Interview in Curare, dialogues on curating

Curare, dialogues on curating, book by Giorgio Caione

20160104_205434

  • When did your interest for digital art start? Does it make still sense talking about “digital art” in a specific category? Isn’t it all “contemporary art”?

I would call the field I am working in, new media art. Digital implies the technique like acrylic or similar but not the medium, in general. You can produce images or videos digitally but this would not necessarily make the output new media work. For the new media work the technology needs to be the medium not the tool. Digital photography is still photography as an art category. Beside that, what makes it new media and differs from the old media are few things that the old media does not have embedded by nature, like interactivity, real-time processing, non-linearity.

Today, as you mentioned in the question, it is all contemporary art, using different techniques and mediums. But I have a tendency to take new media art as a movement rather than a subdivision in contemporary art. In that sense there are two channels for a new media work, one is the contemporary art market, where beautiful, techno-fetishist art works exchanged, and the other, that I call new media art, where the critical works and social aspects of the art is the issue. The new media art uses “new” technologies from digital to genetic, bio or nano- as the medium of the art to take an artistically critical stance -either utopian or dystopian.

 

  • In your last exhibition “Histories of Post-Digital” at Akbank Sanat – Istanbul you chose an historical prospective with an interesting educational approach. In the middle of the main hall you set an “open table” full of computers and books about digital art and culture; you invited visitors to seat, research, read, enjoy and discuss about the exhibition’s themes. How did it go? How is Turkish audience compared to other European audience?

New media art emerged in Turkish art scene in mid 2000. So, it was late comparing Europe or The States. We adapted new technologies especially in design very quickly and start using and creating within it also artistically. But we did not have a chance to look back, learn the history and understand the fundamentals in a social and historical context. New media art and its problematics go back to early 60s and even before… In amberFestival we have been exhibiting the art works and discussing current topics of the time in relation to our local. Here in collaboration with Akbank sanat he had the chance to make such a documentary and educational exhibit. By taking this change now we created a new media section in the library of Akbank Sanat. I believe we need more knowledge in widespread in Turkey. I think we created a discussion, art audience, students and academics showed interest in the exhibition and the way it is organized with the Off-line media room and the talks on Saturdays and more informal ones on Wednesdays, etc. The translation of art and Electronic Media Archive (artelectronicmedia.com) in to Turkish and adding new content in an open collaboration was another way of involving people. I believe it worked.

 

  • Amber Platform is one of your main projects. It features a big Festival, conferences, exhibitions and several international collaborations. How did you start it? How did you manage to sustain the project and how did it change recently?

amberFestival started in 2007. It is the only festival, an established big event with many activities in the field of art and technology in Turkey. We are independent and working in a niche. We had all the expected dis-advantages of such a combination. We managed making amberFestival with the support of EU projects we took part, cultural institutions of the embassies of EU countries, few local institution and universities beside the in kind support. We did not supported regularly by any state institution, ministry or city. There is no organizational support either. But we overcome these difficulties with networking, collaboration and volunteering. We are a flexible festival; we can get bigger or much smaller according the financial condition, which is unfortunately unreliable and unpredictable. To have an idea, more information and amberFestival catalogs can be found on here or on amberPlatform’s site amberplatform.org.

In our current implementation, we are working on a modular and collective modal of curating and producing a festival. We are open to private sponsorship with a respect what we are doing. We do not want to be the medium/tool for branding of a product or similar.

I think it is an urgency to develop a new collective model, I believe it will be useful for every independent institution, group and individual in every country where the funds and support for art is getting smaller under the current state of capitalism.

 

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