« Comp_07: MIXED REALITIES | Main | Social Hacking »

March 06, 2007

More on Curating With Others (CWO)


Ruth Catlow on DIWO

Ruth Catlow wrote: A couple of days ago, Sarah Cook from the Crumb New-Media-Curating email list wrote...

In the meantime, perhaps someone from http can tell us how the opening of Do It With Others (Open Curation) went last night? I am curious about this model of exhibition making - where subscribers have a say (a bit like fans being asked to program the next All Tomorrow's Parties festival?) - does collaborative filtering create interesting results?

[...] I guess the thing to note in this context is that Furtherfield initiated the (DIWO) E-Mail-Art project so that "subscribers" to the NetBehaviour email list and the technologies they deploy are ALL artistic contributors to the project. Not sure I've identified ANY "fans" as yet; ))) The idea deliberately draws on the tradition of earlier Mail Art exhibitions in that the project started with an open-call and every post to the list, between 1st February and 1st April, is considered a work - or part of a larger, collaboratively created artwork. I can even imagine arguing that lurkers are also contributors. It's certainly true that the contributor:lurker ratio on the list has gone up from approx 1:25 (through January) to 1:4 (through February).

Historically Mail Art has a difficult relation to the old question about whether it belongs in a gallery (obvious eg Ray Johnson's "Dear Whitney Museum I hate you" mail art). What we try to explore and give room to in this approach to curating is a more dynamic and maleable context for the work. At HTTP we are in the fortunate position to be able to give space to this approach because of our relative informality, autonomy and independence, a decent-enough technical resource and our small but enthusiastic and broadly-skilled team of artist/producers and (for the time-being) curious and engaged visitors. Of course lots of people are not interested in all these different parts of the process. Many contributors prefer to leave the issues surrounding the display and dissemination of their artwork to others. But one of the reasons we chose to focus on the Mail Art theme was because of its reflexive nature. It considers all aspects of the artwork's passage through existing communication channels (through time and space) to the recipient(s) as contributing to the raison d'etre of the work. This is interesting to us as artists.

One danger that I can see of this approach of focusing on the curation and protocols of selection (especially with the current hoopla surrounding the so called democratisation of culture laid at the feet of networked tech) is that other aspects of the work can begin to be overshadowed. I'm not sure that many of the visitors to our (un)private view on Thursday evening were so interested in these issues or even in the particular technologies used. What seemed to grab people was the dynamic transformation and repositioning of materials and ideas as they flowed between approx 90 contributors.

The exhibition consists of "Threads" (series that directly involved mixing and dialogue, action and response) and "Streams" (of images, texts, movies instructions etc by single contributors) in print, sound, html, movie and text . Also a couple of installation works devised especially for the space. This was all argued and bashed out during our Sunday afternoon open-curating event. All submissions were sorted and categorised and displayed within a mailbox that was available for visitors to explore and redistribute (by clicking 'Forward Mail' ; )

From my perspective as a subscriber to NetBehaviour email list I find the process fascinating, informative, amusing and constantly surprising.

Then I gave links to some pics (lots more to the website soon).

Installation shot from early in the evening- Showing some printed "Threads" and "Streams"

Sim Gishel's 'Will Work For Food' - Vehicle drawing over an image of Marx's Grave in London

Projection of 'The Wreckers' a drawing produced within Dave Miller's online collaborative drawing software- being viewed by a visitor via the DIWO mailbox

Ruth [via netbehaviour]

Posted by jo at March 6, 2007 09:25 AM