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NEW-MEDIA-CURATING  December 2017

NEW-MEDIA-CURATING December 2017

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Subject:

Re: New Media (Public) Art

From:

Laura Sillars <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Laura Sillars <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sat, 16 Dec 2017 10:11:05 +0000

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Really think David's points are very well made.

Artists working with new technology are usually working on a prototype and
therefore the robustness of repetition, easy replacement (and access to)
items isn't always thought through.

We've just developed a light work in South Korea with an artist Ben Tew
whose practice has predominantly been working with architects. This project
was him moving into his own work in this space rather than collaborating
with other creatives. We produced a work with a likely life span of twenty
years due to warranties on all of the parts, careful planning on the method
of fabrication, construction and power .... but we've contracted the whole
thing for only two years with paid support for five afterwards with us
assuming that there are circumstances way beyond our foresight that could
impact functionality. We'll see - this seemed the safest way to do it -
Sheffield to Busan in South Korea is a very long way away so it would be a
very expensive 20 years if Ben had to return annually to switch around a
few LEDs!

So some of this is expectation management - if an artwork costs £50k to
produce and you are being asked for a 20 year life span that's probably
another £50-100k budget. If you think of it in terms of buildings and
capital replacement versus depreciation it starts to make more sense.

Laura

On Sat, 16 Dec 2017 at 02:01, David Rokeby <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> I remember Kasper Koenig talking about how public art works need a
> commissioning process and a decommissioning process. (And this was of
> course not even in the context of new media public art). I think this is a
> good point, at least for many works, but most public art commissioning
> scenarios are not structured in a way that works with this idea of limited
> lifetime.
>
> My strongest personal impressions as an artist in both public art
> commissioning situations and institutional acquisition is that very few of
> the stakeholders have any way of grasping the nature of the problem. This
> either results in optimistic blindness to the real challenges, or
> under-informed knee-jerk fear of the challenges. This includes the artists
> in many cases.
>
> Like Simon, I have burned up untold thousands of hours bringing old pieces
> back to life or keeping them current. And I now find myself mourning the
> loss of a number of lost works. And practically, it seems like institutions
> and collectors are starting to pay attention and take the plunge, and as
> they become informed, they are starting to ask about those older,
> technically challenging works that lie moribund.
>
> But I also realize that part of the problem of maintaining these older
> works was amplified by the fact that they were not created with an eye to
> maintainability. The effort went into getting them to work somehow by the
> opening. The thought that these things would live on past their year or two
> of active exhibition could not have been farther from my mind. For much of
> this time I was also inexperienced enough to not have a grasp of the real
> meaning of the rate of technological change that would play out over my
> active professional lifetime.
>
> The result is that, in many ways, these works were cobbled together in
> ways that make then unnecessarily susceptible to rapid obsolescence. In the
> preparation of some of these works for acquisition I have gone through the
> process of refactoring my code to create a clear boundary between the code
> that gives the work its affective character, and the code that merely
> implements an easily specifiable function (i.e. functions that can be
> described to my full satisfaction to an engineer.). I deliver the core code
> in an operating system agnostic form with functional description and a
> documented API, and a functional, operating system / computer era specific
> generic ‘wrapper’ which provides things like display on a screen, input
> from a camera, etc. (along with source code).
>
> The intention is partly to learn the discipline of creating new works with
> this modular structure in mind. It does not solve all the problems that
> might come up, but it is slowly making the task less daunting. I can put
> complex works in collections with some peace of mind that I have done all I
> can to deliver a work in a form that could be resurrected at some
> relatively distant point in time with a reasonable amount of committed
> effort.
>
> Part of this process also helps to clarify the aspects of a work that will
> be most likely to require the attention of conservators. i.e.  It provides
> the beginnings of a job description for future new media conservators…
> these are the kinds of tasks and technologies that are most vulnerable to
> change.
>
> In my experience, few if any commissioners, curators, collectors and
> conservators are in any position to really assess the future viability of a
> new media art work at this point. I suspect many new media artists are also
> in that position. At the moment, it almost seems like the less they know
> the better as some public art commissioners, and collectors, and
> conservators, will take the leap of faith because they love the work, or
> they understand its import. This situation is however, completely
> unsustainable.
>
> I have unconsciously and for pragmatic reasons created a separation in my
> own work between those pieces that relatively effortlessly move into the
> future as functional pieces, and those that are left behind, but I am
> finding that this is creating a shift in the kind of work that I do…
> avoiding the works that involve more idiosyncratic and complex systems,
> which are, indeed, what my career and reputation are largely built upon. So
> I am in a period of reassessment… For an artist like me without a
> professorship, and as a mid-career artist with a family to support, in a
> country that is particularly good at supporting emerging artists, and not
> so sure what to do with older ones, figuring out this quandary is
> fundamental to keeping my practise sustainable for the next couple of
> decades.
>
> David
>
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------------
> David Rokeby
> 135 Manning Avenue
> Toronto, Ontario M6J 2K6 Canada
> (416) 603-4640
> [log in to unmask]
> http://www.davidrokeby.com
> ------------------------------------------------------------------
>

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