I’m just about to head off to New York where I’ll be speaking about digital art criticism at the College Art Association’s annual conference on Saturday 16th February.
I’m in a session called ‘The Work of Art Criticism in the Age of E-zines and Blogging’ (2.30-5.00 on Saturday 16th (Beekman Parlor, 2nd Floor, Hilton ). It is chaired by Diana McClintock (Kennesaw State University) and Susan Todd-Raque, (independent curator) Here’s how they described the session:
Historically, critical writing that is intellectually stimulating and theoretically grounded in sources considered to possess quality and significance has been recognized as “good.” Today, however, “criticism” is found on e-zines and Facebook, and “critics” range from respected professionals to casual bloggers. Art criticism has become globally accessible. Has this widespread accessibility resulted in qualitative changes? This session welcomes papers that examine the endless proliferation of “criticism” and the multitude of “critical” sources now available on digital sites such e-zines, blogs, and social networks, and that investigate the changes that these new critical sites have compelled within critical writing itself. Who are today’s “authorities”? What questions should critics ask? Has the critical voice changed in this age of digital production? Do the old rules apply, and should they? How should the academic world help students navigate the universe of available sites and develop critical-thinking skills and valid critical methodologies?
And there’s the abstract for the paper I’m giving:
Make to Know: Towards Art Critical Transmedia Literacies.
My paper makes a case for a hands-on approach to gaining necessary art critical transmedia literacies. I begin by describing the emerging characteristics of several types of post-internet art contextualization. For example, through art-focused email-based discussion lists, blogging and micro-blogging, I discuss how art criticism has become more democratic, faster and highly participative. However, I argue that certain types of archive corroborate certain types of knowledge, and that the criteria by which we judge art belong more to the book than to the blog. At this point I describe my own practice – including the various incarnations of the Arts Future Book project – and show how a transmedia approach has helped me access the value of new media art and art criticism. I conclude that aligned with the Digital Humanities, art criticism must embrace the ‘makerly turn’ and thoroughly explore how meaning is created and transferred through new media.
There’ll be lots of live tweeting this year at CAA because there’s free wifi. I’m guessing the hashtag will be #caa2013?! And I’ll be launching a rather exciting and very Twitter-centric project into the conference Twitter stream so pay attention!
Duke University has a really well-known and highly respected writing centre called the Thomson Writing Program. Every year they have a conference called Critical Ink, which draws together the best of student writing across a range of disciplines and engages student and faculty in paper and poster presentations, and discussions of all things writing and communication. And I’m beyond excited to say that I’m the keynote speaker for this year’s event! I can’t wait to head down there and meet the folks at Duke. I’m honored to have been invited to such a great event!
Following that, I’m going to the annual CAA conference where I’m looking forward to a crazy schedule – although I hope it won’t blow my mind quite as badly as last year (my first CAA experience) as I needed about a week to come down after that. This time I’ll be majorly starstruck because I’m speaking on a roundtable exploring the intersections of Art History and the Digital Humanities. Here’s the blurb:
This panel will take up such questions as “How might the traditions of Art History and Visual Studies enrich the Digital Humanities?”, “What role might networked modes of communication and analysis play in our discipline?”, and “How might our own scholarship be more visual?” Panelists will present their own digital projects and also offer advice on how to undertake similar work. There will be ample time for discussion as well.
For a bit of background, Share Workers (1) was a research project and conference intervention by a-n, The Artists Information Company and with Ruth Catlow: Furtherfield; Dougald Hine: The University Project; Jack Hutchinson: AIR; Bridget McKenzie: Flow Associates; Marcus Romer: Pilot Theatre. The idea was to host a panel discussion at ISEA2011 focusing on the concept of sharing in the arts while sharing as much as we could of discussions beyond the conferencewalls (helping others escape, amongst other things, the heavy security and high attendance fees associated with participating in the event)
We asserted that with the arrival of social media and the wave of internet use known as Web 2.0, the ability for artists to share has grown exponentially, becoming a subject in and of itself, and generating experts in the techniques and meanings of sharing. We assembled a number of these experts to discuss everything from the practical to the philosophical in the collaborative use of digital tools for sharing and learning. From consolidating connections between artists and arts policy-makers to rewiring our educational and economic circuitry, this panel represented a wealth of collective skills for reaching out to others through technology. Meanwhile we used a Twitter hashtag (#shareISEA) to talk to people in and beyond the room and made a point about having to pay a full attendance fee for Marcus Romer who actually Skyped his contribution – receiving none of the benefits associated with the fee. I also asked all participants to document and share as much of their participation as possible using whatever tools and platforms made sense to them – therefore also sharing something of the conference experience itself with non-attendees.
