Hello again New-Media-Curating,
In addition to the other mischief we like to cause individually, Jon
Ippolito and I are co-authoring a book for MIT Press, due out Spring
'11 on collecting and preserving new media art <end shameless pitch>.
I include below a brief excerpt from the book relevant to our
discussion this month on commissioning variable media art. In it, I'm
proposing a new model for an archive of new media art I call "the Open
Museum" and describing perhaps a new way that commissioning could be
seen to function in that.
I was originally inspired along these lines by the V2 arts
organization in Rotterdam that had a stipulation in which new media
works commissioned for their lab space must remain open-source within
the lab space for future commissioned artists. It got me thinking, why
not take that great idea a couple steps further.....
"Students, scholars, and the public can currently access images and
records –representations - of artworks held in museum collections, but
they cannot access the collections themselves. The Open Museum takes
advantage of the unique property of new media that allows one to share
the original without diminishing it. In the Open Museum, the source
code and other files for digital artworks from the collection are free
for users to download, study, use, and re-mix into new works. In this
way, even the casual student can peer under the hood and examine the
inner workings of these artworks in the way that previously only
privileged scholars could with traditional material collections. .......
Intellectual property law was created to balance the private need with
the public good. It grants authors and artists exclusive rights over
their work for a limited period (not a short period, sometimes 90
years after the artists lifetime) after which the rights in the work
move into the public domain. The artist has time to find ways to earn
a livelihood from their work and this is seen as an incentive to
create in the first place. Why then, could not public museums act as
stewards of the public good and compensate the artist earlier rather
than later by commissioning works for the Open Museum, after which
they apply Creative Commons licenses and release the work to the
public. The museum would earn their renown not for the quality of art
they obtain in exclusivity, but for the art they obtain and then give
away. The artist gets money up front and still owns their work. And
the public is served by waiting months rather than decades to gain
access and rights to use the work in question."
Two more items.
Within the Berkeley Art Museum's net art portal, we were able to
include *some* of the function of the Open Museum - an open-source net
art archive. Call it a baby step.
(see http://netart.bampfa.berkeley.edu and scroll down to NetArtchive)
An earlier post to this list (from Leigh I believe; I lost the email),
outlined how public institutions in Scotland are now using their
muscle to gain IP rights in works they commission. While public art
funding and IP are quite different between the UK, US, Canada and
elsewhere, I wonder if the Open Museum provides a more positive spin
on how public institutions could partner with artists with regard to
the disposition of IP in commissioned works - or - is the Open Museum
just another step toward big brother taking everything?
What do you all think? What are the ways in which commissioning new
media *could* work in addition to how it already works? What are your
Digital Media Director & Adjunct Curator
Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive
University of California, Berkeley
2625 Durant Ave.
Berkeley, CA, 94720-2250