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NEW-MEDIA-CURATING  June 2014

NEW-MEDIA-CURATING June 2014

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Subject:

Re: reflections on art's interface with science, technology and society

From:

bronac ferran <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

bronac ferran <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sun, 29 Jun 2014 10:04:39 +0100

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

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text/plain (781 lines)

apologies, here is link to the Macfarlane interview:
http://youtu.be/AuE6hiPGPo0

all best
B

On Sunday, 29 June 2014, bronac ferran <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Dear All
>
> One of the most visionary writers and communicators about art and
> technology was Jonathan Benthall with his monthly columns in Studio
> International from March 1969 to the early 1970s when he decided
> 'avant-garde contemporary art was a dead end' cited in interview with
> Professor Alan Macfarlen ((2005).
>
> He's coming to speak on 26th July at a one day symposium in Cambridge
> which may offer some new insights into this 'marginal/mainstream' dialogue
> as other speakers include Jasia Reichardt, Roger Malina, Nigel
> Lesmoir-Gordon, Neal White as well as Gustav Metzger.
> http://www.kettlesyard.co.uk/whiteheat/
>
> Hope to perhaps see some of you there. Thanks to Johannes and Paul for
> these fascinating emails.
>
> all best wishes
>
> B
>
> On Saturday, 28 June 2014, Paul Brown <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>
>> Hi everyone
>>
>> If I may briefly put my tuppence into the mix:
>>
>> I studied art from 1965 and only later - in 1968 at Cybernetic
>> Serendipity - discovered what I will for brevity call “computer art”.  So I
>> see myself as an artist.  I am continuing a tradition that goes back via
>> 20th century constructivism, etc… to Cezanne and further back to Giotto and
>> beyond.  I adamantly opposed (as many of you will remember) the attempts in
>> the 2000’s to claim that “new media” was significantly different from the
>> art of the past.  This mistaken attitude only helped to ghettoise the field.
>>
>> The other thing to consider is the long-established conservatism of the
>> mainstream art world.  The “new” has always found it hard to break in.  An
>> editorial in the Studio Magazine (in 1929 I think) asked if it was time to
>> reconsider Cezanne or whether to just leave him in the “amateur” category.
>>  Another editorial in Modern Painters (in 1979 I think) asked if
>> photography had matured enough to be considered as an art form.  The
>> lessons of the Salon des Refuses (in 1863) didn’t get accepted into the
>> British art education system until the Coldstream Report was implemented
>> after 1963 - over 100 years later.
>>
>> In my opinion it’s foolish to expect the mainstream to comprehend or
>> accept the new work.  They have too much invested both intellectually and
>> economically in their entrenched attitudes and memes.
>>
>> The lesson of art history is that art that pushes the boundaries has
>> always been an outsider activity.
>>
>> Some institutions are breaking the mould - Doug Dodds and his colleagues
>> work at the UK’s V&A Museum is an eminent example.  London’s Barbican have
>> a serious programme addressing digital and electronic arts - both my son
>> Daniel and I have work in their “Digital Revolution” show that opens there
>> this week.  Others dabble (one was famously quoted recently that they had
>> “done” digital art and it was time to move on…).
>>
>> It seems to me that this is just business as usual.  Complaining about it
>> is a waste of breath.  Just get on with making the work and getting it
>> seen.  The mainstream will catch up in a hundred years or so.
>>
>> Best to all
>> Paul
>>
>>
>> On 29 Jun 2014, at 08:11, Goebel, Johannes <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>>
>> > Dear Crumbs,
>> >
>> > Please allow me to share a different view to Oliver¹s perspective.
>> >
>> > Since I am not a known member of the new/digital media circles, I should
>> > maybe give a few pointers to my background so what I write is not by
>> > necessity heard as the voice of a disenchanted person, but as coming
>> from
>> > someone who has been involved deeply in parts of the field discussed in
>> > this list. This background does not pre-qualify my view, but it does
>> give
>> > an indication of my continuous involvement in some parts of the field.
>> >
>> > I have worked in institutions focused on ³digital² and ³art² in two
>> > phases. 13 years as a founding member of ZKM in Germany and then 13
>> years
>> > as founding director of EMPAC in the US. And then outside of such
>> > institutions in the 13 years before ZKM, I was learning some trades in
