November 20: Tanya Toft

For the next colloquium, held on November 20, 2018 (Tuesday), we are very pleased to welcome researcher and curator Dr. Tanya Toft Ag, who will give a talk on the topic “Urban Media Art & Change (Expanded Reality)”.
The talk will start at 4:00 pm in M6094 Future Cinema Studio.

Date: 2O November 2018 (Tuesday)

Time: 4:00 pm

Venue: M6094 Future Cinema Studio, Run Run Shaw Creative Media Centre, 18 Tat Hong Avenue, Kowloon Tong

Topic: Urban Media Art & Change (Expanded Reality)


We face a task with art today – especially art that evolves in contingency with our urban media and communicative existence (urban media art) – which is to figure out what we want from it. In our current ‘aesthetic regime’, art is freed from specific rules, hierarchies, subject matter and genres (Jacques Rancière), and increasingly floating free of historical determination, conceptual definition and critical judgement (Hal Foster). In this horizontal artistic domain, since art is not what it used to be, rather than ‘what art is’ we can question ‘what art does’ (Susa Pop et al.). This leads to questions of how art is implicated with creating a sense of difference or change in the world, a perspective that has been raised by many art movements historically and that feeds recent initiatives of bringing art into labs and conversations of science, biology, architecture, and urban development.

While art has traditionally operated in a symbolic, representational layer, dealing with representational issues and a ‘crisis of perception’, the real perceptual challenges today are however mechanisms of an expanded reality: a reality shaping with digital media, data aggregation and algorithmic operations cuing our human behaviors, structures of thinking and neurological evolution. With these, today’s data culture industries change the world by targeting our neurosensory systems – contributing to what neuroscientists have named a ‘cognitive crisis’. These mechanisms are radically changing what art – art that want’s to ‘do’ and create change in the world – is up against.

In other words: global urban environments are changing, and that changes the urban context for art and art’s forms and inquiries. This situation urges us to re-evaluate art’s role in the urban context as well as how we research, produce, curate, critique and further discourse around art. How can we seize the expanding routes of art that evolve very fast with media aesthetics, that take forms and idioms we cannot ground in one disciplinary discourse, or in perspective of conditions of previous times? What do we want from art – when implicated with how things change?


Dr. Tanya Toft Ag is a curator, researcher, writer and lecturer examining trajectories of media art(s) and urban change. She holds a Master of Arts in Media Studies from The New School, and a Master of Arts in Modern Culture with specialization in Urbanity and Aesthetics from Copenhagen University. In 2017 she gained her doctoral degree from Copenhagen University with a critical perspective on urban media art as temporal, contemporary matter in perspective of conditions of intensity, intelligence and immersion in urban media aesthetics. She has taken up visiting scholarships at Columbia University, The New School and Konstfack – University of Arts, Crafts and Design (CuratorLab). In 2018-2020 she is a research fellow at the School of Creative Media at City University of Hong Kong. She has presented her work at international conferences worldwide and held keynotes at Elektronika Festival 2018 in Belo Horizonte, Live the City 2016 in Bangkok, and City Link Conference 2015 in Copenhagen.
Her curatorial practice evolves with media art and media architecture in urban environments, as curator of the Screen City Biennial 2017 (Stavanger) and head of the biennial’s artistic research program, and associated with the Streaming Museum (NYC) since 2011 and Verve Cultural/SP Urban Digital Festival (São Paulo) since 2012. Independent exhibitions include Voyage to the Virtual (Scandinavia House, NYC, 2015) and Here All Alone (Copenhagen, 2015). She is chair and member of various conference and gallery boards (Media Art Histories – RE:SOUND 2019, Media Architecture Biennale 2018, Human-Computer Interaction Conference (HCI) 2017 and 2018, Open Sky Gallery 2015-2016). She is editor of Digital Dynamics in Nordic Contemporary Art (Intellect, 2018/2019) and co-editor of What Urban Media Art Can Do – Why, When, Where, and How? (av edition, 2016). In 2017 she co-initiated the globally networked Urban Media Art Academy.
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