Tuesday, 17 May 2011

4/10 Why Mediate Art? - Twitter Text Network


Milan based Mousse magazine is running a series with the title 'Ten Fundamental Questions of Curating'. The editor of the series, Jens Hoffmann explains: "it emerged from a desire to trace the coordinates of contemporary curatorial practice, to take stock of a profession that is constantly evolving. Through the contributions of ten curators, the ten essays in the project examine ten fundamental themes in curating. The booklets are structured as hypothetical chapters in a book that once completed, through the reflections of some of the leading figures in the contemporary scene, will try to offer an answer to the question of “what it means to be a curator today”

I was invited by the London based artist Marysia Lewandowska to collaborate on her contribution to the fourth edition.

Mousse 4/10 Why Mediate Art?
Image taken from Mousse / Page one of '4/10 Why Mediate Art?'.

The fourth instalment of “Ten Fundamental Questions of Curating” looks for an answer to the question “Why Mediate Art?”. The editor Jens Hoffmann invited Maria Lind to contribute who in turn proposed to work with Marysia Lewandowska as an artist curator collaboration. In her text Maria Lind examines the seeming paradoxes that revolve around art institutions: an overabundance of traditional educational activities, aimed at engaging an ever broader public; marketing departments and press offices that take on a strategic role; curators who have no real interest in making their project known outside the professional sphere. The Swedish curator explains the importance of weaving connections between works, curatorial projects and the public, for a new kind of artistic “mediation”. Marysia Lewandowska proposal extends the meaning of mediation in our networked culture by connecting the ‘followers’ of major contemporary art museum and public galleries and Maria Lind’s text through twitter.

Mousse 4/10 Why Mediate Art?
Image taken from Mousse / Page one of '4/10 Why Mediate Art?'. Click Image for the interactive version.

This is the time when art is mediated to its audience not only through lectures, seminars, artists’ talks, guided tours and publications but when mediation intervenes as a pulsating stream of immediacy, mixing the promotional intentions of the institution with the visitors’ desires of sharing their observations and responses. The banal is closely entangled with the political, the randomness is attached to a system as announced by the ubiquitous banner: Twitter is a rich source of instantly updated information. It's easy to stay updated on an incredibly wide variety of topics. By utilising the social networking platforms such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter that emerged over the past few years, the communication between the art institutions and their audiences has grown into a real time stream of information snippets.

Interactive version created by urbanTick using the GMap Image Cutter / Twitter Education. Tweets collected using 140kit, to visualise the network Gephi was used. Click HERE for the full screen version.

What appears on the visuals are graphs mapping tweets sent by three major art institutions, Tate in London, MOMA in New York and Moderna Museet in Stockholm to communicate and mediate their activities as they are enmeshed together with Maria Lind’s text. The two text streams have been aggregated as a word chain, where each word is connected with a link to the following word in the sentence. Each word is represented only once as a node in the chain, but in many cases with multiple connections, edges, to the following words. The resulting visualisation is of a network based on the structure of the words in use. The two different sources are distinguished where red lines represent the links between the words in the tweets sent by the art institutions, while the black lines show the flow of the essay written by Maria Lind. The tweets cover the period between 2009-09-16,15:18 and 2010-11-29 16:03.

Mousse 4/10 Why Mediate Art?
Image taken from Mousse / Page one of '4/10 Why Mediate Art?'. Tweets collected using 140kit, to visualise the network Gephi was used. Click Image for the interactive version.

For artist Marysia Lewandowska the mapping of this flow expresses a desire and interest in distributive networks without restriction; it is the desire of being in touch and engaged, of organising one’s thoughts and sharing them instantly. The knowledge ecologies of a wider world intersect in unexpected ways and point to the role mediation plays in shaping our current social and political life.

Publication - Mousse, Editor - Jens Hoffmann, Text – Maria Lind, Art – Marysia Lewandowska, published 2011.

Ten Fundamental Questions of Curating, edited by Jens Hoffmann and published by Mousse in collaboration with the Fiorucci Art Trust, is distributed with the international edition of Mousse and with subscription copies.

Interactive version created by urbanTick using the GMap Image Cutter / Twitter Education. Tweets collected using 140kit, to visualise the network Gephi was used. Click HERE for the full screen version.

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