>> the
>> > field starting with computer music at Stanford, trying to get ³something
>> > going² in Germany with a culture deeply averted at the time to the
>> > combination of ³digital² and ³art(s)² ­ which is another interesting
>> > subject.
>> >
>> > As part of these positions I curated and organized in 1989 the first
>> > MultiMediale festival of ZKM, which then took place up to the opening of
>> > ZKM. At ZKM I was able to set-up the structure of ³institutes² for
>> > production and research as the first Leiter, ³director², of music and
>> > acoustics ­ and a year later Jeffrey Shaw joined us as the Leiter of
>> image
>> > media. During the first half of my time at ZKM, I was highly involved
>> with
>> > the design and construction of the ZKM building and facilities. And at
>> the
>> > same time I was deeply involved in a large archival project of digital
>> > data (music) at a time when grants were declined for such endeavors
>> > because ³all-digital archives are not feasible² (1990).
>> >
>> > The discussion, Oliver spearheaded in this forum regarding museums and
>> > digital art, would find a trove of materials by analyzing the process,
>> > development and turns of the museums at ZKM. Indeed, the ZKM museums did
>> > have the largest ³media art² collections at the time and they have
>> > invested a lot of energy, work and more or less deliberations into the
>> > museumification of such art works. A highly interesting case study some
>> of
>> > you in academia might find a Ph.D. student to dive intoŠ
>> >
>> > An analysis of the productions and directions of the two producing
>> > institutes at ZKM might be equally valuable. Both institutes had
>> > distinctively different goals, methodologies and cultural perspectives
>> in
>> > pursuing their potential. And I think it is fair to say that an analysis
>> > of how the production side of ZKM evolved after Peter Weibel took the
>> lead
>> > at ZKM and Jeffrey and I left in 2002 may indeed be of high historical
>> > interest ­ how it all shifted, where the creation of new works has been
>> > positioned in relationship to the agendas of the ZKM museums, how
>> > exhibition, retrospectives and preservation activities in conjunction
>> with
>> > panels and intellectual activities have shaped the change over time at
>> an
>> > institution founded specifically as a combination of production, public
>> > engagement and exhibiting museums.
>> >
>> > Analyzing in concrete terms the activities of the ZKM museums regarding
>> > ³media art² works at ZKM will reveal in very concrete terms the needs
>> and
>> > necessities, strategies and difficulties, Oliver addresses in his plea
>> for
>> > (central European) museums to integrate new/media/digital art into their
>> > corpus. I do not believe that so much has changed in the field that an
>> > analytical dissection of ZKM museum activities in regard to such art
>> works
>> > can be most revealing. (Starting with video monitors for Paik
>> > installations all the way to operating systems and ports of ³only
>> digital²
>> > works) ­ worth another Ph.D. thesis.
>> >
>> > Such analysis may yield, that the support system for digital ³stuff² and
>> > for the related technologies ­ as it was in exemplary fashion tackled at
>> > ZKM ­ is financially unobtainable or not sustainable (people, expertise,
>> > machines, budgets etc.). Two pointers: Currently only the western
>> military
>> > powers (and maybe the cloud giants???) are most likely in the position
>> to
>> > constantly monitor their data, copy it before it deteriorates and port
>> it
>> > to other formats and operating systems. There is a reason why banks
>> > (certainly one of the most powerful entities on this planet) stick for
>> so
>> > long to old generations of machines, languages and operating systems for
>> > decades way beyond where the technology industry has moved the rest of
>> the
>> > world; or why they even print their data out on acid-free paper and
>> store
>> > it deep in a mountain.
>> >
>> > I was hired to the US to build an ³Experimental Media and Performing
>> Arts
>> > Center² (EMPAC) as part of the oldest technical university in the US,
>> > Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. I worked with architects and engineers
>> > to define parameters and functionality for an ­ eventually - $220
>> million
>> > project, which did not have any museums, but which was to be focused on
>> > ³time-based arts² and creating a common infrastructure and program that
>> > would span the digital (computer) and the physical (experiential) realms
>> > and that would support arts, science and engineering to use the
>> facilities
>> > under the same roof with the hope for serendipity to bridge between the
>> > different motivations, goals and methodologies of arts, science and
