Re: [-empyre-] net art, curating and power

Dear Empyre List,

Greetings from CRUMB - as has been mentioned CRUMB is discussing 'curatorial models' this month, and Christina has asked me to contribute on Empyre too.

On CRUMB, the debate has mentioned the lack of dictionary definitions of 'curating', and the root of the word in the clergy 'curate'. Something which several people on both lists have mentioned however, is the 'blur' between possible curatorial roles, and the need for 'collaboration'.

In my experience, 'colloboration' has been particularly important in curating new media art, primarily for the very pragmatic reasons of the amount of technical knowledge demanded, but also because of the breadth of different debates and artforms within the very wide and vague term 'new media'.

I'm interested in the demand for collaborative curatorial skills which may be needed when you are working outside of the "New York, Paris, London" art axis. In my experience, you REALLY need to communicate, to collaborate, to share your resources and critical responses, whether your insitution is a gallery, and media lab, a university, or a freelance laptop in your bedroom. This leads me on to Melinda's question ...

 every month ends up being an experiment.

its interresting that the crumb list has the same topic this month.. but i
notice crumb is much more structured than empyre .. im wondering Beryl how
you see curatorial control in this online forum context?


I don't personally mentally categorise what I do with the CRUMB list as as "curating", but perhaps it is like being a curate in the clergy sense of shepherding a flock (of cats, maybe).

Like curating, I suppose there a many different 'models' of running a list, and it has felt like different things at different times as we've tinkered with the format (perhaps the most memorable one in a time of crisis was Sarah's characterisation of us as "nannies to naughty kids"). Occasionally, we're the kind of nannies who are off drinking at a show opening when we really should be checking that nobody is killing their little brother, which is why we've changed the format to a theme every OTHER month. We tend to do a lot of reminding and encouraging behind the scenes so it's quite labour intensive.

The official line is that we 'curate' in order to try to introduce interesting people and interesting ideas that may not otherwise spontaneously appear. Sometimes it works better than others. I try not to be too heavy-handed on the 'control'. A recent post sums it up in short:
"This list is not actually technically 'moderated' in that we don't
screen or select postings before they are posted. We like to keep it
open. We do however privately request members who repeatedly break the
guidelines to stop doing so (and very occasionally we remove members who
ignore the requests). We occasionally wade in if things get sticky
(with varying degrees of success)."


Beryl Graham.
Post Doctoral Research Fellow in New Media, University of Sunderland
Tel: +44 191 515 2896 email:
Curatorial Resource for Upstart Media Bliss

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