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Virginia Tech Students Curate Video Art Exhibit at Taubman Museum of Art

Still image from the WATCH IT! exhibition.

by Dana Cruikshank

“WATCH IT!”, an exhibition of contemporary video art curated by Virginia Tech students from the School of Visual Arts in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies is currently open at the Taubman Museum of Art.

According to Simone Paterson, an associate professor of digital art and design, the undergraduate students of her Topics in New Media class were responsible for all aspects of creating the exhibition. The students solicited artists to submit work for consideration, judged which works made the final exhibition, worked with museum staff, designed the exhibition space, and publicized the event.

Paterson says she had two goals in mind when she first brought the idea of curating an exhibition to her students. “Many young and emerging artists are discouraged when their creative work is not selected to be included in competitive exhibitions,” Paterson says. “They can also be totally mystified by the curatorial and exhibition practices of galleries and museums. I wanted to reveal the complexities of judging an open call exhibition, working with gallery and museum systems while also informing them about a wide selection of contemporary video art productions.”

More than 130 entries from around the world were submitted to the students’ open call, of which 14 were selected by the students to be included in the exhibition. The videos were selected using a student-devised rubric that centered on different criteria including concept, editing, execution of concept, quality, and creativity/innovation.

The videos on exhibition are all single-channel works under 10 minutes in length. The subject matter is extremely varied, however Paterson says the videos can be grouped under some thematic influence or concerns, ranging from the effects of technology on our lived experience to the history of video art itself.

Video art today is as varied as any contemporary practice, from the reproduction of serene landscapes to abstract computer generated visual forms and animations. Paterson says “WATCH IT!” tries to provide a vibrant international cross-section and celebration of 50 years of video art production.

The students have also created an iPad application that presents the exhibit’s catalogue. It is available for free at the Apple App Store.

The exhibit runs at the Taubman from now until Feb. 26,.

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