>> > engineering. At the same time I was enabled to create a team of four
>> > curators (covering time-based arts from the visual arts to music, dance
>> > and theater) years before the center opened its doors.
>> >
>> > ³All of the sudden² a center was created that stands in contradiction to
>> > the main stream of how culture is viewed in this society (which is
>> > detrimental to the European perspectives ­ and that is one reason why
>> > Oliver¹s arguments sound totally different here in the US). And this
>> > center for some mysterious reason has developed in a first phase the
>> ³arts
>> > side² to its full potential with residencies, commissions, technical
>> > development and events and installations, while the ³research side²
>> > (science) is now catching up - quite the opposite to other such projects
>> > at universities. (It should be mentioned that EMPAC is a university-wide
>> > center and is not part of any department or school and there are no
>> > regular classes or teaching at EMPAC as there is no faculty, but a staff
>> > of professionals dedicated to the mission and program of EMPAC).
>> >
>> > This now brings me to my ³different perspective² in contraposition to
>> > Oliver¹s.
>> >
>> > Indeed culture is only possible by tradition ­ that which is passed from
>> > one to the other. And there are different paths for passing things, for
>> > changing histories, for preserving that what was done, for
>> > re-interpretation etc. ­ like oral, making objects, symbolic (writing or
>> > math or digital encoding), and there are different media that are or
>> carry
>> > that what can get passed on (from papyrus to stone to paint to
>> engravings,
>> > etc), digital being the latest addition.
>> >
>> > And the major difference being, that digital ³stuff² is not an object we
>> > can perceive without it being ³brought back² through intermediary
>> > materials (machines) into the realm of our senses ­ the only way we can
>> > perceive and interpret that which is encoded in the ³invisible, mute,
>> > intangible² mode of the digital is the mapping of the ²invisible² into
>> the
>> > realm of our senses, seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, tasting Š
>> >
>> > So it might be worthwhile to regard all art that involves digital
>> > technology as time-based art. It is not ³an object², it needs at least
>> > conversion from the ³intangible² into the realm of our perception. So
>> even
>> > a digital image or just a text that gets displayed on a monitor or
>> screen
>> > would be time-based (remember flickering screens that might interact
>> with
>> > fluorescent lights); time as a constituent of the machine and of the
>> > conversion (I/O) and of what appears.
>> >
>> > And most certainly all executions of any computer program are time
>> based.
>> > Because the computer is time-based ­ not on a perceivable way for sure,
>> > for if you want to see if a chip functions on the electrical level you
>> > have to use a logic analyzer which slows ³things² down for our senses so
>> > we can figure out if a transistor functions properly ­ again the digital
>> > operations needs to be converted to the bandwidth / resolution / speed
>> of
>> > our senses to be able to determine ³what it is doing².
>> >
>> > Every piece of net-art is time-based art. Every digital video is
>> > time-based art in a dual sense ­ it is something moving that needs to
>> get
>> > moved (converted) to be perceived, experienced and interpreted as
>> moving.
>> > (Movies on acetate substrate are time-based in a single sense, since we
>> > can look at each individual frame and they are meant to get
>> accelerated).
>> >
>> > Every work that involves digital technology is not only time-based
>> because
>> > the machine itself is time-based in its operational mode, but also on
>> the
>> > next higher level in the sense that the machine itself (including
>> > operating systems, programming languages, video or audio standards etc.)
>> > is time-based in an economic sense. Its ever-changing ³embodiment² gets
>> > changed continuously by powers outside of those who use it (us). This is
>> > different from a sculpture deteriorating over time or a painting
>> building
>> > up grime on its surface or an acetate film fading. It is also different
>> > from printing technology moving to the next generation of printing
>> > machines. The book once printed, is an object. But a new computer system
>> > may render that, which previously could be executed and converted for
>> our
>> > senses as being impossible to get done. The ³instructions² need to be
>> > ³executed².
>> >
>> > To look at ³digital² art as tangible objects misses fundamentally the
>> > properties of computers and thus of the work itself. (I am using
>> ³digital²