Share Workers (2) will offer the same Twitter interactivity (#QR_U), will become a QR code in the exhibition, and will link up with the documentation of Share Workers (1) on a-n’s website. We would love to have you involved – especially if you can’t be in Vancouver – so do get in touch!
In addition to recreating Share Workers, I’ll also be something like a resident Share Bear at Emily Carr from 5th –7th December. I will be sharing any skills I can, joining classes, giving crits or talking publicly or informally on anything related to: social media in arts and education, academic and arts publishing, online art production and presentation, and career development. I can even share my most successful project briefs for art contextual courses including Flash Meninas and Dead Artist/New Voice, and discuss any aspect of my own experiences in the arts and education.
Ah, I am back in England (and already eating less to talk at Rewire, the Fourth International Conference on the Histories of Media Art, Science and Technology. My first encounter with this conference was back in its Refresh! incarnation when it was held at the Banff New Media Institute. This time it hits lovely Liverpool, hosted by FACT and the Art and Design Academy at Liverpool John Moores University. It has an amazing line up – honestly I’m barely over the brain-food that was ISEA2011, I really don’t have room to cram more thought-stuffs in!
Anyway, I should say that I’m talking on Thursday 29th in an afternoon session on media labs. Here’s my paper abstract:
Furtherfield, Seeing and Doing
This paper will look at how the socially transformative artworks of New Media arts community and platform, Furtherfield, can be understood and historicised using Gregory Sholette’s concept of art world ‘dark matter’. It will illustrate, through three of their projects (DIWO, Zero Dollar Laptop, Visitor’s Studio), how Furtherfield’s work can be described as ‘dark matter’ in that it is both embedded in established art world traditions and yet somehow generally invisible when viewed from traditional art historical vantage points. However, the discussion will be nuanced towards emphasising this type of work’s unseeableness, which occurs as by-product of its performative elements. It will be argued, therefore, that this artistic practice not only moves away from the production of objects or visuals – focusing instead on technologies, networks and social engagement – but, via an enacted element, towards other sense-making systems. It will find that despite being a useful way of shedding light on work generally over-shadowed by more traditional practice, Sholette’s focus on art as either seen or not conforms precisely the type of art historical discourse that fails to fully confront work characterised instead by being somehow done or not done.
Yes, that’s right, I’m talking about my long-time muse, Furtherfield!
I’ll also be representing Arts Future Book, so if you have an idea for a book you’d like to publish with us, do seek me out and ply me with tea, I’ll be all ears!
I’m hosting a fab panel at ISEA2011 in just over a week’s time. It’s called ‘Share Workers: The Techniques and Meanings of Sustainable Digital Networks’. The panel itself is a research project by a-n, the Artists Information Company. Here’s how we’re describing it:
The information sharing abilities of the internet have vastly extended a pre-existing capacity among artists to communicate with each other about their work and lifestyles. With the arrival of social media and the wave of internet use known as Web 2.0, the ability to share has grown exponentially, becoming a subject in and of itself, and generating experts in the techniques and meanings of sharing. And now, with economic down-turn and drastic cuts to funding, these free networks have become invaluable for helping people sustain their practice.
This Twitter-interactive panel at ISEA2011 brings together a set of experts (Ruth Catlow: Furtherfield; Dougald Hine: The University Project; Jack Hutchinson: AIR; Bridget McKenzie: Flow Associates; Marcus Romer: Pilot Theatre) in the practical and theoretical use of digital networks and infrastructures for sharing. Working across a range of areas from visual art to music, performance and beyond, they are united by their use of collaborative digital tools and driven by their propensity for positive social change. From consolidating connections between artists and arts policy-makers to rewiring our educational and economic circuitry, this panel has collectively developed a wealth of skills for reaching out to others through technology.
We will be using a hashtag: #shareISEA on Twitter to drum up questions and discussion before and during the panel, which takes place at 9.00am-10.30am in Istanbul (that’s 7.00am-9.30am in the UK) on Monday 19th September. So please come (physically or virtually) and share your ideas and experiences and contribute to new working models for the arts…
Oh, and following the panel discussion at ISEA2011, a-n’s website will feature further commentary about this attempt to widely exchange ideas on sharing in the arts. Quite frankly it’s just a total share-fest!
I got to take a wonderfully reminiscent tour of Leeds and Sheffield last week as I was a speaker at the annual ARLIS conference. I did my undergraduate degree at the University of Leeds and always get a bit over-excited about opportunities to go back there. This was no exception and I had a bit of a moment wandering through the Victoria Quarter and realising this was the first time I’d visited Leeds as a Dr! Don’t tell anyone because it’s way lame, but I did well up just a little bit. I found Leeds uni and my time there so incredibly inspiring. It’s fair to say that from the minute Griselda Pollock entered the lecture theatre that first day, I knew I felt at home. Of course I had no idea then that my dedication would prove so unwavering and for just a second the last fifteen years collapsed on themselves and I saw just how all of this started.
