Friday, September 15, 2006

Upgrade Berlin, Paraflows Vienna: how to curate netart?

Hi Ursula,

we are starting the Upgrade! Berlin today and one of our most crucial points for the whole network of international media artists is how to present media art at all.
After having travelled on our Mobile Studios Eastern European tour this summer (, where we proudly hosted the Upgrade Sofia and cooperated also with the people from Upgrade Skopje and Belgrade, we decided that being on the move is just the right strategy for us, especially in Berlin.So we thought of Upgrade Berlin as a caravan of questions, which explores venues and institutions associated with media art in Berlin.We will re-visit the places which are already there and approach them with questions concerning their contemporary cultural practice and the future agenda of media art.We invite our audience, media artists and contributors here in Berlin to join us in this quest. It is an objective of Upgrade! Berlin to map the media art resources in the city and to create a horizontal network among institutions, artists, curators, scholars...With this approach we want to contribute to the international network and broaden the chances for media artists to access these structures.
Today is our inital meeting with guests, where we want to develop our question strategies for the future Upgrade meetings. Each of us will present a topic of particular interest to media art and a plan of how we could implement this topic into our question structure. We will also set up an agenda for the upcoming Upgrade field trips and nominate the hosts and the locations of the particular meetings.
I think back to Vienna last week, where we visited the Paraflows festival, Have a look: http://www.paraflows.atI like their idea of a horizontal festival concept which takes on the principles of a decentralized organisation and of participatory practices. The exhibition was held in 7 different locations all over the city and so we had a great day driving and walking around Vienna and visiting many different places, talking to different artists and curators. I always come back to the point what a difference it makes when the artists are present during an exhibition and can be approached by the audience for questions, remarks etc.I think they did this quite well at Paraflows. What has been your impression from this year's ars electronica?

best from berlin, ela


At 1:24 PM, Blogger curating netart said...

Hi Ela,

I really like your approach for launching Upgrade! Berlin, with the idea of "creating a horizontal network" in Berlin. (Btw, I am curious how the first meeting went! :-)
I can totally relate to this idea. By visiting several "digital art and culture festivals" this summer in Europe, I found a somewhat “fresh” spirit among some of the -- specially newer -- festivals such as paraflows in Vienna, that seemed to operate on this premise. The organizers were definitely planning to connect artists, art spaces and visitors, bringing them all closer together, through a relaxed structure that invited dialog. And I was happy to see that Vienna had its first festival for digital art and net art. I really enjoyed going with you and a – during the course of the day – growing number of people with a city sponsored bus from event to event. Because of this, people were able to get to know the artists, the audience, and the organizers. I also thought that the symposium, part of the paraflows festival, with quite a wide range of different contributions, while discussing different aspects and variations of networks (behind the net), was a great addition to the whole event. It was a welcome invitation for deeper focus, thought and inspirations -- and conversation.

The week before I went to Linz to the Ars Electronica, and I would like to point out one very vivid discussion about the future of media art and the question of where media art will be displayed (and discussed!) in the future. I went to the panel, “Placing and replacing media art”, where this discussion about the present and the future of media art took place. Many different opinions came up, from a more pessimistic approach, that media art is purposely excluded from art history, which triggered passionate statements, ranging from that new media art should form it’s own art history, and do it’s own exhibitions, to a more mediating and optimistic approach, such as, that in the future artist will hopefully totally question a separation of art and “new media” art, a statement by Andreas Broekmann summing up the panel.

So we get back here to a topic we started discussing during our web conference on “Curating net art” in May. We asked ourselves, in which museums should new media art be shown? Do we need separate museums for digital art or do we have ONE art history? I really like the idea that we are treating technology as a part of our daily life, and that will bring technology, and therefore new media art, right into the museum. Which will, yes, question also, what we expect from museums. I think new festivals such as paraflows about net culture, and panel discussions about “replacing” media art, are the beginning of a new format where discussing these issues is part of it all and is eventually contributing to how museums “of the future” will look and operate on. I think that bringing the net as a structure into a RL setting such as a festival -- or a museum -- is an exiting attempt to bridge the usual divide of artist/audience as well as all the different media.

Best wishes from new york,

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