Curating New Media Art: Curatorial Practice and Creative Industries
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: Art Theory and Criticism, Film, Television and Digital Media
Language, Communication and Culture: Cultural Studies
Summary of the impact
The case study articulates the impact of Curatorial Resource for Upstart
Media Bliss (CRUMB) research and professional resources upon the practice
and policy of regional and international arts organisations, including
benefits to curators, audiences, and economic impact upon artists. This
study focuses on the impact on one international organisation, Eyebeam in
New York, and one regional organisation, AV Festival and its host, the
related Tyneside Cinema, Newcastle upon Tyne.
Researchers in CRUMB, are concerned with curating new media art, which is
important for arts organisations from Tate to artist-run online galleries.
Because this art might be non-object-based, online, interactive, live, or
involving generative software, the research rethinks methods of curating
which match the particular `behaviours' of new media art to the
appropriate types of exhibition and distribution.
Beryl Graham, employed by the University as a part-time researcher from
1993, became a full time (1997), Senior Research Fellow and then
Professor. In 2000 Sarah Cook joined Curatorial Resource for Upstart Media
Bliss (CRUMB) as funded PhD, and from 2004 was full time as Research
Fellow, then Reader, until 2013.
In 1996-97, Graham curated Serious Games for Barbican Art
Gallery, London and Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle, one of the first
exhibitions to integrate new media in contemporary art contexts. CRUMB
(2000) established with an AHRC Small Grant, Leverhulme and Arts Council
England (ACE). Curator Christiane Paul (Whitney, New York), developed a
case study of Serious Games for her book on curating 12 years
later (Graham 2008). From 2000 (2007-10 as Postdoctoral Fellow), Sarah
Cook researched with BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art (Gateshead),
introducing new media art for the first time, finding that residencies and
exhibiting could be productively integrated, and all material and
immaterial spaces of the institution, could be used for exhibiting new
media art (BALTIC 2001-8).
The development of the discourse of curating new media art is a dialogue
between professional curators and researchers: The CRUMB online discussion
list (est. 2000) has over 1,300 international subscribers. The CRUMB
website (around 300 visits per day) includes dialogues with leading
international curators, for example Matthew Higgs and Liane Davison, to
reveal respectively findings on models of professional practice for
integrating new and old media in a contemporary art gallery in New York,
and production and exhibition integration via small-scale residencies and
exhibiting in a Canadian arts centre (CRUMB 2000: Cook, Graham, Gfader and
The CRUMB emphasis on professional development events, workshops and
masterclasses is a means of disseminating findings and of developing
the research with other arts professionals, which feeds forward. These are
attended by artists as well as early and late career curators, including
the events: Curatorial Masterclass: Open Source Curating, 2009, at
Eyebeam in New York; Distribution and Dissemination After New Media,
2012, in Newcastle, as part of AV festival (CRUMB 2000-).
CRUMB publications are aimed at professional and general art audiences.
Citations of CRUMB appear in publications from Art and Electronic
Media (Phaidon) to Vanity Fair. Rethinking Curating (reprint
after 6 months), includes findings on lab and exhibition models across
creative industries as well as art (Graham and Cook 2010). Curators reveal
findings on their practical methods, and include issues of audience and
participation (Graham 2008, 2010).
Sharing research has led to invitations to speak at professional
conferences such as at the Tate; ICI, New York; National Gallery of
Canada; Australian Network for Art and Technology, and places on selection
boards including The Arts Foundation.
References to the research
Cook, Sarah and Graham, Beryl and Gfader, Verina and Lapp Axel (eds.)
(2010) A brief history of curating new media art. Berlin: Green
Graham, Beryl and Sarah Cook (2010) Rethinking Curating: Art After
New Media. MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass.
Graham, Beryl (2008) Serious Games — case study. In: New Media in the
White Cube and Beyond: Curatorial Models for Digital Art. University
of California Press, Los Angeles, pp. 191-206. http://www.berylgraham.com/serious/
Graham, Beryl (2010) What kind of participative system? Critical
vocabularies from new media art. In: The 'Do-it-Yourself' Artwork:
Participation from Fluxus to New Media. Manchester University Press,
Manchester, pp. 281-305.
(2001) Vuk Cosic Thisistherealmatrix. http://archive.balticmill.com/index.php?itemid=21470.
(2001) Curating New Media Art conf http://archive.balticmill.com/index.php?itemid=29767.
(2005) Package Holiday: Monica Studer/Christoph van den Berg.
(2005) Relay: Germaine Koh. http://www.balticmill.com/whatsOn/past/05.html.
2007-10 Arts and Humanities Research Council (UK)
Research Grant for £431,000 over 3 years for curating new media art. Final
report graded "outstanding" by AHRC.
2004 Arts Council of England (North West) (UK).
Consultancy of £5,00 to research Curatorial education and new media.
2003 Arts and Humanities Research Board (UK)
Research Grant for £222,000 over 3 years for curating new media art.
2000 Arts and Humanities Research Board (UK)
SGCPA grant for new media curating web site.
Details of the impact
The impacts are upon the practice and policy of arts organisations and
arts organisers in relation to producing and exhibiting new media art, and
hence include economic impact on artists and benefits to audiences.
