Announcing Recipients of 2017 Arts Writing Awards in Digital Art

Grants & Awards

Digital & Electronic Art


The Carl & Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation announces the winners and the selection committee of its 2017 Arts Writing Awards in Digital Art.

THE RECIPIENTS OF THIS YEAR’S AWARD ARE:

  • RUDOLF FRIELING who will receive $40,000 in the established arts writer category ($30,000 unrestricted, merit-based award + $10,000 project grant)
  • ED HALTER who will receive $20,000 in the emerging arts writer category ($15,000 unrestricted, merit-based award + $5,000 project grant)

Since 2015, the Foundation has awarded $180,000 to writers focused on furthering scholarship in the field of digital art. The Arts Writing Awards are merit-based and recognize the innovative achievements of both an established and an emerging arts writer who have contributed significantly to the field of digital art. The awards are the first of their kind to target the importance of arts writing that directly advances the scholarship, criticism and theory of digital art and evolving technologies within contemporary art.

This year’s winners were selected from a pool of 30 nominations solicited from a dozen prominent curators, writers and educators across the United States and Europe.

Rudolf Frieling is Curator of Media Arts at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA). Important publications include Media Art Action (1997), Media Art Interaction (2000) and Media Art Net (2004/2005), all with Dieter Daniels. At SFMOMA he published The Art of Participation: 1950 to Now (2008) and most recently Bruce Conner: It’s All True (2016) with Gary Garrels.

Consistently over his career, Frieling has engaged writing and language in a variety of ways, including using it as a strategy to augment and inform his exhibition-making, which could be argued in and of itself is a form of “visual writing.” His practice bridges history and theory with cultural production, using the museum as a space to further explore these issues. The selection committee emphasized that Frieling’s writing addresses a broad audience, connecting digital art and contemporary art, an important need in the field. His Media Art Net project at ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe exemplifies his innovative way of thinking about publishing with respect to and in tandem with the strategies inherent to the field of media arts. His practice has always demonstrated the importance of creating new discourse in the field, from theorizing re-installation to convincing arguments about how artists are changing the way we approach digital tools and time based strategies of production.

Ed Halter is Critic in Residence at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York and a founder and director of Light Industry, a venue for film and electronic art in Brooklyn. He recently edited, with Lauren Cornell, the anthology Mass Effect: Art and the Internet in the Twenty-First Century, and his writing has appeared in 4Columns, Artforum, The Village Voice and elsewhere. He is a 2009 recipient of the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant and his book From Sun Tzu to Xbox: War and Video Games was published in 2006.

The selection committee highlighted Ed Halter’s longstanding commitment to media arts in all forms, and his more recent evolution from writing about cinema to digital art. Halter’s holistic understanding of the history of media art has informed his curiosity about contemporary digital art practices. His elegant and witty writing style combines compelling observations, arguments and analysis. Halter has championed untraditional, underrepresented and younger artists, is deeply engaged in the community, and has consistently made contributions to push the field of digital art forward.

The Arts Writing Awards selection committee was comprised of three well-respected arts professionals with extensive knowledge in the field. This year’s selection committee included:

  • Kathleen Forde, Artistic Director of Borusan Contemporary, Istanbul
  • Michelle Kuo, Editor-in-Chief at Artforum
  • Michelle Puetz, Curator of Collections and Public Programs at the Chicago Film Archives
2017 Arts Writing Awards Selection Committee: (from left to right) Kathleen Forde, Michelle Kuo and Michelle Puetz.

Selection committee member Kathleen Forde offered further insight, “We are proud to have come to the unique decision to choose two awardees that happen to not only be important arts writers but also active curators, a role that allows for an additional platform for crucial writing in the field. Their diverse practices complement each other – Frieling’s work represents the breadth of the transformation, as well as the constants, in the landscape that has occurred in the 23 years that have transpired in his career since his early days at ZKM and now SFMOMA, both of which are major institutions that have functioned as early and critical champions of the relationship of media arts and the museum. And Ed Halter is an independent writer as well as co-founder and director of a more alternative space, the vital and beloved Light Industry. His significant and influential writing represents the next generation of writers working to foster dialogue and criticism of the very contemporary, with the intellectual rigor and knowledge of a longer tradition that precedes and inspires our present moment.”

Prior Arts Writing Award in Digital Art recipients include:
2016 – Christiane Paul, Adjunct Curator of New Media Arts at the Whitney Museum of American Art and Associate Professor and Associate Dean in the School of Media Studies at The New School and Nora Khan, writer and editor, and currently contributing editor at Rhizome.

2015 – Jon Ippolito, Professor of New Media and Director of the Digital Curation program at the University of Maine, and former Associate Curator of Media Arts at the Guggenheim Museum and Joanne McNeil, writer, former resident at Eyebeam and USC Annenberg/Getty Arts Journalism fellow.

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