This year’s edition of the Glitch Festival, an Eldorado of digital and new media art, digs deep into artists encounters into digital technology. Titled Run, Computer Run, the program, diverse as the online landscape itself, explores social, economic, cultural and political issues effecting life online today, through exhibitions, music workshops, shorts, projection mapping, installations and symposiums in Tallaght’s RUA RED gallery from the 25th May until the 13th July. Here, its curator Nora O’Murchú and two choice visiting artists give us a gentle initiation.
Give us a little backstory on GLITCH, and how you went about putting together the program.
I’ve been working on the concept for Run Computer, Run for nearly 2 years. I put together the programming, lined up the artists and then in 2012 I started to approach various venues around Dublin to host the shows. I met Carolyn Jones through a friend – Benjamin Gaulon – who knew her from the first edition of GLITCH, which he featured in. When I met Carolyn, she was acting director of Rua Red at the time. I showed her the proposal, she loved it, and asked me to curate GLITCH. In January of this year I started my post doc at CRUMB – a curatorial research center at the University of Sunderland – where I have been researching and developing the concept for the shows further for the past few months.
There’s a marked internationality to digital art, would it be correct to say that digital artists have replaced regional or national identities with the shared experience of life online and of the various communities and sects within it?
I don’t think so. Certainly there are a lot of artists exploring similar themes, and playing with an Internet aesthetic online. However, I don’t think that these artists themselves would disassociate their geographical identity in favor of an online one. For example, if you look at the work of Evan Roth – who is from NYC, grew up in Brooklyn, surrounded by graffiti. All of these elements are reflected into his work. For me, the Internet is more of an augmentation to a new media artist’s practice. It allows them to exhibit their work in various formats (video, gif, jpeg, etc) and over multiple platforms (websites, mobile phones, tablets, etc).
What influence has digital art had in the physical realm, in your view?
I could create a long list here. Legislation like SOPA and CISPA have evolved to prevent file sharing, and infringements of copyright.
Most of western society knows what a meme is, and can understand leetspeak. There has been a huge amount of innovation online that has facilitated the development of new tools. 3D printing for example has the possibility to revolutionise the way we distribute physical goods. The virtual and the physical are connected and are mutually influencing one another.
What are the challenges of representing art that is often intangible in a physical space, and how do you think that physical space influences the viewer’s relationship with the work?
This is something I’m actually exploring in Run Computer, Run. That are all sorts of technical limitations to showing immaterial work. Most of the time these types of artworks on show on screens or projected onto surfaces. Personally I think it can be a little boring to walk into an exhibition and be surrounded by computer screens (of course sometimes there is no other option). I’m always trying to challenge these “traditional” forms of presentation. I think by creating interesting frameworks within gallery spaces challenge the audience and creates new ways of looking at the work. With Run Computer, Run, one of the shows explores the relationship between economics and immaterial labor. In the show I am using AR codes to represent each artist. I did this deliberately to create a situation in the gallery so that the audience would have to engage in some immaterial work (downloading an app to their phone) in order to view the artwork on their phone. Online artwork is so accessible and sometimes the value is lost or under appreciated. So in this show I am trying to create a scenario where the audience becomes involved in the immaterial labor process and has to work a little to see the end result. There are so many types of formats and interfaces curators and artists can play with, and I’m experimenting with these in the show. I hope its a more engaging experience for the audience and gets them to come away with a new understanding or appreciation of technological work.
What, for you, were the formative works in the evolution of new media art?
So many heroes: Olia Lialina, JODI and GH Hovagimyan really set the groundwork for contemporary digital practice. They are still working as artists. Legends.