September 14, 2018 - Carl & Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation - 2018 Arts Writing Awards in Digital Art
September 14, 2018

Carl & Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation

Mary Flanagan and Dawn Chan.

2018 Arts Writing Awards in Digital Art

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The Carl & Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2018 Arts Writing Awards in Digital Art. Mary Flanagan will receive USD 40,000 in recognition of her sustained dedication to the field as an established arts writer, and Dawn Chan will receive USD 20,000 for her exceptional promise as an emerging arts writer. Initiated in 2015, the Arts Writing Awards provide unrestricted, merit-based funding in support of writing that advances scholarship in digital art. A total of USD 240,000 has been granted to date.

The Awards are the first of their kind to devote substantial funding to writing about digital art. Each year, a pool of approximately 30 nominees are selected by experts in the field. The two awardees are chosen by a committee based on the merits of their writing and contributions to the field of digital art.

The 2018 Arts Writing Awards will offer for the first time a fully-funded Robert Rauschenberg Residency of 5-6 weeks in duration. 

The 2018 selection committee was composed of Stuart Comer, Chief Curator of Media and Performance Art, The Museum of Modern Art; Kathleen Forde, Artistic Director-at-Large, Borusan Contemporary, Istanbul; and Dan Fox, Editor-at-Large, Frieze Magazine.  

“We chose writers who are addressing digital art within a very specific political moment,” reflected juror Stuart Comer. “The world is fundamentally different today than it was a year ago. Some of the more established icons and discourses must be reconsidered.”

About the awardees
Mary Flanagan 
has been writing about digital art since the 1990s, with a particular focus on virtual spaces and games. She has long investigated the impact of feminist and alternative performances on the internet, beginning with Adriene Jenik and Lisa Brenneis’ Waiting for Godot that took place in a visual chat room and Helen Thorington, Marek Walczak, and Jesse Gilbert’s online VRML world Adrift. “There were many such early experiments that inspired me to think of the possibilities inherent in the construction of online worlds,” notes Flanagan, “Yet many of the most radical pieces didn't receive the attention they deserve, and some still don’t, so I’m interested in witnessing and analyzing these lesser known works to shed light on new ways of thinking about art.” Flanagan is the Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Professor of Digital Humanities at Dartmouth College and leads the design research laboratory Tiltfactor.org.

Throughout her career, Flanagan has been interested in women’s relationship to technology, games, and activism, pushing against dominant notions of technology and culture. With the Arts Writing Award, Flanagan will build on her research of 20 years, focusing on recent, global developments in digital art to bring lesser-known artists—in particular, women and people of color—to broader attention.

With an early background in computer vision and artificial intelligence research, Dawn Chan uses art criticism to confront the identity politics embodied in digital art. Underlying Chan’s work is the understanding that technological progress is not a purely inclusive social force. She observes that “the cultural implications of the digital age are sorely incomplete unless one begins to acknowledge the ways in which newly minted technologies interact with constructions of race, class, self, and other.” Her recent reviews respond to the art of Aki Sasamoto, Sondra Perry, John Gerrard, and Porpentine.

Dawn Chan’s writing appears in Artforum, where she was an editor from 2007 to 2018, and theatlantic.comBookforumThe New York Times, NewYorker.comNew York Magazine, the Paris Review, the Village Voice, and Vogue.com, among other publications. A former visiting critic at RISD, MICA, and CCNY, Chan is currently a visiting scholar at NYU’s Center for Experimental Humanities.

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