New Media Art: Impacts on Art Collecting Policies
Submitting InstitutionUniversity of Sunderland
Unit of AssessmentArt and Design: History, Practice and Theory
Summary Impact TypeCultural
Research Subject Area(s)
Studies In Creative Arts and Writing: Film, Television and Digital Media
History and Archaeology: Curatorial and Related Studies, Historical Studies
Summary of the impact
Curatorial Resource for Upstart Media Bliss (CRUMB) has provided a
resource for curators of new media art, which in turn has impacted upon
the practice and policy of Curators, Museum and Gallery Directors in
connection with collecting new media art. Here, the major impact has been
upon the practice of a regional, local-authority-funded art museum and
gallery, The Harris Art Museum and Gallery. CRUMB researchers worked over
some years with curators and Museum staff on exhibitions and symposia,
building up to changes in collecting policy.
The research concerns collecting new media art, one focus of enquiry of
the research centre CRUMB. The interactive, connected and algorithmic
behaviours of new media art means that collecting demands a rethinking of
methods for acquisition, documentation, archiving, collecting and
Beryl Graham has worked full time at the University of Sunderland since
1997, as a Research Fellow, Senior Research Fellow and now Professor. Dr.
Sarah Cook was employed full time by the University from 2004 as Research
Fellow, then Reader, until 2013. CRUMB staff also collaborate on events
with postdoctoral staff and doctoral researchers. In 2002, Graham
completed an AHRC research residency at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
(SFMOMA). Her research report examined the methods of all aspects of the
contemporary art exhibition 010101, which included new media. A
major finding was the importance of adapting collecting methods for new
media art, which at SFMOMA involved more people including technical staff
in the acquisition process (Graham 2002).
In 2010, Graham and Cook published A Brief History of Curating New
Media Art: Conversations with curators, which explored models of
collecting, including the model of "performing" exhibitions from a
collection, and of integrating the audience knowledge of educational
curators in order to "animate" documentation. This publication was based
upon CRUMB's research informed by dialogues with leading international
curators, collectors and cultural policy makers including: Rudolf Frieling
(San Francisco Museum of Modern Art collection); Stuart Comer (Tate); Jon
Ippolito (former Guggenheim); and Lindsay Taylor (Harris Museum, Preston);
and developed at various symposia and through their commissioning of
writing through the CRUMB Discussion List since 2000.
Rethinking Curating (Graham and Cook 2010) includes a chapter on
museums and collections, and identifies how documentation, and
distributable forms of new media art might be found in museum libraries
and archives as well as in collections. As artist Soraya Murray states:
"These notable curators and professionals unveil the practical outcomes,
the successes and the failures of actual presentations" (2012, 115).
Recent findings have concerned how histories of exhibitions, and
audiences, might be archived and `collected' (Graham 2013), and a
forthcoming book on collecting edited by Beryl Graham for Ashgate
selects leading professional contributors to share their findings,
including Pip Laurenson of Tate on conserving software art, and Louise
Shannon of V&A on collecting digital art and design.
The sharing of research has led to invitations to speak at professional
conferences such as at the V&A, and the Museums Association,
concerning collecting, and invitations to serve on boards including UNESCO
Digiarts Virtual Library.
References to the research
Graham, Beryl and Cook, Sarah (2010) Rethinking Curating: Art After New
Media. MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass.
Graham, Beryl and Cook, Sarah (2010) A Brief History of Curating New
Media: Conversations with Curators. Green Box Berlin (ISBN:
Graham, Beryl (2010) "Curating Behaviours." Decoding the Digital.
4-5 February. London: Victoria and Albert Museum. [Invited conference
Graham, Beryl (2013) "Exhibition Histories and New Media Behaviours"
Journal of Curatorial Studies, 2 (2 (summer). 242-262.
2012 Arts and Culture Department, Korean Government (Korea)
Invited guest of government. All expenses paid 1 week research trip award
to research collecting new media art in Korea (Seoul-based).
2012 Arts and Humanities Research Council (UK) Research
Fellowship Grant for £43,110 over 9 months for researching/editing/writing
a book on Collecting New Media Art.
2007-10 Arts and Humanities Research Council (UK) Research Grant
for £431,000 over 3 years for curating new media art research.
Final report graded "outstanding" by AHRC.
2003-4 Arts and Humanities Research Board (UK) Research Grant for
£222,000 over 3 years for curating new media art research.
2001 Arts and Humanities Research Board (UK) Research Exchange
grant for 4 month residency at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
Details of the impact
The impacts outlined here are upon the practice and policy of arts
organisations in relation to collecting and exhibiting new media art, and
hence concern the economic impact on artists and the benefits to
CRUMB has developed a long-term strand of research concerning collecting
art. The Exhibitions Officer at Harris Museum and Art Gallery has
been developing the exhibition, audience development and collection of new
media art at a regional art museum for over 10 years, forging a strong
national identity for the museum, with ongoing support from CRUMB(1).
