RENEW 2013

The 5th International Conference on the Histories of Media Art, Science and Technology

Riga / October 8 – 11, 2013

"Networked Art" Participants

Sarah COOK, Roddy HUNTER

Curating the Network-as-Artwork after Globalisation

Session:Networked Art

Panel:Panel B


Venue:Stockholm School of Economics, Soros Auditorium

This paper will look at how certain networks are artworks in themselves, the grounds on which to determine their success or failure and what role curating might have in these respects. It will take George Brecht and Robert Filliou’s co-creation of ‘The Eternal Network’ (1968) as a starting point to discuss instances of practice that can be identified as networks-as-artworks more broadly. These may include geospatially diverse models such as ‘Art’s Birthday’ (1963-2013) W.O.R.K.S ‘Conceptographic Readings’ (1974), Artpool (1979-present), ‘Les Territores Nomades’ (1994-1998) and Furtherfield (1997-present). Analysis of such models will identify how production, distribution and reception integrate as closely as possible in the creative process of the network-as-artwork. Their attractiveness to artists will be argued to be political as well as aesthetic given their function as decentralised or distributed environments bypassing institutional curatorial spaces. A problem will be explored, however, of how this may now be undermined by a dependence of these networks upon the internet which has been argued to be ‘the most material and visible sign of globalisation’ (Manovich 2001, 6). Lovink (2002) has cited the view that the ‘pace [of globalisation] has increased with the advent of new technologies, especially in the area of telecommunications’ and so artists, activists and commercial, corporate players alike have employed online networks in search of their respective ‘utopias’. How far has the ‘globalism’ of communication sought by Filliou and others been supplanted by ‘globalisation’ in its neoliberal, doctrinal sense? (Chomsky 1999). Can the network as artwork be effective beyond conceptualisation in material terms? How can we rethink curatorial strategies in respect of the network-as-artwork’s media of production, means of distribution and experience of reception? In short, how can we find ways to curate the network-as-artwork after globalisation?


I am currently Principal Lecturer and Director of Programmes in Fine Art at Middlesex University, London. I have formerly been Head of Programme, Fine Arts at York St John University and Field Director, Art at Dartington College of Arts. I am currently a doctoral researcher in Curating New Media Art at CRUMB, University of Sunderland; hold an MA Contemporary Arts from Nottingham Trent University and earlier studied literature and theatre at the University of Glasgow. I am both former Regional Chair of Arts Council England’s Turning Point Network for Yorkshire and The Humber and Chair of the Board of Trustees and Directors, East Street Arts, Leeds. I have been an External Academic Adviser for Birmingham City University and an External Examiner for University of Wales Institute Cardiff (now Cardiff Metropolitan University). I am also currently External Examiner at University of Worcester. I hold a passionate attitude toward the contribution of contemporary fine art practice to wider culture and society and supporting Fine Art Middlesex students to become distinctive and successful graduates.

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