College Art Association

CAA News Today

Submitted by: Jacqueline Francis, Vice President for Annual Conference
February 17, 2013

This report is a revised and updated version of the preliminary report delivered to the Board of Directors at its October 28, 2012 meeting. It is offered in four parts:

A. The Task Force Origins and Goals
B. Relevant Task Force Discussions and Findings
C. Future Research and Considerations
D. The Task Force’s Accomplishments and Recommendations

The Task Force members:

Jacqueline Francis, California College of the Arts; Vice President for Annual Conference; Chair
Anne Collins Goodyear, National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; CAA President and past-VP for Annual Conference
Randall Griffin, Southern Methodist University; CAA VP for Publications
Patricia McDonnell, Wichita Art Museum; CAA VP for External Affairs
Sabina Ott, Columbia College Chicago; CAA Board Member
Emmanuel Lemakis, CAA Director of Programs
Lauren Stark, CAA Manager of Programs and Archivist
Michael Goodman, CAA Director of Information Technology
Paul Jaskot, De Paul University; CAA Past-president
Bruce Robertson, University of California–Santa Barbara; CAA Past-VP for Annual Conference
Katherine Behar, Baruch College
Conrad Gleber, LaSalle University
Mark Tribe, Brown University

On behalf of CAA, I thank the Task Force members for their service to our organization.

A. The Task Force Origins and Goals

Discussion began in December 2011. The initial meeting was chaired by Anne Collins Goodyear, then Vice President for Annual Conference. At this early stage, Task Force members considered historical perspectives on the Conference, offered by Bruce Robertson, the first CAA Vice President for Annual Conference, and CAA’s Director of Programs, Emmanuel Lemakis. In this collegial and productive discussion, the possibility of providing new member benefits whether via live stream and interactive broadcasts or as a post-conference recorded archive (audio and/or video) arose right away. It was useful to be reminded by CAA Director of Information Technology, Michael Goodman, that our organization’s technology infrastructure is mostly used for communication. For this reason, video recording sessions would require CAA to find volunteers to undertake the task, hire new personnel to do so, or contract outside service providers. Starting in January 2012, the Task Force researched, reviewed, and reported on available information technology strategies. The Task Force considered current strategies in use by other learned societies and professional organizations that regularly host conferences and symposia, and by cultural institutions whose goals resonate, overlap, and are coeval with CAA’s.

B. Relevant Task Force Discussions and Findings

1. Distributing Annual Conference Sessions

Presently CAA members can purchase audio recordings of conference sessions whose participants agree to be recorded. Initially, the product was audiocassettes, and presently, CDs and MP3s (digital) are available. Other available technologies include podcasts in MP4 (Quick Time files), Flash Video format which delivers video on the Internet, Windows Media Video/WMV format for streaming (constant delivery provided to a user), and webcasts (media presentation streamed live or distributed on demand on the Internet). Live streaming and video sharing of conference sessions were at the center of many Task Force discussions.

The benefits of distributing session proceedings online during the conference and in its aftermath include:

    a. offering content to CAA members, including those who attended the sessions and simply want to revisit their subjects, and those who did not attend at all;
    b. attracting new members to CAA who may not ever attend a conference, such as those living outside of the U.S. and/or persons with limited resources;
    c.- generating revenue by making online content a membership benefit;
    d.- expanding and broadening its audience by providing some or all of our online content for free.
    e.- documenting conference proceedings and session participation, which, in the UK is regarded as active research that is assessed in academic promotion and tenure cases, and other performance reviews.

Of course, there are many challenges around recording and webcasting content:

    a. the costs of streaming and delivering high quality visual recordings and limited CAA resources for undertaking this expense at present. The hourly rate for professional videographers in New York is at least $500/hour.
    b. Fair Use limitations for broadcasting modern and contemporary art presented in Power Point, Keynote, Prezi, and other presentation formats. [Fair Use is a limitation and exception to federal copyright laws that allow one to use a text, image, recording, etc., without the permission of the copyright holder.]

There are companies that webcast conference and symposium presentations,c.amplifying (as one website proclaimed) these events. Among the prominent video hosting sites are Vimeo, Art Babble, and YouTube. Making use of these sites, the Institute of Fine Arts (New York University), the National Gallery of Art, the Getty Research Institute, and the Arts & Humanities Research Council (United Kingdom) presently offer streamed and/or recorded content online. All are committed to this kind of programming because it has increased their visibility.

The Getty’s strategy in developing policy that allows it to distribute its event online is exemplary. Advised by its attorneys, the Getty has scripted a release form that each guest speaker must sign; this document informs guest speakers that their presentations may be visually recorded and distributed on Getty sites, which included its YouTube channel, Facebook page, social media sites that might carry the Getty name, and the getty.edu website. In addition, the Getty posts signs in its auditorium, advising the audience members at events that they may appear in video, still photography, etc., and on Getty websites. The Getty’s approach to recording speaker presentations that include works of art is to shoot around such images.

