These are very good points. And perhaps I was dreaming a little in my writing that we no longer need to rely on the concepts of masters and masterworks in the sense of the cult of celebrity in the artworld, but my real point in that chapter was a little more practical and less ideological. Roger, what you have written about below is a little different still; it's about the aesthetic and historic evaluation of works (and establishing those with significant aesthetic and/or historic value as key works) and that is utterly necessary and appropriate. In fact, it's foundational to what we're talking about, after all, preservation starts with selection and selection starts with rigorous evaluative criteria (the lack of which also hinders the serious recognition and preservation of new media art, and, again that's a related point.)
To clarify what I was saying in the book (http://re-collection.net/ ) chapter 2 was that new media art currently has no widely-recognized masters and masterworks and that this is a barrier to preservation. Whether or not one likes the idea of masterworks, this kind of popularity can act as a rallying point for preservation. When film preservationists point to the fact that the master print for 'Gone with the Wind' has been lost, they touch a popular social meme to evoke emotion and with it money and will. When the Smithsonian points to the threadbare 'Old Glory' flag, a widely recognized icon in America, they tap into nationalistic pride, and with it money for preservation. Conserving the Sistine Chapel frescos gathered world-wide attention to issues of preservation and authenticity.
I would be hard-pressed to come up with the name of a new media artist/artwork that would be recognized by and inspire members of the U.S. Congress to allocate serious money for national digital art preservation program. And that's what I mean by widely or universally recognized; recognized beyond the boundaries of a profession into the larger social sphere.
So, it may be simple happenstance that we've new media has not had enough years behind it to accrete masterworks or maybe the field itself coupled with Roger's aforementioned postmodern avoidance of canon-making ideologically resists ensconcing new masters - for whatever reasons, the current practical side-effect is that this genre lacks one useful tool for garnering support and resources for preservation.
Samek Art Museum
Lewisburg, PA, 17837
On Jul 10, 2014, at 5:29 PM, Annick2 wrote:
> Dear All,
> Thanks for this Roger. Of course I fully support your statement. And I would like to add to it.
> - Isn't it the other way around ? We don't think we have masterpieces in new media art because the (old) works are not shown and barely preserved ? When was a Rembrandt considered a masterpiece ? He may have been a successful artist of his time but that is different from producing masterpieces, right ?
> - I may be terribly old fashioned and not enough post modern but I do believe that some of the new media art works have an aesthetic quality beyond any tech turn point or social breakthrough or whaterver. Moreover, I believe some works are also key when they still have an aesthetic interest even when the technology they were built/created with has become trivial. The question then is what am I looking at when I interact with them : my memory of my first emotion or the possibility of a renewed emotion (or intellectual pleasure to make it wider) ?
> - I do agree with Roger, we need to combine art history/science history/technology history/social history and probably much more.... which is precisely what is done by big museums like Le Louvre about the artifacts they collect, right ?
> By the way, Roger, I think we started using the terminology "key works" and listing some art works we thought belongued to the category during the week seminar we did at Les Treilles.
> P.S. I apologize, I haven't read the book yet, still waiting it crosses the Atlantic to reach my mailbox !
> Le 10/07/14 22:04, roger malina a écrit :
>> on page 26 of the book ( http://re-collection.net/ ) in chapter 2 that
>> you authored
>> you make the flat statement:
>> " A somewhat smaller problem confronting preservation is that new
>> media art has no universally recognised
>> "masters' "masterworks' or 'movements'. There are artists who have
>> been exhibited more than others
>> but there is no Rembrandt of New Media art'- as you point out this has
>> significant impact on conservation
>> and archiving strategies that are elaborated in chapter 5, 9 and 13
>> and feeds into your social memory theme
>> in a meeting in holland in 1996 i think we had a meeting of a number
>> of people including jurgen claus,otto piene
>> annick bureaud and others and we hashed this 'are there masterpieces
>> of new media art' topic and
>> agreed that there were however key works that somehow in our memory
>> were turning points- annick
>> already to her watching charlotte morman levitating during art
>> transitions at mit , but as someone
>> who has served on numerous ars electronica and other juries i can
>> remember the delight we had when
>> works like rokeby's "very nervous sytem', sommerer.mignoneau
>> interactive plants, char davies ephemere,
>> kac's genesis, jeffrey shaw's legible city just to name a few emerged
>> in the exhibition landscape
>> one of the interesting aspects of new media art it seems to me is that
>> the works cross link in
>> the history of art, the history of technology and the history of
>> science so that a key work can
>> be remembered because it broke a technical impediment and led to
>> artists mastery over medium=
>> certainly in shaw's legible city, the aha was the break from the
>> keyboard interface and the idea of bicycling
>> around a virtual space-if you think of much of the key work by the
>> vasulkas= the achievement is a combination
>> of key work in art and key work in interactive technologies- similarly
>> oron catts and iona zurr's semi living
>> worry dolls - are interesting both because of their place in art
>> history but also in the cultural appropriation of science
>> in some cases the key work that innovative technologically at the time
>> gets overtaken because the
>> technology is superceded - the kinect and wii make irrelevant to some
>> extent some of the key techological
>> aspects of early key works= as annick noted she is working on the
>> history of art and the french minitel
>> which the internet made obsolete as a technical solution but that
>> doesnt mean that that key minitel art work isnt
>> still significant in the history ofart/science/tech and certainly in
>> our social memory of the times those works are still important to
>> i think the concept of key works rather than masterpieces is
>> consistent with out post-modern non canon building sensibilities
>> and can provide guidance to conservator and curators on which work to
>> archive first- and that this needs to be in
>> the framework of the history of art+science+technology not just the
>> history of art - this is problematical of course- in
>> san francisco the computer history museum, the SF museum of modern art
>> and the academy of sciences have
>> curators formed in very different ways, and art historians or curators almost
>> never talk to science historians or technology historians and curators
>> roger malina
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HOW TO UNSUBSCRIBE: on the info page, scroll all the way down and enter your e-mail address in the last field. Enter password if asked. Click on the unsubscribe button on the page that will appear ("options page").
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