While conferences, artist talks, etc moving online is due to terrible circumstances, I am grateful for them! I hope they continue forever!
I am just starting my phd programme in art and curatorial practices. Due to several circumstances, I’m doing it as low-residency. I was worried about a lack of community as well staying connected to any art scene. Zoom, FB Live, MS Teams, etc have made it a lot easier to stay connected.
I am hoping that after the pandemic, more accommodations are made for these things to be streamed, and not as an afterthought of sticking a camera up and posting the recording later (although that is still better than the 15 people in attendance at a lecture being the only people to ever see it!) It seems like before the pandemic conferences that offered “virtual” papers were basically scams, pay to play–add to CV–get promoted, etc. I am sure there were exceptions, but I’ve attended one full conference and lots of seminars/panels that felt much fuller than anything I attended before covid (BC). Even the artist talks have felt much more engaging with the camera up close, microphone working (except for YOU’RE MUTED!!). Questions are often as awkward as ever, although this way the moderator usually has a chance to weed out the monologue disguised as a question; that alone might be worth moving everything online forever.
Really though, with the environmental, monetary, and time costs of attending conferences and such in person, why not do MORE like this AC (after Covid). It will save carbon, cash, and cancelling classes. I do fear though, that departmental budgets will ONLY allow for virtual engagement if that is an option and, of course, conferences and such are also good for other types of networking. I think the best networking at the Society for Photographic Education conference is always on the dancefloor and giant group photobooths! Zoom rooms just can’t bring that energy, but I think we can strike a balance.
Later, I’ll write about some of the best webinars I’ve attended lately (I have been to more than 30 since April), below is a screenshot of the one with the most people (like 20) that I also know in offline life. It was NYUAD’s reunion for But We Cannot See Them: Tracing a UAE Art Community, 1988-2008. I attended the show when I lived in Dubai so it was good to hear more about it and see some old friends.