>> > in this context as short hand for ³computer based² ­ certainly there are
>> > non-computer based digital modes).
>> >
>> > The declaration or viewing of all ³digital² art as time-based arts
>> changes
>> > the perspective on such art radically. It is now part of ³performing
>> > arts², it needs to be ³performed² or in the digital realm ³executed²
>> (i.e.
>> > put on a time-line) to ³come to live², to be perceived, experienced and
>> > interpreted.
>> >
>> > (Just to not get side-tracked too much: certainly viewing a painting is
>> > also ³time-based² as is the deterioration of a sculpture­ but I am
>> > referencing the mode of the ³object² and ³non-object² and not the mode
>> of
>> > us as living beings who cannot be but time-based and are born and will
>> > die, with many heart beats in between.)
>> >
>> > So museums as institutions based on collecting art in the form of
>> tangible
>> > objects may or are not be the appropriate place for time-based arts. As
>> > for exhibiting time-based art museums certainly have a ³function² and
>> > offer opportunities. But the recent boom in tying performing arts and
>> > performance art into the program of museums shows the great, well:
>> > incapability, lack of expertise and understanding of museums to deal
>> with
>> > time-based art. Museums built in the past decades do not meet any
>> criteria
>> > for ³time-based media art², ³digital² art or leave alone for ³performing
>> > arts².
>> >
>> > Even at ZKM where it was the program of the museums to show such art, it
>> > was extremely difficult during the design process to integrate at least
>> a
>> > few elements that would allow the exhibition of such art in an
>> appropriate
>> > and easily manageable way. The lack of understanding came from those in
>> > power who had little of an idea or experience with ³media² art even of
>> the
>> > eightiesŠ leave alone interactive installations and their conditions And
>> > most of you who are curating ³media² or ³digital² art in such
>> institutions
>> > will know best the difficulties you are up against on the
>> > institutional-political as well as on the production side to for
>> instance
>> > get that large spaces can be dark, that projectors are not noisier than
>> > the potentially subtle sounds of an installation, that there is no sound
>> > spilling over form a neighboring installation, that adequate projection
>> > surfaces are installed, that the lighting does not interfere or does
>> > supports sensor technology etc. It is ³absolutely maddening² for people
>> > who are coming from the time-based arts to realize how little
>> sensitivity
>> > and expertise such institutions have allowed to grow within their walls
>> to
>> > show time-based art, not mentioning the design of new museums
>> integrating
>> > these arts.
>> >
>> > Likewise the arts market: time-based art does not accumulate ³added
>> value²
>> > over time. Musicians, dancers and actors have understood that forever ­
>> > their art is gone as soon as it is performed (²executed²) and
>> experienced
>> > and it is needs a new performance to enter the realm of perception, to
>> > meet an audience. ³Media², ³digital² art falls into the same category.
>> > Only tangible objects accumulate value and can be market driven.
>> >
>> > Why does a major museum like MoMA pay a pittance for the screening of a
>> > video or for acquiring videos (unless you are a star)? Because the value
>> > is time-based and ³expires after use². It cannot accumulate value wile
>> > sitting on a shelf, because time cannot sit still.
>> >
>> > So the argument that museums have a cultural mission and one could
>> > pressure them to accommodate and preserve ³digital² art, can at best be
>> > valid for central European countries. But even that direction of thought
>> > may be flawed because ­ as I tried to point out ­ museums are not
>> > institutions that were ever meant to deal with time-based ³entities².
>> They
>> > are deeply rooted in the 19th century as a successor to arts collections
>> > by the courts and churches. And as containers for the trophies of
>> colonial
>> > enterprises.
>> > Before, courts and churches had, besides their arts collections and
>> > libraries, a separate entity for time-based arts­ their musicians,
>> > composers, dancers, actors, writers. And under an institutional
>> > perspective, the visual and the time-based arts were all part of the
>> same
>> > entity and were paid from the same source. But then these organizational
>> > structures were separated out in the 19th century when the museums took
>> > over the public viewing of objects and viewing of time-based arts moved
>> to
>> > ever growing numbers of opera houses and theaters, and then to movie
>> > theaters, and then to Biennials and Š Disney Land : )
>> >
>> >
>> > So we can view and position all ³digital² arts as time-based arts and as
