+DIGITAL OBJECTS: Laura McGough+
Laura McGough is the curator at Rockville Arts Place, a non-profit
independent arts center that serves the metropolitan Washington,
DC-area. She has written about media arts and new technology for U.S.,
Canadian, and Australian arts publications. McGough will present a
lecture on new media art entitled "Suture Self: Electronic Blood and
Guts in Cyberspace" at The Fine Arts Center at SUNY Buffalo on March 26.
She also teaches video production in The Comparative Literature
Department at The University of Maryland at College Park.
RHIZOME recently asked Laura McGough to contribute to DIGITAL OBJECTS, a
feature series that looks at the place of new media art in the gallery.
Interviews with gallerists and curators offer critical appraisals of new
media art by arts presenters on an international level.
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RHIZOME: How would you define "new media art?"
Laura McGough: I tend to define new media art in rather broad terms. I
would include CD-ROM, Web art and other hypermedia projects in this
definition, as well as CU-SeeMe performances and robotic work (which is
often computer driven or relies on media technologies). I would also
include work that has a life "beyond the screen" in my definition, such
as portable media projects like Alien Staff or Marko Peljhan's UCOG-144
which incorporate a host of new media technologies.
R: Is there space in traditional galleries for new media work?
LM: Of course there is space, the question is how to access it
effectively -- a lone computer in the corner of a gallery just won't cut
Galleries need to invest in equipment (from computers to video
projectors) to effectively present new media work, and given the current
funding backlash in the States, I think that traditional galleries here
-- or more specifically, non-profit art centers and small museums --
will be slow to incorporate new media projects as an integral part of
their exhibitions programs.
That isn't to say, however, that there aren't other ways for traditional
galleries to engage new technology. For example, more and more spaces
seem to be moving towards virtual exhibitions, or at least presenting a
portion of an exhibition on the Web.
R: Who is making the work that is being considered "new media"?
LM: New media work is being produced by a diverse and unrelated group of
artists --from videomakers and performers to writers and painters. It is
the wide range of artists attracted to experimenting with new
technologies that make watching the medium grow and develop so exciting
R: What is the value of new media art projects to the arts community?
LM: One value is the potential to really shake-up old ways of producing
and distributing art. The ability to self-publish on the Web and by-pass
traditional means of distribution; the possibility of a single project
being developed and distributed as a Web site AND a CD-ROM AND an
installation; and so on. It will be interesting to see where this all
leads and whether or not new media production/distribution will become
R: What if anything interest you about new media art and the experiences
LM: I've seen a lot of new media projects that are highly performative
-- artists taking on characters, spinning narratives around fictitious
corporations, creating performing machines. There is a certain
playfulness to a lot of this work that I'm drawn to.
R: What challenges or issues need to be addressed when presenting new
media projects in traditional art spaces?
LM: Its important to me as a curator not to ghettoize new media work in
special exhibitions. Yet, I'm still not entirely sure how I can
integrate new media projects into my regular exhibition schedule.
Equipment is only one obstacle. I'm also struggling with audiences that
aren't technologically literate; how do I "educate" them within the
space of an exhibition?
R: Is your space presenting or planning to present any new media
LM: Yes! In October 1997, Rockville Arts Place will present Rituals for
Future Bodies an exhibition that will bring together new and
"traditional" art forms. I also hope to integrate some new media
projects (Web, CD-ROM) into our regular exhibition schedule as soon as
Laura McGough can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org