Critical Journal- Ch.5

When holding conversation around participative systems, the language used during discussion is very important. Interaction, participation and collaboration are all different actions that have differing definitions but are often used interchangeably. The text outlines the definitions as such:

Interaction– “acting upon each other”. Interaction could occur between people or people and machines, etc. It shouldn’t be confused with reaction. Interactions have been linked to having a conversation, all parties are equally involved.

Participation–  “To have a share in or take part in”. Participants have a recorded input that changes the work. Often participation is framed inside of a system such as the system in Learning to Love you More by July & Fletcher which has a system posed as assignments.

Collaboration: “working jointly with”. This is equal work  and contributions between people to create something. Collaboration include both participation and interaction, but is different from each. Collaboration does not have to be exclusive between artists to create art.

From a curatorial standpoint, creating a space for participation takes on the role of a host in many cases and in some cases the role of a curator is unclear. “Also if the artist is acting as the host, then what role is there for the curator? If the curator is not curating an object but a ‘participative system’, then the invisible system itself needs to be thoroughly understood, not only by the curator, but also by the audience1”.  An example of work that showcases approach to participation, collaboration and interaction is the Candahar by Theo Smith and his works with various artist’s. The Candahar was held at the Mackenzie Art Gallery between April 30th and September 25th, 2016. During this time twenty three different hosts held the space and presented their own work ranging from discussion to performance. Although this work does not fall into the realms of new media art, it does hold discussion about curating and having art that is based on a participative system.

The Candahar is a Belfast based, fully functioning pub that is installed in a gallery settings. The work is based on holding space for performance and interaction between artist and audience, audience and audience, audience and concept, and so forth. The work also relies on participation from the audience because without participants there would be absence of people in the pub to experience and move the work forward. About his work, Sims states

…the installation as the setting for a social experiment aimed at issues of identity and breaking down stereotypes and assumptions, of all persuasions, by getting people to meet and talk to each other, in a stimulating, imaginative territory. ‘I wanted to break down the rules about what Irishness was,’Sims says. ‘But it’s not specific to an Irish agenda. It’s just a starting point to get something going. To me that’s the true spirit of collaboration.’2”.
Within the Candahar the question of the curator’s role is prevalent. Sim’s is creating the space to hold the work, but the curator is hosting the space in which the Candahar lives. Furthermore, they would be in charge of aiding performance nights run smoothly even though Sims has provided bartenders to work the space. I am unsure if Sims or the curator decide on the performers throughout the duration, or if that is a collaboration between artist and curator. Nevertheless, the curator is playing a different role as they traditionally would be. Similar to new media curation, it is crucial to understand the system that are at work to properly curate the work.

Source (Screen shot of LeaderPost video)

1 Graham, Beryl, and Sarah Cook.Rethinking Curating: Art after New Media. Cambridge, MA: MIT, 2010. 124. Print.
2 Tousley, Nancy. “Theo Sims: The Candahar Pub Returns to Calgary.” Canadian Art. Canadian Art, 16 Feb. 2012. Web. 10 Oct. 2016.


Critical Journal -Ch. 3&4

Space, materiality and time- three very important terms to be aware of when curating, and making art. It is more difficult than one would think to define these terms because they are continuously in flux depending on a multitude of situations. The three terms take on a different meaning when paired with new media art. In my response to chapter three and four I would like to unpack each of these.

Space is important to an artist especially when creating something sculptural or physically interactive. It can transform a viewer’s relationship to the work. In terms of work shown in a gallery, space is something that can be physically experienced. This differs when the work has the ability to live beyond the physical world. As the text states “Art has long been concerned not just with geographic space, but with abstract space- its creation and exhibition- and by extension with the question of materiality. For new media art, these concerns go even farther into the realms of the virtual”1 . The text also refers to space as the place in which the work is shown, providing the minimalist movement as an example of disruption in space because many of the works  were creating to be viewed outside of gallery walls. Which rings true with new media, although not as intentional.

