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sectorinstituut voor e-cultuur Damrak 70 - 6.54

sector institute for e-culture 1012 LM Amsterdam

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info @ virtueelplatform.nl

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archive2020 Introduction
Digitisation of archives has opened up possibilities for access
to huge quantities of material, be it text, image or audiovisual.
SUSTAINABLE The heritage sector is increasingly aware of the value its ar-
chives have for a professional audience and the broader public.
ARCHIVING OF They see the digitisation of their collections and the use of
BORN - DIGITAL new techniques as improving access to their collections. In ad-
dition, cultural organizations increasingly recognize the val-
CULTURAL CONTENT ue of recording, streaming online and archiving their confer-
ences, performances and other live events, and of implementing
content management systems that make this content accessible.
Born-digital is a term derived from the According to a recent report, BBC’s Radio 4 has taken to using the
field of digital preservation and digital word ‘archive’ as a noun, without a definite or indefinite arti-
heritage practises, describing digital cle, as in, ‘the programme will feature archive to tell the story
materials that are not intended to have of …’. The same article highlights that there are even four ‘ar-
an analogue equivalent, either as the chived’ volumes of the computer game Sonic the Hedgehog available
originating source or as a result of con- for purchase, inviting fans to ‘travel back in time to where it
version to analogue form. 1 all began’. 2 In the Netherlands the National Archive has always
been called the National Archive, but its equivalent in the UK
has just changed its name from the UK Public Record Office to The
National Archives, implying that archives are collective memory 0•1
banks instead of state instruments.
At the same time many artworks created specifically for online
purposes have already disappeared, victims of new standards,
high-speed Internet connections or their own time-based design.
Artists and cultural organizations alike face the challenge of
developing sustainable, long-term systems to document and access
their knowledge. There is also a growing interest and awareness
on the part of the general public about the perils of born-digital
content. Newspapers report about ‘online history facing extinc-
tion’, ‘seeking clarity on archiving e-mails’ and ‘forget storage
if you want your files to last’. All the above point to the need to
understand the nature of this new type of material, or to put it
simply: what does archiving mean in the Internet era?

Archives have the important task of saving cultural heritage from

being lost forever. The field of archiving born-digital material
has to deal with documents that are characterized by their dynamic
nature, leading to difficulties in the archiving process. Rather
than discussing the pros and cons of the digital world we need to
examine the conditions of the digital realm and its effects in con-
crete terms. What, indeed, is the nature of born-digital material
and how can we analyze it? Should we prioritize the preservation
of the computer programs designed especially to make these works
1 A brief archaeology of the term ‘born-digital’ can be found
on our website: http://www.virtueelplatform.nl/en/#2564.
Also see the list of definitions on the Digital Preservation 2 Breakell, Sue, ‘Perspectives: Negotiating the Archive’, in TATE Papers, Issue 9, Spring 2008.
Coalition website: http://www.dpconline.org/advice/ Link: http://www.tate.org.uk/research/tateresearch/tatepapers/08spring/breakell.shtm.
accessible and legible over and above the evolution of software
and hardware? Or do we need to find other methods such as record- REPORT:
ing, emulation and migration? And how can the contexts these works
dealt with be preserved? Knowledge transfer is important but what
does it mean – what is the significance and importance of know-
Annet Dekker
ledge transfer? These data are relative and we have to operate under
this condition and so, at times, we have to be pragmatic. With this In May 2009 Virtueel Platform organized Archive 2020, an expert
publication Virtueel Platform wants to get to the core of these meeting that focused on the longevity and sustainability of born-
issues: how manifold are they, who is dealing with them, and how, digital content produced by cultural organizations or practition-
and what is needed and necessary. We have asked several stakeholders ers.3 The term ‘born-digital’ refers to ‘digital materials that
from different disciplines to write down their experiences, find- are not intended to have an analogue equivalent, either as the
ings and solutions. These specialists from the area of born-digital originating source or as a result of conversion to analogue form’.4
preservation and archiving reflect on the current state of affairs The archiving of such content has received very little attention
in their specific field and identify the most pressing concerns. in the Netherlands, to the extent that, unless immediate steps are
taken, we could soon talk of a ‘digital Dark Age’ in which valu-
Established Internet artist Martine Neddam elaborates on the able content is lost to future generations. The aim of the expert
challenges an Internet artist faces over the years, from domain meeting was therefore to examine existing examples of these types
name registration expirations, to database back-ups, recent of archives and determine which issues need to be addressed if we
updates and much more. Researchers and artists Anne Laforet, are to champion their growth in the short and long term. Some of
Aymeric Mansoux and Marloes de Valk explain the benefits of using the questions that Virtueel Platform raised included:
0•2 FLOSS and open standards for preserving born-digital material. 0•3
Florian Cramer, lecturer at the Piet Zwart Institute in Rotterdam, • Which born-digital cultural archives already exist and what
reflects on the PRINT/pixel international conference that lessons can we learn from them?
was organized in May 2009, and discusses the issue of digital • Can a community establish its own archive without an institu-
print material. Departing from the closure of two important tional structure?
advocates for media art preservation – the Daniel Langlois • Could a community-driven approach with social software help
Foundation and the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute – Canadian develop innovative strategies for group archiving? How can
researcher and writer Caitlin Jones focuses on the issue of new and traditional tools best be merged to improve access
responsibility for keeping our media art heritage alive. Gaby and improve usability?
Wijers, head of Collection and Conservation at NIMk, Amsterdam
and Gabriele Blome, art historian, University of Siegen, Germany, Representatives from international museums, organizations and
shed light on the first internationally shared online archive artists’ initiatives convened in Amsterdam in May 2009 for a
GAMA – the Gateway to European Media Art. Australian curator and frank dialogue regarding the current state of born-digital
researcher Lizzie Muller draws attention to the importance of cap- archives. The meeting provided a unique opportunity for both
turing audience experiences when dealing with the preservation major collecting institutes and small artists’ archives to re
of born-digital cultural material. Jeroen van Mastrigt, lecturer consider the ways in which archives of born-digital cultural
at the Art, Media and Technology Faculty of the Utrecht School of content are created, managed, disseminated and preserved.
the Arts (HKU-KMT) in Hilversum, discusses archiving strategies
in gaming. This anthology concludes with a recent report by Starting points
Digital Heritage Netherlands, which has conducted quantitative The participants grappled with the challenges and opportunities
research into born-digital cultural heritage in the Netherlands. posed by existing online archives. We asked them to send us questions
or statements relating to the theme of Archive 2020. Of course, the
Together with a report of the Archive 2020 expert meeting, organized questions were manifold but could be summarized as follows:
by Virtueel Platform in May 2009, this publication is a first step
3 Virtueel Platform organised the event in con- 4 Sourced from the list of Definitions and Con-
towards understanding the challenges facing born-digital archiving
sultation with Digital Heritage Netherlands, cepts on the Digital Preservation Coalition
and how to remedy these in an energetic and growing digital world. The Netherlands Institute for Heritage and website: http://www.dpconline.org/advice/
Netherlands Media Art Institute. introduction-definitions-and-concepts.html.
Annet Dekker, Virtueel Platform, May 2010
The first question concerned the nature of a born-digital archive: Group discussions
• Does archiving born-digital works raise problems that require In order to direct the small group discussions we invited rep-
new solutions? resentatives from several established and emerging archives to
• What does the act of archiving mean in terms of activity, software present their archives and highlight the problems and challenges
support, etc.? they faced. Each case involved a series of specific issues. 5 These
• Could we regard archiving as a process? issues were analyzed, compared and discussed.
• Should digital archives set up a retention policy or should
they keep all the content and metadata and invest in search Christiane Paul – Whitney Artport: Internet art in a museum con-
engine technology? text: preservation strategies and initiatives.
• How can we safeguard and archive contextual information (the Eric Kluitenberg – The Living Archive: The Living Archive aims
context in which the work came into being, was commented on, and to create a model in which the documentation of ongoing cultural
contributed to)? processes, archived materials, ephemera and discursive practices
is interwoven as seamlessly as possible. Approaching the ‘ar-
Not surprisingly, these questions gave rise to issues about the chive’ as a discursive principle.
notions of visibility and accessibility of archives: Olga Goriunova – Runme.org: Looking at the archive as a process:
• How can the quality of content in new archives be ensured within ethical considerations when dealing with aesthetic and historical
the larger and mostly institutional discourse? change.
• Should special organizations be established to research and Monika Fleischmann & Wolfgang Strauss – Netzspannung.org: The ar-
systematically document media art, i.e., organizations that chive as a constantly living and growing entity, and the possi-
bundle relevant information, or should this task be transferred bilities of using semantic mapping as a tool that organizes the
0•4 to traditional institutes such as museums (which, in some content in new ways each time it is visited. 0•5
countries, are not very open to born-digital artworks)? Esther Weltevrede: The appearance of a web archive when captur-
• Can an archive survive outside the museum structure? ing hyperlinks, search engine results, and other digital objects.
• How can we make archives more visible and increase access? Saving relevant aspects besides the digital document, and how
to repurpose born-digital devices (search engines, platforms and
Related to this notion of accessibility was, of course, a concern recommendation systems) for web archiving.
about the dissemination of the content, ways of possible reuse, Aymeric Mansoux – art.deb: Using live distribution systems, re-
and the role communities could play in this process: positories, virtual machines and servers as more stable and last-
• How can the knowledge about archiving born-digital content and ing infrastructures for software art.
digital archiving be disseminated and be made available to pro- Alessandro Ludovico – Neural: What individual and small archives
fessionals and laymen; in other words, how open can an archive be? can learn from shared collaborative platforms.
• Should we design archives that facilitate the re-use or remix-
ing of material, or the creation of mash-ups? What examples We did not expect to provide answers to all the questions, nor did
already exist? we believe there would be single perfect solutions for each of the
• What role can communities play in strengthening connections problems raised. This meeting of professionals and peers was fore-
between archives? most an inventory of the challenges associated with born-digital
• Will we ever find a way to build a global archive – and do we archives. In this sense, the meeting was notable for the forum it
want to? provided for sharing and comparing experiences and priorities,
but also because a group of professionals from various countries
And, obviously, the most pressing concern is who will pay for and organizations came together to devote attention to critical
this. How will these archives deal with their funding? aspects of born-digital cultural content, discuss the potential
• How can financial stability be guaranteed for non-institutional benefits of sharing information, and learn from each other. As was
and/or informal online archives and platforms? stated at the end of the day:
• What can be learned from new funding models that differ from
‘traditional’ institutional or project-based funding?
5 More information about these archives and the biographies of the presenters can be read on our
website: http://www.virtueelplatform.nl/archive2020.
‘There is an increasing overlap between the problems relating a vital step. Another strategy that some national archives use is
to the different types of archives (small, large, government– ‘scanning on demand’, i.e., content is only digitised when someone
private, art, documentary, and audiovisual archives) with regard asks for it. Issues of invisibility and choice will still remain,
to storage, opening up and accessibility to the digital domain, of course.
which are, to a degree, becoming increasingly similar. Issues In order to highlight the problem a general call went out to write
such as authenticity and integrity, selection and documentation, books and publish articles and reviews in magazine or newspapers:
reproducibility, recording interactivity, etc., impact on all ‘the online’ has to become physical. This includes organizing
areas and are bound up with the type of collection that is being exhibitions that will emphasize the urgency of preservation. 7
managed, to a greater degree than in the analogue era.’ There was also a call to change the term ‘digital preservation’
into ‘permanent access’, which might provide an impetus to the
Emerging issues understanding and importance of the work. Everyone was in favour
The working groups made many interesting remarks and raised sever- of devoting more attention to presentation and exposure.
al issues that require attention. Some participants were already
familiar with the field of contemporary art conservation, but some Sustainability
very specific issues also emerged from the discussions. In order to ensure a longer lifespan for born-digital cultural
content, it was suggested that online archives should share re-
Documentation strategies: sponsibility in a bottom-up approach: create or organise a network
From Darwinistic Archiving to standardisation and DIY that feels responsible and is involved in the process or with the
A new strategy for the future re-creation of software art was content of the work. One could think in terms of social network-
suggested, aptly referred to as ‘Jack the Wrapper’, which would ing strategies that collaborate on creating shared resources and
0•6 involve putting all the software in a box and describing and knowledge. A certain level of centralisation was seen as impor- 0•7
documenting the entire artwork so that it could be cloned in the tant, if only to clarify and distribute responsibilities. Another
future. But, as was clearly demonstrated, not all born-digital approach to explore would be to integrate archiving into existing
material is easily documented and packaged. The term ‘Darwinistic institutions and have them apply for project funding. While this
Archiving’ was suggested, referring to the survival of the best- strategy has many positive aspects it is important that everyone
documented artworks. in the institute is aware of the activities involved in a project
Discussions about these issues focused on whether different strat- and that it is not in the hands of one (enthusiastic) individual.
egies should be considered. For example, should we focus on docu- Moreover, the procedures to follow if funding stops must be
mentation instead of trying to preserve complete works? 6 There unambiguous. Another strategy was to distribute the work as
was general agreement that not everything can be saved, and that much as possible: think of remixing strategies and an approach
the most informative parts that convey the main idea of the work Kevin Kelly calls ‘movage’: the more it is out there, the more
should be prioritized. This attitude echoes current strategies in it is seen, and the better it is archived. Although contested,
contemporary art preservation. To what extent will the increas- standardisation should also be considered. The same indexing
ing democratization of the technology that is used also democra- standards will improve access, but an international task force is
tize the responsibility to preserve digital works? And at the same needed to deal with this. Instead of traditional methods one could
time, does archiving as a human-led centralized practice have any investigate strategies similar to the Wikipedia model.
future – Internet storage and archiving can already cache data
in two dimensions (location and time/revision)? Human or machine Responsibility
preservation aside, the most important concern was who decides The discussion about sustainability inevitably led to the issue
and selects the material. Since most of the content is (not yet) of responsibility: who is responsible and what is the role of the
collected in museum structures, their future as well as the choice artist, programmer, curator, museum and audience? A suggestion was
of what to preserve becomes more problematic. made to increase the responsibility of the artists and make them
Other suggestions included documenting process. Instead of saving aware of the problem by introducing preservation strategies into
the original code it might be better to make a diagram that repre-
6 The question of the differences between docu- 7 Some successful examples were named, for exam-
sents all the possible states and scenarios of the work. Recording
mentation and preservation was followed up by ple, the 2004 Guggenheim exhibition Seeing
the work to video – as both a desktop video and a context video – CRUMB, on their discussion list in June. For Double and the To clean or not to clean -
to capture the original work and how it was experienced would be more information see their achive: schoonmaken van kunstwerken op zaal exhibition
https://www.jiscmail.ac.uk/cgi-bin/webadmin? at the Kröller-Müller Museum, the Netherlands,
A2=ind0906&L=NEW-MEDIA-CURATING&D=0&P=1452. in 2009.
funding applications, for example. However, referring to Darwin-
istic Archiving, this raises the question of what is considered
more important: the quality of the work or the preservation strat-
egy. Institutes and museums, or even universities, who have more Lev Manovich Lecture Paradiso, Amsterdam, 17 May 2009
resources and expertise, should receive more attention. These in-
stitutes could assume a coordinating role, so that smaller organi- Swedish broadcasting corporations have
zations or individuals can participate. A ‘funding for research’ assembled an archive of over seven million
approach was suggested to make it beneficial for both sides.8 Be- hours of material. The number of photo-
cause the web is made by individuals and not by organizations the graphs uploaded to Flickr far exceeds the
network community and users appealed for a strategy to mobilise total number of objects preserved globally
these people and make them aware of their self-sustainability. 9 In in art museums. Google Books is digitising
some cases, this would also better reflect the origin and process and indexing books from libraries around the
of the work. world; the ARTstor website includes almost a
million images of art objects. Concurrently,
Urgent actions have to be taken with the growth in the production of cul-
Central to the discussions at the meeting was the participants’ tural objects, there is also an increase
high level of commitment and their sense of urgency, and there was in the amount of software that can be used
a general agreement that the primary focus should be on: for analytical purposes. How will people in
the future regard the data we leave behind,
• Raising awareness: About the websites of artists, curators, and how will they navigate such a seemingly
0•8 organizations, museums as well as of funding bodies; endless stream of data?
• Funding: Preservation strategies could be included in funding Preceding the Archive 2020 expert meeting
applications. ‘Artists should make digital wills’; Virtueel Platform invited cultural analyst
• Accessibility, open standards: Because most institutions have Lev Manovich to shed light on new approaches
specific demands, open source software can provide the flex- to using archival material. Drawing on
ibility that is needed in the field as well as provide a sound Cultural Analytics research conducted over
basis with universal standards; the last few years at the University of
• Knowledge sharing: Also between different disciplines (music, California, San Diego, Manovich discussed
broadcasting, gaming, science, oral history); theoretical and methodological issues that
• Research and best practice: Examine existing archives and how arise when we start treating culture as
they function, as well as publish examples of best practices and data. What will happen when the humanities
unsuccessful strategies. This will create a shared knowledge start using interactive visualisations
base and foster the learning process; as a standard tool in their work, the way
• Presentation: Create urgency by showcasing, presenting and pub- many scientists do already? If slides were
lishing. In the end it is vital that each work has more possi- the tools of art history, and movie pro-
bilities for presentation. Make the field visible. jectors and video recorders the tools of
film studies, what new cultural disciplines
We would very much like to thank the speakers, the reporters and might emerge from the use of interactive
of course all the participants of Archive 2020 for their efforts, visualisation and data analysis of large
insightful comments, and their genuine optimism that the sustain- cultural data sets? Cultural Analytics has
able archiving of born-digital material is just over the horizon. demonstrated that it is possible to look
A special thanks goes to Niels Kerssens who helped process all the beyond a narrow collection of standard
data and the notes of the discussions and talks. works. This reveals patterns that nobody
noticed before. We are no longer considering
a small sampling of culture, but the total
distribution, the totality of cultural
8 It was mentioned that the Daniel Langlois 9 Turbulence and Rhizome work in this way.
Foundation had participated in similar projects.
annet dekker archive2020
Annet Dekker is program manager at
Virtueel Platform, Amsterdam. Her
main interests are the influence of
digital media and popular culture on
art, and vice versa. She worked as
a curator and head of exhibitions
and education at Netherlands Media

