Heidi M. Aishman
PhD Candidate, University of Reading and Zurich University of the Arts (CH)

Link to University of Reading research

Link to Research Platform for Curatorial and Cross-disciplinary Cultural Studies

Curating in the Gap: Inhabiting the digital space.

Can the gaps between contemporary art institutions and marginalised groups become powerful structures that can serve not just as a places of display, but also as primary generators of cultural meaning in a diverse and globalised world? How can emerging technologies become tools of self-representation for those who do not usually have access to current exhibition structures? Can the role of the curator shift from a position of authority to a facilitator of dialog between the various stake-holders in an exhibition? This practice-based research examines these questions through the development of a written thesis and the design and execution of three experimental exhibitions.The combination of written and visual knowledge, forms a critical theoretical framework for how to curate within that gap. The structure of this research thesis begins with an examination of the historical relationship between socially engaged art practices and the development of new technologies. The goal of the historical investigation is to understand how socially engaged art practises have used new technology to further access of marginalised groups. Integrating a research methodology with a curatorial methodology of practice, this research will explore the gaps between the marginalised and established art institutions that can be expanded into new spaces to inhabit and a new form of collaborative curation.
The three exhibitions in this practise based research utilise digital/online tools as a fundamental component. They test whether the digital space can be curated, how the role of the curator can evolve into facilitator and how marginalised groups self-represent through the use of technology in a creative collaboration. Instead of evaluating how well new technologies integrate into the already exiting exhibition structure, this research asks if the success of online tools can be examined through affect theory. By inhabiting the digital space (the gap) marginalised groups have a place of display that does not support the previous binary of the institution and those on the outside of that exiting structure. But instead there is a space in-between created by the use of new technologies and the resulting affect is an "interface between the domain of information (the digital) and embodied human experience".(Hansen)

Link to University of Reading research