Following the Getty’s model, CAA might visually record session participants (and not any of the presented images prepared by panelists) who agree to be recorded. Major public sessions at the conference—the convocation, the distinguished scholar session, artist interviews—could be streamed live with presented images relegated to the background or not shot at all. CAA Counsel Jeffrey P. Cunard has confirmed that there would be no issue in visually recording (1) session speakers who have signed release forms, (2) separate Power Points (text only) presented, and (3) the work of an artist who is speaking. The costs of live streaming and recording sessions will be considered, including the possibility of contracting with a company which could both visually record and host captured media on its own server. Investigating the costs of such undertakings remains to be done, and the decision regarding prioritization for future Annual Conference’s falls to the board, in consultation with the executive director.

C. Future Research and Considerations

1. Conference Technologies

    a. CAA could organize and sponsor another session using Skype (or another innovative presentation technology that allows distance participation).
    b. CAA might investigate the possibility of a conference “app” that might make the gathering easier to navigate for participants, re: finding sessions, making use of the conference space, etc.
    c. CAA might weigh the benefits of (a) launching the splash/landing page for the conference further in advance of the gathering, and (b) revising the page with the goal of highlighting certain events.
    d. CAA might consider holding electronic roundtables.
    e. CAA could encourage greater use of social networking services and platforms, e.g., Twitter, Tumblr, etc., at the conference and in the lead-up to it. CAA Board members might host blogs based on their particular interests and affiliations, and interest groups within CAA might take up blogging. To create a stream of comments generated and carried forth by a conference session, CAA might add a Twitter hashtag to each session, or to a limited number of sessions related to particular interest groups. (Notably, artists place great importance on facilitating relationships in sessions.) Hashtags might be published in the conference program or announced at the start of a session. Overall, tweeting, which is like taking notes, gives people a feeling of belonging to a social network, and would signal a change in CAA’s relationship with conference participants.
    f. CAA could consider a price for access to conference recordings. Access might be a benefit of conference registration, set as a charge for non-registrants, or granted following a pay-per-view price for a single recording or a package of recordings downloaded from a CAA-branded website. A disclaimer stating that the quality of the recorded media will vary might be necessary.
    g. Regarding streaming and recorded technology under consideration, CAA might have to accept some loss of control over them for it will not be possible to review all conference media slated for distribution. While CAA strives to provide and distribute high quality recordings to members, determining, assessing, and meeting that standard are responsibilities that our body might share with session participants, including session chairs.
    h. CAA could pursue the prospect of live streaming several sessions that will be distributed either on our website or on another server.
    i. CAA might consider a universal opt-in format for consent related to recording sessions and distributing them. That is, by agreeing to participate in the conference, all participants (presenters and audiences) would agree to be recorded, photographed, etc., and have their images used on CAA sites. Those who do not agree to any or all of these terms would have to submit forms stating their refusal by a set, pre-conference deadline.

2. Post-Conference Documentation of Conference Sessions

CAA’s identity is that of a member organization, and it can further capitalize on its capacity to facilitate relationships within our community. Specific to the visual recording of conference sessions, a Task Force member suggested this design for implementation:

    a. Session chairs could self-document (visual and audio recording, distribution of papers and presentations, setting up URL links, etc.) and post the media to a website they design and control.
    b. The CAA website could provide links to the session websites with abstracts and biographical information about the participants.

Some strategies for implementation:

    a. CAA requests, encourages or requires participation in such documentation.
    b. CAA starts small and works to support the initiative through outside funding.
    c. CAA make copyright issues the session chairs’ responsibility.

Participation in the visual recording of conference events for distribution may be low at first and may require CAA support to reach 100%. Without question, increasing the availability of the conference sessions will be a benefit to members. It also will influence creative, scholarly, and professional interest groups who exist outside of CAA and include individuals who have not or do not attend the Annual Conference. There is unlimited potential for CAA to facilitate the development of new networks and relationships.

3. Digital Communication and Distribution of Scholarship

Digital content is still being driven by individual members. CAA must continue to investigate the benefits and challenges of digital communication and distribution of scholarship using such technologies. The Modern Language Association (MLA) has recently established a new Office of Scholarly Communication with the goal of using digital platforms to promote member communication. MLA’s model of membership privileges openness, rather than the conventional closed dynamic of scholarly associations. A key benefit of membership is the opportunity to use MLA resources to find and communicate with likeminded scholars. Previously, a benefit of MLA membership was sharing one’s work with a relatively small number of people in attendance at an annual conference, or through publication in a journal (itself conceived as a benefit of membership). Now, MLA members will be able communicate with each other throughout the year, and publish digitally through MLA Commons, an open-source, blog-like platform that is being developing in partnership with the City University of New York Academic Commons (and with the support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation). MLA believes that the open practices and flexible network of MLA Commons will cultivate the best scholarship.