Art Institute (NIMk) in Amsterdam.
Besides her activities for Virtueel
Platform, Annet works as a freelance
curator and is currently writing her
Ph.D. thesis, ‘Archaeology of the
Future: Strategies for Documenting
Net Art’, at the Centre for Cultural
Studies, Goldsmiths, University of
London, under the supervision of
Matthew Fuller.


file under

Darwinistic Archiving, standardization,

DIY, sustainability, responsibility,
accessibility, funding, knowledge
Martine Neddam
sharing, best practices, presentation,
Jack the Wrapper
ZEN AND THE ART Your domain name has expired
You usually receive several re-

OF DATABASE minders from your registrar warn-

ing you about the impending ex-
MAINTENANCE piry date of your domain name. The
first one arrives three months
Martine Neddam before the date, which is much too
early to spend any time on, so you
In the context of Archive delete that e-mail until, a few
2020 Virtueel Platform asked weeks later, another warning from
Martine Neddam to write down your registrar suddenly feels
some of the technical experi- like an emergency threatening to
ences that she encountered in stop everything you’re doing. You
the years that she has been grab your credit card and try to
making Internet art. renew your registration online.

The warning message, which should have come at just the right moment,
never arrived because you had suppressed that old e-mail address,
which you thought was only full of spam anyway.
Finally, you remember the expiry date just one day before it’s due.
You want to log onto the registrar’s site but you don’t remember 1•1
which registrar it was. Network Solutions? The one from the Origins?
Directnic, the cheapest, you know? Your own webhost? (Most webhosts
handle domain name registrations but transfers from other registrars
don’t always work.)
You finally work out which of your five different registrars is the
correct one, but can’t find the necessary login code and password
because you last used it two years ago. You eventually manage to en-
ter the registrar’s interface, but when you want to pay for renewal
(three years, that’s the maximum here), your credit card is rejected,
and after three attempts, concerned that your credit card number is
being hijacked, you stop trying, while your domain name shows no sign
of having been renewed.
Your domain name has now expired, and you receive regular warnings,
but you can’t find a way to contact this particular registrar, except
via the website that refuses your credit card. There, you can use a
support page, which sends back automatic replies with a very long
code number in the subject header, but this is never followed by a
real message written by a human being responding to your complaint.
Your domain name has finally fallen into the hands of ‘domain-name-
snatchers’, the resellers of domain names. Now you’ll find a porn
site under your domain name, or a webpage promoting the sale of ex-
pensive domain names (why isn’t yours included in the list?), or a
portal redirecting you to different commercial sites organized by
All your content is still exactly in the same place on your server
at the webhost, but nobody will ever be able to find it without your
domain name. Search engines won’t be able to find it either, and be- We don’t accept online documentation
cause of their long-term memory and archives, will remember the old You are assembling your documentation to apply for a grant from
domain name forever. How long will it take you to rebuild your link- The Netherlands Foundation for Visual Arts, Design and Architec-
age under a different domain name and have the same ranking in the ture (Fonds BKVB). In their guidelines you read that they accept
search engines? Will your domain name ever become available for a new digital files and websites, but only on a CD-ROM and not online.
registration? You call them and insist that your site has a database with impor-
tant user-generated content and can only run online. They explain
Couldn’t connect to database that it’s their archival policy to keep and store the information
You are browsing your site, Once your webhost went down and material from all the artists they sponsor, which is why they
clicking on a link to review the while you were presenting a requested your website on a CD-ROM. Besides, they want to be 100
next entry on a board and sud- lecture about your website at per cent certain that the documentation is available for the jury
denly the message ‘couldn’t con- a conference about art on the which only gathers once a month, so they don’t want to run a risk
nect to database’ appears (or a Internet. Out of desperation you with your information on a website.
much more obscure message with tried to browse your site from So you decide to make screen snapshots of the database, a large se-
the same meaning). Your site is your local copy but the pages ries of pictures that you edit to a proper size and jpg format. You
there, the top of the page is displayed all the PHP codes add reference titles and descriptions of the contents and combine
there, but the dynamic content is instead of the dynamic content. all of this in a multiple window website (not online) that you de-
no longer accessible. Confronted by all this code and sign for the occasion, and it ends up being quite an elegant simu-
You become aware that your dynam- your evident confusion, your lation of the user-generated content that can be browsed online.
ic content – in other words, the audience became really impa- It is time-consuming work, but the results are good enough and the
1•2 entries of all your users – is tient and didn’t even believe grant is awarded. 1•3
stored on a different server, the you really were the author of a Ultimately you work out that this visual simulation might prove
MySql server, which might be down virtual character. Later, you useful, and you decide to always keep a copy of this CD-ROM with
while your http server is still ask your database programmer you, in your bag, so that you can provide an offline impression of
up and running. You realise that if you could keep a copy of the your website at any given moment, on any computer.
your website is hosted on two database on your hard disk – just But the next time you want to use that CD-ROM, only a year later,
separate servers, on two separate in case, even if it’s not up to you discover that the javascripts supporting the pop-up windows do
hard disks, which doubles your date – but he explains that the not function anymore; they have become outdated and are now incom-
chances of downtime. only way to do this is to run a patible with most browsers.
As the years go by and your us- local server, which is far too Hopefully nobody at the Fonds BKVB archives will ever look at the
ers’ participation continues and complicated for you to sort out, contents of your CD-ROM again.
your database expands, becoming especially if you’re using a Mac
the most precious part of your and it’s pre-OSX, with OS9 not Database back-ups
art, you are constantly confront- being able to run a local server. Your database programmer once very heterogeneous collection of
ed with the many complexities of You try to accept the situation made a mistake in which the time- snippets of texts.
having a database server. but sometimes your relationship stamp of your entire database was Fortunately, the webhost had a
You have a local copy of your with the Internet feels like destroyed. All your users’ en- policy of a completely backing-up
website on the hard disk of your you are a child depending on tries and all the text in your data every two days and could re-
personal computer, including all its parents, being disconnected database were still there, in the trieve a two-day-old version of
the html pages, images and Flash for brief moments each day. right categories, but all under your database with the time-stamp
files, which is normal since you Sometimes you feel like you are one date: 1.1.1970. intact. Just in time, because few
created all of them on that com- a part of the Internet in the This was an incredible disas- hours later the back-up system
puter. But your database only ex- same way that an unborn baby is ter, but a very ironic one: you would have overwritten a new back
ists online on the database serv- part of its mother, nourished by would rather have lost the en- up with an invalid time-stamp.
er. You can only display your the umbilical cord while resting tire database than just this That’s when you realised the value
website through an Internet con- inside a soft bubble. small ‘piece of time’, which was, of having a back-up system of your
nection and not from a local copy. you realised, the backbone of a own and should no longer rely on
the webhost performing miracles. dam, and has a great deal of ex- You realise that a number of your participants are ‘hooked’ on your
So, do you have a good automatic perience in security and back-up website and you wonder what would happen if you died. How long would
back-up system of your own now? issues. You were reassured by it take for them to give up on your site? You think that this could
his knowledge and his promise be the measure of the attention span of a dedicated contributor.
To be honest, you don’t really that he would set up your back-
know…. up system. On the Internet nobody knows you’re dead…
A good back-up system would Now, writing this, you realize Like all human beings you’ve system and the webhosting can
automatically store a version that you haven’t discussed this no doubt fantasised about your be renewed at least one more
of your complete database on a particular problem with Zenuno own death. In which ways would year without my intervention.
different hard disk every two since you first raised it, as you be missed, how you would be My credit card is renewed every
days, and perhaps save one extra each time you contacted him remembered, etc.? two years, in January. If I die
version each month in case of since then, it was because you As a virtual person you fantasise now, how long will my site stay
unnoticed damage. You discussed needed help with a different about how long Internet access online and what will be removed
it with Zenuno, a very gentle emergency, and the back-up issue to your site and your data- first?’
database programmer who helps wasn’t part of that emergency. base system would survive your ‘After my death how many people
you run your server on a volun- So you’re not certain if you actual death. will have surfed my site before
tary basis. Zenuno works for a have a database back-up system If you died, how long would it is removed?’ This is an easy
Portuguese government website or not, and if you do, you don’t it take your contributors to question and it can have a pre-
in Lisbon but is based in Amster- really know what it does. realize that nobody is main- cise, numerical answer through
taining the site anymore? If your web statistics, and long
1•4 Recent updates and user complaints they send complaints about a after your site has disappeared, 1•5
None of the content provided by users of your site is published ‘dead site’ nobody will publish the free statistics (webstats-
automatically. Everything you receive, all the reactions to the them, so the information about motigo) site you are using will
different works of online art, enters a customized moderator’s the lack of maintenance will not still provide this information
interface where you read, classify, publish or delete the entries. alert anyone. Nobody will know to anyone requesting it.
When an entry is published the author receives an e-mail informing you’re dead. Who has the codes, or your web-
him of its publication, with a link that enables him to delete Sometimes, you start to calcu- site, database and server IDs,
his e-mail address from your database, all this wrapped inside late mentally: ‘My webhosting and who can use them after your
a special narrative by Mouchette, written in her house style and is paid by the year and is due death?
related to each online narrative. for renewal in August. My do- Should you leave a will concern-
You never publish immediately, you always want to wait a few days main registration is paid for ing all digital data?
before you put the text online and notify the author. Your intention two years and is due for renewal How much of your digital data
is to shape your online relationship with the participating user in February. The registrar will will stay in the public domain
in order to increase the attention span from a few minutes to a few delete the domain name immedi- and how much of it do you want to
days. If the delays last too long, a week for example, the attention ately after expiry but at least remove?
might be lost and your e-mail becomes a message from an intruder the webhost will tolerate one Shouldn’t you already be erasing
at best; in most cases it is marked as spam and is blocked by the or two months of unpaid host- your traces?
spam filter. ing before deleting the site. My What kind of peace will you find
If you go on holiday and decide to avoid all computers for a couple of credit card number is in their in your digital afterlife?
weeks – which rarely happens – you hope that your users will forget
about you in the same way you try to forget about them, but what Captchas and worms
usually happens is the reverse: you are flooded with complaints and To prevent unwanted comments from entering your database you can
insults about a ‘dead site’ which is ‘never updated’. It’s comfort- use ‘captchas’ (titbits of warped texts, little visual riddles that
ing to know you have such faithful participants. To thank them for can only be solved by a human mind) to block access to automatic
their loyalty you immediately publish the complaints about a ‘dead scripts. You don’t have them because you couldn’t implement them
site’, tongue-in-cheek, classified in the ‘favourite’ category, in your database system, as it was built long before captchas
long before you publish the more serious or pleasant entries. existed. Consequently your database is trashed by several entries
arriving automatically each day containing links to Viagra sites Warning: server space available on earth
or online casinos. None of these are published on your site since It is a common misconception to think of cyberspace as independent
you moderate all the entries, and manually delete many of these of countries or a physical location. Nothing could be further
unwanted entries every day. Sometimes they arrive as full pages, from the truth. You often think that if your art were destroyed
so you need to read the entire text and recognize that one entry it wouldn’t be because of censorship or related to the content of
written by a human being among all the spam. your information, but because of unfortunate local circumstances:
You become infuriated by the amount of time you waste deleting spam. an asteroid could fall precisely where your data is stored at the
You think that the love of art cannot justify such an absurd daily webhost, and that would be the end of your art. Very unlikely, you
activity. You sigh…. But sometimes, while doing this, you picture admit. But a fire or accident at the place where your webhost has
yourself as a gardener sweeping away dead leaves or pulling weeds, their servers is a possibility, so is criminal destruction, if not
and then you smile. Since the battle against spam and nasty scripts targeting you, then possibly someone else who stores their data on
