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AHRC-funded PhD Studentships in Visual Arts: Digital Art / Curating

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Artwork in an exhibition setting

AHRC-funded PhD Studentships in Arts and Design – Visual Arts: Digital Art / Curating subject areas

Applications are welcome in all areas of Visual Arts: Digital Art Practice and Theory, but we are particularly able to support PhD Studentship proposals in the following areas. 

Curating New Media Art

New media or digital artworks often employ networks, interactivity, participation, open source, internationalism, online and mobile systems, and generative processes in their creation of a dynamic art experience. Study of the production and presentation of new media art, within the wider field of contemporary art including live art and socially-engaged art, offers exciting opportunities to rethink the ways in which curators work: If audiences are participating in the work, then how can their roles be rethought? How can systems be “open source”? If audiences are invited into a distributed curatorial process, via tagging or voting, then what is the role of the curator? If the work of art employs the internet to work across locations, then how do we understand the local and the global, the centre and the diaspora?

Research proposals are welcome on any of a range of current issues for curating art – including the work’s production, exhibition, and reception – and are welcomed whether they address new media art, contemporary art, photography, or contemporary design (see also Design Studentships). 

Information about the Curating New Media Art research area 

The successful candidates will join an Art and Design research area judged to have World-Leading and Internationally Significant research outputs in the most recent REF exercise results, and with particular experience of Practice-Led research. Full documentation, biographies and publication lists are available at www.crumbweb.org

Building on research into curating new media art since 1993 at the University of Sunderland, CRUMB is a resource for those who exhibit new media art. Founded by Beryl Graham and Sarah Cook in 2000 in the School of Arts, Design and Media at the University of Sunderland, this research centre publishes books, curates exhibitions, and offers consultancy across the visual arts. The research centre has raised over a million pounds in funding from Arts and Humanities Research Council, Leverhulme Foundation, ACE and others. 

Completed and current PhDs include:

New Models for Collecting and Distributing Media Art, Georgia Smithson (NPIF with Northern Gallery of Contemporary Art)

Blockchain, Audiences and Music Distribution, Simeon Soden (NPIF with Sage Gateshead)

Politicized socially engaged art and new media art, Ele Carpenter (now lecturer on Goldsmith University’s MFA Curating course) 

Models Of Open Source Production Compared To Participative Systems in New Media Art, Dominic Smith (now Digital Media Projects Manager for Tyneside Cinema)

How could the tactical affects of ‘world-building’ in art and design, inform critical curatorial practice? Dani Admiss (former Assistant Curator on Digital Revolution, Barbican)

Online and Offline Curating, Marialaura Ghidini (a Director of or-bits.com)

Collaborations Between Art and Digital Sectors, Suzy O'Hara (curator and producer including Thinking Digital Art, Inventors! and Sunderland 10x10, now full time Post-Doctoral researcher with Creative FUSE NE

Intermedia Curating – North-East Self-Sustaining Strategies, Dawn Bothwell (curator at CIRCA)

Doctoral researchers

Doctoral researchers have been involved in programming professional curating events at the highest international level, including Unusual Collaborations in Gateshead 2016, Hybrid Curatorial Models in Delhi in 2013, Commissioning and Collecting Variable Media at BALTIC with Contemporary Art Society, and the annual Professional Development Course in London. Post-doctoral researchers with CRUMB have included curators and artists Dr. Verina Gfader, Dr. Axel Lapp, Dr. Nora O’Murchu, and Dr. Isabella Streffen. PhDs with CRUMB therefore offer progression in both academic and professional fields.

Graham and Cook have written the book Rethinking Curating: Art After New Media (MIT Press, 2010) which has sold out two print runs in hardback and is shortly to be produced as a paperback. The CRUMB web site shares the research with arts professionals and academics, including popular interviews, and the lively online discussion list has over 1500 international subscribers. Articles written by CRUMB team members are to be found in books published by Routledge, Arts Council of England, University of California Press and The Banff Centre Press and in periodicals such as Leonardo, Art Monthly and Mute Magazine. Researchers have been invited to speak at Tate, V&A, Stedlijk Museum, National Gallery of Canada, New York University, and University of Technology Sydney. CRUMB exhibitions including Broadcast Yourself (Hatton/Cornerhouse), Serious Games (Laing/Barbican) and The Art Formerly Known as New Media (Banff Centre) aim to match new curatorial methods to new media behaviours. 

CRUMB has successfully realised projects through research partnerships with: BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art; Eyebeam (New York); The Institute for Cultural Research, Dr. Charles Gere at Lancaster University; The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Caitlin Jones – former Guggenheim New York Archivist and Curator, Arts Council England funded visiting 'Inspiring Internationalist'.  At the University, CRUMB works across many faculties, and has collaborated with research areas including North East Photography NetworkDesign for Science, and WALK


in this area are highly experienced, and include cross-disciplinary

Professor Dr Beryl Graham (Curating new media art)

Dr Alex Moschovi (museology, collections, photography)

Dr Carol McKay (Social networks and photography, health and medicine)

Colin Rennie (Glass, digital)

Professor Dr Lynne Hall (Digital innovation, non-intrusive user experience evaluation)

Dr Mike Collier (Curating, public art, WALK research group)


Prospective students can informally discuss research proposals in advance of application with: Professor Beryl Graham, Tel: +44 (0)191 515 2896, Email beryl.graham@sunderland.ac.uk.