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NEW-MEDIA-CURATING  December 2017

NEW-MEDIA-CURATING December 2017

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Subject:

Re: Thought on time, temporality and new media public artwork

From:

Simon Biggs <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Simon Biggs <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 20 Dec 2017 06:52:01 +1030

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Hi Anne Sarah

Nice to hear from you. Not a stupid question.

ZKM and Langlois are doing some things along those lines, although I’m not up to date with where they are at with that. The Media Archeology Lab (Colorado) is undertaking a fairly rigorous hardware conservation program, allied to specific artworks. Here in Australia the Play It Again project is doing something similar. IMAL in Brussels is focusing on the emulation route and Tim Murray has already outlined the activities at Cornell.

I’m aware that Tate and Stedlijk were working together on these kinds of activities but that has been quiet the past few years. Jon Ippolito (Maine) remains active in this area, of course, having kicked off the variable media conservation initiative at the Guggenheim.

I’m not sure if the people involved in these activities are on Crumb and can provide updates?

best

Simon


Simon Biggs
[log in to unmask]
http://www.littlepig.org.uk
http://amazon.com/author/simonbiggs
http://www.unisanet.unisa.edu.au/staff/homepage.asp?name=simon.biggs
http://www.eca.ed.ac.uk/school-of-art/simon-biggs