is lost and you don’t believe any amount of codes can cure this the same hard disks. Google is said to have hidden the computers
evil, your last resort is your limitless imagination. While cleaning where they save all their users’ data in a secret underground
your database garden you start wondering if any of these unwanted bunker, which makes perfect sense because there must be many people
messages have ‘worms’, or are ‘worms’, self-replicating themselves who would like to bomb that location and you could probably imagine
inside your database or replicating the spam message. You groan, your yourself as one of them.
smile has disappeared and you spend the rest of your day reading Your first webhost, Widexs.nl, was Dutch, located somewhere close
anti-virus websites finding out about the ‘worms’ in your garden. to Schiphol (Amsterdam airport), and the servers were probably
there too. An airplane never fell on their building, but because all
Is it art or is it spam? the communication with the technicians was in Dutch, it sometimes
1•6 You were one of the first to cipient’s attention by insert- added to your worries, especially when a complaint about spam abuse 1•7
integrate the use of e-mail ing their name everywhere, using arrived and you had to defend your case with diplomacy. You failed.
within your artistic practise. this to simulate a one-on-one But you were rescued by a French art group who run their own servers
To advertise a new work online, relationship. After spam filters in their own venue. They hosted you for free, being honoured to
your virtual character would were improved, they could easily offer refuge to a banned Internet artist. They said they could
send an e-mail recounting a detect this type of subterfuge afford to ignore the complaints of spam abuse since they ran the
personal story about her life, and many of your art-related e- servers on their private computers. But one day the server failed.
addressing each recipient by mails were dumped in everybody’s Someone had gone on holiday, leaving his computer on, but locked
his or her first name. e-mail junk folder. And although in a closet for safety’s sake, and everyone had to wait until this
Your second virtual character you had no commercial intentions person returned from holiday to re-boot the server. Being hosted on
was designed to share his iden- and your bulk e-mails were very, servers run by artists wasn’t the safest option either.
tity, and to freely allow the use very modest in quantities, it be- After this episode all you wanted was to go back to a commercial
of his e-mail. He had a website came very difficult for your art webhost. You combined your efforts with one of the dissatisfied
from where you could send his not to pass for spam. And if your artists from the group who had rented a ‘virtual server’ at Amen.fr,
personal stories using his e- webhost received a complaint a commercial French webhost. You paid for all the server space
mail, and the interface allowed about spam abuse, he would remove while only using a small part in exchange for the artist’s help in
you to personalise the e-mail by your website. Explaining to your running your database and setting the server configurations for
placing the name of the intended webhost that your e-mails are you. At the time, you believed you couldn’t cope with these tasks;
recipient in the subject line or art, and not spam, couldn’t save moreover, the webhost server panels were all in French, which hap-
inserting in the body of the mes- the situation. The only option pens to be your mother tongue for everything, except computers.
sage. open to you was to move your con- Dangerous territorial specificities became an issue again some
At some point in the history of tent to another webhost, until time later when the French police started investigating you for
the Internet this type of per- the same problem happened again. promoting suicide through Mouchette.org. That took place in
sonally addressed e-mail became Each time the delay before your Marseille, the official address of the French artist renting the
a very popular device for spam- removal became shorter and after ‘virtual server’ where you were hosted. You hired a lawyer in
mers, who had also noticed how the fourth time, you resolved to Marseille to defend your case, which was the closest you ever got
easily they could attract a re- stop sending e-mails. to real crime in your entire life because you were sure the lawyer
was more of a criminal than you could ever be. The lawyer wanted to
address the question of territory because the accusation and search
warrant were issued by the French authorities, but the supposed
crime of promoting suicide was committed on Dutch territory where
you had a residence permit and created your website. Lawyers in
Marseille love crime so much they would use any kind of twisted
reasoning to confirm its existence, including jurisprudence
on the extraterritoriality of an Internet crime. Ultimately the
investigating judge ruled that no crime had been committed, and no
charges were pressed. The lawyer still billed you for a considerable
amount of money on the grounds that he had found the evidence that
the servers of Amen.fr were located on German soil (but he didn’t
know why).

Now you run your own ‘virtual server’ at Dreamhost.com, an American

Internet hosting company based on the West Coast, where business
likes to define itself as being a dream – meaning their own, of
course. They wouldn’t let you fulfil your own dream of using e-mail
functions as a part of your art, because they are a business,
after all.
1•8 Your ‘virtual server’ is called ‘Bernado Soares’, one of the
heteronyms of Fernando Pessoa, the author of The Book of Disquiet.
When you’re in trouble with the server or the database, you ask
the help of Zenuno, the same Portuguese programmer who helped you
before. This new constellation of people and places has a certain
sense of poetic ‘disquiet’, bringing you closer to a type of ‘Zen
and the Art of Database Maintenance’.

‘I’ is not the ultimate database system exchange of characteris-

configuration. tics.
How many times have you dreamt ‘You’ is a handy grammatical
of leaving everything behind, configuration that can be used
everything that made you who you for internal monologues since
are, and move to a new, uncon- you’re the addressed and the
nected life, escape the tyranny addressee all in one.
of your ego and find new love? When writing a text about per-
You made up a new set of data- sonal experience such as this
base configurations in charge one, ‘you’ embraces the reader
of saying ‘I’ for you, a virtual inside the experience as if it
character. And then another one. had happened to him or her.
And another…. After all, doesn’t everyone run
What was left behind (and never a database system?
disappeared) was something you
could call a ‘you’, a database

Ghostcity - http://mouchette.org/ghostcity.
martine neddam archive2020
Martine Neddam is an artist who uses
language as raw material. She has
worked with ‘speech acts’, modes of
address, words in the public space,
and has created a number of text
objects, both in museums and large-
scale public commissions, since the
late 1980s. She has been creating
virtual characters on the Internet
since 1996, who lead autonomous
artistic existences while never
revealing the real author. Martine
teaches at the Rietveld Academy in
Amsterdam and at the University of
Quebec in Montreal.


Martine Neddam authors and maintains 9





file under
Anne Laforet
database, registration, back-up, web-
hosting, updates, browsers, captchas
Aymeric Mansoux
and worms Marloes de Valk
How can artists contribute to an archive in
progress? The problems software art archives

PAPER, have to deal with are immense, and are often

linked to digital preservation problems faced

SCISSORS on a global level: storage media change and

age, and formats, operating systems, and soft-
AND ware and hardware are updated or discontinued…
Digital technology is evolving extremely rapid-
FLOPPY ly and very few strategies have been developed
to help preserve data for future generations.1
DISK Solving these global problems is well beyond
the reach of the individual artist, but there
Anne Laforet are strategies worth considering that prolong
Aymeric Mansoux the life of an artwork and aid in the develop-
Marloes de Valk ment of long-term solutions to these problems.
Using Free/Libre/Open Source Software (FLOSS)
to create work and publishing it using a copyleft license is one
of those. 2 It seems simple: having access to an artwork’s source
code and the source code of the software it depends on greatly
increases the possibilities of maintaining it and keeping it
operational. But the choices an artist faces when producing a 2•1
work, the choices an archivist faces when maintaining it, and the
tendencies within the world of software development – corporate
and FLOSS alike – all impact on the eventual lifespan of a work.
Are those artworks created using FLOSS and published with their
source code better suited for preservation than other software
art? Or is it best to forget about digital media all together and
stick to rock, paper and scissors?

Hard software
Digital art is stored and developed on an extremely short-lived
medium, and requires a constant migration process to avoid losing
data.3 This can be said of any medium, of course, but in the digit-
al realm, a single fragment of corrupted or missing data (bit rot)
results in the entire file becoming unreadable. This is a major
difference with analogue media. The race for new digital storage
solutions keeps on accelerating. Every week new progress is made,
making the previous medium obsolete. Though a very attractive com-
mercial strategy, it is lethal for the conservation of data. It
makes one wonder, not without irony, if writing down source code
on paper, even in the age of so-called cloud storage, is not one
of the most secure ways to safely preserve information.
Julian Oliver, Levelhead, 2008. 1 Such as the International Re- 2 Copyleft is a form of licens- 3 Data migration is needed when
search on Permanent Authentic ing that gives others the computer systems are upgraded,
Records in Electronic Systems freedom to run, copy, distrib- changed or merged, and in-
(InterPARES) project. ute, study, change and improve volves transferring data from
http://www.interpares.org. a work, and requires all one storage type, system or
modified versions of a work to format to another.
grant the same rights.
But even writing down source code on paper does not safeguard However, not all FLOSS frameworks provide the same degree of
a work of art. Hardware is only one part of the story. Software flexibility and scalability needed for long-term maintenance. Some
problems are just as detrimental. Software decay, 4 mostly happen- software is based on platforms that were meant as an educational
ing through planned obsolescence, 5 affects software art in two environment instead of a production framework. Their specifications
ways. The external software or framework, not written by the art- changed occasionally or they simply took a long time to mature,
ist, will be superseded sooner or later and even though backward such as, for example, Processing.11 The consequence of this is that
compatibility of an API 6 or file format is often advertised or the artist has to update his code frequently to make it work with
aimed for, it always has practical limitations. Furthermore, the the latest version of the platform, not to mention other likely
history of digital computing and media is still young and there headaches when looking at lower level software dependencies.12 Other
is not enough knowledge about the viability of current strategies artistic software is produced by microscopic communities or even an
to work around obsolescence in the long term. Modern computing is individual programmer. These projects are relatively small efforts,
already based on many legacy systems and it is highly questionable placing the work created with it in a very fragile position. Unlike
if such practices can be extended forever. 7 As such, there is no more popular software and languages, they are not backed up by an
miracle cure for software decay. industry or a community demanding stability. The software only
There is an option that will at least limit the extent of neces- works under very specific conditions at a very specific time.
sary data migration: the implementation and use of open standards. 8 Migrating such a work is a tremendous task, likely to involve the
Using open standards contributes to the interoperability between porting of a jungle of obscure libraries and frameworks.
software and is the safest choice when it comes to ensuring long- Choosing a certain framework not only affects the lifespan of a
term availability. 9 Interoperability simplifies combining dif- work, but, of course, has a major influence on the creative process
ferent software, resulting in less need for converting data to of the artist. 13 The choice for a less popular but artistically
2•2 other formats. 10 The most obvious example of open standards is the very interesting programming language is a very valid one and can 2•3
Internet, which would be a collection of inaccessible and incom- be worth the additional effort required to keep the work alive.
patible parts without them. Unfortunately, not all open standards More awareness about these issues is needed so that the choice of
are equally successful. They need to be widely adopted in order to framework can be made in an informed way.
survive, but this is not easily achieved. The greatest obstacle
is the reluctance of software companies to adopt them, a result of
the short-term commercial benefits of avoiding backward compati-
4 Software decay is a type of bit rot where soft- 9 ‘Obsolescence: File Formats and Software’, in
bility and interoperability, forcing users to keep purchasing and ware deteriorates due to a lack of updating. Digital Preservation Management Workshop and
upgrading software. The awareness of the need for open standards Tutorial, developed at Cornell University.
5 Each piece of software or technology carries Link: http://www.icpsr.umich.edu/dpm/dpm-eng/
is rising and even though they do not solve the entire problem of
its own planned ‘death’. Planned obsolescence oldmedia/obsolescence1.html.
data preservation, they do contribute to a long-term solution. was first developed in the 1920s and 1930s.
Bernard London coined the term in his 1932 10 For example, a digital artist or graphic de-
Choice of framework pamphlet ‘Ending the Depression Through signer can generate an image in the open Scal-
Planned Obsolescence’. able Vector Graphics (SVG) standard using, for
During the last decade, there has been a massive development example, a Python script, then load this SVG
of artistic software, presenting artists with an abundance of 6 An API (Application Programming Interface) is file in a more advanced editor such as Inkscape
production environments to choose from. Selecting the right one an interface that is used to access an applica- for further manipulation, and the final result,
tion or a service from a program. still as SVG, will be visible in a web browser
is essential when it comes to the lifespan of a work. Choosing a such as Firefox.
FLOSS framework such as the GNU/Linux operating system and an open 7 Umberto Eco uses the phrase ‘lability of

