Speaking as an artist, I tend to find 'variability' of an artwork (as
already mentioned by Curt) one of the more useful prisms through which
artworks can be characterised, understood and ultimately preserved.
For a start it accommodates lots of different types of artwork all in
one go --from a Roman statue (for example) to a navigable data-cloud
(perhaps), and the durational quality of a work, its time-based aspect
or participatory nature all become comparable facets of the given
artwork under the notion of a work's variability, alongside weight,
staging requirements, colour, dimensions etc...
In the case of my hypothetical roman statue, it might last a long time
(millennia) and while it may have started off brightly coloured and be
part of a greater whole or group of works, it may end up worn, bare,
unique and with a few bits missing by the time it is preserved and
curated by a museum. In short it is not a very variable artwork, it
lasts a long time and takes a long time to change, but by the time it
is curated and preserved in some way it will never be the same thing
it started out being.
In the case of an artwork that amounts to being a navigable data cloud
(in my example), it might not last long at all, and it may change more
than the artist might wish it to (even) in that short time. At some
point an institution might decide to preserve and curate it, although
that's yet to happen much with this kind of thing. In short it is
quite a variable artwork and will change a lot in a short period or
even expire, and by the time it is curated and preserved in some way
it will not be the same thing it started out being or may simply be
On 5 Sep 2009, at 21:36, Rosanne Altstatt wrote:
> Hello CRUMB readers,
> The different threads within this thread on time-based arts in the
> institution have been really enjoyable thus far. I look forward to
> their continuation this month and would like to also like to put in
> my 2 cents on a very basic, yet practical part of showing TBA from
> the perspective of curating for an audience with no special
> knowledge in TBA.
>> compile and post your thoughts here on how showing time-based art is
>> different to showing art objects. We are particularly interested in
>> gathering first hand curatorial knowledge about how art which uses
>> the Internet, interactivity, social systems, or real-time computing,
>> is different from video, live art, or performance.
> It's difficult to put Internet etc. on one side and video, live art
> etc. on the other, but it would probably derail the conversation to
> quibble about that right now.
> I've found that the heart of the problem in showing any kind of time-
> based art is the audience's expectation to apply traditional modes
> of reception to TBA. An example is the viewer only looking at
> something for no more then 3 seconds to ascertain if a work is
> immediately visually stimulating. How does one get away from that or
> use it to one's advantage?
> Forget about turning on a computer in the gallery, accessing the
> proper URL and walking away. Interesting and appropriate exhibition
> architecture and staff on hand to talk about the work should be the
> bare minimum of requirements. Accompanying programming designed to
> bring the audience into a dialogue with and about the artwork - and
> with each other - is really where we should be. I ask the artists
> for their cooperation with this because I wouldn't want to put there
> work into a carnival of my own devising, but I do want artists to be
> aware of visitors' viewing habits when they are in an institution.
> TBA is not just time, but experiencing time and the experience that
> unfolds in time. Don't worry, I'm not going all "experience economy"
> on everybody. I'm just saying that a work which is social by nature
> (as is Internet, interactivity, social systems etc) can benefit
> greatly from a certain sociability in its curatorial presentation.
> Yes, art objects etc. can benefit from this as well, but I feel that
> setting and delivering the scene to break the modes of reception
> viewers have learned for painting and sculpture (no matter how
> outdated these modes are for painting and sculpture) is what's
> needed to get the most out of putting TBA in the institution.
> Delivering (and mediating) the artwork to the viewer is, after all,
> the reason the institution is there.
> Rosanne Altstatt
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