European Mobile Lab for Interactive Artists
The e-MobiLArt process: a curatorial perspective

The increasingly blurring boundaries between artists, curators and audiences created, over the past decade, an entirely new ecology where nearly every phase, every aspect, and every role embodied in art practice is radically changing. The parameters of production, publication, dissemination and audience reception have shifted beyond previously unimagined settings and conditions. This is especially true of media art. Furthermore, these days individual art concepts often evolve into complex international, interdisciplinary projects, requiring extensive attention including selection, production, management, administration and dissemination. Consequently all involved parties – artists, curators and venues just to name some – have to respond to the rapidly changing theoretical, technical and sponsoring interests. Many of the collaborations try to utilize new forms of teamwork bringing together professionals to interact in a cross-disciplinary international context. Within the process of this hybrid collaboration several questions emerge: How do we approach differences? How do we benefit out of interdisciplinarity and cultural diversity? Are there any rules? Can we be conscious of the underlying artistic, social and political motivations? How can these be part of a vibrant work of art?

The eMobilArt project excellently illustrates a case of complex experimental collaboration. Several layers of teamwork took place within the course of the project involving the artists who constituted the groups, the three curatorial advisors and the organizers —a teamwork which developed both within each group category and in collaboration with the others. The different layers and levels of collaboration were the first challenge to be faced. As a result, working and communication systems were set up during the developmental and production process requiring flexibility and continual adjustments from all involved parties.

From a curatorial point of view, the process was highly atypical. Curators usually select existing artworks or commission new works based on a dialogue with the artist. In this case, as the project participants developed the collaborative artworks within the timeline of eMobilArt, amendments had to be made regarding the homogeneity of themes, the expectations of outcome and absence of selection. With these shifting paradigms, the role of the curator was altered, moving toward the function of a “facilitator”, assisting the different groups to articulate their own project and working process towards the concrete outcome of creating an interactive installation.

While all of this was decidedly unusual for a curator, the entire process remained fascinating, as we witnessed how accomplished artists in their own right, with an existing body of works, came up with a solid single project and became part of a whole, where the contribution of each of them can be recognized but is transcendent into something new and unique to the group and the artwork. The process which generated the creation of the artworks often reminded of the deleuzian rhizome, as collaborative projects were being generated from different combinations of artists until the last minute, and will probably keep being generated after the official end of the project. This continuous multiplication of the projects was unexpected and it keeps going on between the artists, sometimes without any “facilitation” from the curatorial advisors or the organisers. Which proves that good ingredients will only make a good cake: 35 creative and experienced artists, willing to find partners, with technological collaboration tools at their disposal, theoretical support if they need it, inspiring though short meetings – what could be a more prolific platform for collaborative projects?

Out of the many projects which have been conceived, most are being exhibited in Thessaloniki, a number of them in Katovice and some in other venues besides the participating institutions of the eMobilArt project. The installations are very diverse in their aesthetics, content and media, reflecting both the heterogeneity and richness of all the artists involved and the wide scope covered by interactive new media art.

Meeting each other and working together for the purposes of this project was a positive and fruitful experience for the three of us, curators of different backgrounds, practices, experience and visions. A very interesting accordance through diversity occurred, and we have to admit that this was something all of us particularly enjoyed. One point we agreed on from the very first moment we met, is an idea we brought up in discussions with the participants: that technology remains an important medium, worth to research and to experiment with, worth to achieve excellence and to open up to new spheres, but we have to keep in mind that a strongly defined concept is equally important behind any artwork to provide an art experience and a rich world to be explored. We would like to keep believing that working with the artists on concepts and ideas and the ways to convey these through various media was part of our contribution to this project.

-- Annick Bureaud, Nina Czegledy, Christiana Galanopoulou