Curating PROCESS: A research project on curatorial methodology in art, science and technology
Curating PROCESS is a project focusing on the process in the intersection of art, science and technology.
The term of process attributes here to two groups of people: artists and curators. From the artists, the process is what I want to show as artwork; for curators, it’s the path that we go through to make the show happen.
What I’m trying to show is the creative processes of a group of artists working with cutting edge technologies (data, social network, AR technology on mobile devices, etc.). The exhibition will take the form of a series of time based open studios. The participating artists are supposed to work at one same venue during a period of time, develop a part of their on-going projects on site. The exhibition is the art making process they will go through. Their daily artistic practice is entirely opened to the public, can be viewed by visitors. The visitors can interact with them at any time they come to see the show. There won’t be any finished work to be displayed in these open studios. What the visitors can see are the raw materials, samples, unedited videos or sound tracks, drawings, drafts, sketches, written notes, tools, apps, prototypes… everything that is helping the artists to work towards their finished works, except the finished works.
By setting up this project, I try to discuss the following topics:
1. Redefine the meaning of “finished work”
The collaboration between artists, technologists and scientists require much longer research duration and more complex process than conventional contemporary art projects. The process is full of uncertainty, at each step, some outcomes can be produced, and developed into finished works that we can show at museums, or sell in galleries. However, the evolution of these works is endless; the artists and their collaborators keep working on them after each showcase, reshaping them into new forms in order to adapt to constantly renewed exhibition environment and context. Does it make sense for us to keep talking about the “finished work” then? How to define the finished work in such a permanently on-going process? Should we consider the entire process THE finished work, since the conventionally understood “object” has lost its identity/value as “artwork” in such a context?
2. Redefine the meaning of “exhibition”
We used to understand exhibitions as portals or platforms to display objects, with or without a theme, within a specific space – very typically, the white or black cubes. Object being the main and sacred content of exhibitions, however lost its identity as artwork in the processes of artists working with science and technology. Renewable with its forms of presentation, replaceable with its colors and materials, object lost its substantiality in the endless experiments of artists, technologists and scientists. If the object is no more an object that we used to understand and to see, do the exhibition, time and space still exist? If they do exist, on what are they based? In a collaboration of artist/technologist/scientist, the process becomes the content to exhibit. The process is the exhibition itself but without the need to be contained by white or black walls.
3. Redefine the role, position and responsibilities of curators
There is no way for curators to follow step by step such a long and complex process. Here, we loose our role and position in traditional art world, the single person dominant power doesn’t function anymore. In such a process, artists and their collaborators take the proactive position, skip the curators in the showcase of their works, become the owners and the authors of exhibitions. How to keep the communication going on between curators and artists? What is the best way for curators to get constant updates from artists and their collaborators in these projects, in order to understand well their works? What can curators do in these projects? How to present the process as a finished work? In a different way to put it: is there a new model to curate process based art projects?
4. The interaction between artists and their engagement in our society
The open studio program as exhibition provides an opportunity for the participating artists to learn from each other different ways to create, also creates a chance for a broad public and the collectors to understand how art, science and technology merge with each other to become artworks. They will learn that art and technology are not as mysterious and complicated as they imagine. In the end, they could be just a series of drawings, casually doodled sketches, or some apps or tools developed by the artists themselves.
The project relates closely to my ongoing Ph.D. studies, through which I intend to investigate the different forms of collaboration that artists undertake with scientists and technologists, and analyse, in particular, the role of the curator in such a process.
As I research target artists, I keep track of my own work as a curator by recording through writing on a regular basis, in the form of a blog, the evolution of my thinking and practice. The research path that I am following is crucial – and possibly the only way – for leading me to an uncharted approach to curating art, science and technology.