Summer School: Curatorial Masterclass

Partner Organizations:

Date: Five sessions | Tuesdays + Thursdays, 3–5PM | July 7 – July 21
Location: Eyebeam, 540 W. 21st St., NYC
Cost: Advance: $10/session | At door: $15/session

An initiative of Eyebeam’s Summer School program, the Curatorial Masterclass was led by Eyebeam research partner Sarah Cook from CRUMB, the online resource for curators working with media art. The series provided an opportunity for emerging and established curators of art to get together within a focused period of time to learn from each other’s practice, and to develop a greater understanding of curating, open source methods, and working in the public domain.

The first hour of each day was structured as a formal conversation modeled on CRUMB’s tea-time chats, and featured established curators and artists. The second hour was a rigorous participant driven discussion that built upon the first hours of themes and insights. Following each presentation and workshop, participants had the opportunity to stick around for beer o’clock and conversation with presenters and fellow masterclass participants, as well as participants from other Eyebeam Summer School programs.

Eyebeam’s Summer School also offered Summer School @ Night a series of related public events, on Thursday evenings during the month of July 2009. Please click here for details and speakers

• Download the complete schedule, list of guest bios, and key references here.


Day 1: Tues., July 7, 3–5PM | 
What open source is and what it means for art
How do practices prevalent in the open source community match up against curatorial paradigms in the visual arts? What is the difference between curatorial openness, working in the public domain or releasing work under a public license? How can we learn about curating and commissioning via platforms which engage audiences or encourage participation? Defining useful metaphors and discarding hyperbolic buzzwords was encouraged.
Guests: Curator, Scott Burnham (Creative Director, Montreal Biennial 2009); Dominic Smith (co-founder, Polytechnic, UK).
Eyebeam respondantFred Benenson (Research Associate, Eyebeam; Product Manager, Creative Commons).

Day 2: Thur., July 9, 3–5PM |
Publication and Documentation
As part of Fair Use Day, we considered some of the practical and legal issues concerning reproduction, particularly as it applies to issues of curating participatory and time-based art forms or art which takes place in the public domain. Can publishing be a documentation strategy for creating and curating ephemeral work, or work that is based on conversations or actions? What happens when the art and its documentation are the same thing, as in the case of maps? Release strategies used by curators working with emergent new media forms was rigorously compared.
GuestsLize Mogel (Artist/Curator).
Eyebeam respondantRebecca Cittadini (Communications and Marketing Manager, Eyebeam).

Day 3: Tues., July 14, 3–5PM | 
Networking and Collaboration
New media tools seem to make remote working and networking easier, but do they facilitate curating? How is the time-frame of collaboration­—between artists and curators or producers, or between the art and its audience—different when adopting open source methodologies (such as iterative or modular methods, sometimes called bootstrapping)? Discussions of the different shapes of collaboration and the tried and tested “rules” of good collaboration were ascertained.
GuestsAmanda McDonald Crowley (Executive Director, Eyebeam) ; Patrick Lichty (Curator, Artist).
Eyebeam respondentJon Cohrs (Resident, Eyebeam).

Day 4: Thur., July 16, 3–5PM 
Curating in the public domain
Curating is often a private activity with a very public outcome, but recent hype about the term in relation to “filtering” online content (from videos and photos to tweets and urls) have made “curating” something people now think of as a very public process. What can we learn from public art models of curatorial practice? How do we cater for passerby audiences? What are the lessons to be learned from open submission projects online and offline? The ideal conditions for creating a platform for participation were dreamt up.
GuestSteve Dietz (Curator).
Eyebeam respondent: Amanda McDonald Crowely (Eyebeam, Exectutive Director), Taeyoon Choi (Eyebeam Alumni Resident Artist)

Day 5: Tues., July 21, 3–5PM | 
Evaluation and Audience Engagement
The last session of the curatorial masterclass series asked, who is participating in open curatorial projects? Why? How do we know what they’re getting out of it? What can be learned from the revisions/lifelines used in open source software generation and how can that way of thinking be applied to consideration of the “lifeline” of a curatorial project? What are other evaluation strategies that can be applied to curating, such as comment boxes or feedback forms? Obvious and proposed benchmarks of success were interrogated.
Guests: Anne Barlow (Executive Director,  Art in General); Hans Bernhard (Artist,
Eyebeam respondentStephen Duncombe (Research Associate, Eyebeam)


CRUMB: Building on research into curating new media art since 1993 at the University of Sunderland, CRUMB was founded by Beryl Graham and Sarah Cook in 2000. CRUMB’s activities cover a range of practices, but are predominantly based around research, networking, and professional development for curators of new media art.

CRUMB logo