>> > being connected to the cultural and economic model of the ³old²
>> performing
>> > arts ­ and NOT as being part of the traditional visual arts canon and
>> the
>> > related institutions. If museum show such ³digital² art ­ great ­ for
>> > whatever reason they might do it. As it is equally ³great² if they put
>> on
>> > performances. We wish all time-based artists to find such opportunities.
>> > But one will observe that, as mentioned before, there is little
>> observance
>> > of the needed requirements in details (which are carefully observed when
>> > presenting ³static² art) to put such works or shows on.
>> >
>> > ³Digital media artists² produce time-based arts as their art needs to be
>> > ³executed², ³performed², with machines, operating systems, programs and
>> > I/O devices and maybe by the audience in ³interactive² and
>> ³participatory²
>> > art or be it in performing arts integrating digital technology or be it
>> as
>> > a large slide show on the side of a building. (This certainly does not
>> > apply to all artists using digital technology, like those creating
>> ³still²
>> > objects with prints of digital photographs or 3-d printing or
>> > algorithmically developed static objects).
>> >
>> > And indeed I think such artists and their work do underlie the same
>> > economic conditions like all time-based arts. I have not heard of many
>> > artists who made a fortune from such a time-based ³digital² works being
>> > bought by museums or individuals (besides video installations from a few
>> > stars).
>> >
>> > Now to take this a step further: ³digital² art works will have to die,
>> > fade away, maybe being restored at some later point in time ­ but they
>> are
>> > an acceleration of the changes traditional performing arts undergo.
>> >
>> > It is the signature characteristic of ³digital² art that it¹s life cycle
>> > is indeed very brief. It almost approaches the time-scale of oral
>> > tradition. The survival in the
>> > ³cloud² is a myth once any kind of programming is involved in the
>> > ³performance² of a digital art work. The documentation of such an
>> artwork
>> > may be around for a while in the cloud (or on your computer) ­ that is
>> why
>> > documentation is the only way to keep such works in some way accessible
>> in
>> > the future. This documentation may include program code, screen captures
>> > or video documentation with maybe multi cameras, either edited into a
>> > single video or where the material form each camera is kept. But the
>> > documentation is not ³the work² and it will hardly ever lead to anyone
>> > reconstructing a work from its documentation.
>> >
>> > Looked at from the traditional perspective, the artist of ³digital art²
>> is
>> > confronted with being the most vulnerable artist. We know that texts
>> only
>> > survived if they were copied by hand on sturdy material or printed on
>> > (hopefully) acid-free paper. We have no idea how music pieces from the
>> > 12th or 17th or 19th century sounded, where we still have a symbolic
>> > notation, but where tradition has changed ³the sound² once it gets
>> > performed. Dance tries to cope with their specific problem that there is
>> > no common notation ­ they try it now with the help of digital
>> technology.
>> > And theater (words) never minded to have all their texts being edited,
>> > augmented, cut for whatever performance a director was aiming for.
>> >
>> > Or the artist of ³digital art² is the most avant-garde because the
>> > inherent properties of the work make clear what digital technology
>> offers
>> > us contrary to what we are told: The reality of a fast and quick
>> > obsolescence and disappearance of ³anything digital² that does not get
>> > maintained continuously (!) by a highly expensive and labor-intensive
>> > system. And such systems ­ as mentioned before ­ are in our world only
>> > created by those who see a financial or military interest. Even one of
>> the
>> > greatest (largest and of high importance) collections of data, the one
>> in
>> > the scientific community, has no way to be all ³saved².
>> >
>> > Not to speak of the programs and algorithms, which are used and modified
>> > and programmed to create art as part of an interactive work or of
>> > live-processing. Again, here we have an important example in music with
>> > live-electronics, be they analog or be they digital. They simply
>> disappear
>> > very rapidly unless an institution (like IRCAM) invests to port programs
>> > and patches to new system, to keep old computers alive or to document in
>> > flow-charts and with mark-ups in the scores what actually is supposed to
>> > happen. And the decisions, which works will be elevated to this level of
>> > care, is a matter of politics, of money and of ³stature² and of power ­
