Sarah Cook
Since the beginning
Works in Newcastle United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

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Breaking the Ice

Hi Michael and all,
I'm a (very) long-time lurker, infrequent poster to Rhizome, as you know, given that my energies have been devoted to keeping the CRUMB mailing list going, which has changed remarkably little in its similarly young adult lifespan to date.
Michael asked about which past Rhizome discussions had an impact so I thought I'd mention two I remember:

* A debate which occurred when Thomson&Craighead announced their work Beacon, in 2005. The debate was broadly about how it was art, whether it was new art, and what art historical precedents for the work existed (see
Many of the people who have posted here posted then too. I think the Rhizome mailing lists in all their digested or indigestible forms have been good at peer-reviewing, commending and critiquing new networked art projects, in an almost instantaneous manner, with the artists present to comment.
* A debate which occurred on the CRUMB list in response to Rhizome's announcement of their commissioning opportunity. The debate was mostly about taxonomy (concerning the categories offered up for the commissions). Taxonomies are a perpetual topic of discussion on CRUMB, but I think Rob Murphy then posited the term 'gonzo-taxonomy' as there were a lot of 'medium-specific', 'post-medium', 'post-internet' terms flying about and it was the height of widespread adoption of tagging/folksonomy-making. This was also 2005 - just as Steve Dietz and I were cocurating the exhibition which was called 'The Art Formerly Known As New Media'. Rhizome's metadata consultation project around the ArtBase began the following April (2006).

Michael, I welcome your efforts to continue to redefine Rhizome's usefulness to its many communities and agree with a number of the comments posted here, about how Rhizome has the potential to become more rhizomatic without simply branding event-hubs of itself around the globe. I have other thoughts about the interlinked pasts and collaborative futures of networked new media art organisations, our own included, but I'll save them for F2F discussions over cups of tea.

as ever,


What's (Really) Specific about New Media Art? Curating in the Information Age

Thanks Domenico for this considered recap on the state of the field, and your generous albeit selective citation of our work. I think we are in general on the same page so I don't want to let linger the implication that our work (by which you mostly mean my and Beryl Graham's book Rethinking Curating) doesn't address "how the curator [can] become a mediator between art that tackles the social, political and cultural implications of technology, and the art audience, rather than between technology and the art audience". In fact we do (and we too suggest following the artists, in the book's second to last chapter). The work of CRUMB has always argued for a redefinition of the boundaries of art as a result of new media art and its inherent questioning of the implications of technology on life. As you have pointed out, our focus on the work's behaviours (with a nod to the Variable Media Initiative) is precisely to get away from any overly deterministic focus on the technology. Your assertion that "new media curating should be reframed, in terms of mediating between two art worlds and two different cultures, rather than mediating between the art audience and technology" is certainly one way to reframe it, and is in part what our book does (and I can't help but point out that the book was written, mostly, in 2006-2007, the timelines of academic publishing being what they are).

But that said, I am not sure that the field of 'new media curating' continues, here at the end of 2012, to be as simple as you've characterised it -- there are many more than two art worlds in my mind -- but certainly it risks becoming so if we don't continue to complicate it by addressing the various art forms which continue to emerge, _and_ their societal implications. In the exhibition The Art Formerly Known As New Media, which I curated together with Steve Dietz in 2005, we explicitly argued that it wasn't about the media, and the newness of the technology, but about the ideas present in the artworks -- what it means to be human, how networks affect us, the protocols of access. This was a tall order given the exhibition was curated to accompany the first biennial conference on Media Art Histories, Refresh, which was very material- and technology- oriented in its initial mapping of a history of new media art (in the time since it has, in part with our hard work on Rewire, started addressing other possible histories). You write that the "debate around new media curating… has not yet got the point" and that "it has to shift its focus from the use of technology to other features that are intrinsic to new media art, but that have been sidestepped by the debate around new media curating so far." Have they really been sidestepped? I've got a decade's worth of postings on the CRUMB discussion list which mostly proves the opposite. It is still a young field, but perhaps it could just as equally be judged on the ongoing curatorial outputs of 'new media curators' as on the most easily accessible texts, some, ours included, which are from half a decade ago -- if so, I'd say it's still a pretty rich area of research and interest, encompassing design, science, biology, data, the environment, architecture and lots of other 'worlds' besides the most obvious art one.