source programming language creates a transparent environment, present time’ to explain that, nowadays, the 11 Processing, initiated by Ben Fry and Casey
rapid obsolescence of the objects we use, Reas, has its roots in Design By Numbers, a
allowing access to all layers of software that enable an artwork forces us to constantly prepare ourselves for project by John Maeda, of the Aesthetics and
to function (operating system, software, libraries, etc.). The the future. Carrière, Jean-Claude, and Umberto Computation Group at the MIT Media Laboratory.
combination of the transparency of the framework of a work of Eco, N’espérez pas vous débarasser des livres. Link: http://processing.org.
Paris: Éditions Grasset et Fasquelle, 2009.
art and the freedom to copy and modify all parts of it – given 12 JAVA in the case of Processing.
the artwork carries a copyleft license – creates a situation 8 An open standard is ‘a published specification

where upgrading, adjusting and even emulating becomes much easier that is immune to vendor capture at all stages 13 De Valk, Marloes, ‘Tools to Fight Boredom: FLOSS
in its life-cycle’ (definition by the Digital and GNU/Linux for Artists Working in the Field
compared to reverse engineering an artwork distributed as a binary Standards Organization). of Generative Music and Software Art’, in The
on a proprietary platform. Contemporary Music Review, vol. 28, no. 1, 2009.
Data sources, capture systems and lawyers a work does not wait for a technology to become obsolete, but in-
As if it is not already difficult enough to preserve a given stead keeps transforming the work so it remains fully functional
piece of software art, some works that are not stand-alone require on the latest environments while providing the same ‘artistic
external sources of data to process. Typical examples are works features’. For example, if the work is a software that generates
that use, abuse or mock the content and data generated by web prints of rotating squares every 2 seconds, and if it is clear
applications and other Internet-based social networks.14 Depending that the artist considers the output – and not the processes that
on the data used, it is highly likely that the source is ephemeral. generate it – to be his art, it does not matter which code is used.
In such a case a capture system is needed that samples this data, The advantage of FLOSS is obvious here, if you can actually read
so that the artwork can still be shown even when its source of the original code and understand it, you can maintain, update or
information no longer exists. This seems like a simple solution, port it. Of course the process behind printing a rotating square
and is without doubt facilitated by open standards, but it is could be easily emulated or rewritten from scratch,16 but there is
hindered by the prevailing licensing and copyright jungle. obviously a large body of software-based works that would be very
Thanks to a general effort to raise awareness about proprietary difficult to reproduce without access to the source code.17
technology and copyright issues, there is a growing number of Looking at how software is maintained and ported in a free software
FLOSS and open standards that are simplifying the way network GNU/Linux distribution such as Debian,18 it becomes clear that the
software communicates, distributes and stores its data, creating idea of ‘packaging’ software artworks does have its advantages.
greater freedom for its users. Unfortunately a consequence of First of all, all the changes made to the code are traceable.
this effort is a rather ugly bureaucratic monster that is now very All the interventions required to have a working software are
hard to avoid: the licensing of this data, with at least a dozen available as patches that are applied to the original source code
different licenses to choose from.15 as provided by its author(s). It is not a destructive process;
2•4 At this moment, if someone’s network data is not already owned the notion of archiving and logging changes and documentation are 2•5
by corporate groups, users can choose a certain license under clearly embedded in the maintenance. Also, the software exists
which their data can be published, and in some cases this choice in two forms, its source package and its binary package, in a
is already made for them, without them having the possibility to way that is meant to simplify its distribution and maintenance
change it. In this increasingly complex legal construct, using simultaneously over several different platforms. Finally, the
corporate or privately owned data as part of a work of art and possibility to contribute to the packaging makes it a distributed
capturing this data for archival purposes can be a rather painful community effort.19 Even if it is highly speculative, could we
process. This flood of licenses introduces the risk of creating envision a community-driven, distributed maintenance system for
an unworkable situation in which archiving can only be done by free software art and free cultural works? 20 Would it be possible
lawyers and becomes almost impossible. When creating an artwork to develop an ‘art’ section in the Debian project, and how close
that uses external data, a certain amount of selection and could software art be linked to the distribution of a free
research is needed prior to its production and release to avoid operating system?
being limited to the use of artificial, locally generated data
when exhibiting the work in the future, unless, of course, the 14 For a study on the preservation of net art, see 19 Contributing is not simple and you have to fol-
work is meant to be as ephemeral as its data sources. Laforet, Anne, Le net art au musée: stratégies low Debian guidelines and policies relating to
de conservation des œuvres en ligne. Paris: this, but the possibility and the infrastruc-
Éditions Questions Théoriques, 2010. ture exist, for example, public bug trackers
dpkg --install art.deb: refactoring and porting to collect the odd contribution, is a reality.
At some point maintaining a work in its original environment 15 For more information about Free Culture Licens- Cf. Lazaro, Christophe, La liberté logicielle.
es please visit http://freedomdefined.org. Une ethnographie des pratiques d’échange et de
becomes impossible because the technology has changed so much coopération au sein de la communauté Debian.
that there is no common ground with current software practices. 16 One such example is Wayne Clements’ love2.pl in- Brussels: Academia-Bruylant, 2008.
We already see the rapid evolution of computing pushed by ‘cloud’ stallation, which simulates the emulation of the
Love Letters programme by Christopher Strachey 20 Julian Oliver was once approached by a group
and mobile technology, and we could also very well argue that the (1952) by David Link, who reverse-engineered it interested in packaging Levelhead (http://
Internet, as we know it, will eventually evolve into something from the emulated version. julianoliver.com/levelhead) for Ubuntu. Also,
else or simply disappear. GOTO10 has a long history of distributing
17 For example, Scott Draves’ Electric Sheep: software art as part of their live distribution
A current solution to this issue is to start a migration process http://www.electricsheep.org. Puredyne (http://puredyne.goto10.org), such as
in order to port and re-factor the code so it can run on another, the ‘ap0202’, ‘cur2’ and ‘self3’ software by
more recent platform. In this case the custodian or archivist of 18 http://debian.org. Martin Howse/xxxxx (http://www.1010.co.uk).
Virtualization… or emulation? are known only through their documentation. This aspect of
Another approach to archiving software art is virtualization. 21 It preservation certainly requires more attention, and the media
is an increasingly popular method,22 which aims at preserving and art distribution circuit is part of the problem. Festivals push
running the original code written by the artist. This implies that artists to produce new works with topical themes and criteria that
the original system must be left pristine because of the extremely limit the submission of works to those produced no longer than one
fragile and very specific chain of software dependencies used year ago. Many artworks are only shown once or twice, which does
by the artist. As a result, the maintenance shifts away from not encourage proper preservation and documentation.
the artwork itself towards the system supporting it. This is not
simplified maintenance, however; on the contrary, in the long term Not only artists, but also cultural institutions and funding bodies
the maintenance of these virtual machines just postpones the prob- benefit from the use of FLOSS and copyleft. Investing in a free
lem. A virtual machine is also just software that decays and needs artwork is a sensible public investment that goes against the
either code migration or emulation to work on new hardware and financially driven art market by directly encouraging the produc-
software. It is still unclear what will be most efficient: porting tion of works in which the knowledge and technology used to create
and refactoring the code of individual artworks or doing the same it are made public. Also, even though an artwork’s source code
for virtual machines. Virtual machines are more complex but could, is central to the process of its preservation, it is not current
in theory, run different works of art. Artworks are often more practice for art galleries and artists to include it when a public
simple, but have such specific requirements that most of them need or private collector acquires an artwork. With a free artwork, it
a dedicated virtual machine to run them. More research is needed is a given that its distribution is both desirable and possible.
in this area in order to invest in the right approach, especially However, the promotion of free cultural content is not trivial.
since they all differ so much, making it hard to share efforts. Free cultural content is described with terminology that often
2•6 The goal of virtualization is to leave the artist’s code, or in leads to misunderstandings and disagreements, both within the ‘free 2•7
some cases its compiled form, untouched, and it is clear that if culture’ communities and beyond them. The recent Public Domain
the work is based on FLOSS one can more easily build the virtuali- Manifesto 28 has been criticized for its choice of intellectual
zation needed to run it. But is this essential? If one can provide framework by, among others, Richard M. Stallman, the president
contextual documentation and a reliable emulation 23 in addition to of the Free Software Foundation.29 The failure of initiatives
the original code provided for future critical code studies, this
Virtualization refers to the abstraction of For example, Graham Harwood’s ‘Class Li-
would supply enough valuable data for historical purposes. Besides, 21 24
computer resources (http://en.wikipedia.org/ brary’ (http://www.scotoma.org/notes/index.
works in which the code is more important than its execution or wiki/Virtualization) and is an umbrella term. cgi?ClassLib) and Pall Thayer’s ‘Microcodes’
interpretation on a machine, are always displayed… simply as text.24 The most common forms are application virtuali- (http://pallit.lhi.is/microcodes/).
zation, which encapsulates an application from
the underlying operating system on which it is 25 Version control enables the management of
Documentation executed, and platform virtualization, which changes to software and documents. See also
In addition to the choice of framework and data sources, artists is performed on a given hardware platform by Yuill, Simon, ‘Concurrent Versions Systems’,
host software (a control program), which in Fuller, Matthew (ed.), Software Studies. A
can greatly enhance the chances of their work surviving the
creates a simulated computer environment, Lexicon. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2008.
test of time by documenting their work carefully. In the case of a virtual machine, for its guest software.
digital art involving code, writing clear technical documentation 26 Depocas, Alain. Digital Preservation: Record-
Research projects such as CASPAR (http://www. ing the Recoding. 2001. Ars Electronica Festi-
will help future attempts at turning it into operational software. 22

casparpreserves.eu) or Aktive Archives (http:// val. 31 December 2003. Link: http://www.aec.at/

