Preserving and Exhibiting Media Art (e-book)

couverturePreserving and Exhibiting Media Art Challenges and Perspectives,                        J. Noordegraaf J., C. G. Saba, B. Le Maître, V. Hediger, Amsterdam University Press, 2013, 428 pp.

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Le livre aborde les nouveaux défis de la préservation des arts médiatiques et de leur exposition, offrant un aperçu de la formation des professionnels dans ce domaine. Depuis l’émergence des medias temporels tels que le cinéma, la vidéo et la technologie numérique, les artistes les ont utilisés pour les expérimenter avec leur potentiel. Les œuvres qui en résultent, en empruntant des technologies et en relevant de  la radiodiffusion ou d’autres medias sociaux, posent des problèmes aux institutions de collection, de conservation et d’exposition d’art. Pour relever ces défis, les auteurs dressent un panorama historique et théorique du champ.  Dans une perspective didactique, ils souhaitent initier les étudiants aux défis et aux difficultés de préserver et d’exposer l’art médiatique au moyen d’ une série d’études de cas. S’inspirant des pratiques d’archives et de films et de la théorie des médias, les auteurs font également référence à une forte contribution croissante de la littérature concernant la théorie des archives et des pratiques d’archivage.

  1. Front Matter (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. 5-8)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS (pp. 9-9)
  4. Introduction (pp. 11-21)
    Julia Noordegraaf

    Since their emergence, time-based media such as film, video, and digital media have been used by artists who experimented with the potential of these media. In the 1920s, visual artists like Marcel Duchamp and Fernand Léger tested the aesthetic possibilities of film – a practice that continues into the 21st century in the oeuvre of artists such as Tacita Dean and Stan Douglas. The introduction of the first portable video recording system in the 1960s inspired artists like Nam June Paik and Andy Warhol to explore its application in sculptures, projection-based works, and multimedia events, initiating a wave in video…

  5. PART I HISTORY, ARCHAEOLOGY, AESTHETICS, ARCHIVE:
    • INTRODUCTION (pp. 23-24)
      Vinzenz Hediger

      What is media art? Providing a working definition of its object is critical to any emerging new field of study, but particularly to the field of media art. The product of practices that often involve rapidly changing technologies and ephemeral performance elements, media art is difficult for critics, curators, and archivists to pin down in terms of the established taxonomies of art history or film and media studies. Laying the groundwork for the following parts of the book, this part offers four different approaches to the methodological, theoretical, and practical challenges involved in developing a taxonomy of media art that …

    • CHAPTER 1 Between Art History and Media History: A Brief Introduction to Media Art (pp. 25-58)
      Chris Wahl

      When the first commercial browser was released by Netscape in 1994, it immediately became clear that the Internet was no longer merely an exchange platform geared towards the needs of scientists and software engineers, but that it had evolved into a genuinely popular medium (Tribe and Jana, 2006: 6). The development of the graphical user interface (GUI) that now marked the intersection between man and machine was especially important in convincing even the last remaining sceptic that the computer was not just a simple calculator, but rather a complex medium of communication and for the remediation of, among other things …

    • CHAPTER 2 Media Archaeology: Where Film History, Media Art, and New Media (Can) Meet (pp. 59-80)
      Wanda Strauven

      For a long time, talking to oneself on the street or in any other public place was considered abnormal, deviant from the expected social norm. Singing on your own was okay, but talking on your own, without having any interlocutor, was simply weird. When taken unawares by a fellow citizen in such an odd situation, a possible and often-spontaneous reaction (which I have indeed caught myself in several times) was to quickly shift from talking to singing, as if to imply: don’t worry, I was not talking to myself, I was just singing. Today people talk, or even shout, to …

    • CHAPTER 3 Media Aesthetics (pp. 81-100)
      Dario Marchiori

      Aesthetics as a philosophical discipline arose in the middle of the 18th century, when art came to be defined as an autonomous field of rules, social practices, and institutions (like museums). For that historical reason, aesthetics is not just “art theory,” as it articulates both more general and more particular issues, for instance: perception through the senses, the definition of beauty, judgment of taste, the truth content of an artwork and its relationship to (physical, psychological, economic etc.) reality, the questions of originality and newness; eventually, the definition and the very possibility of “art” itself, which becomes a serious matter …

    • CHAPTER 4 Media Art and the Digital Archive (pp. 101-121)
      Cosetta G. Saba

      This chapter aims to introduce an epistemological reflection on the concept of “digital archiving” applied to media art. If the latter appears for many reasons to constitute something “transient and un-archivable” (Ernst, 2004 and 2010), it is because it presents itself ontologically in an exponentially complex form. In other words, the aim is to underline the problems (theoretical and methodological) that media art poses to digital archiving. In order to keep media artworks accessible to contemporary and future users, their inclusion in digital archives is desirable. Digital archives can support the fundamental function of thecultural conservationof these works …

  6. PART II ANALYSIS, DOCUMENTATION, ARCHIVING
    • INTRODUCTION (pp. 123-126)
      Julia Noordegraaf

      After having discussed various historical and theoretical approaches to understanding the complexities of media art in part one, the second part of this book focuses in more detail on analyzing, documenting, and archiving media art. Before being able to identify appropriate strategies for preserving and restoring film-, video-, or computer-based artworks – the topic of part three – or determining suitable exhibition modes – discussed in part four – it is necessary to first capture the exact nature and appearance of the original work.

