Thesis Info

Thesis Title
The Search for a Third Way of Curating New Media Art: Balancing Content and Context In and Out of the Institution
Sarah Cook
2nd Author
3rd Author
Number of Pages
University of Sunderland
Thesis Supervisor
Prof. Beryl Graham
Supervisor e-mail
beryl.graham AT
Other Supervisor(s)
Carol McKay
Language(s) of Thesis
Department / Discipline
Arts, Design, Media (Curating)
Languages Familiar to Author
English and French
URL where full thesis can be found
Curating New Media Art online VR installations exhibitions
Abstract: 200-500 words
This thesis examines the challenges associated with the practice of curating new media art. The research is undertaken to understand how the dynamic and process-led characteristics of new media art condition how a curator approaches the practice of producing and distributing (commissioning and exhibiting) technologically-driven artforms, from online works to Virtual Reality-driven installations. From an anecdotal starting point, the research uses a series of observational case studies of new media art exhibitions (dating from the early 1990s to 2003) to uncover data that is of use to curators working with new media art. From these examples, models of production in curating both in and out of mixed-media art institutions are named and described. The institutions studied range from large museums to small galleries across North America and Europe and include: the National Gallery of Canada; The Whitney Museum of American Art; The Walker Art Center; and the Tate Gallery. The work of new media curators Jean Gagnon, Steve Dietz, and Christiane Paul, amongst others, is described. Examples of the researcher’s own practice takes place at BALTIC and the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, both in the Northeast of England. Some of the artists whose work is considered includes: Catherine Richards; Char Davies; Vuk Cosic; Graham Harwood (Mongrel); MTAA; and Nina Pope and Karen Guthrie. Beginning from the position of understanding there to be two theoretical ‘ways’ of curating, the central aim of this thesis is to search out a possible ‘third’ way and define what, theoretically, it would entail. The case studies reveal a number of practical issues of exhibiting new media art, relating in part to the conditions of the institution, but moreover to the characteristics of new media art: computable; connected; interactive; variable; distributed; and collaborative. The joint curatorial activities of content creation (the production of new artworks) and context creation (creating structures for the distribution of knowledge about new media art) are addressed, and it is concluded that a third way would demand a balance of the two.