It goes without saying that this process will be facilitated www.aktivearchive.ch) include virtualization as festival2001/texte/depocas_e.html.
even further by working with a solid, revision-controlled code a preservation strategy.
For a discussion about the role of documenta-
repository,25 and by licensing that code in such a way that copying, 27
23 Emulation is the imitation of the behaviour tion by artists, especially with regard to
changing and redistributing it will not encounter any bureaucratic of a particular software or hardware by other conceptual art, see Poinsot, Jean-Marc, Quand
obstacles. Furthermore, contextual and artistic documentation,26 software or hardware. Emulation is often seen l’œuvre a lieu. L’art exposé et ses récits au-
as the ideal solution for preserving digital torisés (nouvelle édition revue et augmentée).
through text, video and images, is of immeasurable value. Knowing
artworks; see, for example, Rothenberg, Jeff, Dijon: Presses du reel, 2008.
what results to aim for when rescuing non-functional software Avoiding Technological Quicksand: Finding A
helps, and if in a not-too-distant future, worse came to worse, Technical Foundation For Digital Preservation. 28 The manifesto was produced within the context
Washington: Council on Library and Information of COMMUNIA, the European Thematic Network on
those traces might be the only vestiges of a work.
Resources, 1999. Link: http://www.clir.org/ the Digital Public Domain, in 2009.
Documenting artworks is a very valuable practice,27 and greatly pubs/abstract/pub77.html. For an example of the
improves access to works of software art, as many such artworks emulation of a digital artwork, see 29 Stallman explains on his blog why he refuses to
Dimitrovsky, Isaac, Final report, Erl-King sign the manifesto. http://www.fsf.org/blogs/
project. Variable Mediable Network. 2004. rms/public-domain-manifesto.
such as these to find common ground does not help convince people e Poetic::Violence; # Constants
use constant SKINT => 0;
to critically examine the impact that patents, digital rights # Software for the aggressive assault on society. use constant TOO_MUCH => SKINT + 1;
management (DRM) and copyright have on culture and its preservation. # Thank GOD It’s all right now — we all want equality — # This is an anonymous hash record to be filled with
use constant EQUALITY_FOR_ALL # the Names and Cash of the rich
Such issues are less prevalent in the realm of software art. =>
When producing an artwork, choosing an open, stable and well- %{The_Rich} = {
“the money to be in the right place at the right time”; 0 => {
documented framework with a large user base will simplify future
use constant NEVER = ‘for;;’; Name => ‘???’,
maintenance. Similarly, a well-informed choice in the use of use constant SATISFIED => NEVER; Cash => ‘???’,
external data sources and capture systems are key. No matter what # It’s time to liposuck the fat from the thighs of the bloated },
# bloke society—smear it on ourselves and become invisible. }
the archives decide, virtualization, porting and refactoring or # We are left with no option but to construct code that
emulation, FLOSS and copyleft make all the approaches easier. The # concretizes its opposition to this meagre lifestyle. # This is an anonymous hash record to be filled
# with the Price Of Clean Water
source code of a work and the environment it runs on, including package DONT::CARE; # for any number of people without clean water
its documentation, is the main asset. Contextual documentation use strict; use warnings;
completes the picture. sub aspire { %{The_Poor} = {
my $class = POOR; 0 =>{
Artists can make clear choices to extend the shelf life of their my $requested_type = GET_RICHER; #the place name were to build a well
own work, create awareness about archiving issues and support my $aspiration = “$requested_type.pm”; PlaceName => ‘???’,
my $class = “POOR::$requested_type”; PriceOfCleanWater => ‘???’,
open standards, open formats, interoperability, and compatibility require $aspiration; Cash => ‘???’,
– all working towards solving global issues that are essential return $class->new(@_); },
} }
for archiving data in general, and digital and software art in
particular. There are no miraculous solutions, but the little time # for each of the rich, process them one at a time parsing
left may be what is needed to create awareness about the issues # bought off with $40 dvd players # them by reference to RedistributeCash.

2•8 involved, and inspire long-term strategies. sub bought_off{ foreach my $RichBastardIndex (keys %{The_Rich}){
my $self = shift; &ReDisdributeCash(\%{The_Rich->{$RichBastardIndex}});
$self->{gain} = shift; }
for( $me = 0;
$me <= SATISFIED; # This is the core subroutine designed to give away
$me += EQUALITY_FOR_ALL ){ # cash as fast as possible.

$Exploit sub ReDisdributeCash {

= my $RichBastard_REFERENCE = @_;
die “poor” if $Exploit # go through each on the poor list
=~ m / ‘I feel better about $me’ / g; # giving away Cash until each group
} # can afford clean drinking water

foreach my $self_worth ( @poverty_on_someone_else){ while($RichBastard_REFERENCE ->{CASH} >= TOO_MUCH){

wait 10; foreach my $Index (keys @{Poor}){
&Environmental_catastrophe (CHINA,$self_worth) $RichBastard_REFERENCE->{CASH}—;
} if( $Poor->{$Index}->{Cash}
} =>
$Poor->{$Index}->{PriceOfCleanWater} ){
# TODO: we need to seek algorithmic grit &BuildWell($Poor->{$Index}->{PlaceName});
# for the finely oiled wheels of capital. }
# Perl Routines for the redistribution of the world’s wealth }
# Take the cash from the rich and turn it into clean }
# drinking water }

Graham Harwood, Class Library, 2009.

anne laforet aymeric mansoux archive2020
Anne Laforet is a researcher and a Founding member of the GOTO10 collec-
writer. She completed her Ph.D. in tive, Aymeric currently teaches at the
information science on the preserva- Piet Zwart Institute in Rotterdam,
tion of net art at the University of Netherlands, and is a Ph.D. student

Avignon in France in 2009. In 2004 at the Centre for Cultural Studies at
she wrote a report entitled ‘Net Art Goldsmiths, University of London. His
and Artistic Institutions and Museums’ main artistic and research interests

for the French Ministry of Culture. revolve around online communities,
She has presented her research in software as a medium, and the influ-
Europe and Canada, and is currently ence of FLOSS in the development and

associated with research into digital understanding of software art. Aymeric
preservation at the ARNUM laboratory Mansoux is editor with Marloes de Valk
and Basse Def. project in France. Anne of FLOSS+Art (OpenMute 2008) as well

writes on digital art and culture for as Folly’s Digital Artists Handbook,

sounds with her computer. INTERVIEW

Arte.tv and Poptronics.fr, and makes published in early 2008.


http://www.sakasama.net http://makeart.goto10.org

marloes de valk

Marloes de Valk is a Dutch digital

artist, and a member of GOTO10, a
collective of artists and program-
mers working in the field of digital

art and Free/Libre Open Source Soft-
ware. She studied Sound and Image at
the Royal Conservatory in The Hague,
specializing in abstract compositional
computer games, HCI and crashing com-

puters. Her work consists of audio- Free Art License 1.3 (FAL 1.3)
visual performances and installations,

and investigating machine theatre and Copyleft: This is a free work, you can
narratives of digital processes. copy, distribute, and modify it under
the terms of the Free Art License

http://no.systmz.goto10.org/blog http://artlibre.org/licence/lal/en

file under

migration, FLOSS, software decay,

planned obsolescence, virtualization, Twan Eikelenboom
framework, emulation, documentation in conversation with
Florian Cramer
THE INTERNET Twan Eikelenboom in conversation with Florian Cramer

In spring of 2009 you organized it costs far less to advertise

the PRINT/Pixel conference. Could online than in print magazines.
you tell us about the background This provides the overall
of the project? background of the conference.
Questions arise, such as what
At the moment there is a major role will designers play in
international discussion about this changing landscape? They
the future of the publishing probably need to think more
industry. Although this is not about structure and the future
necessarily new, for example, of publication media. We wanted
the paperless office or the end to attract people with new
of paper and books have been media backgrounds as well as
proclaimed multiple times, 1 I do those from the more tradition-
think that something really has al publishing field. We also 3•1
changed in the last year. The invited companies such as Sony
USA and Eastern Europe are going that are developing e-book
through the biggest newspaper readers, and sat everyone around
and book-publishing crisis in a table to share their visions
their history, comparable to the of the future of publishing.
problems already experienced by There is a strong connection to
the music and film industry. Not the research of our current fellow
surprisingly, the Internet has at the Piet Zwart Institute,
become a major competitor. The Alessandro Ludovico from Neural
World Wide Web has proven to be a magazine, one of the oldest new
very good news medium. Most news media art magazines. Alessandro
is freely available online. is actively involved in mag.net,
Blogs provide a good alternative a project that has published
for editorial commentary and on precisely these issues – the
opinions – the blogger has become future of publishing and the
the online version of the newspa- relation between print and
per columnist. More importantly, electronic media. He approaches
this shift has led to a decline this from an interesting angle,
in newspaper advertising. Much pointing to the quality of paper
of the classifieds and private that facilitates the transfer
ads have moved to Craigslist, and exchange of thoughts much
Marktplaats and eBay. Secondly, more easily than moving documents
the Internet is very competitive: from one computer to another.
1 Alessandro Ludovico has extensively researched this history in a book that is about to be pub-
lished by the Piet Zwart Institute for Postgraduate Studies and Research, Willem de Kooning
Academy, Rotterdam University.
Such a seemingly simple perspec- survival of so-called quality and computer scientists, for whom a sustainable archive because
tive can all of a sudden cast a news media in an online culture the entire issue is about how there are too many technical
different light on the subject, of free content, was discussed to re-encode a publisher’s text layers of fragility and break-
as opposed to making yet another at the conference, too. If you or PDF file into the electronic age. It starts with the very
grand media revolution prophesy. look at media history the same book format. This reminded me technical organization of the
issues surfaced with the advent a lot of the early beginnings Internet through IP addresses
Indeed, iPod and MP3 file sharing of the printing press. And this of the World Wide Web where web and the Domain Name System
have radically changed the music history has proven that parallel design was all about coding (DNS). If a domain goes offline,
industry. What are the types of systems – free information in proper mark-up and understanding for example, all the links to
changes that you are referring libraries versus the commercial how servers and browsers work, a document or site break down,
to that will impact the newspaper bookstore business model – can and only later it evolved into a even if it’s resurrected some-
and book publishing industries? co-exist and survive. complex design profession. where else. This problem has been
exacerbated because most people
In August 2009 the German How will this affect books? What How will we be able to keep these no longer have traditional
novelist Peter Glaser, a member will change in the consumption e-books? What effect does the websites made of HTML files, but
of Chaos Computer Club and well of text now that e-book readers digital book have on archiving database-driven Content Manage-
known in German computer culture are becoming more ubiquitous? books and newspapers? ment Systems (CMS), blogging
since the 1980s, wrote in an Will material books disappear? systems and Wikis. These systems
article that the real revolu- The big problem is: we are create their own URLs, and if you
tion in computer culture is its No, I don’t think so. Different embracing new technologies with- change the system or the data-
3•2 atomicity: it splits up the ways of media production and out thinking about archiving base, all URLs will break down, 3•3
large ‘wholes’ into smaller consumption can very well exist issues. For example, a printed book the links to the site and with-
parts. By this he means that at the same time. We need to get is a very good archival medium in the site break down, and all
large entities, for example, the rid of the binary thought pattern because it is distributed and embedded items break down too.
Dutch mail-order store Wehkamp, of the ‘old’ versus the ‘new’. self-contained. Unlike with a web There are technical solutions
are broken up into single web There will always be people who page, you have multiple copies, to get around these problems,
pages or even specialized sites. like the tangible, material sometimes hundreds of thousands such as using URNs 2 instead of
This also happened with music. ‘feel’ and look of a book. In of copies, distributed all URLs, but they’re not widely
We rarely listen to entire this sense, for example, art over the world. If one copy known, supported and used, and
albums anymore. The whole books will have the best chance disappears, there will likely are often too complex for most
notion of the LP, the 40-minute of surviving. In bookstores like be enough physical backups. people. The issue of distributed
collection, has lost its Boekie-Woekie in Amsterdam, you Moreover, they do not depend on storage versus websites as single
significance with people down- mostly come across books that any display technologies, re- points of failure hasn’t been
loading single songs and tracks. can never be reproduced in elec- quire no electricity, hardware, solved at all. Distributed
Glaser argues that the same tronic book format. On the other operating systems, software, or systems like Freenet don’t seem
thing is happening with the hand, e-books have the advantage software and hardware updates to to go anywhere…
news. In other words, newspapers of storing an entire collection ensure that the document stays Another problem is physical
have to rid themselves of the or library in one small portable readable. As a self-hosting storage. At the moment there are
idea that they capture the device. And this new device medium, the book is very robust. several large Internet archives,
entire world in their pages. creates new challenges for The Internet, on the other hand, but they are either commercial
This is an antiquated model. designers: how do you design is an archiving nightmare. (Google Cache) or non-profit and
The web model is about snippets. an e-book at all? Prior to the Right now, I would argue, it is severely underfunded (archive.
Personally, I think this is more conference, I did some research practically impossible to create org). None of them solve the
a generational than an Internet- and stumbled upon a German
2 Uniform Resource Names (URNs) are intended to serve as persistent, location-independent resource
related issue, and newspapers company that does this.
identifiers and are designed to make it easy to map other namespaces (that share the properties
need to deal with it if they want Remarkably, the people working of URNs) into URN space. Source: Internet Engineering Task Force, URN Proposed Syntax,
to survive. The question of the at those companies are engineers http://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc2141.
fundamental issue, because these easy to translate it back into
archives aren’t distributed digital information? Think, for
either. I think it should be the example, of a metal or plastic
task of an organization like disc with holes, resembling the
UNESCO to develop sustainable working of a CD-ROM but without
Internet archiving. Of course, its fragility. We need to think
this won’t happen, because there outside the old categories of
is no public awareness, and thus analogue and digital media to
no political urgency or will at get beyond these issues.
this stage. All this leads to a
situation in which we seem to
be stuck, paralysed and nothing
happens. Just to throw in some
figures, archive.org has a lower
annual budget than a small town
theatre, and depends entirely
on private donations.
When talking about archiving
digital media, we also deal
with a paradox, because in the
3•4 end, all so-called digital
media depends on analogue media:
electricity, magnetism, metal,
silicon, etc. This results in
many problems; as I said before,
if one layer breaks down the
whole thing falls apart. Maybe
the best and most stable archive
is one that is stored on a
self-contained medium. Print
out the Internet. Why not? In
a way, it is just as much an
analogue storage method as a
magnetic platter, with the
advantage that paper is less
prone to being erased than a
magnetic platter. If I walk
into a server room with a
powerful magnet all the data
could be erased, but if I do
the same in a library nothing
happens. Of course, it might
rain in a library, or there
may be acid, or fire. But can
we think of self-contained
archival media that are encoded
in such a way that it becomes
florian cramer archive2020
Florian Cramer is the Course Director
of the Networked Media specialization
of the Master Media Design and Com-
munication at the Piet Zwart Institute
in Rotterdam. He has a background in
comparative literature and art history
combined with practical experience in
computer culture, experimental arts,
poetics and aesthetics. In 2007 he
received the Prix Ars Electronica 2007
Media Art Research Award for his Ph.D.
thesis ‘Exe.cut[up]able statements’.


twan eikelenboom

Twan Eikelenboom is web-editor at

Virtueel Platform. His research fo-
cuses on the mapping of e-culture in
the Netherlands. Twan holds an MA
degree in New Media and Digital Cul-
ture (University of Amsterdam) and
works as a freelance journalist and
writer specializing in innovation in
art and culture, non-linear narratives
and storytelling.



file under

digital print, e-book reader, paper,

atomicity, archiving, URN, UNESCO Caitlin Jones
most people and information such
as that contained in Spaghetti

DISTRIBUTING City made it more accessible.

