Scene from Drumpilled, virtual collaboration between Khan (lead writer) and Team Rolfes, Unsound 2020
Nora N. Khan is a writer, editor, and curator. She writes criticism on emerging issues within digital visual culture, experimental art and music practices, and philosophy of emerging technology. She is currently a resident at La Becque in Switzerland, where she is working on two book projects: The Artificial and the Real, a book on simulation and semantic walking practices, published through Art Metropole, and a second book on the stakes AI Art poses for criticism, published through Lund Humphries’ New Directions in Contemporary Art Series.
Her most recent work is a short book on the logic of predictive algorithms and machine vision, titled Seeing, Naming, Knowing, published by The Brooklyn Rail. In 2017 she and Steven Warwick wrote Fear Indexing the X-Files together, a small book published through Primary Information. Khan publishes criticism and essays frequently in publications like Art in America, Artforum, Flash Art, and California Sunday, and has written commissioned essays and monographs for exhibitions at Serpentine Galleries, Chisenhale, the Venice Biennale, Centre Pompidou, Swiss Institute, and Kunstverein in Hamburg.
This year, she is the Editor-in-Residence of Topical Cream, and is focused on mentoring and commissioning women and gender non-conforming individuals invested in rigorous art and technology criticism. Feel free to please read the editorial frame here.
She is also the 2021 Editorial Lead of the HOLO Annual, which will take shape this year to produce a printed journal by August; her research frame is on languages of obfuscation and explainability around computation. Feel free to please read the editorial frame here.
In 2020, she was the Shed’s first guest curator, organizing Manual Override, an exhibition featuring Lynn Hershman Leeson, Sondra Perry, Martine Syms, Morehshin Allahyari, and Simon Fujiwara. Three of the works were new commissions. Manual Override saw 30,000 visitors in two months. Here is some coverage in Vogue, the New York Times, a beautiful review of the exhibition by critic Aruna D’Souza in 4Columns, and the Wall Street Journal.
In 2022, Khan will curate a show with Feral File, led by Casey Reas. Other highlighted curatorial projects include a salon, themed ‘Identity,’ for Current Museum , featuring works by Jakob Steensen, Ryan Kuo, Tabita Rezaire, Jacolby Satterwhite, Meriem Bennani, and more; production of Together in Electric Dreams, a session on the present and future of artificial intelligence, within Open Score at New Museum; ‘California Imaginary’ at Industry Lab (Boston).
Khan’s writing practice extends to a wide range of artistic collaborations, which includes performances, ficto-critical texts for exhibitions, scripts, and even librettos. Notable collaborations include: lead writer for Team Rolfes for Unsound Festival (2020); A Wild Ass Beyond: ApocalypseRN, in collaboration with Sondra Perry, Caitlin Cherry, and American Artist at Performance Space, New York (2018); lecture performances of Fear Indexing the X-Files with Steven Warwick (2017-2018); collaborative essay-writing with DeForrest Brown, Jr. (2014-2017); Decession, writing a libretto for an opera performed at Volksbuhne in Berlin, by Bill Kouligas and Spiros Hadjidjanos (2016).
Teaching & Speaking
From 2018 to 2021 Khan was a professor at Rhode Island School of Design, based in Digital + Media (D+M) teaching graduate courses on technological criticism, thesis writing for artists and designers, and critical theory and artistic research, across D+M, Graphic Design, and Industrial Design. She is a frequent lead of workshops and seminars in para-institutional and alternative schooling spaces, like the Future Studies Program and School for Poetic Computation. A notable seminar series was Simulation Politics: Persuasion and Possibility, taught as faculty at the Art & Research Center at ICA Miami.
Khan is a guest critic, moderator, and speaker at conferences and schools around the world. She moderated this year’s Digital Earth Talks, and is currently a host of the Bloomberg Art & Technology Series. She has spoken at transmediale (Berlin), Serpentine Galleries, DLD, Gray Area, Duke, RISD, Brown University, UCLA, Pratt, Parsons, New School, UKK in Denmark, the Whitney, and ICA Miami, and has been a distinguished critic at the Core Program at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and Carnegie Mellon, School of Art.
Here’s a good interview with Khan in the Creative Independent in about her teaching, writing and collaborative practice. Khan has spoken on art and technology criticism and experimental pedagogy for the New Models podcast, and for the MOMUS podcast in conversation with critic Mike Pepi. She was interviewed at length by Bloomberg TV around Manual Override.
Consulting & Advising
Khan consults and works closely with museums, as well, serving this year as an editorial lead at MoMA PS1. She is also formally advising the Queens Museum on their “Year of Uncertainty” as a “Co-Thinker.” She is currently the core mentor for the Momus – Eyebeam Critical Writing Fellowship.
Khan serves on the advisory board of MOMUS, The Language Art Observer, and the Kathy Rae Huffman Archives. She has juried, read, or advised for Creative Capital, Eyebeam, Red Bull Arts, queer.archive. work, and ArtSlant.
Khan is an editor of Forces of Art (Valiz, 2020), alongside critics and curators Serubiri Moses, Carin Kuoni, and Jordi Baltà Portolés. She is also editor of Making Pictures with Generative Adversarial Networks by Casey Reas (Anteism Press), a project supported by Google’s Artist and Machine Intelligence group. She was a longtime editor (‘contributing,’ acting, and special projects) at Rhizome. A notable publication was What’s To Be Done?, a magazine marking the tenth anniversary of 7×7. Designed by Richard Turley, it features works and interviews with Paul Ford, Claire L. Evans, Kate Ray, and Martine Syms, and an interview Khan conducted with Stanford professor and Silicon Valley scholar Fred Turner, “We Are As Gods.” Khan began editing as a web editor for Kill Screen (2010-2013), and has been a researcher, fact-checker, and book and essay editor across artists’ and experimental publishing, magazine publishing, business academia and finance for a decade.
Her writing practice has been supported by many awards over the last decade. Most recent notable support includes the La Becque Residency (2021), The Islands Arts Writing Residency on Fogo Island and Toronto Islands (2019), a Critical Writing Grant given through the Visual Arts Foundation and the Crossed Purposes Foundation (2018), an Eyebeam Research Residency (2017), and a Thoma Foundation 2016 Arts Writing Award in Digital Art for an emerging arts writer. Her short story “The Quarry” won a Howard Frank Mosher Short Fiction Prize; she has been a finalist for American Literary Review’s Fiction Contest, Glimmer Train’s Best Short Story Awards, and the Pushcart. She studied fiction writing at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop (MFA, Fiction; 2008), where she was an Iowa Arts Fellow, and history and literature at Harvard (B.A., English, 2005) where she won a Thomas T. Hoopes Prize.
General Interests: Understanding grounding ideology beneath technology; how we manage to express joy and wonder, and maintain our creative energy, within the bounds of increasingly oppressive systems; how to consistently ground analysis of creative work in the social, political and material realities that make the work possible; the ongoing play between affect, cognitive studies, and emerging technology; how new tech- makes us feel, think, and relate to one another in new ways; the hope of digital, networked, and virtual systems that might just allow for a more open, learned, and compassionate world.
Please e-mail Nora at firstname.lastname@example.org.