> On 19 Dec 2017, at 20:14, Anne-Sarah Le Meur <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> 
> Hi every one,
> 
> May I ask a stupid question ?
> (being myself involved in programmed generative pieces and in the process of updating an interactive one)
> 
> Why is it so difficult to put financial and technical means to collect/restore/maintain computers and graphical operating systems over years, decades... ? Did not ZKM or Fondation Langlois .... or other places start to do that ?
> 
> a wonderful huge laboratory 
> but essential for both technology and technological art histories ?
> 
> best,
> 
> Anne-Sarah
> Represented by Galerie Charlot, Paris - Tel Aviv
> http://aslemeur.free.fr
> **************************************************************************************************
> Forthcoming exhibitions
> * 26.01.2018 - 13.07.2018 : Into the Hollow of Darkness, solo show, Le Cube, Issy-les-Moulineaux
> * 22.02 The nice art calculated image, selection of pictorial-organic 3D animations, Le Cube
> * 27.04 - 02.06 : Sensitive calculated, solo show, Museu universitario de arte, Uberlândia, Brasil
> **************************************************************************************************
> 
> ----- Mail original -----
> De: "Simon Biggs" <[log in to unmask]>
> À: [log in to unmask]
> Envoyé: Mardi 19 Décembre 2017 07:35:18
> Objet: Re: [NEW-MEDIA-CURATING] Thought on time, temporality and new media public artwork
> 
> I agree with David - almost entirely. I would just reiterate that there is a huge difference between watching a recording of a performance (of dance, or other live art) and experiencing it live in all its multi-sensory complexity. Watching a recording, if it is very good, I get some sense of kinesthetic empathy with the performer (as an ex-surfer I get this watching a recording of a surfer). But most recordings do not transfer that dimension of a work. In live situations all the senses are engaged and one moves with the dancers - you are also performing, you are not watching anymore. Empathy is total, at least when it’s a good performance.
> 
> There was an interesting research project on this:
> http://www.watchingdance.org/ <http://www.watchingdance.org/>
> 
> As for a definition of new media art? I accept Michael Naimark’s definition as it is entirely workable and I see no point in reinventing the wheel. Quoting from a book chapter I wrote a few years ago:
> 
> Michael Naimark usefully differentiates the concepts of ‘first word’ and ‘last word’ art. He notes that:
> ‘With first word art, rules and terms are not defined whilst last word art is where you work within established traditions and known terms. First word art is difficult to compare or theorise. Haydn was a first word artist in developing the symphony. Beethoven’s much later Ninth blew people away. Paik said if it has been done before he is not interested. Some artists think novelty and art are mutually required. Others that art does not really start to get going until an area of practice is established (for example, Beethoven). Nevertheless, people who work with new media are, by definition, first word artists.’
> He [Naimark] concludes this argument:
> ‘In the age of Google there is no excuse for not knowing what has gone before. Being ignorant of other’s prior practice is not good enough. It is OK not to be totally innovative but if you make work and then claim it is novel that is not OK. However, in research this is not permissible. In industry you need to know that what you are doing is original or, at least, not know that there might be precursor technology. You need to be able to look a patent judge in the eye and say you had no knowledge of the prior work.’
> 
> My understanding of what Michael is arguing is that new media art requires, at least in part, that the artist is inventing or developing novel elements of the work’s substrate, its media platform. The media involved could be anything, including old media. But as soon as the artist introduces novel elements to that substrate they have changed the media involved and it is thus new media. As with all art, that doesn’t mean it is any good.
> 
> You can read the original text here: http://littlepig.org.uk/texts/practiceresearch.pdf <http://littlepig.org.uk/texts/practiceresearch.pdf>
> Published in Smith & Dean, Practice-led Research, Research-led Practice, Edinburgh University Press, 2009.
> 
> But I know other people use the term new media art to mean something a bit different. I don’t want to get into an argument about that and am happy with it meaning different things to different people.
> 
> I teach a course called New Media Art. I inherited it when I came to my current University. It wasn’t what I would have thought of as a new media art course as it didn’t involve programming or developing electronics or anything else I’d associate with new media. It was mostly about using Photoshop, a bit of HTML and Final Cut to make digital photographic montages or videos. Now the course is based on coding (just C#, but as a first language for most of the student that’s OK) in Unity and developing works that use sensory input (eg: Kinect) to allow people to physically interact with a virtual world (using the Rift) composed of generative elements. It gets the students up to speed with some important concepts, like generative media, object oriented programming and interactive systems. I should point out that I hardly use any of these systems in my own work. I do use the Kinect a lot but I find Unity very clunky compared to a straightforward text based programming environment. I do admit though I am using Unity to develop some Hololens projects. Something should be public about that early next year.
> 
> best
> 
> Simon
> 
> 
> Simon Biggs
> [log in to unmask]
> http://www.littlepig.org.uk
> http://amazon.com/author/simonbiggs
> http://www.unisanet.unisa.edu.au/staff/homepage.asp?name=simon.biggs
> http://www.eca.ed.ac.uk/school-of-art/simon-biggs