Viewed as a means to confront

RESPONSIBILITY the dominance of large media

corporations, many artists also
FOR MEDIA ARTS started working with cameras as
a way to challenge the object-
PRESERVATION AND dominated art world.
opened up new territory to

DOCUMENTATION artists, not only in terms of

materials, but it also expanded
audiences. In 1971 former
Caitlin Jones gallerist Howard Wise founded
Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI)
in New York, a non-profit
‘This technology has provided us organization dedicated to the
with tools that are at the same production and dissemination of
time exciting and frightening. artists’ videos. He stated his
If we are to use these tools, it rationale for the switch in con-
is essential that we understand texts in a videotaped address: 4•1
their very nature.’ 1
‘The dinosaur may yet succumb to
This quote comes from the the mouse. Many new developments
infamous Spaghetti City Video augur well for the independent
Manual: A Guide to Use, Repair video-artist producer…
and Maintenance – a do-it-your- Theoretically at least the
self guide to video production producer is now capable of
compiled by a group of American producing programs that may
media activists in 1973. Titled be broadcast… thus enhancing
in response to the confounding the chances of the artist to
mass of video, audio and computer participate in the system.’
cables that accumulate under
our desks and in our studios, And participate they did. Media
Videofreex endeavoured to art organizations began to pop
demystify the soon-to-be up across the globe: Montevideo
dominant form of video produc- (now Netherlands Media Art
tion. Their DIY ethos was a Institute) in Amsterdam, London
political and social stance – Video Arts (now LUX) in London,
putting the powerful tools of Video Hiroba in Japan and
broadcasters into the hands of the Western Front Society in
people. It was also an economic Vancouver, are only a fraction
one – even the new, cheaper of the spaces that opened to
video equipment was still support artists working with
prohibitively expensive for video technology.

The Videofreex. 1 Videofreex, The Spaghetti City Video Manual: A Guide to Use, Repair, and Maintenance.
The Spaghetti City Video Manual. New York: Praeger, 1973. New York: Praeger Publishers, 1973.
Beyond the scope performances, installations, lection of single-channel works, Golden Nica winners.
of Spaghetti City conceptual works, etc.) in highly and in 2007 the organization Festivals such as Ars Electronica
As the original 1/2” decks died formalized, systematic and, most created an online Resource Guide and others play a major role
and had to be replaced by new importantly, public ways. 2 aimed specifically at helping in the history of media art –
models and new formats, the Matters in Media Art, a large- museums, galleries and artists in many ways epitomizing the
limits of the DIY philosophy scale effort by MoMA (New York), address the complicated issues transitory, always evolving,
began to show. Besides hardware SFMOMA (San Francisco), the Tate surrounding the collection, networked and social nature
obsolescence, tape deterioration (London) and the New Art Trust exhibition and preservation of of the material. The essential
was also a factor. New equipment (San Francisco), is a massive media-based art. 4 and transitory nature of these
and transfers to new formats ongoing project dedicated to the Non-collecting institutes have gatherings, however, often means
were often financially out of preservation and documentation also contributed greatly to the that much of this important
reach and these chronically of a range of media artworks. field. INCCA (International history has already been lost.
underfunded organizations real- The Variable Media Network – with Network of Conservators of Con- In 2003, V2_ proposed a strategy
ized they had a significant partners including the Guggen- temporary Art) is a network of to mitigate the loss of works
problem on their hands. heim Museum, the Berkeley Art professional conservators whose included in their biennial DEAF
When we turn our gaze to Museum/Pacific Film Archives, prime mandate is the sharing (Dutch Electronic Art Festival).
born-digital materials we Rhizome.org and a number of and distribution of knowledge This extensive research project,
unfortunately see that utopian other smaller independent arts within the international conser- titled Capturing Unstable Media,7
notions of freedom from hege- organizations – sought to develop vation community. One of their laid out a clear structure that
monic media monopolies, DIY new strategies for preserving best known projects, Inside allowed the Festival organizers
4•2 production ethics and networks works of variable media. Both Installations: Preservation and to ‘capture’ details about works 4•3
are not the only things video these projects were born from Presentation of Installation of art rather than be obligated
art pioneers have in common the necessity to preserve Art, involved more than 25 to preserve the works them-
with new generations of media their own collections, but both European institutes. 5 To date, selves. Its thoroughness was a
artists. Hardware becomes were strongly committed to the 33 case studies have been made major influence on subsequent
obsolete at an ever-increasing dissemination of research to the public through its website – thinking.
rate and storage formats are field at large. making it an invaluable resource In the realm of the web, a number
constantly shifting to accom- Not limited to large collecting for the field. Similarly, the of organizations have attempted
modate increasing amounts of institutes, some of the most Ludwig Boltzmann Institute to capture the ephemeral history
digital information. Add to significant work in the field Media.Art.Research (LBI), a of Internet art. Netzpannung.org,
this the additional burden of has occurred within those media research facility devoted to an archive of born-digital
software, browser capabilities art centres where the material the study of media art content that has been online
and tightened copyrights, and was born, and where large documentation, archiving and since 2001, defines itself as ‘a
a dark future emerges for our volumes of materials still lie. research, has funded significant tool for researching, reflecting
digital heritage. For example, the Netherlands independent research in media upon, and imparting electronic
Media Art Institute has made the studies. 6 In particular they culture’. With over 2500 work
Major progress in the field preservation, distribution and partnered with Ars Electronica, descriptions, texts, images and
Over the past ten years a number access to its world-renowned one of the oldest media art videos, this tremendous resource
of high profile museums and cul- collection of video art a major festivals still in existence, to contextualizes Internet art in
tural institutes have addressed component of its mandate, and make portions of its physi- an online media arts journal.
these concerns of deteriora- has led and participated in cal archive available online – Rhizome.org’s ArtBase accepts
tion, obsolescence and ephemer- numerous related projects. 3 predominantly documents related voluntary contributions to its
ality in variable media art (a Howard Wise’s Electronic Arts to the Prix Ars Electronica and archive of Internet art. 8
term used by many to incorporate Intermix remains committed to
4 http://resourceguide.eai.org. 7 http://capturing.projects.v2.nl.
a range of mediums including the preservation of their col-
5 http://www.inside-installations.org. 8 http://rhizome.org/art.
2 http://www.tate.org.uk/research/ 3 http://nimk.nl.
tateresearch/majorprojects/mediamatters. 6 http://media.lbg.ac.at.
While not a collecting institute their basic operating funds from In many ways, the Langlois With its government support
in the formal sense of the term, government sources. But as Foundation was a catalyst for withdrawn, the LBI had to
the ArtBase stores a ‘copy’ of a politics sways so too does arts action in the field, providing a shutter its doors completely
work and its metadata within the funding and, as all who are steady stream of both financial and ‘archive’ its website. The
larger conceptual framework of dependent on it are painfully and intellectual fuel for a wide situation at the Langlois
Rhizome – a still preeminent hub aware, government funding alone range of projects. They were Foundation is less definite. As
for art on the web. is not nearly enough. the major underwriter of both a funding institute they have
The scope of the work is impres- Perhaps somewhat surprising is the Variable Media Network and been incrementally scaling back
sive, and this list could be the amount of activity in the V2_’s Capturing Unstable Media. their programming for years and
expanded with numerous other field that has been funded by Their most recent project DOCAM the physical archive is being
institutes and projects. Despite the private sector. A prime (Documentation and Conserva- transferred to an as yet to be
the challenges, costs and amount example of this is The New Art tion of Media Arts Heritage) confirmed partner. Their website
of material at risk, many case Trust, a foundation started by capitalizes on their leader- however – one of the most
studies, tools for preservation media art collectors Pamela and ship role in the field and has exceptional in the field –
and scholarship have been Richard Kramlich in 1997. As provided a wealth of tools and remains an active hub for
completed and made publicly part of the criteria of their resources.10 Somewhat ironically, research and the findings of
available in a relatively short joint bequest to MoMA, SFMOMA, however, this massive multi- DOCAM are closely linked to the
period. But it should not be and the Tate, they supported the institutional, multidisciplinary Foundation. Other promising
all congratulations and ‘high Matters in Media Art project. research project also happens projects, such as Capturing
fives’ just yet – much work While this type of ‘gift-based’ to be heavily funded by the Unstable Media and Variable
4•4 still has to be done and funding patronage can certainly be Canadian government. Media Network, have also fallen 4•5
is as much of an issue as ever. seen as safeguarding private With governments providing by the wayside due to funding
investment, the foundation has funding to private foundations, and shifting institutional
Follow the money also funded numerous other publi- private foundations supporting priorities.
Integral to an understanding cations and symposia – signifi- public institutes, and smaller These situations have very direct
of the field is comprehending cantly EAI’s Resource Guide. institutes grabbing what they and practical implications
the range of funding structures Another major private source of can, any attempt to discern for the preservation of media
that have emerged to support funds to emerge in the last ten separate funding streams are art history, and they also raise
it. Just as not every preserva- years was the Daniel Langlois ultimately foiled. ‘Following a number of broader theoretical
tion initiative can be covered Foundation, the project of soft- the money’ reveals that these questions. Within these multiple
here, neither can every funder. ware developer Daniel Langlois. seemingly divergent funding streams of funding is there a
What follows is a cursory look Begun in 1997 the Langlois streams are in fact quite inter- discernible ideological differ-
at some of the major trends and Foundation not only funded dependent and have ultimately ence in what is being preserved?
players in the field of media the production of new work created a supportive network Do different funding sources
art preservation. within the field of art and that has resulted in a large result in different kinds of
As in arts funding in general, technology, but also the amount of high-quality research. discourse?
governments – national, regional research for its preservation. 9 Large and dominant institutes
and municipal – play a huge Their Center for Research and Funding streams disrupted like MoMA and the Tate have
role. For example, INCCA’s Documentation, both a physical If the pool of funds is limited certainly been generous with
Inside Installations project was and virtual resource, includes and interdependent, what happens their knowledge and support of
supported by a large European among the many gems the papers when this delicate balance is smaller institutes, but their
Union grant, the Ludwig Boltz- of Steina and Woody Vasulka disrupted? own collections contain only
mann Institute was an Austrian and the tennis racquet used The field of media art preservation a fraction of the endangered
government programme, and most by Robert Rauschenberg in lost two of its main advocates material that is selected with
of the smaller centres obtain 9 Evenings. recently, the Daniel Langlois criteria that excludes huge
Foundation and the Ludwig Boltz- areas of cultural production.
9 http://www.fondation-langlois.org. 10 http://www.docam.ca. mann Institute Media.Art.Net. This is not news to anyone
versed in issues of canon and way to move beyond traditional so that’s why we don’t need objective is to guarantee the
representation, but the fact that funding structures? Are there assistants. Life is simplified, preservation of such an impor-
most of these large institutes other preservation strategies we know where everything is; we tant part of computer gaming
have barely begun collecting the field can look to as models? never have to look for things. history.’ 12
born-digital materials such as The concept of ‘self-archiving’ George: So even if we lose some-
Internet art further skews the has gathered significant thing very unimportant, which is Recognizing that their particular
picture. momentum in academic circles – extremely rare, we are disturbed passion is at risk these
The full history of media art it refers to authors uploading for days until we find it. gamers have fostered ad hoc and
exists within the smaller their publications to neutral Because we feel that that could successful preservation strate-
archives, festivals and online and free locations on the be the beginning of the end.’ 11 gies for an undeniably important
archives worldwide. Documents of Internet in order to provide element of contemporary culture.
performances and installations, broader access. Although most The work of Gilbert and George is A viable system of self-archiving
presentations and lectures, specifically related to acade- represented in almost every major requires that one must trust
exhibition documentation, mic publishing pressures and institute in the world, yet it in ideals of ‘the commons’ to
single-channel video, Internet- regulations, the term has much is this self-determined archive preserve and document. Future
based projects and experimental broader implications in both that has the potential to tell us models, including the viability
software tell the story. These digital and non-digital contexts. the most about these artists. of self-archiving in a media art
spaces have captured the Archiving is also a strategy Another example of self- context, have recently been the
experiments, the processes in the non-digital world. archiving in a network context subject of debate on the CRUMB
and the dialogues, and it is The British artists Gilbert can be seen in gaming culture. (Curatorial Resource for Upstart
4•6 precisely these places that are and George are renowned for a Subject to the same hardware Media Bliss) list – a curatorial 4•7
most vulnerable to fluctuating personal archive that documents and software obsolescence resource dedicated to issues
revenue streams. their long and illustrious issues as media art, very few specific to media art. Richard
careers. Comprised of both classic games have been lost. Rinehart and Jon Ippolito (both
New models: their art and inspiration, Individuals and groups of founding members of the Variable
Spaghetti City redux? in the form of magazines, dedicated gamers have taken up Media Network) have both long
With all the information avail- books and other collectibles, the cause of sustaining these suggested that the responsibil-
able on the web in the form of Gilbert and George approach classic games, continually ity for preservation of media
papers, case studies, templates their archive as part-hobby, writing the software and art should not be trusted to
and the like, we have the part-necessity. Catalogued and emulators necessary to keep old institutes but decentralized
equivalent of hundreds of organized in a highly person- games running on contemporary and distributed.13 Their proposed
Spaghetti City Manuals. Best alized manner, their archive computers. A quote from The concept of The Open Museum is a
practices, such as the above, leaves nothing of their legacy Software Preservation Society self-archiving strategy in which
have the potential to arm the to chance. In an interview with echoes sentiments so often artists deposit their work at a
broader community of artists, curator Hans Ulrich Obrist, expressed by those in the field central locale where the source
galleries and centres with published in a large volume on of media art: code and files can be copied and
enough information so that the subject of artists’ archives, downloaded by other users.
they are best able to apply Interarchive, the artists ‘Just by the passage of time Whether institutionally based
limited financial resources in discussed their collections, these games are affected by the or a more open access model,
strategic ways. But much work process and their organic gradual deterioration of the as with the early years of
is still at risk, and some ‘self-archiving’ strategy: media that stores them. These video art, professional and
questions remain: if we all classics risk being lost forever artistic networks remain vital;
agree that our media art ‘H.U.O: You don’t have an archi- in the near future, a tragedy collective understanding and
heritage is an important part of vist? It’s all done by yourselves? that must be prevented. Our main knowledge bases raise the level of
the art historical record, where
does the responsibility for Gilbert: We don’t have anybody! 11 Hans Ulrich Obrist, ‘Interview with Gilbert 12 http://www.softpres.org.
its preservation lie? Is there a Everything is in the right place, & George’, in Interarchive. Cologne: Verlag
der Buchhandlung Walther Konig, 2002. 13 http://still-water.net.
discourse and increase the odds Funding is still a necessity,
for media-based art. A new kind but it need not be the primary
of network has also recently obstacle, or the beginning and
emerged in the field, the Gateway end point of any discussion for
to Archives of Media Art (GAMA) future developments.
project. Based on the library Projects such as Archive2020
model of ‘union lists’ (which and others continue to shed
provides access to numerous light on smaller institutes
library collection catalogues that have been doing the practi-
from one central access point), cal work of caring for their own
GAMA is a consortium of media collections for years with
art archives in Europe allowing minimal resources. Self-archiving
access to all their collections and DIY initiatives are being
from one central point. By making undertaken by many small
it available from a unified institutes as well as by artists
portal, GAMA is able to promote themselves. Drawing on available
collaboration between archives resources, both financial and
with similar collections and informational, there is a
mandates, provide an opportunity network of people and places
for the participating institutes that are providing new frame-
4•8 to promote their collections to works, encompassing multiple
a broader audience, and increase perspectives and spreading the
awareness of digital art and responsibility for preserving
culture as a whole.14 cultural memory.

