Exploring the Practices of Curating and Exhibiting
Museums, galleries, and the art world have long been oriented mostly toward material, original and static objects and have configured themselves to accommodate the exhibition, presentation, collection, and preservation of such works of art. Like other art forms before it, digital art challenges the traditional notion of what constitutes an art object. Thinking of digital art as an act of performance evokes the notion that the digital is at its core invisible and immaterial. Digital art, as based on code and data, questions the boundary between original and copy. Digital art “as inherently time-based, dynamic, interactive, collaborative, customizable,” modifiable and reusable seems to challenge the idea of an artwork as a fixed and stable entity.
This research project investigates how digital art, as an increasingly important part of contemporary artistic practice, challenges the traditional art worlds – their customary approach to curating, presenting and exhibiting art. How do digital artworks as active material components in the art world change the way curating and exhibiting is organized, how its boundaries are drawn and its judgments are exercised? How does digital art transform modes of display and presentation? What happens to the social structures of curating that were constructed by the traditional art world and its largely object-oriented material agenda in the face of data, codes, immateriality, reproducibility, performativity, etc.? How does digital art change the structures’ legitimation? Who are the new stakeholders who join the field of curating?
To answer the outlined research questions, a set of different qualitative methods are employed, including document analysis such as theoretical and application-oriented publications of curators, semi-structured interviews with different relevant stakeholders involved in the practices of curating as well as ethnographic observations in different museums that are exhibiting digital art.
If the digital permeates almost every area of society, then it comes as no surprise that artists have started to investigate the digital – as a tool, as a medium, but also as way to explore new modes of understanding art and its relation to today’s digitized society. As Walter Benjamin has illustrated in The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, photography not only changed artistic practices, but also the politics of its distribution and consumption. It therefore seems important to understand how digital artworks are changing the politics of exhibiting and communicating art today.