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NEW-MEDIA-CURATING  June 2009

NEW-MEDIA-CURATING June 2009

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Subject:

June 09 theme: documentation versus preservation

From:

Sarah Cook <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Sarah Cook <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 2 Jun 2009 16:19:02 +0100

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Dear CRUMB list readers,
it's serendipitous that we've just had a flurry of links posted in  
response to Oliver Grau's question about media art archives online,  
as now it is time to introduce the...

JUNE 2009 THEME OF THE MONTH: documentation versus preservation.

In March 2008 CRUMB hosted a workshop with archivist Catlin Jones  
about documenting new media art (see www.crumbweb.org) At that  
workshop we learned of the importance of documentation, the reasons  
for it, and the difficulties of doing it, in terms of the long-term  
use of the material by the artist, the curator, the commissioner or  
institution. Recently, Annet Dekker and her colleagues at Virtual  
Platform in Amsterdam hosted a day long conference, Archive2020 (see  
www.virtueelplatform.nl/archive2020), to look at the urgent need to  
preserve works of new media art. From those discussions came a  
questioning of the differences between documentation and  
preservation, and that is what we are devoting June's discussion on  
CRUMB to.

Counter to Geert Lovink's lament (http://networkcultures.org/wpmu/ 
geert/2009/05/11/political-work-in-the-aftermath-of-the-new-media- 
arts-crisis/) that  "It was a relief to see that the attention [of  
the Positions in Flux conference held in Amsterdam the weekend  
before] was, for once, not focused on history, preservation and  
conservation. Cultural heritage has already taken over way too much  
attention space–in part because this is one of the few areas where  
there is still plenty of funding. Sigh." I would like to ask some  
short and sharp questions I think are still very relevant to curators  
and cultural producers working in the field of art after new media or  
with art formerly known as new media:

1. Can documentation alone be a form of preservation? What if we let  
important works of new media art die or disappear, but ensured  
documentation of them survived? Historically works of art have been  
documented through art criticism, book publication (i.e. image  
reproduction - copying) and exhibitions (with catalogues). It is  
common within the visual arts to argue that the more a work is shown,  
written about, lent to venues internationally, and its image  
reproduced, the greater its value and hence the more likely its  
chances of long-term survival. Could these tried and tested  
strategies actually work for new media art if indeed we accept that  
new media art is just another form of art?

2. What has worked and what has not in terms of media art works being  
acquired into other institutional collections or frameworks (obvious  
examples include: the Turbulence commissioned works at DIA; ada'web  
at the Walker Art Center; Netzspannung at ZKM; Rhizome being a part  
of the New Museum). Are these documentation or preservation  
strategies? Can they even be compared or does everything always have  
to be argued for on a case-by-case basis? What has happened to the  
media art archive initiatives - some of which have been described on  
this list as embryonic or even stillborn? Should we be building new  
joint archives or should we be lobbying existing organisations to do  
more? If you are a new media artist and are considering preparing a  
proposal for your work to be acquired by an organisation what would  
your FAQ or minimum criteria to them include?

3. Does new media art have an advantage in its documentation over  
other forms of art in that it is sometimes possible to reproduce it  
and multiply it, making many versions of the so-called original? What  
if online platforms and art-project databases were to be 'archived'  
or 'accessioned' into many collections or on many servers,  
distributing the task of preservation?

This month's respondents from the Archive2020 meetings (bios are on  
the website at www.virtueelplatform.nl/archive2020):

Annet Dekker, Virtual Platform
Anne Laforet
Heather Corcoran, FACT and close collaborator of GOTO10
Alessandro Ludovico, Neural.it
Christiane Paul, Whitney Museum and Forging the Future preservation  
project
Gabriele Blome, Ludwig Boltzmann Institute Media.Art.Research. Linz
Aymeric Mansoux, GOTO10
Sandra Fauconnier and Gaby Wijers, NIMK

are also joined by:
Caitlin Jones
Axel Lapp, Axel Lapp Projects and CRUMB post-doc researcher
and hopefully others as the month progresses.

Now over to you!

sarah



Sarah Cook
CRUMB - the resource for curators of new media art - http:// 
www.crumbweb.org
Faculty of Arts, Design and Media
University of Sunderland, UK

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