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
>> On 19 Dec 2017, at 14:42, David Rokeby <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> 
>> I am in sympathy with Simon’s objections. My wife is a pianist, and in part, our relationship is a collision of cultures. Showing her what the computer can do with music transformed into the question “Why continue performing live?”. This was a great, if initially terrifying, exercise for her. In essence it released her from competing with recordings, to reaffirm the importance of performing, but often with a stress on the importance of people listening together, as much as having a live performer performing. 
>> 
>> Of course improvisation is another thing, and closer in many ways to algorithmic work.
>> 
>> I do still think there is a significant distinction to be made. Watching or listening to the recording of a musical, dance or theatre performance is still significantly closer to the experience of watching the live performance than watching documentation of an interactive work is to the act of directly experiencing it. One involves the comparison of two different acts of watching. The other is a comparison between an act of watching and an act of performing.
>> 
>> I concur completely on the idea of new media being defined by being at moving target. We say it perhaps wryly, but it is in a sense part of the beauty of it as well. I am particularly attached to and concerned about the conservation strategies for idiosyncratic media works. Part of what makes new media special is that you can create a functional process that enacts its own expression… like taking McLuhan’s 'Medium is Message' as a creative strategy, and inventing idiosyncratic media with expressive intent.
>> 
>> I think Simon and I are taking a very specific definition of new media here, but it is one that I think is both very important, and perhaps most in danger of disappearing without some sort of conservation strategy.
>> 
>> I still do think that there are plausible frameworks for the conservation of such works, but that such a framework can only arise out of frank discussions between artists, institutions and commissioners. This abstract framework would have to include an acknowledgement of the uniqueness of each challenge, but I believe, that it is possible to isolate the uniqueness, and reduce the generic aspects to functional descriptions and end up with a scenario that is better than how we have been managing this stuff so far.
>> 
>> David
>> 
>> 
>> 
>>> On Dec 18, 2017, at 4:44 PM, Simon Biggs <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>>> 
>>> David wrote:
>>>> Also, a recording of a performance of a musical composition, while not identical to the live performance, is substantially similar from an experiential perspective to a live performance.
>>>> For Dance and Theatre productions, the distinction between performance and recording is larger, though most of the salient aspects of the live performance experience can be gathered from the recording. On the other hand, documentation of interactive works is often a completely different proposition than the live experience… not always unsatisfying, and often usefully descriptive, but definitely incomplete and often missing the raison d'être for the work itself.
>>> 
>>> My partner, and often collaborator, is a dancer and she would argue there is a huge gap between the performance and its recording and that the latter could never be a proxy for the former. Live art has to be live. For dance the issue of keeping a work viable beyond it’s initial existence is as big an issue as it is in new media. The work of people like Motion Bank is evidence of this. I don’t think Scott Delahunta is on CRUMB (if you are Scott you might want to chime in here) but whilst he undertakes really important research into how to capture, record and re-articulate dance performance I doubt he would suggest that it replaces performance in any sense at all. The technology is there as a means to assist in the reconstruction of a future performance of the work, not to replace the performance.
>>> 
>>> Music is more complex. The role of recording technology has had a huge effect on music over the past century, with much of the music we hear today only feasible in a recorded context, being reliant on studio engineering to arrive at the final product. Late Beatles is an early example of this. Much music we hear today is not born ‘live’ but born in the studio; one could say it is 'born digital’. However, some musical forms continue to be born live, such as improvised forms (jazz, live coded electronics, etc). Over the past couple of decades I have come to find recorded music less and less satisfying and thus listen to less on the hifi. But I still go to as many live gigs as possible that come our way.
>>> 
>>> Otherwise, what David writes more or less hits the nail on the head. New media has a lot in common with the live arts (especially performing arts, where the algorithm - the performance procedure - is live)  but it can also has a lot in common with installation and site specific (public) art. I would add that as new media is, by definition, a moving target that the kinds of solutions we require to satisfactorily archive and sustain work need to be bespoke to the works themselves. Indeed, you could use such a framework for determining whether a work is a new media work by asking the question ‘does the work require a bespoke conservation strategy or can we use one we made before?’
>>> 
>>> best
>>> 
>>> Simon
>>> 
>>> 
>>> Simon Biggs
>>> [log in to unmask]
>>> http://www.littlepig.org.uk
>>> http://amazon.com/author/simonbiggs
>>> http://www.unisanet.unisa.edu.au/staff/homepage.asp?name=simon.biggs
>>> http://www.eca.ed.ac.uk/school-of-art/simon-biggs
>>> 
>>> 
>>> 
>>> 
>>> 
>>> 
>>> 
>>> 
>>>> On 19 Dec 2017, at 06:08, David Rokeby <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>>>> 