At Eyebeam in New York, the working practices moved from being
purely a creative industries `production lab' with artist/designer
residencies, to being also concerned with curating and exhibiting the
work: CRUMB chose Eyebeam as a research partner and in 2010 they hosted
Dr. Cook's research — their first curatorial residency. The exhibitions Interactivos
and Untethered curated by Cook there, and Curatorial
Masterclass on Open Source and Curatorial Practice fundamentally
changed the institutional understandings of the relationship between
production and exhibition (Cook 2008). The exhibitions brought many
visitors to Eyebeam, and brought new press attention, including Rhizome
(Graham 2010, Moss 2010). The legacy was that Eyebeam staff including a
Program Coordinator started curating substantial exhibitions there for the
first time, and established further curatorial residencies at Eyebeam from
2011 (2). Attendance by curators and artists at the masterclass resulted
in new knowledge being put to work in their individual exhibition
practices, including those at Google's New York headquarters
organised by Chelsea Art Museum (3).
Impacts on the AV Festival (an international audiovisual biennial
based around Tyneside Cinema). CRUMB has organized public events
at every AV Festival since 2006, and is acknowledged in the
festival's evaluation reports (ANE 2008). In 2008 AV Festival invited
Sarah Cook with curator Kathy Rae Huffman to curate the first official AV
large-scale group exhibition Broadcast
Yourself, which deliberately built bridges between video and
newer media. The exhibition toured to Cornerhouse Manchester and was seen
by over 9,000 people, and Art Monthly said "There is something
immediately welcome ... about an exhibition devoted to the way that
artists over the past 40 years have ... succeeded in opening TV up as a
cultural forum ..." (Usherwood 2008). In Newcastle, the exhibition
received the most visitors of any AV exhibition, around 4,700, and was
described by audiences as of high artistic quality, "Compelling and
illuminating" and "thought provoking", and by a festival artist Atau
Tanaka as "A very well curated exhibit." (ANE 2008, pp. 11, 12, 73).
Other key AV events for impacts on other curators and policy makers
included Professional Development Workshops Distribution
and Dissemination After New Media in 2012 and Documenting
New Media Art in 2008 with curator and archivist Caitlin Jones
(formerly of the Guggenheim Museum in New York). The workshop sold out,
and the audience included contemporary art international curators, arts
funders and policy makers including 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 (Jones 2008). In 2012 the Tyneside
Cinema, informed by these developments, advertised the new post of
Digital Media Projects Manager, and this post was filled by a researcher
completing his PhD concerning participatory and open source art projects
with CRUMB (AHRC Research Grant studentship). He has since collaborated
with CRUMB as a professional, including the Surreptitious
Networks professional development day (Pixel Palace, CRUMB and
an 2013), and implemented `Pixel Palace', a new digital media programme at
Tyneside Cinema which involves many young people, "...drawing upon
knowledge gained with CRUMB ... " (1). He was recently invited to speak at
Academy/Arts Council digital partnership 'Building Digital Capacity for
the Arts' and is passing on the knowledge at the policy-level.
Postdoctoral CRUMB post 2013 Isabella Streffen co-curated Surreptitious
Networks with Tyneside cinema, and curators at all levels have
been attracted to the region, and are impacting upon local audiences. Like
the Digital Media Projects Manager, they aim to work with arts
organisations and in turn affect their policies: PhD Student 2011-14
Marialaura Ghidini programmed the 2012 workshop for AV festival, and Hybrid
Curatorial Models: Producing and Publishing a
professional development workshop for curators in New Delhi, exhibitions
at Grand Union in Birmingham, and also online with Or-bits.
A Senior Post-Doctoral Fellow with CRUMB 2009-10, has since become a
curator of MEWO Kunsthalle and
Strigel-Museum in Germany and has included new media art exhibitions
Curators sharing knowledge on the CRUMB discussion list have included
curators from Eyebeam, Guggenheim, and V&A. CRUMB research can
therefore be seen to impact on the practice of curators, who then go on to
influence other curators, in both art and creative industries contexts.
Sources to corroborate the impact
ANE Audiences North East Limited, (2008) AV Festival 08 Evaluation
Report. Newcastle: Audiences North East Limited. Available from:
Cook, Sarah (2008) Untethered, Interactivos, and Curatorial
Masterclass. Eyebeam Art and Technology Center.
Graham, Beryl (2010) Curating New Media Art — Networks and
Collaborations AH/E509789/1: AHRC Research Grant Final Report.
Available from: https://je-s.rcuk.ac.uk/JeS2WebSite/secure/DocEdit/DocumentMenu.aspx?did=931270.
Jones, Caitlin (2008) Documenting New Media Art Seminar. 5 March.
(Feedback sheets unpublished, in CRUMB archive).
Moss, Ceci (2008) "Interview with Sarah Cook: Eyebeam's Curatorial Fellow
Discusses "Untethered" Exhibition." Rhizome. Available at: http://rhizome.org/editorial/2008/sep/25/interview-with-sarah-cook/.
Usherwood, Paul (2008) "Review of Broadcast Yourself." Art Monthly,
April (315). 34. http://www.broadcastyourself.net/?p=39