>> > like in the old days, when it was decided, which manuscript was worth to
>> > be copied by hand on a new set of vellum with new ink.
>> >
>> > Maybe the ³digital artist² has to understand her/himself like performing
>> > artists do: once you cannot perform a piece anymore, once the hardware
>> or
>> > software does not run anymore, once you cannot dance anymore, once you
>> > die, your work disappears with you. Is that not a great perspective?
>> Being
>> > freed from reaching eternal relevance ­ creating for the ³here and now²,
>> > the actual realm of the arts ­ of the performing arts?
>> >
>> > And this will not make culture get less rich and will not result in
>> > tradition being eroded. It is the indication of what digital culture
>> > actually means and does contradictory to what seems to be the standard
>> > anthem sung by the choir: Digital culture makes it incredibly clear that
>> > it is the owners of resources who determine how history and tradition
>> are
>> > shaped, interpreted and used. (You might say: Nothing has changed. And
>> > indeed digital technology has not resulted in a change in this aspect,
>> but
>> > has made it sharper, more apparent: digital technology maybe
>> democratizing
>> > a wide range of areas, but it certainly closed off an after-life for
>> more
>> > and more people. I am not sure this makes a difference ­ but it does
>> make
>> > a difference if we are told and we believe it IS different). We all have
>> > digital ³devices² ­ but we do not have the power to even port data and
>> > programs through more than 3-5 generations of devices or through 2-3
>> > generations of new operating systems.
>> >
>> > As we know from theater, music and dance, most works disappear with
>> their
>> > creator or performer ­ they still continue to live for a while in
>> > ³trans-substantiated² form in some individual or collective memory, they
>> > may contribute to a fertile ground for new works. But they will
>> disappear
>> > eventually. Which indeed is not bad at all.
>> >
>> > Was that not the goal of performance art ­ to get out of the white cube,
>> > to put things on a time-line, which could not be replicated? And is it
>> not
>> > amazing that we now revive inside the white-cube that which was meant to
>> > be outside of the institutional-temporal structure of museums? Are we
>> > building mausoleums?
>> >
>> > How great (seriously) ­ now we have digital art, which has an inherent
>> > expiration date. Maybe that is what is meant by ³artificial life².
>> >
>> > We should welcome the ³digital² artists to the performing arts world ­
>> and
>> > work on the unifying understanding of time-based arts.
>> >
>> > And you ³digital² artists, you may dive deep into the tradition of
>> > performing and time-based arts from a new perspective ­ namely that here
>> > may be your (new) roots.
>> >
>> > The gatekeepers to history and museums need not be convinced to take on
>> > ³digital² art. Either they get it or they don¹t. They have the power to
>> > support me or to turn me away. But, once again, that is the fate in
>> > performing, in time-based arts, that cannot accumulate value but lives
>> > only with and through the audience in the moment if enters time.
>> >
>> > It is a necessary luxury that we have academics, thinkers, writers,
>> > curators who reflect on all this ­ we do need this intellectual work
>> > because it keeps culture alive as a complex environment and it enables
>> to
>> > go into different directions within a cultural context. To stop and then
>> > continue to stumble, walk or run.
>> >
>> > What I am proposing is that we need to support the artists even more so
>> ­
>> > because what will the academics, thinkers, writers, curators do if there
>> > are no artists creating new works :)
>> >
>> > The ³digital² artists wake up as time-based artists, as part of
>> performing
>> > artists and the authors in these fields. The real challenge is not how
>> we
>> > enter institutions, which are petrified or have an ³incompatible
>> agenda² ­
>> > I have been trying that approach for ever and I will continue to do so
>> for
>> > the sake of creating new opportunities for new works and their
>> reception,
>> > to support the artists and their work ­ but not for the sake of these
>> > institutions or for the sake of history or my contribution to history
>> > (haha). It¹s only for the moment I want to experience with an art work
>> > someone created to share time with me in its own moving through time.
>> >
>> > ======================================
>> >
>> >
>> > On Restoration, Preservation and Documentation
>> >
>> > As I mentioned above, dealing with vanishing media has absorbed quite a
>> > chunk of my professional life and keeping works afloat that are
>> inherently
>> > based on digital technology.
