Five Years of CONT3XT.NET

Content | Form | Im-material—Five Years of CONT3XT.NET

“[…] Interpretation is an inherent mode of curatorial practice, and CONT3XT.NET must decide, generally in collaboration with the artists but not entirely, how to manifest the form and content of the network recension of any works exhibited. There is not necessarily a correct answer in this process—although there may be wrong ones—but there is a kind of feedback loop between CONT3XT.NET’s interpretive mode and the content of an exhibition, which is both an instantiation of and a theory about their curatorial practice as translation. […]”–Steve Dietz, Introduction

Book launch: Content | Form | Im-material—Five Years of CONT3XT.NET

CONT3XT.NET is a Vienna-based initiative founded in January 2006 by Sabine Hochrieser, Michael Kargl, Birgit Rinagl and Franz Thalmair. Programmatically, this group of artists, curators and authors—their different roles and functions sometimes regarded strictly, sometimes as a fluid continuum—work at the basis of contemporary visual, textual and networked practices. Starting from the idea of the context as the most indecisive and variable but relevant constraint of any situation, the collective reflects upon the spatial, temporal, discursive as well as the institutional framework that conceptual artistic practices (on the Internet and elsewhere) are rooted in today.


Maria Anwander, Anna Artaker, Ruben Aubrecht, Miriam Bajtala, Ryan Barone, Mary-Anne Breeze—aka netwurker, Charles Broskoski, Codemanipulator®, Arend deGryuter-Helfer and Aylor Brown, Gerhard Dirmoser, Aleksandra Domanovic, Reynald Drouhin, Nikolaus Gansterer, Christina Goestl, Jochen Höller, Karl Heinz Jeron and Valie Djordjevic, Michael Kargl, Annja Krautgasser, Miriam Laussegger and Eva Beierheimer, Jan Robert Leegte, Ralo Mayer, Michail Michailov, MTAA—M. River & T. Whid Art Associates, Barbara Musil and Karo Szmit, Jörg Piringer, Lisa Rastl, Arnold Reinthaler, Veronika Schubert, Johanna Tinzl and Stefan Flunger, UBERMORGEN.COM, Martin Wattenberg and Marek Walczak


Josephine Bosma, Mary-Anne Breeze—aka netwurker, Sarah Cook, Steve Dietz, Thomas Dreher, Constant Dullaart, Mark E. Grimm, Jeremy Hight, Sabine Hochrieser, Michael Kargl, Jan Robert Leegte, Mia Makela, Peter Mörtenböck and Helge Mooshammer, Stefan Nowotny, Les Liens Invisibles, Birgit Rinagl, Franz Thalmair, Pall Thayer, Marius Watz

Rethinking the Exhibition & Curating Communities

Amanda McDonald Crowley and Steve Dietz in conversation with Shane Mecklenberger


via Artworld Salon

Sabrina Raaf, A Light Green Light


March 5, 2010

Media Contact: Doug Ramsey, 858-822-5825,
Gallery Coordinator: Trish Stone, 858-336-6456,

Sustainability and Art on Display at UC San Diego’s gallery@calit2

The University of California, San Diego has built a reputation for being one of the “greenest” campuses in the nation, and that reputation extends to an art gallery in the university’s California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2), which is staging a new sustainability-themed art exhibition.

The gallery@calit2 goes green this spring with an exhibition by Chicago-based artist Sabrina Raaf, whose custom-built robotic sculptures and site specific installations include a series of experiments that address issues of sustainable practice, the construction of social spaces, and prototyping for modular green architecture. Curated by Steve Dietz, “A Light Green Light: Toward Sustainability in Practice” opens Friday, April 2, 2010, with a 6 p.m. panel discussion moderated by UC San Diego visual arts professor Jordan Crandall, followed by a reception.

Dietz has selected five of Raaf’s electronic and responsive artworks to be included in this exhibition: Translator II: Grower, Icelandic Rift, Light Green Light, (n)Fold, and Meandering River.

Sabrina Raaf, Translator II Grower

Sabrina Raaf, Translator II Grower

Translator II Grower, a robotic sculpture, measures carbon dioxide levels inside the gallery as they are generated by visitors, and actively draws the measurements in green ink as a field of grass on the gallery walls. Examples of these ink drawings will be on display on the first floor of Atkinson Hall.

Sabrina Raaf, Icelandic Rift

Sabrina Raaf, Icelandic Rift

The Icelandic Rift sculptures are electronically-powered works that include mechanical systems, representing far-future visions of agricultural production and mineral mining in zero-g environments.

Prototypes and concept animations for Light Green Light, a lamp that unfolds into a netted tent for sleeping, and (n)Fold, a flat-fold design for dew harvesting and passive solar cooking, are also on view in the gallery.

