The Banff CentreThe Walter Phillips Gallery at The Banff Centre

Sara Diamond
Code Zebra
(detail) 2000-present

Catherine Richards
Shroud/Chrysalis II, 2005

Catherine Richards
performance documentation Shroud/Chrysalis I, 2000
Collection of the Ottawa Art Gallery

Michael Naimark
See Banff!,
interactive stereoscopic kinetoscope Collection of the Museum of the Moving Image, Astoria, NY

Shu Lea Cheang
Brandon, 1998-1999
Commissioned by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and produced in association with the Waag Society for Old and New Media, The Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue at Harvard University, and The Banff Centre, with additional funding from The Bohen Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the Mondriaan Foundation, 1998-99.

The Art Formerly Known As New Media

Curators: Sarah Cook and Steve Dietz

September 17 to October 23, 2005
Opening Reception
September 17, 2 - 4 p.m.

The Art Formerly Known As New Media is curated by Sarah Cook and Steve Dietz on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the acclaimed Banff New Media Institute (BNMI). It comprises 11 contemporary art projects made by 14 of the hundreds of artists who have participated in BNMI’s symposia, co-productions, and labs, yet the exhibition is not an historical retrospective of work commissioned, produced, or previously presented at Banff. Instead, the selection of projects reflects how traditional forms of new media art have been explored through BNMI's programming in terms of the enduring questions of economics, politics, social relations, public space, memory, leisure, and contemporary art.

In its short history, and with each new technological development, new media art – interactive installations, dynamic interfaces, software, responsive performances, immersive spaces, and the Internet – has survived continual categorization and re-categorization. All of the works in The Art Formerly Known As New Media challenge and exceed the terminology by which they have, at least initially, been theorized and categorized. If every technology is, at least for a while, new, works such as Michael Naimark’s zoetrope See Banff! and Garnet Hertz’s Experiments in Galvanism suggest that newness is not a critical criterion for an engaging experience. If every technology is, at least potentially, a medium rather than just a tool, works such as Maciej Wisniewski’s installation of the historical development of the World Wide Web, 3 Seconds in the Memory of the Internet or Francesca da Rimini’s provocative narrative-driven website Dollspace, are much more than the technological media by which they are delivered.

This is not to discount the specificities of new media practice, however. In the last decade we have moved from a predominately scopic to an overwhelmingly data-based culture, in which we are interactors not just voyeurs. Nevertheless the important questions of art revolve around meaning not means and especially, what it means to be human. As we face the prospect of carrying in our wallets biometrically-unique forms of identification, the question arises – what defines us as bodies, what is bodily experience? Catherine Richards’ Shroud/Chrysalis  II – a copper blanket that when wrapped around a person, insulates her from electromagnetic radiation – is a tangible reminder of the physical self. Greg Neimeyer’s (with Dan Perkel and Ryan Shaw) Organum Playtest 3.0 – a game where players collaborate through singing aloud to navigate through the images, or Walczak/Wattenberg’s Thinking Machine 4 – a visualization of the “thought process” of a computer chess game – each make evident the human idiosyncrasies or seemingly artificial intelligence of computerized systems.

Every work in The Art Formerly Known As New Media refreshes the debate around the place of art in the undeniably different and technological age we now inhabit and yet serve to remind us of the enduring questions of our time.

Shu Lea Cheang
Francesca da Rimini
Sara Diamond
Garnet Hertz
Michael Naimark
Greg Niemeyer, Dan Perkel, Ryan Shaw
r a d i o q u a l i a
Catherine Richards
Martin Wattenberg and Marek Walczak
Maciej Wisniewski


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