Materiality is another important factor within art. Many works are centered around the material that is being explored, therefore the materiality is a big factor when communicating with the audience. Work can deal with the materiality and/or the immateriality of a form. New Media does not root in either of these spaces because many new media pieces are interested in the process over the outcome. The collective, Noxious, created a work titled Remote Viewing which is rooted in exploring a concept through material, as oppose to the final product. As they state “ Focusing on the technology of the drones as agents of remote vision and interaction, we propose a meditation—part visual, part conceptual—on the status of vision, bodies and technology in the 21st century”2. The work is  comprised of three floating heads that lived in the gallery and live streamed the events of the gallery  which could be viewed anywhere that has internet connection. You can find the site here, but is unfortunately not connected as the work is not currently on display



Time is another important factor when it comes to art and can live in many different forms. Primarily, time holds importance within video and performance art, and has transformed throughout the histories of these practices. Many early video art pieces have a duration that is based on real time recordings which were unedited. Within performance and video there is a a duration, a fairly obvious end for the most part. With new media art, the end is undefined. Because there are many works that are based on data collection, they are continuously changing, and at what point is the work considered finished? This is a question that curators have in their minds when including these  works in shows. There are curators working within different spaces in order to facilitate new media works and provide the viewer with a ‘time stamp’. An example highlighted in the text would be Medialounge, the Media Centre which is a gallery that was set up in zones around the basis of the viewer spending an appropriate amount of time with the work.
Representing time, space and materiality in a new media context proves to be difficult within the constraints of a white wall or black box. Many curators and artists speak about this issues and how to work with it. In many ways you can curate within these provided space but  there are many alternate places that are being explored in order to properly epitomize new media art. Because space can be virtual, time can be perceived as never ending, and material can focus on process, it is hard to curate new media without the understanding of its characteristics and a designated space where it can best be showcased. 


1Graham, Beryl, and Sarah Cook. “1.” Rethinking Curating: Art after New Media. Cambridge, MA: MIT, 2010. 51. Print.
2″Remote Viewing.” Canadian Art. Canadian Art, n.d. Web. 06 Oct. 2016.

Curate my thoughts

Imagine speaking with the landscape is a curatorial project that questions how one connects with their landscape and how this connection, whether positive or negative, informs how the landscape holds itself within various contexts. Within this curatorial question it is important to define what a landscape is, what qualities the land holds,what kind of connection is being created and between whom. Although that appears to be a lot to define, the questions are broad enough to evoke a multitude of situations and commentary to be explored.

The social issue that is being addressed is the treatment of the land. Whether or not it is positive or negative treatment, it make a difference on how the land holds itself. The theme, that of the importance of honouring the land, can be expressed in many different terms. These terms include:

Spirituality; speaking, visiting, the giving of gifts,

Living; how one takes part in cutting down their global footprint,

And Generational, how our present day choices affect future generations and their well being.

An example of current debate centering the land resides within the standing rock pipeline and what this means in a very economical way. There is importance in taking care of the land when taking care of the people. Those protesting the pipeline are interesting in honouring and taking care of their earth and water because they know that this is what they need in order to survive. The social issues around Standing Rock go beyond honouring the earth, but for the sake of the project, the focus will be on the aspects of the land.

In a curatorial sense the theme of land has the ability to evoke many different conversations, questions and narratives. Some ways in which the theme could be unpacked include the questioning of ‘What is a landscape?’ This could be urban, rural, and overall dependant on the individual. Land and resources could take the shape of knowledge being offered or could take on a material form such as forging plants or oil extraction.  What is a respectful way to source from the land, and at what point is it exploitation? In my art practice I believe in the land having it’s own spirit and this helps me connect with it, but this is not true for everyone. In which way do people connect with the land, if they do ,and what importance does this connection hold for both person and nature? This could hold influence in a personal, community or cultural  way, and within the world at large.

An example of an artist exploring this themes is Rebecca Belmore with her piece Ayum-ee-aawach Oomama-mowan: Speaking to Their Mother where she responded to the 1990 Oka Crisis. In short, Oka was a protest on Mohawk land to maintain their territory. Belmore’s work was as a response in which she created an object that could be used to speak to the land in order to find aboriginal voice. It is a site specific work that was transported through many aboriginal communities both urban and rural. With this work the land is being addressed directly which gives embodiment to the place, and highlights the position of knowledge being held beyond humans.  

The reason why I would like to investigate the connection to land is because I agree with the characteristics of the work Speaking to Their Mothers. I once held a conversation with an elder named Gerry Ambers where I spoke to her about a camping trip I took to Port Renfrew, a beautiful place on Vancouver Island with ocean and forest. As she is from this area she spoke to me about the importance of speaking to the forest in that region. She said that the forest needed acknowledgment and she could feel the appreciation from the spirit of the land when she did so. This has been important to me in terms of understanding where I am in my connection to landscape. I wonder how much acknowledgment the prairie landscape receives, and hope that it is in good spirits. What I am trying to understand is how this landscape is operating and what my connection to this place is. I feel that the land works in tandem with human connection, therefore I want to understand better how I connect to place, and how others connect to this idea of speaking with the land. I am curious as to how these acts change in different regions and with different people. Thought this process I want to better experience land, connection, and understanding within various contexts.