Jon Bywater is a Senior Lecturer at the Elam School of Fine Arts, The University of Auckland. He is also active as a curator, and as a writer on art, music, and theory.
Previously, he has worked as Head of Theory at the UNITEC School of Design, where he collaborated on extensive curriculum design in the Theory area; as a Critical Studies lecturer at Wintec and at the New Zealand College of Art and Design; and as a tutor in Philosophy at the University of Canterbury.
His publications cover contemporary visual art, music, poetry, theory, and education for creative practice, and he has delivered presentations at international events in these fields.
His writing has been concentrated in criticism. He is the New Zealand reviewer for Art Forum International and a music reviewer for specialist music magazine The Wire. He also collaborates regularly with artists on exhibition catalogues and other one-off publications. He has had a sustained involvement, including columnist roles, with New Zealand magazines including Monica, Midwest, LOG Illustrated, Art New Zealand and the Listener; and has contributed to other Australasian arts and culture journals including Landfall, Art+Text, Artlink, Broadsheet and Eyeline. He has also held reviewer positions for Real Groove, Rip It Up and The Christchurch Star, and was involved with the establishment of Opprobrium, an international review and interview magazine covering improvised and experimental music.
He has worked as a member of the curatorial collective Cuckoo since their inception in 2000, and has been involved with the High Street Project, The Physics Room and other New Zealand artist-run spaces. He currently serves as a board member for Artspace Auckland and for the New Zealand Audio Foundation.
His research interests centre on the theorisation of cultural production and the role of theory in creative practice; adult teaching and learning; colonisation and settler culture; genre and value; and art, activism and social change. These themes are reflected in the symposia he has co-organised on aspects of contemporary creative practice: Cultural Provocation: Art, Activism and Social Change (Auckland, August 2003) involved practitioners and theorists in an international discussion of Aotearoaâ€™s traditions of cultural provocation. Cultural Futures: Place, Ground and Practice in Asia Pacific New Media Arts (Auckland, December 2005) also drew practitioners and theorists together, to consider the regional significance of place, whenua or country in new media practice.