Regional[ism]

Regionlism is defined by the Merriam-Webster online dictionary as, “consciousness of and loyalty to a distinct region with a homogeneous population“. Well, I highly doubt the ‘homogeneous’ part. San Francisco is home to such a diverse population. In any case, I had the pleasure of attending the fourth official Upgrade SF meeting and the discussion entailed regionalism within the New Media Arts specific to the Bay Area.

This past meeting included the following speakers:

Each presenter explained their role in the Bay Area Arts and its relationship to regionalism. Yet, each showed how their role and organization defies the notion of regionalism. Siembieda shared an interesting thought – the actual physical place of Silicon Valley serves more as a concept versus an actual location. In order to understand, and connect with a broader audience, ZER01’s approach relies heavily on building these networks across disciplines and inclusion of the entire Bay Area (not just Silicon Valley). Events such as the ZER01 bienniel showcase and present a festival of new media artists as well as activities that involve participation from the community and offer participants access to the artists and the technology behind the art.   

Worel discussed OFFSpace’s objective to have the art relate to its space and that regions will have a specific voice. Yes, this is OKAY and it’s what makes the Bay Area fertile ground for innovation. The combination of art work, both static and participatory, within unorthodox spaces (i.e., 2010 Proliferations exhibition in two distinct locations: 1) a wealth management company and 2) a Public Storage unit) speaks volumes of how changing the exhibition model to challenge and excite viewers is crucial in building and forging prominence in the art world, not only nationally but globally.

Finally, van Zwoll ended the talks with her thoughts and experiences as an art dealer. One of the points she mentioned involved defining and re-defining new media art. Seriously, when the ancient Greeks were theorizing about the human soul and creating formal logic, they proably thought they were modern. People and environments change. Like anything in this world, disciplines and practices evolve. As van Zwoll noted, when photography first came onto the scene, THAT was new media. Overall, each presenter represented and contributed greatly to the discussion of regionalism by sharing how changes to the art world models and notions of the art institution/organization, curatorial practice, and the gallery can affect positive change and how New Media artists and community can contribute to that change.

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Author: Dorothy R. Santos

Dorothy R. Santos (b. 1978) is a Filipina-American writer, editor, curator, and educator whose research interests include new media and digital art, activism, artificial intelligence, and biotechnology. Born and raised in San Francisco, California, she holds Bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy and Psychology from the University of San Francisco, and received her Master’s degree in Visual and Critical Studies at the California College of the Arts. She serves as one of the editors-in-chief for Hyphen magazine. Her work appears in art21, Art Practical, Daily Serving, Rhizome, Hyperallergic, and SF MOMA's Open Space. She has lectured at the De Young museum, Stanford University, School of Visual Arts, and more. Her essay “Materiality to Machines: Manufacturing the Organic and Hypotheses for Future Imaginings,” was published in The Routledge Companion to Biology in Art and Architecture (2016). She is currently a Yerba Buena Center for the Arts fellow researching the concept of citizenship. She also serves as executive staff for the Bay Area Society for Art & Activism and board member for the SOMArts Cultural Center.

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