In looking for the curatorial activity outwith contemporary art, we can look towards the social and cultural context. The use of the word curating in music, commerce and entertainment and in social media has become a recent phenomena. The word is used but in an authentic manner to identify and perhaps market the fact that there is some sort of quality control going on. With music events, the ‘curated by…” tag is used to identify mostly another musician to group together a number of acts in a programme of concerts and events[i]. It is this juxtaposition of one with the other which creates stimulus and excitement. What is happening here? We have been doing this activity since the invention of the re-recordable cassette tape and the making of mix-tapes. Therefore placing the sound and cultural significance of one with the other makes it interesting and this makes a new experience. So is it making new experiences out of what already exists, like the stuffy museum curators just shuffling round the collection, well maybe. But we must remember that these live music events are similar to the art space and they have the practicalities to attend to make the curated idea exist as a physical experience, to the paying audience. The practice of the live DJ is another example of this curating, but in this context the DJ’s are doing this live, as it happens. They are responding to the live audience and their reaction to what they hear and want to do. So there is something happening here that the well-crafted and constructed curation doesn’t do, as this has already been worked out, (beaten out) well considered and planned before going public. The experimentation and improvisation, which is key to many curators[ii], is perhaps left behind as the curated exhibitions and projects develop to the public presentation.
This idea of live curating or live making of any sort (but how live is live? Is it to a physical audience or can it be to the online audience some of who receive it live (ie. Twitter) or they come to it in time through delayed awareness through search engines) occurs constantly in our current culture through the Internet. But the Internet, with its availability for anyone to ‘practice’ their on interests and ambitions to the world, is its essence. Obviously there are qualitative issues that we give ourselves in terms of ‘quality”, ‘skills’ and “status” but the environment of the Internet is enabling the practice of curating in its rawest nature exist. The term curatorial practice also exists within computer science and data management; therefore there is a close relationship that already exists in the science of computing to not see it as a practice only from the artworld. The term social network implies an open sharing community; it has a natural awareness of connecting and linking things together a practice of online content curation. Therefore ultimately it just curates, as it exists. Its networking activity is curating, as it happens (again). But still we need to find a reason and a place to make this curating, to show us that this is happening, recent online sites/products such as Storify, Pininterest, Scoopit and Kapsul, which encourage us to construct a curated genre, scenarios or narrative, all in the spirit of sharing with others. So already this may have gone beyond the mark of what curating actually is, by giving it an environment, shape and output.
The everyday is a public and a private experience. Therefore public curating could be seen in these online environments as well as the real life and real activities that surround us now. The everyday is proceeding at a constant level. But now looking at the notion of live private curating, what does this mean? This takes place wherever we want it to and is constantly available. But there must be a conscious awareness of this being made or else what is it other than just organising ourselves, but maybe that’s okay. We may gift it to ourselves – creatively playing, conjuring up narratives and statements for our own enjoyment. We could create it for others but do we let them know or keep it private? In these moments we are being creative and there are no limits, no boundaries to our imaginations. But within this process we, as the creator need to be skilled and able.
[i] Annual music events such as All Tomorrows Parties and Meltdown have an appointed curator, usually a musician or group who programmes the event.
[ii] Irving I. A Survey on Curatorial Practice. Personal research. 2011. P. 31-35