      Whereas the conservation, restoration, and exhibition of classical artworks like painting and sculpture generally primarily raises …

    • CHAPTER 5 The Analysis of the Artwork (pp. 127-148)
      Dario Marchiori

      While the Greek etymology of analysis means “dis-solution,” analysis as a thinking practice (which has been theorized since the ancient times, initially in the realm of geometry¹) involves the related idea of a “breaking up”²: the first experience of it may be considered that of a child breaking a toy to understand its internal structure, and the way it works. Modern thought has reinforced this “decompositional” conception of analysis, which “found its classic statement in the work of Kant at the end of the eighteenth century” and “set the methodological agenda for philosophical approaches and debates in the (late) modern…

    • CHAPTER 6 Methodologies of Multimedial Documentation and Archiving (pp. 149-195)

      Documentation is the process of gathering and organizing information about a work, including its condition, its content, its context, and the actions taken to preserve it. For the writing of art history one used to be able to rely on the art objects. When artworks become prone to obsolescence or are only meant to exist for a short period, documentation is the only thing people can fall back on. The traditional documentation strategy for the conservation of art is focused on describing the object, in the best objective way possible. But conservation as a practice is not as fixed as…

  7. PART III TECHNOLOGICAL PLATFORMS, PRESERVATION, AND RESTORATION
    • INTRODUCTION (pp. 197-200)
      Cosetta G. Saba

      Within a framework of the system of relations between “technology” and “culture,” the third part of this book is dedicated to preservation and restoration theories and practices, and has two sides. On one hand (in chapter 7), the history of research and technological innovation in the media area is highlighted, also in the case of “low cost” examples, emphasizing the deconstruction and reinvention processes produced by artistic practices with respect to the industrial structures of cinema (7.1), television (7.2), and information technology (7.3). On the other hand (in chapter 8), epistemological frameworks are introduced, as well as working methodologies, projects, …

    • CHAPTER 7 Technological Platforms (pp. 201-252)

      Technological systems are dynamic entities, the stability of which relates to temporaryconvergencephenomena¹ within a cultural set that establishes the media system, based on industrial and communication standards and protocols. The dynamics of convergence do not only relate to the physical and technical identity of media, they also work in terms of individual and social imagery. In this sense, the aesthetic experiment in the artssub specietechnology has always worked as much on technological innovations as it has on protocols.² The protocols (like standards and recommendations) are the results of an economic and socio-cultural negotiation; they are a …

    • CHAPTER 8 Theories, Techniques, Decision-making Models: The European Context (pp. 253-303)

      The operating practices of preservation and restoration raise complex questions of a methodological and theoretical nature. However, there are basically three questions that we must answer in order to work correctly: a) What is the identity of the material that we are analyzing? b) What are its conditions? c) How can we look after it? The first two questions are of a diagnostic nature, whilst the last one concerns the issues of prognosis.

      First of all, the film materials need to be identified and classified, giving them historic-documentary, formal-aesthetic, and technological identity; in other words, reconstructing the internal and external …

  8. PART IV ACCESS, REUSE, AND EXHIBITION
    • INTRODUCTION (pp. 305-308)
      Barbara Le Maître

      This fourth part of this book, which focuses on what is generally referred to as “exhibition strategies,” is structured in two parts. First, the ten contributions that make up chapter 9 explore the diversity of setups or principles of exhibition relating to film images that left behind their original cinematographic context (and its regime of projection in a theater with the lights off) to move towards museum spaces; or to works which come from the large and difficult to define category that is sometimes called media art or even time-based art. Second, Sarah Cook asks and discusses a fundamental question …

    • CHAPTER 9 Exhibition Strategies (pp. 309-388)

      TitledExhibition Strategies, this chapter is structured as a dialogue between, on the one hand, a reasoned panorama of the contemporary presence of film in museums and galleries and, on the other hand, a series of shorter approaches concentrating on visual objects, more specific phenomena and issues. The latter aims to put into perspective the questions raised in the panorama, which necessarily reach beyond the sole medium of film to affect the vast territory of media art.

      At stake beneath what Philippe Dubois qualifies as “the cinema effect in contemporary art” (see his contribution to this chapter) is, first and …

    • CHAPTER 10 On Curating New Media Art (pp. 389-405)
      Sarah Cook

      The constant navel-gazing on the part of curators into the terminological black-hole that is ‘contemporary curating’ tends to produce more discussion about its undecidability and fluidity, rather than precipitating any serious theoretical crisis or professional rupture (Charlesworth, 2007: 93).

      An untested observation about the existing scholarship of curatorial practice suggests that the majority of articles about curating and the curatorial profession (considering those mostly published in the mainstream contemporary art press but also those found in the academic press) concerns the work of freelancers and what their large-scale temporary shows mean for the state of contemporary art (O’Neill, 2007). In …

  9. Epilogue (pp. 407-414)
    Julia Noordegraaf and Ariane Noël de Tilly

    During the fall of 2007, the Stedelijk Museum CS in Amsterdam presented the exhibition Andy Warhol. Other Voices, Other Rooms.¹ Curated by Eva Meyer-Hermann, the exhibition put forward the great variety of media Warhol used in his career such as film, photography, video, sound, graphic design, painting, and printmaking. Divided in three main sections –Cosmos, Filmscape, andTV-Scape– the exhibition shed light on artworks within Warhol’s oeuvre that were not yet widely known by the public: his films and videotapes. The sectionCosmoswas conceived as an inventory of all the media and themes Warhol had worked with …

  10. LIST OF CONTRIBUTORS (pp. 415-418)
  11. INDEX (pp. 419-428)

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