Graham was involved in developing the Digital Aesthetic conference
and exhibition at the Harris in 2001, and 2007. In 2010 the Exhibitions
Officer attended the Commissioning & Collecting Variable Media
CRUMB/CAS conference at BALTIC, which specifically aimed to develop the
collection of new media art in the UK, and was attended by 100 national
and international curators (2). In 2011, the Harris collaborated with
digital arts commissioning agency folly on Current: an
experiment in collecting digital art project. Cook was invited to
serve on the Board of folly, and Graham was invited to be on the
exhibition selection panel, and co-chaired with Cook the symposium Collecting
Digital Art at Harris. The project was an integrated approach
informed by the Commissioning & Collecting Variable Media
event, and the research of the unit, involving an open call for works,
selection of exhibition, followed by selection of one work from the
exhibition to collect. Importantly, audience views on which artwork should
be collected were taken into account as well as expert panels (the
audience and the experts agreed, and the work selected was a work by
Thomson and Craighead using live data pulled from the internet — a
conceptually and technologically complex work). This reflects much CRUMB
research on the importance of audience in curating new media art.
The long-term support of CRUMB contributed to changing the collection
policy of the museum to specifically include new media art (Harris 2011,
p.62): the first moving image piece entered the Harris collection in 2000,
and the first new media artwork entered the collection in 2012, by Thomson
and Craighead. The institutional structure for acquisition changed by
involving a panel of judges, technical staff, and the audience itself, in
the selection of works to collect. CAS and The Art Fund supported the Current
project, and in May 2013 further awarded £30,000 to the Harris to collect
more new media art (CAS 2011). Acquisition fees were £10,000 for Current
alone, and so economic impact was felt by organisations and artists.
Graham was invited to chair a panel on new media art including the
Exhibitions Officer at the 2010 Museums Association Conference, and the
Exhibitions Officer was also invited by Graham to write a chapter for the
forthcoming book New Collecting: Exhibiting and Audiences after New
Media Art (Taylor 2014), in order to share the curatorial knowledge
more widely and hence further impact on the policy of other curators.
Graham was interviewed by the Financial Times: How to Spend It
magazine concerning collecting, and highlighted the Harris' policy,
including economic impact (Crichton-Miller 2012).
New media art is increasingly being collected by both commercial
and museums, and CRUMB has been involved in many events aimed to impact
upon this: For example, the Professional Development Seminar on
Documenting New Media Art in 2008 with curator and archivist Caitlin
Jones (formerly of Guggenheim Museum, NY) highlighted that, like live art,
documentation of new media art is collected as well as the art itself. The
workshop sold out, and included international contemporary art curators,
Arts Council England and British Council, as well as academics and
artists. Feedback forms from the event stated that 98% of attendees felt
that their future practice would be changed by the workshop. In 2011 a New
York collector and a UK investor met with CRUMB to consult on setting up a
new selling gallery in London: Carroll / Fletcher gallery in W1
now successfully sells artworks including Thomson and Craighead's. The British
Council has consulted with CRUMB concerning national policies for
collecting new media art (5). Beryl Graham was an invited member of the Tate
New Media Art Network on Authenticity and Performativity, which
impacted collection of new media art at Tate (2009). She has also advised
the Curator of Digital Design at V&A on their first exhibition
of new media art and design — Decode, and was invited to speak at
their Decoding the Digital national conference (4). Graham is on
the Project Advisory Board of EU project PERICLES on digital
preservation, based at Tate (3).
Sources to corroborate the impact
CAS, (2013) "UK museums selected to acquire new media or "challenging"
contemporary artworks often missing from public collections." CAS Press
Release, May. http://www.contemporaryartsociety.org/news/press-release-uk-museums-selected-to-acquire-new-media-or-challenging-artworks-often-missing-from-public-collections/
Crichton-Miller, Emma (2012) "The show must go online." How To Spend
It. Financial Times. Available from http://www.howtospendit.ft.com/art/7361
Harris Museum and Art Gallery, (2011) Collections Development Policy
2011-2014. Preston: Harris Museum and Art Gallery. Available at:
Tate, (2009) The New Media Art Network on Authenticity and
Available from: http://projects.beyondtext.ac.uk/authenticityandperformativity
Taylor, Lindsay (forthcoming 2014) "From exhibition to collection: Harris
Museum and Art Gallery." In: Graham, Beryl (ed.) (forthcoming 2014) New
Collecting: Exhibiting and Audiences after New Media Art. London: