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A lecture by Dr. Judith Rodenbeck and Trebor Scholz


"I know new media art when I see it."
The Art of Participation: Collaborative Mapping

Monday, May 16, 6:30pm
The Thing at Postmasters
459 West 19th Street
New York, NY 10011

A lecture by Dr. Judith Rodenbeck and Trebor Scholz

Museum curators often frame new media art in modernist terms that attempt to provide easy and familiar rules for institutional inclusion or exclusion. Yet while many emerging participatory mapping projects can be experienced at art festivals such as Transmediale, ISEA, and Ars Electronica, when it comes to more traditional art institutions their validity as art is often questioned. Emerging art needs new venues and old venues need a new definition of art.

This event takes two approaches to the problem. One is to probe the aesthetic criteria on which institutions base their decisions about constantly shifting shape of new media art projects; the other is to explore a partial genealogy for collaborative mapping projects. Since the 1960s the notion of simple physical participation has increasingly been supplemented by more media-based and technologically mediated interactivity. An art historical line from Marcel Duchamp's nominalist interventions into the spaces of display idea to the participatory projects of the 1960s, routed through the open forms advocated by John Cage and Umberto Eco, can be traced in the background of collaborative mapping projects.

The open access flow of information in participatory mapping projects constitutes an aesthetics that has the potential to reverse engineer the original military purposes of networked technologies. Locative techno-creative projects contrast the hierarchical organization of the military command-control-communication model and the commercial hard sell with online models of urban sites annotated and updated collectively by a multiplicity of the people who actually inhabit them. This gesture is similar to that behind the creation of the virtual city De Digitale Stad in Amsterdam in the 90s and other collaborative networked authoring projects.

Judith Rodenbeck is an art historian whose work concentrates on intermedia and time-based practices of the 1960s. She is currently chair of the Division of Visual Culture at Sarah Lawrence College.

Trebor Scholz is a media artist whose current practice includes the organization of conferences, publications, online forums, and mailing lists and research networks as well writing about collaborative new media art, mapping and education. He is assistant professor and researcher at the Department of Media Study (SUNY at Buffalo), and founder of the Institute for Distributed Creativity. A book "The Art of Online Collaboration" is forthcoming with Autonomedia (eds. Lovink/Scholz).