As I was at least at one point involved in the initiative, I can say it simply died because the Guggenheim did not want to invest in "content". That is to say each museum/partner was to provide free content to the massive Guggenheim logo. It looked fantastic though. But as you can imagine, the concept didn't work with most artists as well as other museums who felt somewhat exploited by the brand.
From: Curating digital art - www.crumbweb.org [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Jon Ippolito
Sent: Friday, February 01, 2013 12:08 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: [NEW-MEDIA-CURATING] Documenting new media institutions [WAS: Curating in Info Age]
Some late responses to research queries from last month about Guggenheim initiatives from the 1990s:
On Jan 8, 2013, at 7:00 PM, NEW-MEDIA-CURATING automatic digest system <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> From: "Goebel, Johannes" <[log in to unmask]>
> a major initiative in the late nineties/early 2nd millenium by
> Guggenheim - also among others with engagement by ZKM as the "new
> media arts partner" - was to create THE "online portal to art events worldwide"
> as part of Guggenheim's expansion also into the web (this project
> basically did not take off, I think).
I think you're referring to Guggenheim.com, a tech-bubble-inspired venture by the Guggenheim working with Hani Rashid and Lise-Anne Couture of Asymptote Architecture. Guggenheim.com was a feet-on-the-ground version of the Guggenheim Virtual Museum (see below). As much as I was skeptical of the dot-com hype of the time, I have to say Guggenheim.com was way ahead of its time in design (dynamic grids like today's tablet interfaces) and features (user-tailored itineraries to satellite museums integrated with hotel options, shopping, etc.). I credit its ambition and innovation to the fact that it was built by architects rather than a publications department.
Sadly it died a typical dot-com death when the bubble burst, though I never *personally* witnessed staff ripping copper out of the walls.
> From: Sarah Cook <[log in to unmask]>
> I am also curious to know more about the collection aspect of this particular story [Mediascape] -- was there ever any conversation about which works the Guggenheim might collect?
Yes, but the conversation was complicated by various promises made between Krens and Klotz...and I don't recall all of them.
I don't even have a Mediascape catalogue (typical), though I might have a copy of the Web site on a Zip disk or something, as IIRC I wrote and built it.
> Or how showing the works at the Guggenheim increased the value (market or other kinds of value) for then nascent ZKM collection?
There was some internal debate about this, particularly since some of us felt the kinds of works displayed (mostly custom computer-driven or video installations) weren't an adequate representation of media art at the time, even in Europe (net.art, anyone?).
> Would such a tactic be criticised now, or is this a rare example, of an older institution lending its credence to the initiatives of a younger institution?
In an oblique way I think it caught on with other institutions, eg MoMA/PS 1 or New Museum/Rhizome, though I'm guessing it was more "in the air" than "hey let's do what the Guggenheim's doing."
> Were works shown in Mediascape which were not yet in the ZKM collection but which were added to the collection after the success of the exhibition?
> And what documentation is there of the Virtual Reality: An Emerging Medium exhibition -- and were any of its works collected?
No collection, but I do have a stack of the foldout black-and-white, illustrated brochure I wrote. Happy to snailmail to the first few people who ask me--especially if you're willing to scan it for me :)
> From: Jose-Carlos Mariategui <[log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>>
> All those stories reminded me about the GVM (Guggenheim Virtual Museum) that was launched in the media around 2000 in the midst of Guggenheim's international expansion. There are a couple of links from that time which still remain active with some information on the project (which actually never occurred):
This was a more high-faluting predecessor to Guggenheim.com, again with Asymptote but this time working with then-Guggenheim curator Matthew Drutt. At the time Krens was into hiring architects to build satellite Guggenheims, so it was logical to build one in cyberspace. The GVM was an ambitious virtual environment for showing art (remember cyberspace?) that generated a huge amount of press. It didn't hurt that Drutt kept telling reporters "it's not a Web site," and that press photos showed amorphous but futuristic blobs hovering in an abstract 3d space.
Then VRML failed to pan out, and the team fell back to producing a Flash-based Web site that showed different angles of the blob depending on which "gallery" you clicked on. The hype quickly died, and the GVM was never launched.
I think I have a demo site on a disk somewhere, but searching Google images for "Guggenheim Virtual Museum" shows you what it looked like.
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