Nina Colosi:
Streaming Museum

December 29, 2008
Suzanne Thorpe

Many artists and musicians are exploring the exciting frontier of cyberspace, using it as both media and medium for their pioneering work. With this experimentation comes a need for artistic venues that specifically curate for a cross-reality environment of virtual and public spaces. Streaming Museum, a hybrid museum for the 21st Century, happily fullfills this need. Launched January 29, 2008, by Chelsea Art Museum's Curator of New Media and Performing Arts in New York City, Streaming Museum presents exhibitions in cyberspace and public space, on seven Continents. Its founder and creative director, Nina Colosi, collaborates with leading international curators and cultural institutions. Their goals are to: enable the connectivity of an international community focused on culture; creating a body of work for the virtual platform, including participatory and cross-reality pieces; and providing a free vehicle of global outreach for artists, among others. Shortly after Streaming Museum began its fourth exhibition, AE caught up with Colosi to learn more about this innovative initiative.

AE: What is Streaming Museum?

NC: Streaming Museum is a vehicle for bringing free international cultural content to a global audience using the mechanisms that drive the contemporary world: technology, Internet, marketing and globalism. The Museum exhibitions are consumed from ubiquitous touch points in cyberspace and public space on seven continents. It also aims to be a new funding and organization model for the arts.

AE: How does it work?

NC: We're producing bimonthly thematic exhibitions in collaboration with international artists, curators, innovators and cultural centers. Partnering locations download them from our server. Some works are also exhibited in Museums or performed during the time they are viewed in a Streaming Museum exhibition. For example, from the current exhibition series, John Cage's Lecture on the Weather was produced live, in October, at the Chelsea Art Museum in New York, as part of the Electronic Music Foundation’s Ear to the Earth 2008 festival. Agnes Denes' environmental piece Wheatfield – A Confrontation was exhibited in her retrospective at the Ludwig Museum in Hungary, and Huang Ruo's music was performed at the Austrian Cultural Institute in N.Y.

Streaming Museum in NYC's Time Square

AE: What are the public spaces that the Museum exists in?

NC: The exhibition can be viewed in cyberspace at, and in Second Life: Ars Virtua New Media Center. Among the increasing number of public spaces in the Streaming Museum network are: Africa’s Ubuntu Education Center, Port Elizabeth; Asia’s Art Center Nabi, Seoul, Korea; Antarctica’s British Antarctic base and Jubany Argentine Scientific station; Australia’s Federation Square, Melbourne; Europe’s Piazza Duomo, Milan, Italy; the UK’s Foundation for Art and Creative Technology, Liverpool, plus seventeen BBC screens throughout the UK; the USA’s Victory Park, Dallas, Texas, and Chelsea Art Museum, New York; and South America’s Centro Municipal de Exposiciones Subte, Montevideo, Uruguay.

AE: What kind of work are you intending to show?

NC: Streaming Museum exhibits all art mediums and ideas of creative innovators in diverse fields, according to specific curatorial themes. The Museum will present public participatory pieces and commission the creation of a new body of work for this cross-reality platform.

AE: What was the first exhibition?

NC: Streaming Museum launched on January 29, 2008, simultaneously sending to public screens on seven continents Nam June Paik's video Good Morning Mr. Orwell. Initially broadcast in 1984 between Europe and the US, it's an entertaining mix of cross-cultural, iconic avant-garde and pop artists that can be enjoyed by both a general and informed international audience. Presenting Good Morning Mr. Orwell as the first Streaming Museum exhibition was a symbolic gesture in recognition of Paik's prediction of the Internet, when he described an "information superhighway" in a Rockefeller Foundation grant proposal in the mid 70's. Currently exhibiting is Artists and Innovators for the Environment, Part Two, featuring Stephen Vitiello, Andrea Ackerman, James Tunick, Ben Edwards, David Jr. & One-Eyed Doll, Marty St. James and Julia Wolfe among others. Artists and Innovators for the Environment, Part Three will begin on February 3, 2009.

Nam June Paik's Good Morning Mr. Orwell

AE: What was the inspiration behind the Streaming Museum?

NC: I'm interested in expressing the streams of multiple realities that exist simultaneously in real life, and to this end, the work of Nam June Paik has been an inspiration. The Museum's exhibition design references Paik's style of mixing cross-continental connections, technologically and creatively, and fine art with pop culture and humor ...underscored with a serious underlying philosophy. Paik’s work can be enjoyed by a general audience without regard to underlying critical theory, as in the 1984 video Good Morning Mr. Orwell, and artworks such as TV Cello, TV Bra, and TV Garden, which are a primer for a reconstructive thinking process. The actual mechanics of Streaming Museum occurred to me as I was working with artist/curator, Zhang Ga on a New York event for Peoples' Portrait in 2004. Ga’s Internet, public participatory artwork incorporated locations in Asia, Europe, Australia and the U.S, and I thought, why not make use of this network of public screens for an ongoing arts program.

AE: Do you feel that engagement with the work affords a transformative experience for the audience? Does the media convey the artists' message well?

NC: According to the feedback I'm getting, it is transformative. The Museum's particular style of exhibition presentation is to curate a collection of work based on a theme, and stream it in brief segments, which could spark visitors' interest in further exploration of the artists or ideas. I'm working with a 20-minute exhibition length right now, which is about the time it may take for a subway ride, or to drink a cup of coffee as you visit the exhibition on your iPhone.

Kurt Ralske, Times Square Time Share, 2006. First work commissioned by Streaming Museum.

AE: What lies ahead for the Streaming Museum?

NC: We're now completing the Museum’s first year and look forward to increasing our momentum in the areas of production, collaboration, education, publicity, finances, and finding great art and ideas around the world. We anticipate that our method of channeling funds to the programming of partnering centers and artists, rather than to operations and maintaining a building, will yeild exciting results for the arts. We are encouraged and inspired to continue by artists around the world who are contacting us to find out how they, too, can participate.