Moving forward
The efforts of the past ten
years have left plenty of well-
articulated, informational and
intellectual resources to help
us all begin the process.

14 Gabriele Blome and Gaby Wijers provide a detailed explanation of GAMA in Chapter 5.
caitlin jones archive2020
Caitlin Jones is Executive Director of
the Western Front Society in Vancouver,
BC. Prior to this appointment she had
a combined curatorial and conservation
position at the Solomon R. Guggenheim
Museum, and was the Director of
Programming at the Bryce Wolkowitz
Gallery in New York. A key member of
the Variable Media Network, Caitlin
is also credited with developing
important tools and policy relating
to the preservation of electronic
and ephemeral artworks. She has

contributed to Rhizome.org and her
other writings have appeared in a
wide range of exhibition catalogues,
periodicals and other international


file under

funding, disruption, experiments,

canon, self-archiving, the commons, Gabriele Blome
open museum Gaby Wijers
AND COLLABORATION Gabriele Blome and Gaby Wijers

After about a decade developing and evaluating new strategies

for the preservation of media art proved that networking and
collaboration are very successful strategies. But there are still
challenges to overcome: parts of the digital cultural heritage
are at risk from loss of data, knowledge or memory. Furthermore,
the last 30 years of electronic and digital art production has
not yet been saved in a sustainable way. Concurrently, time-based
media, digital formats and methods of archiving have changed.
The Internet has become the most relevant medium to publicize
and communicate the contents of repositories. While documents
and artefacts are slowly being digitised, the infrastructure
for describing, indexing and the administration is based on
algorithmic processes. Although this development continues, and
might never be fully realised, the fact that the different levels 5•1
GAMA homepage of archival practices are overlapping at the level of code causes
a fundamental change while creating enormous potential at the same
time. This change influences the way cultural archives participate
in cultural life, cultural memory and scientific research. Media
art archives and collections are also facing these changes, and in
some respects are ahead of the times.

Production Preservation Presentation

The majority of institutes with relevant archives and collections
of media art are not traditional archives or museums, but
organizations that were founded in the late 1970s or early 1980s.
Their initial focus was on the production and presentation of art
based on electronic and digital media. Some of them are small, some
large, and some of them have already disappeared. Distributors
such as the Netherlands Media Art Institute (NIMk, Amsterdam),
Sixpackfilm (Vienna), Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI, New York)
and Lux (London) assembled growing collections, at first mostly
comprising video art and experimental film. These institutes are
now confronted with the problem of sustainable preservation and
accessibility of the works. Other important works and documents
can be found at festivals, media labs and production houses,
GAMA wiki for example, the V2_Institute for Unstable Media (Rotterdam),
Ars Electronica (Linz), and C3 (Budapest). Over the years they
brought together important archives with documents that need to
be indexed, described and made accessible. Within the context
of research into media art history, the documentation of both
types of institutes is important because of the ephemeral, process GAMA: Gateway to Archives of Media Art
or context-based character of the works. However, institutes The creation of a common Gateway to Archives of Media Art
without collections are finding themselves in a dilemma, as the (GAMA) provided the institutes mentioned above – NIMk, C3, Ars
institutional mandate has a different focus. Gerfried Stocker, Electronica, and others – with a worthwhile endeavour. The project,
artistic director of Ars Electronica, summarized this problem as initiated in 2007, should facilitate sharing the necessary
follows: ‘Every euro we spend on dealing with this old material is efforts for publication, communication and dissemination among
one euro less for our real task, which is producing new projects, the participating repositories. The platform www.gama-gateway.eu,
exhibits, festivals and things like this.’ 1 launched in September 2009, provides common access and search
tools to eight new media art collections and archives, which is a
In addition to collecting and preserving media artworks, documents huge quantitative and qualitative improvement to the accessibility
and documentations, media art institutes need to contribute of media art on the net. 5 This access is based on a common metadata
continuously to the processes of fostering attention for their model to which the heterogeneous metadata sets of the different
artefacts, and their re-contextualisation – a task traditionally repositories are mapped. 6 In order to give the user a tool to deal
carried out by external researchers, teachers and curators. As with a multitude of search results, facet-based filtering options
Bart De Baere, director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in are provided. These are, among others, based on vocabularies that
Antwerp (MuHKA), formulated: ‘Preservation is not secured by classify the artefacts on a formal level as content types, and on
conservation procedures, but by the continuous resumption of a web as keywords on a content level. 7 Furthermore the variations in
of meanings given… It is not the moment when things are cast out naming and spelling countries and cities are harmonised during
or not that is so decisive. Remembering and forgetting form a more the integration of each individual source database by allocating
important duo than preserving and throwing away.’ 2 He refers to the name in the source to the abbreviation indicated in the
5•2 the differentiation by Aleida Assmann between Speichergedächtnis international standard of country codes ISO 3166. 8 The search 5•3
(storage) and Funktionsgedächtnis (remembering), which together function works with a homogeneous dataset whereas the original
make up cultural memory. Assmann described Speichergedächtnis information of the archive is displayed. Maintaining each archive’s
as the passive pole, and Funktionsgedächtnis as the active pole individuality while displaying harmonized data in the portal is
of memory. 3 Here the Internet is of the utmost importance and the general approach to dealing with the heterogeneity of the
at the same time one of the areas where the current changes to sources. The portal is not only an important distribution tool and
our cultural life manifest very clearly. Assmann summarized this a significant improvement to the visibility of the participating
process as a transition from a culture of memory to a culture of institutes and their repositories. The technical platform delivers
attention, with the consequence that the abstract classification tools and services especially for multimedia content that the
of a library catalogue is no longer sufficient. What is important participants could never afford themselves; moreover, they do
in the visual medium of the Internet is the art of an attractive not possess the skills to apply them. This applies especially to
display, 4 meaning that, nowadays, users of media art archives the video indexing software with its various applications that
expect high quality and great features on the websites they visit. enable additional automatic metadata creation for the audiovisual
content. The optical character recognition for the videos, for
1 Gerfried Stocker at the workshop ‘Media Art 3 Assmann, Aleida, ‘Archive im Wandel der Medi- instance, enables accessing information that is stored in the
Archiving – Politics and Strategies’, Ars Elec- engeschichte’ (p. 169), in Ebeling, Knut and
tronica Festival 2009, organized by the Ludwig Stephan Günzel (eds.), Archivologie. Theorien
Boltzmann Institute Media.Art.Research. and des Archivs in Philosophie, Medien und Künsten. 5 GAMA network links repositories of the fol- 7 The curatorial team of GAMA was very aware of
Ars Electronica on the occasion of the launch Berlin: Kulturverlag Kadmos, 2009, pp. 165–75. lowing institutions: Heure Exquise! (Mons-en- the problems relating to classification systems
of the Gateway to Archives of Media Art (GAMA), Baroeul, FR), Netherlands Media Art Institute and vocabularies. But the improvement of access
Linz, 5 September 2009. 4 Assmann, Aleida, ‘Druckerpresse und Internet – (Amsterdam, NL), Argos Center for Art & Media that is enabled by using vocabularies was esti-
von einer Gedächtniskultur zu einer Aufmerksam- (Brussels, BE) und Filmform Foundation (Stock- mated higher. A glossary provides explanations
2 De Baere, Bart, ‘Potentiality and Public Space. keitskultur’ (2003), in Archiv und Wirtschaft, holm, SE), Ars Electronica (Linz, AT), Les of the terminology, see http://www.gama-gate-
Archives as a Metaphor and Example for a Politi- 1/2003. Link: http://www.wirtschaftsarchive. Instants Vidéo Numériques et Poétiques (Mar- way.eu/index.php?id=search.
cal Culture’ (2002), pp. 106–7, in Von Bismarck, de/zeitschrift/m_assmann.htm Attention in the seille, FR), C3 Center for Culture & Communica-
Beatrice, Sonja Eichele, Hans-Peter Feldmann context of the Internet is widely discussed; tion (Budapest, HU), SCCA Center for Contempo- 8 http://www.iso.org/iso/country_codes/iso_3166_
(eds.), Interachive. Archivische Praktiken und see, for example, Goldhaber, Michael H., ‘The rary Arts (Ljubljana, SI). code_lists.htm.
Handlungsräume im zeitgenössischen Kunstfeld / Attention Economy and the Net’, in First Mon-
Archival Practices and Sites in the Contemporary day, 1997, vol. 2, no. 4. Link: http://first- 6 For detailed information see the GAMA deliver-
Art Field. Exhibition project “Interarchiv”, monday.org/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/ able: Viliam Šimko, D3.2 Content and Metadata
Kunstraum der Universität Lüneburg. Cologne: article/view/519/440. Repository Report, 30 April 2009.
Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, 2002,
pp. 105-112.
video files and is not added manually. Based on shot boundary Along with other examples, Rhizome and netzspannung.org prove that
detection, key frames for each video file are created to provide collaborative documentation and archiving is a very successful
users with a visual browsing tool, and previews in H.264 give strategy to preserve cultural heritage. The time to improve
an impression of the content. The GAMA portal also provides the sustainable archiving and open up the archive to its providers and
necessary streaming technology. 9 users is upon us. Contemporary archiving is not only an obligation
The GAMA portal shows the benefits of collaborating on the levels to future generations but it is also vital for current cultural
of access, distribution and dissemination. Furthermore, the life, as the use of both online resources proves, and Gerfried
greater quantity and broader range of content in the gateway also Stocker also pointed this out from his perspective as curator of
increases the appeal for educational contexts. Ars Electronica exhibitions: ‘What we rather should do much, much
earlier is work with the artists on descriptions, create manuals,
Besides GAMA as model for cooperation between holders of archives, create those materials that would help us now already and even more
collections, technical institutes and universities, Rhizome and in the future to re-stage, restore and re-install these kinds of
the Internet platform for digital art and culture, netzspannung. projects’.11 Integrating the artist in the preservation of the works
org, among others, can be regarded as examples of how to build started with the INCCA artists’ interviews and the Variable Media
digital archives collaboratively. These examples provide an Questionnaire, but is not yet implemented in the documentation of
online and publicly accessible infrastructure for storage and the production process of festivals and exhibitions.
documentation. Whereas Rhizome stores communications about media
art, and its ArtBase collection focuses on media art works, Open museum
netzspannung.org was dedicated to storing and disseminating With regard to the open structure of collaborative art platforms we
creative as well as scientific projects relating to digital can argue that, compared to the past, it might be easier today for
5•4 culture, with the aim of monitoring contemporary productions and works and documents to become part of an archive or a collection. 5•5
developments in this field. To fulfil this mandate, besides the The appraisal and selection of content is a general problem,
establishment of the open submission channel, different models though, which has to be dealt with in institutional as well as
were developed to motivate user groups to participate in the in community-based collections, as these online resources also
creation of the archive. The netzspannung.org team collaborated show. ‘Each platform has a filtering mechanism, filtering works
with conference organizers, curators, teachers and research invisibly at the backend but is always present. Filtering is a key
projects that did not have the capacities to document and archive to success: it can make the resource desirable to be a part of,
their activities themselves, and saved this documentation on the and therefore accepted by the users. Filtering is carried out in a
platform. Furthermore, a student competition for media art, media strict manner by a few decisive people with consistent judgements
design and media technology was initiated and realized entirely of taste. The way filtering is organized decides the destiny of the
online, based on the platform infrastructure for submission, project: filtering is usually absolutist to keep up the quality
review and publication. In this way an archive of student projects of the resource, and is also democratic to allow for a variety of
and teaching concepts was created over the years, which, even now, works and approaches.’ 12 Besides excluding projects, this process
is unique in its extent and transparency.10 The selection of content can be organized with strategies of distinction or with tools for
for the netzspannung.org archive was realized through different appraisal such as The Pool by the University of Maine’s Still Water
levels of collaboration, ranging from a free submission policy laboratory.13 This is a collaborative online environment used in
to an editorial decision-making process including selection by different contexts: the Creation Pools (for art, text and code)
external organizers or an appraisal by jury members. refer to projects by people who collaborate in The Pool, whereas
Reference Pools help locate and rate external projects. 14
9 For further information about the GAMA video 10 http://netzspannung.org/digital-sparks/
indexing system, see Lüdtke, Andree, Björn projects.
Gottfried, Otthein Herzog, George Ioannidis,
Michael Leszczuk, Viliam Šimko, ‘Accessing Li- 11 Gerfried Stocker at the workshop ‘Media Art Ar-
braries of Media Art through Metadata’, in Tjoa, chiving – Politics and Strategies’ at Ars Elec-
A.M. and R.R. Wagner (eds.), Proceedings of the tronica Festival 2009, organized by the Ludwig 12 Goriunova, Olga and Alexej Shulgin,‘From Art on 13 http://pool.newmedia.umaine.edu/
20th International Workshop on Database and Ex- Boltzmann Institute Media.Art.Research and Ars Networks to Art on Platforms’ (p. 255), in Kry- artreference_pool.php.
pert Systems Application, DEXA 2009. 31 August Electronica on the occasion of the launch of sa, Joasia (ed.), Curating Immateriality: The
– 4 September 2009, Linz, Austria. Los Alamitos, the Gateway to Archives of Media Art (GAMA), Work of the Curator in the Age of Network Sys- 14 http://pool.newmedia.umaine.edu/faq.html.
CA: IEEE Computer Society, 2009, pp. 269–73. Linz, 5 September 2009. tems. New York: Autonomedia, 2006, pp. 237–64.
Tools for personal or community-based contextualisation and Future challenges
recollection, for collaborative teaching and research contexts, Of course these examples only provide a glimpse of the type of
or for personal collections, are becoming increasingly relevant, tools that could – and probably will be – applied to networked
as is the discourse on the public curating shows. 15 In museums contextualisation and appraisal in the future. Especially since
and exhibitions several strategies and tools have successfully online resources are constantly threatened with extinction and the
integrated the audience into the process of creating contexts problem of preservation is not yet solved, development of tools
and the resumption of a web of meanings, for example, the project for contextualisation has to accompany strategies of sustainable
Your Show Here at the Massachusetts Museum of Modern Art, the archiving. Until now, repositories and projects are at risk and
Connections Gallery at the Whitney Museum,16 and the project Curator can only be saved if a museum or research institute can be found
for One Day, realised by the Netherlands Media Art Institute as with the necessary skills and interest, and is willing to assume
part of the Video Vortex exhibition.17 In the latter, visitors could responsibility – sometimes at the price of their disappearance
select videos from the video collection via a web interface and from the public domain. The question arises of where to ‘leave’
create their own program, which was then screened in the exhibition the archive and how this will affect the content. Transferring
for one day. User-defined vocabularies as enabled by several archives – and for institutes to reach a decision about this
art platforms also involve the user in the contextualization – is fraught with difficulties. As the history of media art
of archival content. The results of the steve.museum project also exists within smaller archives and the web has facilitated
confirmed the ability of folksonomies to improve accessibility unprecedented tools to access these collections, a more profound
to museum collections. 18 The networked environment is dedicated question arises: In addition to all the steps necessary to ensure
to collaborations, and this is a challenge and an opportunity for their continued survival, how can we publicize these remarkable
media art archives and collections. As Christiane Paul pointed materials? If we cannot locate them, how can we make the case
5•6 out: ‘Within a technological framework, curation is always for their inclusion in the art historical record? 21 For example, 5•7
mediated and agency becomes distributed between the curator and netzspannung.org could no longer be maintained by its founders,
the public, and software is involved in the filtering process.’ 19 who must now be content that the Centre for Art and Media (ZKM)
The GAMA portal provides a multimedia Wiki as a tool to integrate in Karlsruhe keeps an archived version online without submission
the works and documents in contexts that are defined by the users – options. 22 The Thing Vienna (1993–2004) and the Thing New York
teachers and their classes, or curators. Unlike normal Wikis, the (1991–2004) are not available online anymore. The data has been
GAMA multimedia Wiki enables users to easily insert information delivered to the LBI Media.Art Research. in Linz, where the
about a work or person that is sourced from the archives. It can platforms are being reconstructed and will be maintained by the
be fully displayed (video preview inclusive) or is only visible on University of Graz (Austria).23 The Internet art platform, low-
rollover. In the GAMA portal the multimedia Wiki is also used to fi.org.uk, is also currently offline and will be archived as
create guided tours, enabling a topical approach to the archive’s an offline version by the Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media
content for those users who are not familiar with the field.20 Art at Cornell University, which is also developing an offline
archive for the net art projects commissioned and sponsored by
Turbulence since 1996.24