>>>> Re Johannes Goebel’s comments:
>>>> 
>>>>> This in consequence might yield a less “how do I preserve my works for the future” perspective, less of a historic perspective that is derived from culture of “preservation” and “things”  but on that of “tradition of time-based culture”. “Preservation” (freezing to stay out of time) might be – for the given reasons – totally against time-based art.
>>>> 
>>>> This is the perspective within which I created much of my interactive work, but I am not sure that it is entirely satisfying. There is a difference between traditional time-based works and works that are supported by the operation of an on-going algorithm. Certainly, the software program can be compared with some justification to a musical score… the computer and any input devices are therefore the conductor/director and performers.
>>>> 
>>>> But:
>>>> Unlike performers, the computer is, in relative terms, extraordinarily tireless and patient and the incremental cost to perform for a week rather than a day is minimal, so continuous performance is possible. 
>>>> 
>>>> Also, a recording of a performance of a musical composition, while not identical to the live performance, is substantially similar from an experiential perspective to a live performance.
>>>> For Dance and Theatre productions, the distinction between performance and recording is larger, though most of the salient aspects of the live performance experience can be gathered from the recording. On the other hand, documentation of interactive works is often a completely different proposition than the live experience… not always unsatisfying, and often usefully descriptive, but definitely incomplete and often missing the raison d'être for the work itself.
>>>> 
>>>> These differences alone make a comparison unsatisfying.
>>>> 
>>>> From the perspective of temporality, it is also lacking… To use an example relatively specific to the topic at hand, public art works are in many cases, viewed regularly, sometimes even daily, so in addition to a new media public art work often being time-based in the common sense, also operates through time, allowing for a cumulative effects on the public. While we are often instructed to remember that the average museum goer spends less than 30 seconds with the average work, when considering a public art work, we have the opportunity to consider regular repeat viewing over a significant period of time. Of course in many cases, this duration leads to invisibility, it also offers some tantalizing possibilities for slowly inducing ideas or shifts in perception.
>>>> 
>>>> Perhaps more significantly, the temporality of an interactive work is not necessarily one that manifests as an unfolding narrative with a relatively predictable appropriate viewing period, but rather as a modal, experiential state that is active and manifest in time, but presents as a ‘constant’ transformation of the experience of being in a certain place. This is not uniqued to interactive work. Architecture and installation can do the same thing in different ways, but they are a different sort of manifestation than a temporal performance.
>>>> 
>>>> It does depend on the nature of the work, of course, with specific works crossing the lines I have roughly drawn here.
>>>> 
>>>> I do agree that it is interesting nonetheless to think about decommissioning of public artworks as an integral part of the life-cycle of a public work. Some works do lose meaning in a shifting context. It would be much easier to consider public new media artwork commissions of everybody came to the table with a very realistic grasp of the challenges involved. Many current rules and expectations around public art are grounded in the expectation that the work will endure. There is a larger discussion to be had here which is not confined to the realm of new media public art… the new media stuff just adds a bundle of thorny technical issues to the existing problems around the optimal lifetime of any sort of public artwork.
>>>> 
>>>> I guess what I am realizing through my own ruminations is that, while there are lots of reasons to be frustrated by the processes and challenges of producing and maintaining new media public art (and the related challenges of placing complex new media artworks in collections), there remain really compelling reasons to continue to try to come up with frameworks for solutions. I am not satisfied with just accepting that the work is time-based so I should just accept the model of performance which manages to make the problems disappear.
>>>> 
>>>> I am concerned that not planning for legacy means that only the most mainstream media explorations of our time will survive. I am tired and harried and not getting any younger, but I do think that there are things that we can do to give our works a better chance of enduring, so that those that do manage to remain relevant have a chance to be maintained or resuscitated or emulated in a way that accurately reflects that ideas and intuitions that lead to their creation. 
>>>> 
>>>> I am approaching this by daring to think in terms of 100 years rather than the 20 years that has been the norm for me and apparently for others. I do this partly as a thought experiment, having lived through the equivalent of I don't know how many generations of technology. It may be an entirely quixotic endeavour, but I am not ready to give in yet!
>>>> 
>>>> Excuse my ramblings… I don’t have answers, but I am enjoying the challenges of this conversation.
>>>> 
>>>> David
>>>> 
>>>> —————————————————————————————————
>>>> David Rokeby
>>>> 135 Manning Avenue
>>>> Toronto, Ontario M6J 2K6 Canada
>>>> (416) 603-4640
>>>> [log in to unmask]
>>>> http://www.davidrokeby.com
>>>> ------------------------------------------------------------------
>> 
>> ------------------------------------------------------------------
>> 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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