What happens when your media is dead ?
I am currently writing on "Art and Minitel in France in the
mid-'80s". I just finished one article (in French) to be
published this Autumn in MCD and I am starting another one,
in English this time.
Minitel is dead and with it most of the art works that have
been created with it. But some are still fully existing
without necessity of restoration because the Minitel has
been a material, a media, a mean, a tool ; used alone, in
combination with other media/material and there is not one
single category of work produced with it at that time.
One first strong conclusion : they are different kinds of
works and not one homogeneous thing and I can just but fully
agree with Richard when he writes : " Every artwork within
a shared medium inherits something from that medium, it's
true, but within that, there is a lot of room for, well,
variety and for intentionality." Richard Rinehart
So, I am digging into archives, documentation, fragments,
papers, photographs of screens, human memories (those of the
artists and mine).
The second conclusion comes from Frieder Nake :
" The documentation then becomes witness of the work. (It
may itself, as a document, be of artistic value.)"
I don't know if it is useful to this discussion (or just my
personal bias) but there is a pure joy, an aesthetic (and
artistic) experience of browsing the fragments, filling the
gaps with my imagination, not re-creating the work with my
imagination, but somehow "experimenting the missing parts".
Isn't that that we love in ruins, when we walk an
archeological site and experience an emotion from the remains ?
About naming and labeling:
Is there anybody in art history rejecting the label "Art
nouveau" ? How old by the way is "Art Nouveau" ?
Why shouldn't we keep using "New Media Art" and "Time-based
Art" in this respect ? That is a denomination used *at a
certain time in history* to name a certain kind of art works
using a certain kind of technologies.
Mapping the terminologies and their uses (and in different
languages when it makes sense) is more interesting to me
than rejecting a terminoloy because "new" is relative.
This map is totally meaningfull, precisely in terms of
concept, social and philosophical and aesthetical concepts
that a certain group of people had at a certain time and
this does help in preservation and historicisation.
When Jon writes "So do others on the list agree that we need
to look beyond software and hardware to preserve
contemporary creativity, or am I just making a fuss over
semantics?", I can just agree with him.
The "current terminological confusion" just shows that
someone has to do a PhD to precise the dates and meaning of
all those concepts and to what they refer(ed). But I don't
think this "profusion" (instead of confusion) is unhelpful
but a richness to a more subtle understanding of what has
been a complex (and sometimes conflicting) reality.
Annick (sorry for the too long post !)
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