|Shroud / Chrysalis II, 2005, by Catherine Richards, included in the exhibition The Art Formerly Known as New Media curated by Sarah Cook and Steve Dietz, 2005|
In 2005 Sarah Cook co-curated an exhibition called "The Art Formerly Known As New Media". Five years later, and now with nearly a half-century long development, media art is no longer new, and is increasingly included within the contemporary cultural landscape. Yet new media artworks which involve interactivity and social and technological networks are often about process rather than objects, which still makes them difficult to classify according to the established art-world categories based on medium, geography, and chronology.
Participatory and systems-based artworks, whether media-led or not, present the curator with novel challenges involving the work's production, interpretation, exhibition, and dissemination. Do the particular behaviours of today's media art demand a rethink of the traditional role of a curator? Of the artist? Of the audience? 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, editing and commenting? This talk will include examples from Sarah Cook's curatorial work and seek to initiate discussion on what curating means today.
Cook's talk marks the Canadian launch of her groundbreaking book Rethinking Curating –co-authored with Beryl Graham and published by MIT Press. The book will be available at the National Gallery of Canada's bookstore and there will be a chance to win a copy from SAW Video the night of the talk.
Sarah Cook is co-editor of CRUMB (the Curatorial Resource for Upstart Media Bliss) and research fellow at the University of Sunderland, has curated exhibitions and commissioned new work for AV Festival (NE England), Eyebeam (New York), BALTIC (Gateshead), Edith Russ Haus (Oldenberg, Germany), The New Media Institute and Walter Phillips Gallery (Banff, Canada), the Bellevue Art Museum (Seattle), the Walker Art Center (Minneapolis), and the Reg Vardy Gallery (Sunderland). During a 2001 Research Fellowship at the National Gallery of Canada she researched the history of new media curatorial practice in Canada. She is currently commissioning online work about outer space with Xcult.org.
This event marks the beginning of Cook's month-long writing residency at SAW Video. The aim of the residency is to provide an outside perspective on the process of SAW Video's commissioning project Public Domain while offering insight on the project within the concept of media arts disciplines. Cook's writing will be included in a SAW Video publication that will accompany Public Domain as it is screened across North America and Europe throughout 2011. This provide contextual information about the commissioning project and contribute to the greater discourse on video art.
In June 2009, SAW Video invited seven Canadian artists to undertake research at LAC in the Public Domain section of the archives. The commissioned artists represent a broad cross-section of media artists working in Canada: Sara Angelucci (Toronto), Maureen Bradley (Victoria), Steve Reinke (Chicago/Toronto), Véronique Couillard/Ryan Stec (Ottawa), Gennaro de Pasquale (Montreal), and Suzan Vachon (Montreal). The result is six new video works based on found footage from the LAC Film/Video/Sound Collection that will première at the Library and Archives Canada in Ottawa on June 23, 2010 and tour North America and Europe in 2011.