Home ANNUAL SUMMITS 2010 Summit History of technologies in museum curatorial practice

History of technologies in museum curatorial practice

Jean Gagnon © DOCAM 2010

Day 1, Session 1

Jean Gagnon (independent curator, Montréal)


How important is the knowledge and comprehension of technological evolution and history for the museum curator? I intend to address this question as there is a trend in museums for non medium-specific curating, especially in contemporary art. The argument goes that “after modernism” we do not need to segregate curatorial fields based on medium specificity. But the question is not really about the modernist approach of medium specificity, but one of accurate historical knowledge that take into account the materiality and historicity of works of art...


* Please note that this presentation was given in French but has been dubbed in English


... In the case of media arts, it may mean that curators need to be specialists of the field of practices involved with technologies. I want also to address a concomitant problem, which is the language and the terminology used to talk about these works, their materiality, their technologies.


Jean Gagnon is an independent curator and art critic based in Montreal. From March 2008 to September 2009, he was Director/curator of the SBC Gallery of Contemporary Art in Montreal. Prior to this, Mr. Gagnon was Executive Director of the Daniel Langlois Foundation for Art, Science, and Technology from 1998 to 2008. Since 2004, he has been Adjunct Professor in the Department of Visual Arts at the University of Ottawa. From 1991 to 1998, he was associate curator of media arts for the National Gallery of Canada (NGC) in Ottawa. He initiated the DOCAM research alliance on documentation and conservation of technologically-based art works. He recently co-edited a special (bilingual) issue of artpress 2 (Spring 2009) entitled “Media Arts: Conservation and restoration.”