Silent Acousmêtre

The Voice of the Media Art Institution in an Information-filled Atmosphere

A talk by

Rosanne Altstatt

Thursday, 16 October 2014 // 5PM

UC San Diego, Visual Arts Presentation Lab at the Structural and Materials Engineering Bldg (SME) #149
9500 Gilman Dr, La Jolla, California 92093

Art institutions tell stories of art, but what is their voice in technoculture’s information-filled atmosphere? As the former artistic director of the Edith Russ Haus for Media Art, Rosanne Altstatt has listened closely to the media art institution and worked to develop its voice. In this talk, Altstatt employs metaphors of aurality toward a notion of the institution as an individual agent or entity in a technocultural atmosphere that, like sound, surrounds one from all directions. The art institution is envisioned as a “silent acousmêtre,” a voice with no human body that is authoritative in its impression of omniscience while it simultaneously invites interested publics into its arena with artists and artworks. The aural personality of the institution’s architecture and its program produce an “inter-reactive” zone in which those who enter, however peripherally, influence the permeable “atmosphere” of its social space. As a contemporary art space with the added complexity of being dedicated to presenting the perspective of media art and theory, the media art institution is acutely aware of itself within technoculture’s atmosphere.


Rosanne Altstatt is an art historian who specialized in new media. She teaches curating and art history in Purdue’s Honors College and is Dean’s Fellow in its National and International Scholarships Office. Her curatorial projects include a broad span of media art, a microradio station, a compendium of short graphic novels on the subject of cancer, and an exhibition of vernacular studio photography that is now in preparation. She was the inaugural Artistic Director of the Edith Russ Site for Media Art in Oldenburg, Germany from 2001 through 2004, Curator-Director of Videonale in Bonn, Germany from 1994 to 2001, and Co-curator of the independent exhibition space Schnitt Ausstellungsraum in 2001. Dr. Altstatt wrote the first dissertation on the media art institution and a monographic survey on video pioneer Steina Vasulka as a master’s thesis. She has taught curating, art history, and mentored artists at several institutions including Carl-von-Ossietzky University, Maine College of Art, University of the Arts ZHdK, and Merzakademie.

Co-Sponsored, Department of Visual Arts & gallery@calit2.

Image credit: Johann Peter Eickhorst.

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