Sabrina Raaf, Meandering River

Sabrina Raaf, Meandering River

Meandering River is a sculptural installation made up of thermal screen material that has had its surface milled robotically with meandering river designs. Its installation form is derived from self-organizing and meandering river mathematics. This thermal screen installation is also designed to cascade vertically in order to create a climbing surface for vines and thus support the growth of a vertical garden. A cascading instance of the Meandering River sculpture is hung in the six-story window of the Atkinson Hall stairwell, and a second, river-type instance will be viewed in the hall area on the first floor.

Raaf works in experimental sculptural media and designs responsive environments and social spaces. Her work has been presented in solo and group exhibitions at the Brandts Art Center (Denmark), Transitio_MX (Mexico City), Sala Parpallo (Spain), MejanLabs (Stockholm), Lawimore Projects (Seattle), the Edith-Russ-Site for Media Art (Germany), Stefan Stux Gallery (NYC), Ars Electronica (Linz), Museum Tinguely (Basel), Espace Landowski (Paris), Artbots 2005 (Dublin), Kunsthaus Graz (Austria), ISEA (Helsinki), the San Jose Museum of Art, and Klein Art Works (Chicago). The artist is the recipient of a Creative Capital Grant in Emerging Fields (2002) and an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship (2005 &2001). Reviews of her work have appeared in Art in America, Contemporary, Chicago Tribune Sunday Magazine, Leonardo, Washington Post, and New Art Examiner. She received an MFA in Art and Technology from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (1999) and is currently an Associate Professor in the School of Art and Design at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Steve Dietz is Founder, President, and Artistic Director of Northern He was the Founding Director of the 01SJ Biennial in 2006 and is currently Artistic Director of its producing organization, ZERO1: the Art and Technology Network. He is the former Curator of New Media at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he founded the New Media Initiatives department in 1996.

“A Light Green Light: Toward Sustainability in Practice”
by Sabrina Raaf
Curated by Steve Dietz
Friday, April 2, 2010 – Friday, June 4, 2010

Friday, April 2, 6 p.m. in Calit2 Theater, Atkinson Hall, UCSD
Panel Discussion with Sabrina Raaf and Steve Dietz
Moderated by Jordan Crandall, Associate Professor, Visual Arts, UCSD
Welcome by Ramesh Rao, Director, UCSD Division, Calit2

Friday, April 2, 7 p.m. in gallery@calit2, Atkinson Hall, UCSD
Opening Reception

Events are FREE and open to the public.
RSVP requested to Trish Stone, Gallery Coordinator, at

Rethinking Curating

Beryl Graham and Sarah Cook, Rethinking Curating: Art After New Media

Colleagues and friends Sarah Cook and Beryl Graham have just published Rethinking Curating: Art After New Media. I had the privilege of writing the Foreword for the book, and this is, in part, how I discuss their thesis.

“Graham and Cook strategically define so-called new media as a set of behaviors, not as a medium. Once you go down this road, it becomes readily apparent that a similar strategy is equally useful for much of contemporary art. At one time, the new media of photography both changed the aesthetic understanding of painting and participated in the creation of a cultural understanding of (fixed) time and representation. At another time, the new media of video changed the aesthetic understanding of film while participating with television in the creation of a cultural understanding of (real) time and distance. The art most recently known as “new media” changes our understanding of the behaviors of contemporary art precisely because of its participation in the creation of a cultural understanding of computational interactivity and networked participation. In other words, art is different after new media because of new media–not because new media is “next,” but because its behaviors are the behaviors of our technological times.”

It is perhaps wishful thinking that this book will end the eternal recurrence of the same set of questions about what is new media, but it is a huge step forward.

“In Rethinking Curating, the sheer depth and breadth of intelligent reflection among a dedicated, global group of loosely aligned peers belie every summative, simplistic question or statement one has heard or made. “How much does it cost?” “What’s new about it?” “Why is it art?” “What’s next?” “It’s about process.” “It’s computational.” “It crosses boundaries.” “It’s new.” These questions and statements are not “bad,” but in this book Beryl and Sarah give them the context they deserve–the context necessary to move on to the real-world questions and issues of working with dynamic and emerging contemporary art.”

Buy it. Read it. Enjoy it. Ask some new and different questions.

In a related vein, see also my essays Art After New Media and  “Just Art”: Contemporary Art After the Art Formerly Known As New Media and the exhibition Sarah and I co-curated, The Art Formerly Known As New Media.

Now available!

Rethinking Curating - Art After New Media.

Rethinking Curating

Art after New Media
Beryl Graham and Sarah Cook
Foreword by Steve Dietz

Rethinking Curating: Art after New Media . . .clearly articulates an often obfuscating set of issues, including the internecine debates that too easily divide what Lev Manovich refers to as Turing- land (so- called new media art) and Duchampland (so- called contemporary art). Beryl Graham and Sarah Cook rigorously differentiate and compellingly reintegrate the competing claims of these two camps so that we can focus on what really matters: the art.”

From the Foreword, available for download here.

See also The Art Formerly Known As New Media, which Sarah and I co-curated at the Walter Phillips Gallery in Banff.