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More New Media Museum Curators are Needed Online

Curators of new media art are becoming more common as these art forms become more widely recognized by museums and art lovers.

New media art is created using the tools of modern mass communications. This could include digital art, video art, and web art. A new media curator is in charge of organizing exhibitions and acquiring new works for a museum's collection.

"New media art in its narrower definition is art that uses digital technologies as a medium. It is created and distributed by means of digital technologies and can take the form of software, an interactive installation, a mobile app, Internet art or virtual reality, among others," says new media curator Christiane Paul.

"Dealing with this type of art requires a good understanding of the technologies involved and of the ways in which the artworks can be most successfully translated into indoor and outdoor exhibition spaces."

Paul has curated many new media exhibitions around the world. She is also an educator, writer and speaker on the topic of new media arts.

"I tremendously enjoy art and the ways in which it visually or conceptually engages with culture, ideas and spaces," she says. "Art always tells a history of its time and, at best, makes you see the world in a new way."

Paul says the role of a curator is a lot like the role of a movie director when he or she turns a script into a finished film.

"One of the aspects I enjoy most about curating is to see an exhibition that you conceived in your mind and on paper becoming 'real' in space and take physical and visual form," says Paul. "I think it's a similar process to turning a screenplay into a movie."

Paul says curating is a highly collaborative process. Curators have to negotiate between their respective arts institution and its departments -- such as education, communications and publications -- and the artists and audience.

"Personal qualities that serve you well in that context are having very good communication and writing skills, as well as being a team player and able to listen and respond to people's different opinions and needs," says Paul.

Maiko Tanaka is a curator of public programs at InterAccess. InterAccess describes itself as "a public gallery, teaching facility, and production studio dedicated to the creative use of technology, electronic art and new media culture."

"I love the idea of creating a situation," says Tanaka. "It's kind of like putting together a really different kind of event... Imagine putting together someone's birthday party, but in a really different way. But I imagine that in terms of thinking about engagement with art -- different kinds of encounters with art that are not just in a gallery space."

Tanaka was drawn to new media curating because of the creativity it allowed.

"Being new media and new technology and [since it was] constantly changing, there was a bit more possibility and less baggage about how they should be presented," she says.

Tanya Toft is a curator, writer and researcher. The urban environment played a big role in inspiring her to become a curator, and continues to influence her work.

"Curating was a way I could work with this material that I saw as a new thing happening in cities, especially with new media artists transforming and shaping urban environments in new, interesting ways, and providing spaces where citizens could reimagine the city or ask critical questions about the city which those spaces might not have been provided before," says Toft.

"Also, what attracted me was that I'm not so interested in curating for the 'white cube,' for the gallery or the exhibition space, because what drives me to this field is how questions can be posed in the context where they are actually working or relevant, which to me is very often the urban context," Toft adds.

Toft has curated new media exhibitions in Europe, North America and South America. She says new media curating is an exciting area in which to work.

"I think, for me, the reason curating is exciting, especially with new media, is that it is in such a state of infancy right now," says Toft. "It's taken so many directions and it's a very interdisciplinary field."

The newness of the field means that new media curators are forging fresh paths.

"It's very fluid, and a lot of time people don't know what they're doing, and also I don't know what I'm doing," says Toft. "We are all experimenting and trying to set up these parameters for what makes sense and what doesn't, and that's what really attracts me to it.

"It's not about learning what the curatorial schoolbook already prescribes, but really trying to write those chapters yourself through experience, through constantly reconsidering what you're doing," Toft adds.


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