>> >
>> > These experiences have contributed greatly to the thoughts I sketched
>> > above.
>> >
>> > The earliest experience was using the then new technology of Audio-CDs
>> to
>> > create the first CD series, which pulled ³digital music² (music only
>> > possible with a computer) together and made it available in digital
>> format
>> > through a label which had started to move form vinyl to CD.
>> > At that time there were a wide variety of digital audio formats. So the
>> > actual mastering process was to convert all the pieces submitted in a
>> > variety of formats to the Audio-CD standard. A nightmare. This taught me
>> > what everyone knows but does not want to consider when they are creating
>> > new works: The actual digital formats dictate how long we can keep ³the
>> > work². The only way out is to analyze which format will most likely
>> > survive the longest ­ and which format will be supported by mass-market
>> > devices in millions of clones (which one may cheaply buy and which one
>> > will find on dumps even in a hundred years to reverse-engineer them).
>> The
>> > Audio-CD format fulfills this criterion. With compatible DVD players
>> (and
>> > maybe, maybe Blu-ray players) extending this strain of devices.
>> >
>> > As part of this process I had to re-create a piece form the early
>> > seventies, which had never existed in a digital copy, but only spliced
>> on
>> > analog tape. We dug up an old 9-track data tape on a dusty attic and
>> then
>> > found a still existing digital tape drive, to get the bits off ­ not the
>> > audio bits, but the program that created the audio. The compiler for
>> this
>> > program did not exist anymore, but a more recent version. The composer
>> and
>> > I had to sit together and adapt the old program structure to the new
>> > compiler ­ and then we had to go by the memory of the composer if what
>> we
>> > cobbled together was the ³original² piece. This taught me that there is
>> > absolutely no way to maintain programs (leave alone specific hardware)
>> to
>> > reconstruct pieces later on. Many experts are involved in porting
>> programs
>> > to new machines and operating systems. The ³arts world² cannot support
>> > such approach but has to rely on individual fanatics who dedicate their
>> > life to such endeavor.
>> >
>> > An example of pre-digital machines is the Labor für antiquierte
>> > Videosysteme at the ZKM, which has more than 300 pieces of equipment to
>> be
>> > able to play videos from the fifties to the eighties and to digitize
>> them.
>> > Which is important ­ but it reveals that the next question will be how
>> to
>> > preserve and copy now the content in the digital domain. A continuous
>> > effort without end. Which does not mean one should not start. But it
>> shows
>> > clearly how time-based arts underlies different conditions than
>> > non-time-based arts.
>> >
>> > The next larger project was the International Digital Electronic Music
>> > Archive (IDEAMA), collaboration with Stanford University between 1989
>> and
>> > 1996. More than 600 works of electro-acoustic music were collected
>> > worldwide. Besides the mountain of collecting the pieces, the
>> information
>> > and the legal issues, the question was how to store the digitized data.
>> At
>> > the time the first professional CD-Writer had entered the market with a
>> > professional program to edit and burn Audio-CDs on writable CDs that
>> would
>> > not get destroyed easily by UV-light, temperature and humidity. Already
>> > then it was known how ³regular² writable CDs would get destroyed over a
>> > rather brief period of time because of the organic material used in
>> them.
>> >
>> > The archive was distributed world-wide on such archival CDs. Then later
>> on
>> > the distribution was switched to hard discs because it was easier to
>> copy
>> > than to produce individual CDs. This was actually a step in the wrong
>> > direction, because hard discs do not have the longevity of CDs.
>> >
>> > I do not know how many of you have experience with keeping a rather
>> large
>> > complex installation alive over an extended period. Here at EMPAC we
>> > produced between 2003 and 2008 an interactive film installation with the
>> > Wooster Group / New York City. The work is based on Jeffrey Shaw¹s
>> > panoramic screen system having augmented some parameters. This
>> > installation consists of a very large panoramic screen (12m diameter,
>> 4.5m
>> > high), panoramic projection with first 6, now 5 video projectors, an
>> > interactive chair, 32 channels of audio and a 20 minute video the viewer
>> > can navigate through. To maintain the hardware and software over just
>> the
>> > past 6 years, to port to new systems etc. has been a major challenge and
>> > demanded expertise, labor and finances, which I cannot imagine many
