Rudolf Frieling

Stop Making Sense: Contextualizing Media Art

Date 11/13/06

Affiliation Curator of Media Art, SFMOMA, San Francisco


The Google generation now expects to find everything it ever wanted to know online. Undoubtedly, our knowledge society is offering completely new perspectives of learning and connecting, but black holes spoil the overall picture in a dramatic way. 404 Not Found has become a keyword for those searching online. But even the material that is found has to be questioned seriously. Given the lack of a sustained critical scientific discourse for new media, the found material is often a mere replication of uncritical praise of art works. The present is getting richer and richer, yet more and more detached from any notion of context in terms of continuity or disruption. Theories and blogs are mushrooming: but what do we learn about the history of media art?

This talk will exemplify the difficulties and ambiguities in "making sense" of one's findings, and it will discuss artistic but also art historical ways of coping with this dilemma. Curatorial as well as artistic strategies concerning the collection, sorting, linking and distribution of data will be examined within the context of the portal site "Media Art Net."


Rudolf Frieling is Curator of Media Arts at SFMOMA, San Francisco. He studied Humanities at the Free University of Berlin and received a Ph.D. from the University of Hildesheim; 1988 to 1994 he was curator of the International VideoFest Berlin (today transmediale) and from 1994 to 2006 curator and researcher at the Center for Art and Media (ZKM) in Karlsruhe, Germany, where he was until 2001 the Head of the Video Collection; he has lectured internationally on media and art a. o. at the University of Art and Design Zurich and at the Academy of Art Berlin, and he was professor at the media faculty, University of Applied Sciences, Mainz; from 2001 to 2005 he headed the Internet project "Media Art Net" at ZKM and from 2004 to 2006 the restoration and exhibition project "", funded by the German Federal Cultural Foundation; other projects as curator include a.o. the Biennale Sao Paulo 2002 (Net Art section) and "Sound-Image", Laboratoria Arte Alameda, Mexico City 2003; he has published and co-edited with Dieter Daniels for Springer Vienna/New York a series of multimedia and book publications on the history and current context of media art: Media Art Action (1997), Media Art Interaction (2000) and Media Art Net 1/2 (2004/2005).

-- As of 11/13/06