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Rethinking Curating: Art After New Media

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Location Venue (1)
Studio Building
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Lehárgasse 8
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1060 Vienna

Lecture and Discussion by Sarah Cook, organized by the Institute for Fine Arts, Conceptual Art, Prof. Marina Grzinic.

Since 2000, the research centre CRUMB at the University of Sunderland in the UK, has aimed to help curators rethink their practices in the light of new media art's ‘behaviours’. This talk will suggest how the immaterial, time-based and participatory qualities of media art challenge traditional curatorial ways of working, drawing from Sarah Cook's book co-authored with Beryl Graham, "Rethinking Curating: Art After New Media" (MIT Press, 2010).

In 2005 Sarah Cook co-curated an exhibition called “The Art Formerly Known As New Media” at the Banff Centre; five years later new media artworks are increasingly considered a part of the contemporary art world, but those which involve interactivity and technological networks are still difficult to classify according to the established art-world categories based on medium, geography, and chronology. Systems-based artworks invite a rethinking of the work's production, interpretation, exhibition, and dissemination, as well as the role of the curator and audience. While artists have led the way in using the connected, interactive and generative characteristics of new media including social media tools, networks and software art, we are now seeing the rise of projects where ‘the audience’ might become not only a participant, but also to an extent a curator. As such, in today’s mediated landscape, what distinguishes a curatorial practice from the growing roster of online activities ‘read as’ curating which anyone can engage in, such as filtering, blogging, and commenting?


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). She is currently a research fellow 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.

In 2011 she will co-chair "Rewire, the Fourth International Conference on the histories of media art, science and technology" with FACT in Liverpool. 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. 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. For over ten years Sarah has curated and co-curated international exhibitions including Database Imaginary (2004), The Art Formerly Known As New Media (2005), Package Holiday (2005), Broadcast Yourself (2008) and Untethered (2008).