24 October 2008

ICA London "lacks cultural urgency"

Bizarrely, just as Arts Council England prioritises digital opportunities, the ICA has announced that it's closing its Live and Media Arts Department because, in the opinion of ICA director Ekow Eshun, "the art form lacks depth and cultural urgency."

Now, if this is true, then he's missing the irony of the ICA having played a role in any shallowing, and merely displaying a knack for tactless blundering. But there's plenty of evidence to the contrary.  

And at Animate Projects we're proud and honoured to have been approached by (and to have commissioned) 'new media' types! Thomson and Craighead's Flat Earth subtly and engagingly makes propositions about the way the web influences how we 'construct' and communicate ideas of our personal selves in the new public space. They're currently showing in Untethered, at Eyebeam, New York, a show that is one Artforum current Critics' Picks. Maybe Ekow doesn't think Artforum is a good judge of cultural urgency. Maybe it isn't. Maybe Ekow doesn't read Artforum.

Semiconductor's Magnetic Movie has been seen by more than a million people across television and online. It's won awards all over and been bought by the Smithsonian.  And for our Stop. Watch. project, (touring now, online later in November), we co-commissioned (with RSA Arts and Ecology) fantastic short films by 'media' types Manu Luksch and Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries. 

Now...'new media artist' isn't a label we'd want to stick on anyone's lapel, but to say that artists who are working with new media - as material, subject, strategy - are, as a rule, "lacking urgency" strikes me as a bit of a silly, ignorant, and against the tide thing to say. He needs to stay home more.

Image: Young-Hae Change Heavy Industries

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