Subversive curating … as if

Published on January 30th, 2018

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How is content curated and what kind of power and authority is exerted through online and offline environments ? How subversive can a curator be ? And what does that mean ?

Guest presentation @ Design Academy
Information Design, Eindhoven
31 January 2018


Curating is shaped and defined not merely by the content, but just as much by the nature of the structure of the location, the systems in which the artworks operate. This applies to art and curating in any medium, but it is most clearly visible in digital curating and art. Think of Google’s search engine and in particular how it automatically completes words based on few letters that you type – these pre-programmed terms do not necessarily reflect the most frequent queries but may consist of paid-for phrases. In short, all these types of processes are susceptible to manipulation or re-direction at the least by whichever authority that controls it. Whereas this fact has been discussed and is perhaps more obvious in traditional physical galleries where the white cube has been criticized, it is much more obscured by the interface of a digital and online environment. So, what is a contemporary curator?



The information age empowers individuals to understand, explore and shape their surroundings in a way that is unprecedented in terms of speed and scale. Despite all the new tools and technologies the world seems more complicated than ever. It is in need of new ideas, methods and personalities to map the data describing our individual and collective patterns of behaviour, transactions and thoughts and translating these to their essence. Not only by making information attractive, but first and foremost by turning it into effective narratives.

Every new technology transforms the nature of design. Digital technology has fundamentally changed the role of graphic designers. A new balance needs to be found between those who publish information and those who study it. Designing news and designing knowledge are therefore essential themes within the programme of the master Information Design. Students are questioned about their position in the new collaborations that technology has allowed them to participate in. This asks for designers who are strong individuals, who have developed personal design methodologies and have acquired knowledge of the world in which they act.

Technology has also opened up the field of design itself. Allowing designers to create their own design tools and thus expand the notion of what a product is. The master Information Design introduces students to new practices and challenges them to experiment and discover their own approach, so that they will be able to create their own systems and recipes. In this process they will be forced to develop an active knowledge of their profession and the broader cultural field in order to understand the connotations of their individual expression.

Designing information is a multidisciplinary effort, and therefore students of the master Information Design have varied backgrounds as designers, journalists, scientists and design managers. This fits the programme’s inclusive approach of actively seeking collaborations with external individuals and institutions to research current issues.

For more information check the website of the Master Information Design:

Image credit: “I curate children’s parties”, New Yorker, by Emily Flake (8 October 2012)

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