The much-hyped Web 2.0, without a doubt, has put content development into the hands of the user--allowing unparalleled participation in cultural production, reception and distribution. 'Video Vortex,' a new show and series of screenings organized by Amsterdam's Netherlands Media Art Institute: Montevideo/Time Based Arts (after a related conference which took place at Argos Museum) takes these user-driven tools and philosophies and applies them to the curatorial process. Artists Graham Harwood, Giselle Beiguelman, Beatrice Valentine Amrhein, Walczak & Wattenberg (which all utilize user driven tools and tactics for their included works) are shown alongside a special installation, 'curator for a day.' Allowing visitors to choose from Montevideo's vast archive of materials (which includes works by Steina and Woody Vasulka, Marina Abramovic and many others) to put together a video program, 'curator for a day' puts decision making in the hands of the viewer. And so it's not just for their own edification, the program will be on view for the rest of the day, and must be accompanied by a coherent rationale for their selections. Montevideo/Time Based Arts has a long institutional history (they have been a leading media art institution in Europe for thirty years) and through 'Video Vortex' the curators contextualize the current flood of enthusiasm for Web2.0 tactics within a larger history of media driven 'utopias.' While the show and accompanying programs certainly celebrate this era of user driven content, it also critically assesses them and their underlying structures. 'Video Vortex' opens October 20th. - Caitlin Jones
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