Taylor


 

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Date: Mon, 21 May 2001 17:07:41 -0700

From: { brad brace }

Subject: Re: baltic new media curating seminar

 

...well, as some may have guessed, I'm fervently opposed to "curating" new-media, as this inevitably implies the routine regressive return to the usual incestuous, abusive Artworld hierarchies... why insist on this 'extreme' position of forcing an open network into a closeted, unrepentant institutional space (with or without beanbags?) who benefits (except the usual authoritarian acolytes?)



 

{ brad brace }

 

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Date: Mon, 21 May 2001 12:11:59 +0100

From: Simon Biggs

Subject: contexts and strategies for showing new media in galleries

 

Taylor Nuttall wrote about how unhappy he has been with his encounters with new media (eg: computer based work) in the gallery.



 

It is the responsibility of the artist (to a degree in liaison with the curator - but they are secondary to the issue) to define the context within which their work is experienced. The artist determines how important to them control of the context is. For me, particularly off-line, this is very important...but I can understand that some artists will not, on a point of principle, wish to take any responsibility for how their work is seen - similarly to how some net artists refuse to have tags in their pages that determine things like colour or font, preferring to leave these factors to the vagaries of end-user browser preferences (HTML version 1.0 is seductive).

 

Vuk's example of people (ab)using the computer in the gallery (using it for their own email rather than for looking at the work on it) is a good enough example. If it bothers him that this happens then he should do something about it (although appreciating Vuk's humour I doubt he would want to, as I am sure he enjoys the deus ex machina of such encounters). But, if he did wish to address the issue it would seem there are two basic sUse of uninitialized value in concatenation (.) or string at E:.cgi line 451, line 1.trategies available.



 

Firstly, our imaginary Vuk could choose to take control of the gallery situation and come up with an installation strategy that would solve the problem. This is not difficult to do, and there are so many ready examples out there which we are all familiar with that there seems little need to go through the options. During the 60's and 70's video artists ran the gamut of options. The development of things like video projectors, touch screens and unencumbered devices expanded the possibilities further and they are all now part of the standard technical vocabulary we have all learned to read (eg: we know how to recognise something as part of the work or as an unpleasant but necessary accoutrement). Then again, the fact that this is well worn territory might put many off going this route.

 

Secondly, our virtually (or tele-) present Vuk could choose to not show said computer dependent piece in a gallery at all. In respect of net based art this seems a valid, even logical, solution. As is so often pointed out, the net is closer to a publishing paradigm than the visual arts. Just as conventional net based work (eg: work designed to be encountered within a browser or similar system on a single computer by a single user) does not show well in multi-user physical environments (galleries, cafes, whatever) so do books not do well. There are many ways and contexts within which to read or experience books, but the gallery does not strike me as the likeliest. In bed is good...so is in a comfy" chair, or even by the pool (if I lived in Tuscany or California). Libraries are OK, although I would never choose to read in depth there, and bookshops are sort of nice in a perverse kind of way (I always feel like a voyeur when looking at books in bookshops) but unless one really enjoys shopping (I think the human population roughly divides in to those that do and those that don't - I don't) then the bookshop always represents an eternally postponed satisfaction, or satisfaction only gained through exchange.



 

But looking at a book in a gallery is quite unpleasant. Usually this means it is encased in a plastic box. One of my favourite artifacts is the Book of Kells, and when in Dublin I always go to look...but primarily to pay homage rather than to "really" look. I do my looking at home, where I can enjoy a high quality facsimile, turning the pages as often as I want (rather than once a day, or however often the page turners do their thing in Dublin).

 

I wonder if the way in which we are forced to experience something like the Book of Kells (the real thing...not the copy) tells us something highly relevant about how museums work (think preciousness, aura creation, etc) and whether we understand this to always be in the interests of art and artists intentions.



 

This is not at all an attack on museums...just an observation of the limits of an institution.

 

Simon Biggs



 

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Date: Tue, 22 May 2001 23:09:13 +0100

From: Nina Czegledy

Subject: Re: contexts and strategies for showing new media in galleries

 

i have been following with great interest the discussion on this topic. In Newcastle, i suggested that beyond net projects and screen based art, we also have to deal with the complexities of showing CDs, robots, interactive sculptures, in the white cubes or in public spaces such as shopfronts, malls etc., - it would be great to hear the experience and comments of others on this list



 

nina czegledy (greetings to all the Baltics from greening Toronto)



 

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