>> > institutions would invest (Jeffrey certainly is probably the most
>> > knowledgeable in this area since he has a large number of different
>> > installations set-up in Hong Kong and has diligently maintained his
>> > works.) I could not imagine any museum (but the Media Museum at ZKM)
>> > maintaining such a work and updating it. The hardware and software
>> > expertise to update all the integrated systems and to make such a work
>> > portable is quite difficult to find in one place (Bernd Linterman at ZKM
>> > certainly being an expert in many aspects of this.) The accumulation of
>> > this knowledge in a new team like here at EMPAC ­ which would need to be
>> > the case if Oliver¹s proposal to have museums take on such work ­ is
>> > especially complicated. I wonder if such pragmatic examples are taken
>> into
>> > consideration in the conferences and discussions, Roger Malina mentioned
>> > in his recent contribution to this list. And what the conclusions and
>> > resulting strategies might be.
>> >
>> > As I proposed above, the only way might be to have a video/audio
>> > documentation of such work instead of keeping the work itself
>> functioning.
>> > The video formats will certainly be kept supported for an extended
>> period
>> > of time, especially if they are used by commercial studios.
>> >
>> > Which brings me to the final consideration: How do we store the
>> resulting
>> > documentation without having to constantly monitor the state of
>> corruption
>> > of the data stored on some medium. Again, we in the art world cannot
>> > afford complex systems of automated error checks and automated
>> replication
>> > processes. And museum certainly will never be able to create and support
>> > such automated systems.
>> >
>> > It is always good to go with standards, which some important business is
>> > relying on ­ like Hollywood. So we went with LTO-5 tapes to back up our
>> > productions. Having been through many generations of back-up
>> > considerations, I still felt uneasy about tapes ­ or in a generalized
>> way
>> > about media, which have moving parts integral to their functioning -
>> which
>> > can crash (heads on hard disks), stretch or tear (tape) or have a
>> magnetic
>> > storage life, which will run out at some point in time (hard disks,
>> SSD).
>> >
>> > For all these reasons, I have been ³fond² of writable optical media like
>> > CDs, DVDs and maybe Blu-ray discs. The only shortcoming of these media
>> was
>> > (maybe so far) that they used organic material, which will deteriorate
>> and
>> > eventually make it impossible to read the disc. The reflective layer
>> will
>> > peel off if exposed to UV-light and they don¹t like high temperature and
>> > humidity.
>> >
>> > I used at ZKM high quality archival CDs, which have been available now
>> for
>> > almost 25 years. The seem to stand up to their advertised 100 year
>> > life-span Š
>> >
>> > Recently I came across the Millennium Disc (DVD and Blu-ray), which is
>> > supposed to not have any organic materials as part of its make-up and
>> > which withstood reportedly tests by the US-army in excellent shape
>> > (nowhere comparable to standard discs).
>> >
>> > I would like to hear feedback on my current strategy (for video, audio,
>> > images and documents in a format that will most likely be kept around to
>> > convert to then newer formats) :
>> >
>> > Put everything on these Millennium discs; buy a few computers and a few
>> > disc reading devices and put them on a shelf, maybe restart them once a
>> > year and replace batteries on the mother board Š) and otherwise just let
>> > them sit there. The investment might be $5,000. But I can be certain
>> that
>> > this is the cheapest way to keep the documentation and documents
>> available
>> > for say the next 30 years, maybe 50 or until someone decides to throw
>> them
>> > out - without the constant need for ³checking the state of the bits².
>> >
>> >
>> > =============================
>> >
>> >
>> > Ending on this pragmatic note,
>> >
>> > Johannes
>>
>> ====
>> Paul Brown - based in the UK March to May 2014
>> http://www.paul-brown.com == http://www.brown-and-son.com
>> UK Mobile +44 (0)794 104 8228
>> Skype paul-g-brown
>> ====
>> Honorary Visiting Professor - Sussex University
>> http://www.cogs.susx.ac.uk/ccnr/research/creativity.html
>> ====
>>
>
>
> --
> Bronaċ
>
> Reviews of some recent projects at:
>
>
> http://we-make-money-not-art.com/archives/2014/06/wandering-snail.php#.U6xNitq9KSM
> &
> www.caldaria.org
>
>

-- 
Bronaċ

Reviews of some recent projects at:

http://we-make-money-not-art.com/archives/2014/06/wandering-snail.php#.U6xNitq9KSM
&
<http://we-make-money-not-art.com/archives/2014/06/wandering-snail.php#.U6xNitq9KSM
&>
www.caldaria.org

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