Collaborative Curatorial Culmination
by Renee Schacht
Working with new media curators from around the world, the New York Digital Salon seeks to develop an unbiased, universal world position regarding the history of new media art. Much like Paul Gauguin in his attempt to capture the past, present, and future of the meaning of life in his painting Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going? (1897), the New York Digital Salon creates a similar montage of the past, present, and future of new media art. Looking back on its history and the media which it supports, it is truly a contemplative time for the Salon.
We have gathered together an extraordinary team of curators who have selected artwork and projects that represent new media. The New York Digital Salon is honored to work with these talented individuals, who have made history in the field of new media. In researching the curator's selections on the Internet for the exhibition catalog, I came across an essay Benjamin Weil wrote for the Walker Art Center about his former project, äda'web. "Curating has necessarily been a matter of adapting to the nature of the art praxis it has had to work with" . Weil reflects upon the changing curatorial conditions that have occurred and continue to occur regarding new media, specifically in moving closer to the artists who work independently from institutions. This position has come full-circle now that institutions have warmed up to new media and demonstrated an active interest in exhibiting and collecting this art form. With the help of thought-provoking and sophisticated new media art, curators have made great strides in their continuing role to further explore and educate the public about new media.
In a conversation with Carolee Thea in November 2000, Yuko Hasegawa, Chief Curator of the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa, Japan, spoke of a collective consciousness and new aspects of collectivity. According to Hasegawa, collective consciousness means "each person thinking independently about new ideas and then coming together" . The curators gathered for the Tenth Anniversary New York Digital Salon bring to the table their independent expertise on new media art, sharing their ideas and cultivating a neural network of connections and relationships .
The mother brain, central-computer concept envisioned by those creating artificial intelligence has been replaced by a new set of ideas. We no longer seek out that central control center. This concept of networks now defines the system. We are part of the system and are agents within the network of relationships and collectivity. Apart from the larger network of life, the curators of Vectors make a subnetwork of ideas on "consciousness, intelligence, and eco-existence"  that focus on new media art. The intention of this artificially created network-the gathering of curators-is to present their independent thinking and ideas in an interactive environment in order to educate and inspire students, artists, professionals, and the general public about new media art. We hope that this network will cultivate interaction, dialogue, and debates.
At this point in the project the curators have not yet begun to truly curate the exhibition. To actually curate would involve working with the various media of the artwork and the exhibition environment as well as developing ways in which the works of art would be exhibited and their presentation to the public. With curating comes the interaction within the curatorial network. This network has created a body of new media artworks which recognize the artists who continue to challenge and advance the intersection of art and technology. Within this network, points of intersection and convergence have emerged. The curators independently selected ten new media artworks, and of these ten works an indirect consensus occurred-many artworks were selected by more than one curator. Nam June Paik, John Cage, JODI, I/O/D, Vuk Cosic, and 01.org, along with others, built a foundation towards a specific and identifiable history of new media. There is a common denominator among these artists and the works they produce, as noted by Gregor Muir . All of them chose to subvert conventions by utilizing their media against its inherent nature. This subversion challenges the audience by pushing the boundaries of art and technology and has produced several new media artworks deserving of recognition and congratulations.
Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going? The answers to these questions are not simple or easy to find. Yet the continuous search, and more importantly, the process of searching, has allowed the New York Digital Salon the opportunity to celebrate its Tenth Anniversary.
1. Benjamin Weil, UNTITLED (ÄDA'WEB), http://www.walkerart.org/gallery9/dasc/adaweb/ weil.html, July 19, 2002.
2. Carolee Thea, Foci: Interviews with 10 International Curators. New York: Distributed Art Publishers. 2001, p. 43.
3. Ibid.  p. 43. Yuko Hasegawa uses neural network and mother-brain computer analogies to explain her concepts of collective consciousness and collaborations.
4. Ibid.  p. 43.
5. Gregor Muir reflects upon the "common denominator" in his essay for the Tenth Anniversary New York Digital Salon, published in Leonardo.