Each year this journal devotes one edition to material presented at events sponsored by the New Media Caucus at the annual conference of the College Art Association (CAA). The 2016 conference in Washington, D.C. saw as many stimulating events as ever. No organized theme ran through this programming, as the New Media Caucus rightfully welcomes a wide range of member-initiated curatorial, creative, and scholarly efforts. The events did take place against a shared backdrop, however, and at least some of that setting bears mentioning as a context for this journal edition.
As ever, the conversations represented here serve as a unique picture of the concerns of practitioners, scholars, and critics from as wide a range of institutional affiliation and experience as any at the CAA conference. Colleges, universities, and art schools provided the means and opportunity for many of this edition’s contributors to share their work and ideas, but such settings by no means offered the only base for such efforts. The College Art Association has been working of late to make itself more available to artists working at the fringes of academic legitimation through adjunct or contingent labor, and has been shifting its mission and programming to keep up with the changing face of labor in higher education. Arguably, the New Media Caucus, and even this journal in particular, have been leaders in this regard; many of the Caucus’ own members and events have been at the fore of CAA’s efforts to connect beyond its traditional base.
Given the challenges artists face in today’s changing landscape of higher education, inclusion and attention to a wide range of institutional affiliations was as high a priority as ever for this year’s programs. The very setting of the annual Showcase event chronicled here brings such matters to mind; the Corcoran School of Art and Design, which generously hosted our event, sent ripples through the art press later in the year when budget challenges pushed it to reduce its faculty.
Arguably, New Media practitioners have been navigating the complexities of contingent academic labor longer than many, given the historic dependence of digital media practitioners on specialized equipment not always readily available to those outside the academy. Perhaps for this very reason, New Media criticism, creation, and scholarship has also long made a home for institutional critique. In addition, many describe their paths into New Media as motivated by the ready paths for access they found compared to other worlds of art, which seemed bound by more traditional social and institutional gatekeeping practices. In Washington D.C., conference attendees may have still paid conference admission, but newcomers to the town were happily surprised, as visitors to the mall often are, by the remnant of symbolic support for the arts manifest in the free-admission museums of the Smithsonian.
The material in this edition manifests many of these concerns in form and substance. As at the conference, the material rewards those long familiar with the subjects at hand, but also generously welcomes newcomers. Storied and accomplished practitioners present next to others who are just emerging from study. As Media-N itself looks to some possible changes in format in the near future, it is important to note that contents of this issue reflect a steady commitment to inclusion of a wide range of practitioners and scholars. Rigor does not have to come at the expense of welcome.
A number of volunteers provided the intellectual leadership and logistical coordination to make sure that these events not only came together for the conference, but continued into the forms and formats we are grateful to include. Great thanks go out to the event coordinators for bringing these efforts into the present form and setting. These include Sid Branca, Renate Ferro, Christina Freeman, Tiffany Funk, Joyce Rudinsky, Stacey Stormes, and Victoria Szabo. This edition would also not exist without the work of the New Media Caucus Organizing Committee, chaired by Darren Floyd.
Lastly this edition would not have come together without the editorial supervision and coordination of Tiffany Funk, or the great work of Stacey Stormes and Michael Powell.
Kevin Hamilton, Editor-in-Chief
V.12 N.02 acknowledgements
-Editor-in-Chief: Kevin Hamilton, Professor, School of Art and Design, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, USA
-Deputy Executive Editor: Francesca Franco, Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Creative Technologies, De Montfort University, Leicester, UK
-Supporting Associate Editor: Tiffany Funk, Lecturer, Department of Art and Art History, Lake Forest College, Lake Forest IL, USA
-Media-N Print Design Manager: Michael Powell, independent artist, designer. Lecturer at Washington University in St. Louis, USA
-Media-N Web Design Manager: Stacey Stormes, independent artist and educator, USA
-Copy editors and proofreaders for the current edition: Francesca Franco, Tiffany Funk, and Kevin Hamilton