Rudolf Frieling was appointed SFMOMA's curator of media arts in January 2006. Frieling came to SFMOMA from the ZKM Center for Art and Media (ZKM) in Karlsruhe, Germany, where he held a number of positions since 1994. The ZKM is a world-renowned institution that explores new media in both theory and practice by presenting exhibitions, events, programs, research, and documentation.
Most recently, Frieling organized Stage Presence: Theatricality in Art and Media (2012), Descriptive Acts (2012), Sharon Lockhart: Lunch Break (2011), David Claerbout: Architecture of Narrative (2011), and Long Play: Bruce Conner and the Singles Collection (2010). He collaborated on the SFMOMA presentation of Exposed: Voyeurism, Surveillance and the Camera Since 1870 (2010) and oversaw the exhibition William Kentridge: Five Themes (2009). He also organized two recent commissions for SFMOMA's public spaces — Jim Campbell: Exploded Views (2011-2012) and Bill Fontana: Sonic Shadows (2010) — and organized SFMOMA's survey exhibitions The Art of Participation: 1950 to Now (2008) and In Collaboration: Works from the Media Arts Collection (2008).
Prior to his tenure at SFMOMA, Frieling organized the exhibition and restoration project titled 40yearsvideoart.de: Digital Heritage – Video Art in Germany from 1963 until the present (2006), which documented the importance and impact of media art in Germany's cultural heritage. The project was supported by five leading art institutions in Germany, including the ZKM; K21/Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Dusseldorf; Kunsthalle Bremen; Lenbachhaus Munich; and the Museum of Fine Arts, Leipzig. It included exhibitions as well as symposia on media art conservation and preservation. The two-fold objective was to study the process of video art deterioration and to develop the processes for restoration. The project was groundbreaking in its technical and editorial orientation and aimed to set standards for the public presentation and art-historical reappraisal of video art.
From 1994 to 2001, Frieling was a curator at the ZKM and head of its video collection. During that time, he also coorganized the International Media Art Award in conjunction with SWR German Television. From 2001 to 2005, he headed the online research project Media Art Net at the ZKM. Frieling has lectured on media history and theory at institutions including the School of Design, Mainz; University of Fine Arts, Berlin; University of Art and Design, Zurich; and the Media Centre d'Art y Disseny, Barcelona. He also has lectured at venues in the United States, including The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Cornell University; Princeton University; University of Southern California; and the Pasadena Art Center; and internationally at Forum des Images, Paris; Auckland City Art Gallery; Hong Kong Art Centre; National Film Theatre, London; and Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, among others.
Select past curatorial projects include Sound Image at Laboratorio Arte Alameda, Mexico City (2003); Net Art section at the 2002 São Paulo Bienal; cITy: Data on the city under the conditions of information technology at the ZKM (2000); and Jochen Gerz, The Berkeley Oracle at the ZKM (1999) as well as several group exhibitions from 1989 to 1994 in conjunction with Berlin's annual VideoFest, associated with the Berlin Film Festival.
Frieling studied English literature, social sciences, art history, and philosophy at Free University of Berlin and received a PhD from the University of Hildesheim. He has written for major print, multimedia, and online publications, including the book series Media Art Action (1997), Media Art Interaction (2000), and Media Art Net 1/II (2004/2005), all published by Springer, Vienna and New York.