The New Media Art Network on Authenticity and Performativity

Lead Research Organisation: Tate
Department Name: Digital Programmes



New Media Art describes certain kinds of art practise that exploits the potential of various digital media technologies. What we might consider to be contemporary 'Intermedia Art' moves amongst and between these media technologies and other performative forms and, in so doing, raises key questions about creative, institutional and audience engagement with the visual. These topics, and notions of performativity and authenticity, will be explored by this Network. The elements that may be found in New Media Art might include durational and time-based works, art which is screen-based, sometimes with a strong narrative and sometimes philosophically conceptual. Notions of authorship and authenticity have for so long been central to most western theories of art and the challenge comes in understanding which categories should be applied to a work of digital art when the format of the original is unclear, where it is technically impossible to distinguish between the original and subsequent versions and when it is impossible to confirm how many versions or editions exist? Given these mystifying circumstances and ambiguities, how might 'performativity' be understood in relation to such art? If we cannot be sure what we are engaging with, how can we relate to or comprehend the position of the author responsible?

The Network will exploit Tate's unrivalled position in relation to the acquisition, technical management and understanding of Art,, establishing an interdisciplinary forum to set out what will be the key research questions in the subject area of New Media Art. Museums displaying contemporary art are increasing challenged by the rapid pace of change and technical innovation associated with New Media Art / the kinds of spaces that will be needed, the kinds of technical infra-structure and the kinds of interpretation that will best suit its audiences?

A form of art that eludes familiar and accepted categories demands the attention of scholars from an equally wide range of disciplines, hence the decision to constitute the Network as an interdisciplinary body and use the significant potential of Tate On-line to disseminate the findings to wider audiences. The core participants of the Network will include artist-practitioners, scholars in various disciplinary fields, both established and at postgraduate levels, as well as curators.

The Network will convene at Tate Modern on five occasions over a two-year period. Each meeting will have a theme and for each meeting a small working group will be charged with the production and dissemination of interim findings towards the publication of a final Summary Report. The programme will open with a meeting about performativity and intermedia in relation to the historical and critical positioning of New Media Art and at Meeting Two, the topic will be authenticity and the challenge that ambiguity with regard to authorship, originality and value represents to gallery and art museum acquisition policies. At Meetings Three and Four , the Network will consider the key material and practical museological questions of architectural space and technical infrastructure as well as the potential of non-physical digital 'platforms' before turning finally at Meeting Five to the business of commissioning and displaying New Media Art.

Following the final meeting, the Principal Investigator will oversee the final editing of each Research Report arising from the five meetings of the Network to produce an invaluable set of working and position papers in a field that will have immediate application to ongoing research projects and disseminated via Tate On-Line.


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