But enough of the nostalgia. This trip was also special because I’d been asked some months back by ARLIS members to come and speak about all things digital at a conference themed: Weaving New Futures: Collaboration and Reinvention in the Digital Age. And as testament to their digital savvy, there was already a Twitter hashtag (ARLIS2011) and a blog being populated with lots of content. The abstract for my paper, which was part of a session on ‘New Technologies’ was as follows:
Arts Future Books
This paper asks after the ways in which digital technology might impact both the form but also the content of the art history/criticism/theory book. Using the combined archival theories of Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida and Friedrich A. Kittler, the paper establishes links between the meaning held in bodies of art historical information and the prevailing modes in which said information can be stored and transferred. In this sense, it asserts that the discipline of art history has been formed very much in dialogue with the archival technologies of photography and printed text. What it will ask therefore is what new archival technologies mean to the discipline and whether the art history book itself is an essential battle-ground for the future of art knowledge. The paper will look at a number of online art discussion platforms and the way in which they engage their audience. It will then encounter a range of innovative approaches to academic publishing – including the Arts Future Book project and series. Drawing these areas of experimentation together, the paper will close by asking after the types of art knowledge new publishing technologies might produce and how this might reshape the discipline.
Unfortunately for me I followed Catherine Greene, Senior Associate at the Helen Hamlyn Centre, Royal College of Art, who spoke on ‘The Living Library’. Clearly this was total thought-porn for a room of librarians so she kind of stole the show! I shouldn’t complain really though, I was introduced as a ‘glamour puss’!
I’m running a session at the UCL Research Staff Conference at the British Library on the 22nd June. I’ll be talking about how to manage your career yourself (i.e. outside of an institution) and the topics I’ll be covering are:
I’m excited to be doing this because having a strategy for these early days can make all the difference. Although none of this excitement (NONE OF THIS EXCITEMENT) comes close to the fever I’ll succumb to while listening to the afternoon session by Jorge Cham. I honestly don’t know how I’m going to suppress my excitement and not treat him like a rock star! I love you Jorge Cham!
It seemed like a good idea at the time: I was obsessed with learning and devoted to widening people’s awareness of the significance of Digital and New Media art forms. But like most post-PhD’ers, I’ve often wondered why I worked so hard for a qualification that leads to yet more hard work – and that’s before you’ve even landed the job!
Here I am excitedly rushing out of my Viva as Dr Charlotte Frost after which I promptly drank a lot of Champagne (and soon didn’t sound like someone with a PhD at all) and then woke up to the worst hangover ever – although it that had nothing whatsoever to do with the fizz. This was the PhD hangover, because now I had to fight to make my career work for me and if I’m really honest, I was pooped!
As a result, I’m always at pains to point out to people that PhDs:
A) probably aren’t what you think they are. Yes, I know you think I played on the internet all day long and got to indulge myself in writing about something I’m deeply passionate about, but it was often a whole lot more like pulling my own teeth out one by one.
B) are supposed to lead to a career in academia but with current cuts to funding and shifts in policy there’s really no guarantee, and then what do you do?!
Don’t get me wrong, there are tremendous benefits to PhD study, but we will all have to become increasingly more realistic about what can be achieved and whether doing one in the first place is the right decision. Additionally, those already doing PhDs will need to plan well in advance for the hangover and get plenty of things in place to make it though.
This Friday between 1.00pm and 4.00pm I’ll be involved in a live Q and A on the Guardian Higher Education Network tackling the subject of ‘Life After a PhD‘. As part of this, I’ll be looking at what I’ve done with the last year – from setting up now tremendously successful projects like PhD2Published and Arts Future Book; getting a contract to write a book; doing post-doctoral fellowships; collecting teaching gigs; networking; and making ends almost meet in completely non-academic work.
On Saturday 12th March I’ll be representing PhD2Publsihed and Arts Future Book at UCL’s Spring ReSkIN event. ReSkIN is a compulstory seminar and support scheme for PhD students working in the field of Art History and Visual Culture. This means it unites students from six different colleges within the university who all work across the same discipline so that they can meet each other and find out more about the issues they face going forwards. The spring event looks closely at writing and publishing in the arts and I’m delighted to be on a panel with a diverse range of expertise.
I’m going to do two things in my talk that reflect aspects of my projects. One is that I’ll look at how you can use the web and social media in particular to build your platform as a researcher and author. The other is that I’ll provide a quick tour though some inovative uses of technology in academic publishing. Anything from Open Humanities Press to Gamer Theory. I’m really looking forward to this event and hope to see you there!