Hello again Yasminers,
I read Johannes Goebel's text with interest and have a few responses that I hope are relevant and will further the current discussion.
First though; I had to chuckle, Johannes, when I read that, in the EMPAC venue as a time-based arts venue, you tend not to leave exhibitions up for a long time in part because of the nature of much of the work and in part because everyone comes to the opening night and then maybe the weekend after and thereafter is little foot traffic. But of course, this last part is also true of many standard museums, especially smaller ones, despite our best intentions in adhering to the museum default of a 2.5 month long exhibition (which, I suspect, has less to do with a theoretical notion of how much time is needed to activate these objects, and more to do with how much work a director can drive their staff to do over the course of a year :)
Your thoughts on time-based media/arts were especially interesting because upon these theoretical points hinge real tractable decisions about how to preserve new media artworks. I'm reminded of a comment Jon received (Jon, correct me if I'm wrong) when he was at the Guggenheim initiating the Variable Media Initiative and their Conservator Carol Stringari said to him something to the effect that no artworks are actually static; that all artworks are time-based - in how they are created, how they are perceived, and how they change (even when in a vault) that it's only a difference in the quantities of time. But at the other end of this continuum is another truth - that quantitative differences among classes of works (ie time-based) necessitate qualitative shifts in thinking about preservation. Seeing these two views on a continuum rather than as a binary led Jon and I to frame the topic of our book (http://re-collection.net) as having new media at the center (where the most urgency and newest challenges lay) but having other time-based arts and even traditional art forms at the edges because the enclosed strategies may apply to them too.
Johannes; regarding your thoughts on notation as it relates to preservation documentation; yes, yes, and yes. I think you'll find much concord in our book. You mention that musical notation requires context and interpretation whereas computer code is executed in a less ambiguous process....yes! And this distinction between prescription and description is exactly why we/I use musical notation and not code as the analogy for the type of preservation documentation needed for media art. The Media Art Notation System, as proposed, does not attempt to function as the code that may have been used in a specific work, nor to represent the code, but to represent the work at another level - a human language recipe, not a machine-language executable. We need a form of documentation that exhibits this level of abstraction, (and here I feel that I'm merely paraphrasing you) that through repeated interpretive acts, remains fluid and avoids attempting to freeze a time-based work in one form. Musical notation provides a widely-understood analogy for this type of documentation (though a recipe would do equally well) that is future-oriented, aiding in the re-making (or re-imagining) of the work as opposed to recordings that document a past state of the work - but of course it's just an analogy, not a map.
In the end, I am very much intrigued by your last question about whether there might be an approach that does not attempt to re-program or revive the work, but re-imagines it! This feels right to me, but my intuition is countered by my super-ego that forces me to ask - if we take this approach to its logical ends, then whither history, historic accuracy and integrity? How can we / should we attempt to balance the two? Am I seeing another binary here where there should be a continuum?
Samek Art Museum
Lewisburg, PA, 17837
On Jul 29, 2014, at 12:59 PM, roger malina wrote:
> we have received a long and thoughtful essay by Johannes Goebel
> on the conservation and restoration of new media art, informed by
> his work at ZKM and EMPAC
> the esssay is too long to post here in its entirety so we have
> deposited the whole text in thoughtmesh
> if you are not familiar with thoughtmesh i recommend you take
> a look-its an interesting text networking system that Jon Ippolito
> ThoughtMesh generates tags to connect scholarly essays published on
> different Web sites.
> the whole text by Johannes Goebel is available at
> and we encourage you to post responses on YASMIN or on thoughtmesh
> roger malina
> Dear all,
> (from Johannes Goebel)
> Having written my previous contribution regarding media
> art/time-based art/performing arts in a kind of a fit, I would like to comment
> and modify and maybe extend a little, also evoked by what Jon and Richard
> I certainly did not want to pose that performing arts
> institutions are better fit to present or preserve the art at the center of
> this discussion. From my experience they are not at all a better fit. They have
> an equally limited focus, which does not encompass "all time-based
> arts". They are focused on works, which have a
> "well-defined" beginning and an equally defined end. Their institutional,
> production and infrastructural framework does not support for instance
> installations. And they are not focused on documenting either. The moment of
> the performance, of the shared time between beginning and end and artists and
> audience is at the heart of their program.
> I should not have written that time-based arts fall under
> performing arts. That is kind of stupid and was meant in a provocative way. On
> the contrary: I think that performing arts may be seen as a sub-set of
> time-based arts.
> We have taken this perspective for our curatorial
> perspective, commissioning and programing here at EMPAC "" we have a
> full infrastructure (spaces, venues,
> technology, team members), which may serve traditional performing arts "" but in
> addition we have an infrastructure, expertise and perspective that supports
> media/variable-media/installation/interactive/performance/performing arts .
> From an institutional
> perspective we have difficulties with the format of longer-term exhibitions
> like a museum "" not so much because we cannot deal with it, but because of our
> location and context. We do not have much foot-traffic, where people come by
> like at a gallery or in part of the city with quite a few galleries in one
> sector. We are not at the heart of a campus that has an emphasis on humanities
> and arts. We are not a museum with many exhibitions or exhibited art works
> where one can stroll through and if one piece is of no interest one moves on to
> another. We have public spaces we can and do use for more exhibition-like works
> "" but dedicating one or more of the large studios to exhibitions over an
> extended period of time is not of very much value, since the most people come
> to the opening and maybe the following weekend "" and then again no foot-traffic
> after that "
> this text is continued at:
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SBSCRIBE: click on the link to the list you wish to subscribe to. In the page that will appear ("info page"), enter e-mail address, name, and password in the fields found further down the page.
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").
TO ENABLE / DISABLE DIGEST MODE: in the options page, find the "Set Digest Mode" option and set it to either on or off.
If you prefer to read the posts on a blog go to http://yasminlist.blogspot.com/