The art scene in general in DC is very diffuse. Unlike other cities in
which I've lived (Toronto, Buffalo, Pittsburgh) there aren't any strong,
lively arts organizations that act like glue to bring the community
together. There are a number of small regional art centers that exhibit
visual art (painting) in places like Mclean, Reston and Rockville, but
Washington Project for the Arts (WPA) is bascially defunct, so DC proper is
without an exhibition space for alternative/emerging art forms.
I would say that for media art, in specific, this area is even more dismal.
Aside from public access, there isn't an affordable editing suite in town
for artist use now that WPA has closed. Even worse, there has never been a
regular venue for screening video. Of course, that's not to say that folks
here aren't producing interesting or important work – they are – its just
difficult to see it.
So, with video as a somewhat more established media art practice so poorly
represented, what can I say about new media?? Well, there IS a lively scene
around the University of Maryland at Baltimore County (UMBC). One fellow
who just graduated – Keith Roberson – has done some really smart
videoconferencing performances. He really plays with the form of
videoconferencing, challenging the conventions and protocol that users of
this "new" media form have already (sadly) established. He has put his
written thesis and some documentation on the Web, in case you're
Of course, local exhibition of new media work is another ball of wax
altogether. I'v proposed an exhibition of CD-ROMs from US, Australian and
British artists to a local space. I'll let you know the response…the work
is great, but I'm not so sanguine about the reception.
I have been writing a lot about new technology lately – just finished an
article for Sculpture on robotic art by women artists (all of whom are
trained as video artists…hmmm) and for an Aussie journal called MESH on
performance art and robotics – but at the same time I'm organizing an
exhibition for a gallery in Buffalo that features some very traditional
photography as well as CD-ROM and hypertext projects. To me, "new media" –
which is a murky and crowded field at best – is another medium(s) for
artists to explore, exploit and appropriate. As an artist,things like
CD-ROMs, Adobe Acrobat documents, Web Pages, etc. excite me beacuse I've
always felt a bit limited by the linear aspects of video. However as
someone who makes moving images, I still see tremendous limitations to most
new media forms. For example, making QuickTime movies is a bit too
reminiscent of making Super8 films…
Anyway, due to the lack of editing access here in DC, I am turning my
newest video into an Internet project as we "speak". I say Internet because
I hope to use email as well as Web sites to engage an audience. Its a
challenge to rethink my project, but there is something about being able to
sit at my computer, in my apartment and produce work that is intimate and
very appealing to me.
So that's the report from DC!