Thanks again for bringing these points forward,


Euphoria & Dystopia - huge new media art reader out now

Mon Apr 30, 2012 23:20

Banff, Canada

Banff Centre Press and Riverside Architectural Press, in association with OCAD University and The University of Sunderland announce the release of Euphoria & Dystopia: The Banff New Media Institute Dialogues.
The 1100 page anthology is edited by Sarah Cook and Sara Diamond. Featuring worldwide pioneers, artists and cultural icons, and digital-industry innovators; Euphoria & Dystopia documents the key decade of Canada's Banff New Media Institute, between 1995 and 2005. Attracted by innovative programming set against Banff’s extraordinary mountain landscape, hundreds of international practitioners were brought together to debate the new forms wrought by technology. This volume charts the rise of the emerging field of digital media art and industry, through those discussions. It is essential reading for scholars, developers, and theorists of new media.

A copy of the table of contents is available for download here:

Euphoria & Dystopia contains essays by Sandra Buckley, Steve Dietz, Jean Gagnon, N. Katherine Hayles, Susan Kennard, Eric Kluitenberg, Jeff Lieper and Allucquere Rosanne Stone.

The contents of Euphoria & Dystopia include over 150 original transcripts drawn from thousands of hours of audio material from the annual Interactive Screen event and numerous summits and annual workshops. The book is organized by themes that range from data visualization to the interface of technology and the body to curating to gaming. It includes fully annotated references and biographies of participants, a detailed list of events that took place at Banff between 1995 and 2005. The book also includes commissioned essays from the co-editors and from leading new-media theorists. Included is the catalogue of the exhibition The Art Formerly Known As New Media (2005) and a DVD of HorizonZero, the groundbreaking bilingual electronic journal produced at Banff from 2002 to 2004.

Sara Diamond is the Founding Director of the Banff New Media Institute, and served as Artistic Director of Media & Visual Arts and Director of Research at The Banff Centre. Her work with the BNMI included creating numerous international research partnerships and securing support for emerging new-media businesses. In 2005, she became the President and Vice-Chancellor of OCAD University in Toronto, Canada.

Sarah Cook is a curator and writer based in the United Kingdom. Working as a postdoctoral research fellow at The Banff Centre until 2006, she curated exhibitions for the Walter Phillips Gallery, helped to found the Banff International Curatorial Institute, and participated in summits at the Banff New Media Institute.

To order a copy of Euphoria & Dystopia please go to: or

Media contacts:
Riverside Architectural Press, Eric Bury, 416-766-8284,
Banff Centre Press, Jill Sawyer, 403-762-6475,

Distribution contacts:
ABC Art Books Canada Distribution,
Literary Press Group of Canada,


Rethinking Curating: Art After New Media

In reply to the previous post from Chuck Ivy
Just to let you and other readers know -- the two volumes published by CRUMB together with The Green Box in Berlin (a brief history of curating/working with new media art) are newly edited reprints of material from the CRUMB website which we have been working on for a decade (see These interviews/conversations/dialogues are from events we have hosted and firsthand research we have done talking to curators over 10 years. The longer versions of most of the texts in those books are available online, but we thought it would be great to work with Axel Lapp (CRUMB's one-year senior research fellow) to revisit that material and make it available in book form, as a kind of 10 year birthday present to ourselves and to you! We released them to coincide with the Rethinking Curating book which Beryl and I worked on over the last five years with MIT Press, which is a larger co-authored volume, more historically minded, more academic, and drawing on these events but also material from the CRUMB discussion list, and our firsthand experience of curating and researching the literature in the field.
I wouldn't say that one book fills a gap left by the other. The interview/conversation books are 'straight from the horses mouth' (whether artist or curator or producer) and deal with topics ranging from collection to exhibition, press and reception, technology, and museum or gallery working. They are a kind of picture of a moment in time. The Rethinking Curating book provides, in our mind, a longer more detailed examination of the field with examples from artists works and from the history of curating, sometimes citing these interviews/dialogues, sometimes not. There is newer stuff in The Green Box books, in that they include conversations from 2009, after the Rethinking Curating book went to print - such is the nature of the publishing industry. In our minds, they make lovely companion volumes, and excerpts from both could be useful in a teaching context.
Looking forward to hearing more feedback from Rhizome readers.


Rethinking Curating: Art After New Media

Thanks Nathaniel for the great review. Just one point of correction: in the last section I think you've inadvertently mixed up two different examples. NODE.London is a collaborative artist-led initiative which produced a few 'seasons' of media art. It is not by Nina Pope and Karen Guthrie, though we write about their project TV Swansong and other of their online / network-based / artist-led projects elsewhere in the book. We'd love to hear from others about what they think of the book too, no doubt we've missed a lot out!