2015 Arts Writing Awards Winners Discuss Criticism in Digital Art

Lectures & Symposia

Digital & Electronic Art

NEW YORK CITY – On the evening of December 15, 2015, Jon Ippolito and Joanne McNeil, the inaugural awardees of the Thoma Foundation Arts Writing Awards in Digital Art, joined Christiane Paul in a conversation on the critical role of arts criticism about digital art and technology at the School of Visual Arts (SVA). “Better Words About Bits” explored the stakes of arts criticism for digital art and the place of digital art in the mainstream art historical canon. Ippolito and McNeil also shared strategies for writing about digital art and fielded diverse questions from a full audience of arts writers, curators, artists, and SVA students.

Mark Tribe, Chair of the MFA Fine Arts Department at the School of Visual Arts and Founder of Rhizome, introduced the discussion and noted that the event was both a reunion of early advocates of digital art and pointed towards the future of the field. McNeil and Ippolito offered introductory remarks about why arts writers should offer criticism about digital art and how best to do so. The conversation then turned to the fluid position of digital art within the mainstream art world and how this position has affected the place of digital art within the art historical canon. A series of questions from the audience concluded the event.

The Thoma Foundation will announce the winners of the second year of its Arts Writing Awards in Digital Art in April 2016. The awards provide $30,000 for an established arts writer in the U.S. who has made a significant contribution to writing about digital art and $15,000 for an emerging arts writer in the U.S. who demonstrates great promise in writing about digital art. The awards are no-strings-attached, merit-based awards that reward sustained and innovative writing in the field of digital art.

Christiane Paul in Conversation with Jon Ippolito and Joanne McNeil, co-hosted by the Thoma Foundation from SVA MFA Fine Arts on Vimeo.
Table of Contents:

0:05 // Introduction by Mark Tribe
4:25 // Introductory remarks by Christian Paul
12:20 // Joanne McNeil: Why write about digital art?
15:17 // Jon Ippolito: How to Write About [Digital] Art
28:53 // What is at stake with digital art’s position in the mainstream art world? How can writers navigate this landscape?
33:07 // How does the fluid position of digital art within the mainstream art world affect our discourse about art and the art historical canon?
38:00 // Is there enough critical discourse in art history about digital art to ensure that digital art becomes part of the canon?
42:05 // Has there been change in art criticism between the 1990s and the social media age?
46:23 // Where should digital arts criticism go from here?
54:48 // Audience Q&A
59:33 // What role do institutions play in the place of digital art within the mainstream art world?
1:05:47 // What are the conventions of exhibition and viewing digital art?
1:10:34 // Why is new media art a particularly problematic field for art criticism?
1:15:21 // Why should I care about digital arts criticism?