D. The Task Force’s Accomplishments and Recommendations

1. Accomplishments

    a. There will be a CAA Board-sponsored session at the 2013 conference on participatory art, curated by Task Force member Mark Tribe and led by Pablo Helguera. A New York based artist, Helguera is an author and multi-disciplinary artist working in unconventional formats, including experimental symposia, audio recordings, exhibition audio-guides, and nomadic museums.
    b. THATCamp CAA (in association with Columbia University and Smarthistory at Khan Academy) will be held on Monday, February 11, 2013 and Tuesday, February 12, 2013. This unconference will be an informal, discussion-based, collaborative meeting to be held at Macaulay Honors College (35 West 67th Street, NY). Attendance is free. THATCamp CAA focuses on digital art history scholarship and is open to those with an active interest in that area. Seventy-five participants were accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. A limited number of Kress Fellowships were made available for graduate students to help defray travel costs to THATCamp CAA. Lastly, there will be a CAA Board sponsored session at the 2013 Conference dedicated to the findings and outcomes of THATCamp CAA.
    c. There is wireless access at the 2013 Conference (NY) in all session rooms; our 2014 Conference (Chicago) also will offer this benefit for participants. CAA director of programs, Emmanuel Lemakis, deserves special recognition for negotiating with Hilton New York Hotel representatives for this perk.
    d. CAA is negotiating with a New York-area university to have student videographers record two to three sessions at the 2013 Conference. Session participants will permit video recording of themselves at the podium (but not their images as presented in Keynote, Power Point, Prezi, etc.). These videos will be made available after the conference. (See Task Force Recommendations section below.)

2. Recommendations

    a.. In 2013 CAA should undertake a pilot project to present two to three visual recordings of Conference sessions on Vimeo. Key CAA staff, the CAA President, and the VP for Annual Conference should review the recordings. High quality video should be uploaded to Vimeo by mid-March 2013 and promoted on CAA’s website.
    b.. Post-2013 conference, CAA should apply for a grant to fund a three-year initiative to research and present best practices of live streaming, audio and video recording, and archiving records of scholarly and professional presentations in which Fair Use is an issue. Grant requests could be made to the Kress Foundation and to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to position CAA as an organization well-suited to create a model for streaming online content. Our grant application should stress both the benefits to CAA and to the cultural sector in which we operate, especially in working out costs and other challenges to presenting images that are under copyright.

3. Budget items may include the following:

    (a) a temporary employee’s salary to professionally visually record a limited number of sessions, upload video to a media hosting site, and pursue image permissions used in a limited number of conference sessions, starting in 2014;
    (b) production costs related to streaming, visual recording, archiving, and posting conference videos for online distribution, live stream or on demand;
    (c) the costs of contracting with recording company that would visually record CAA sessions and host the recordings on its server;
    (d) research on permissions costs to session speakers to reproduce images at conference sessions/events starting in 2014 Conference and extending to 2017.
    e. CAA should identify a suite of conference sessions, presentations, and events suitable for live streaming and video recording, and secure participants’ permission to record, broadcast, and/or archive their discussions (and not their images), starting with the 2014 Conference. The cost of doing so should be recouped from conference fees.
    f. Four sessions at the 2014 Conference—selected in advance by CAA executive director, deputy director, director of programs, director of information technology, director of membership, development, marketing, CAA President, CAA Vice President for Annual Conference—should be streamed live during the conference and made freely available. Cost of doing so should be recouped from conference fees. The Task Force suggests streaming the conference’s keynote speaker’s address and the distinguished scholar session.
    g. The unconference format should be part of the 2014 Conference, and might be organized around the topic of contemporary artists’ use and engagement with emergent technologies. This unconference could be scheduled to run concurrently with the Annual Conference; limited to 60-75 participants in the THATCamp format, the unconference would not compete with the Annual Conference.
    h. CAA should encourage the growth of interest blogs and assign hashtags to our conference sessions. Task Force members recently attended conferences and symposia where social media enhanced the event for participants. The CAA director of programs will contact museum professionals and information management experts who have organized and/or used Twitter in conference settings, and the Annual Conference Committee will investigate the viability of the hashtag proposal.
    i. New technology is created regularly and must be continuously discussed and considered for adoption. A Board-sponsored session at the conference is an appropriate Fostering sustainable and ongoing review of conference In addition to harvesting ideas introduced or technologies tried in conference sessions soon after the forum for such discussion technologies should be the charge of the Annual Conference Committee, which would add some members with expertise in this area and comprise a subcommittee annual meeting’s conclusion, the subcommittee would evaluate older technologies to determine if modifications are necessary or if they have outlived their usefulness.