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NEW-MEDIA-CURATING  March 2010

NEW-MEDIA-CURATING March 2010

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Subject:

I have a dream....

From:

Richard Rinehart <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Richard Rinehart <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 8 Mar 2010 14:59:04 -0800

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text/plain

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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  
dreams?

Richard Rinehart
---------------
Digital Media Director & Adjunct Curator
Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive
bampfa.berkeley.edu
---------------
University of California, Berkeley
---------------
2625 Durant Ave.
Berkeley, CA, 94720-2250
ph.510.642.5240
fx.510.642.5269

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