Curating New Media Art: Curatorial Practice and Creative Industries

Submitting Institution

University of Sunderland

Unit of Assessment

Art and Design: History, Practice and Theory

Summary Impact Type


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

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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.

Underpinning research

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 Lapp 2010).

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 Box.

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.

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.

BALTIC (2001-8):

(2001) Vuk Cosic Thisistherealmatrix.

(2001) Curating New Media Art conf

(2005) Package Holiday: Monica Studer/Christoph van den Berg.

(2005) Relay: Germaine Koh.

Selected Grants

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 BBC 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 (4).

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:

Jones, Caitlin (2008) Documenting New Media Art Seminar. 5 March. Newcastle: CRUMB
<>. (Feedback sheets unpublished, in CRUMB archive).

Moss, Ceci (2008) "Interview with Sarah Cook: Eyebeam's Curatorial Fellow Discusses "Untethered" Exhibition." Rhizome. Available at:

Usherwood, Paul (2008) "Review of Broadcast Yourself." Art Monthly, April (315). 34.