15 See, for example, Paul, Christiane, ‘Flexible Link: http://switch.sjsu.edu/nextswitch/ 20 http://wiki.gama-gateway.eu/index.php/Tour. 23 ‘The research project netpioneers 1.0 was real-
Contexts, Democratic Filtering and Computer- switch_engine/front/front.php?artc=70. ized at the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute Media.
aided Curating: Models for Online Curatorial 21 Some of the questions that were posed at the Art.Research. in Linz, Austria (2007–2009).
Practice’ in Krysa, Joasia (ed.), Curating 17 http://nimk.nl/eng/search/curator-for-one-day. expert meeting ‘Archive 2020’, May 2009, It includes online contextualisations and res-
Immateriality: The Work of the Curator in the Amsterdam, organised by Virtueel Platform. torations of early net-based art projects like
Age of Network Systems. New York: Autonomedia, 18 For more information on the evaluation of folk- The Thing New York, The Thing Vienna, t0 - Pub-
2006, pp. 85–105. sonomies in the context of museum’s documenta- 22 According to Monika Fleischmann, who initi- lic Netbase and selected works by jodi.org and
tion of the steve.museum project, see Trant, ated netzspannung.org together with Wolfgang Holger Friese. The project will be continued at
16 Your Show Here was presented at the Massachu- Jennifer, ‘Tagging, Folksonomy and Art Museums: Strauss, the ZKM agreed to reactivate the sub- the Karl-Franzens Universität Graz, Institute
setts Museum of Modern Art, 26 January – 19 Results of the steve.museum’s research project’ mission option if new funding for the platform for Art History and the Center for Information
May 2002 (http://www.lethaprojects.com/your- (2008), in Archives & Museums Informatics, Jan- is acquired. Modelling in the Humanities.’ Description from
showhere.html). The Connections Gallery was uary 2009. Link: http://conference.archimuse. http://www.netzpioniere.at.
shown at the Whitney Museum. Both projects are com/files/trantSteveResearchReport2008.pdf.
introduced in Paul, Christiane, ‘Collabora- 24 http://goldsen.library.cornell.edu/internet/
tive Curatorial Models and Public Curation’, 19 Paul, 2006, op. cit., p. 99. index.php.
in Switch, no. 17 [Rivets and Denizens], 2002.
As far we can predict, the future of our archives lies in
networked infrastructure and in making data future-proof by
ensuring that data sets and metadata meet certain requirements.
Many archives do not have the infrastructure to preserve ‘born and
reborn’ digital files. Digital Repository Services such as AVAN:
Audiovisual Archive Network 25 offer solutions to the archives’
lack of infrastructure, which will aid the archives’ preservation
efforts. Furthermore, the development and adoption of a Data
Seal of Approval 26 ensures that in the future media art data can
still be processed in a high-quality and reliable manner, without
resulting in new thresholds, regulations or high costs. Relying
on networking and collaboration for media art archives are the
challenges for the future.

GAMA search results for JF Guiton

GAMA filmstrip for ABÉCÉDAIRE

25 http://www.archivenetwork.org. 26 http://www.datasealofapproval.org.
gabriele blome archive2020
Gabriele Blome is an art historian
and teaches at the Department of
Media Studies at the University Siegen
(Germany). She researches access and
documentation strategies for media art
archives. As a researcher at the
Ludwig Boltzmann Institute Media.Art.
Research. in Linz (Austria) from 2007
to 2009, she worked on online resources
for scientific documentation and
archiving of new media art and collab-
orated on the GAMA project. She worked
at the media museum of the Center for
Art and Media (ZKM) in Karlsruhe from
1997 to 1999, and was the editor of
netzspannung.org at the MARS Explora-
tory Media Lab of Fraunhofer IAIS from
2000 to 2007. ORAL HISTORY AND
gaby wijers

Gaby Wijers is the head of collection,

conservation and related research at
the Netherlands Media Art Institute 6•0
(NIMk), Amsterdam (NL). She has a
background in librarianship, theatre
and informatics. Gaby coordinated
the Preservation of Video Art in the
Netherlands 2001–2003 project, and
has participated in several research
projects, including Inside Installa-
tions, GAMA, and currently, Inside
Movement Knowledge and Obsolete
Equipment. She has edited the online
newsletter Monitoring Media Art
Preservation since 2005 and is a
guest lecturer at the University of
Amsterdam. Gaby is head of the steering
committee of the Foundation for the
Preservation of Contemporary Art (SBMK).

file under

production, preservation, accessibility,

collaborative art platforms, open Lizzie Muller
museum, networked environment
ORAL HISTORY AND ing such resources. The use of
oral history is not new in art

THE MEDIA ART documentation; it has been used

effectively to record informa-
AUDIENCE tion from the perspective of
artists and important figures
in the art world. In this es-
Lizzie Muller say, however, I argue that oral
histories of media art should be
‘I’m an interactive artist: expanded to include the expe-
I construct experiences.’ 1 riences of the audience. I de-
scribe a recent case study in
‘Many limit the value of oral this area that focuses on the
history and interviewing to an- work of the seminal media artist
ecdotes, the illustrative inci- David Rokeby. 3
dent, the ambience of the time In the quote that opens this
… I think it helps get the event essay David Rokeby acknowledg-
itself… the guts of the event, es that as an artist working
the heart of it.’ 2 with computers his role is not
to create objects, but experi-
Documenting audience experience ences. The experiential nature 6•1
is one of the greatest challeng- of such artworks is often seen
es and one of the most promising as a problem for documentation,
new directions in the creation raising the question of how, or
of media art archives. Media even whether, we should pre-
art theory emphasizes the role serve their immaterial aspects.
of participants, but descrip- But the mutability of media art
tions of their experiences in can also be seen as a valuable
their own words rarely appear opportunity for developing new
in the documentary record. The forms of documentation. Archi-
field of oral history provides a vist and theorist Alain Depocas
valuable approach to addressing argues that documentary prac-
this gap. It presents arguments tice must address the transi-
for the historical legitimacy tory and transitional state of
and significance of first-hand media art: ‘grasping all the
accounts of actual experienc- consequences of this transito-
es, as well as guidance for good riness requires a profound par-
practice in creating and manag- adigm shift’.

1 Rokeby, D., ‘The Construction of Experience: 3 The research reported in this chapter was
Interface as Content’, in Dodsworth Jr., C. conducted primarily during a residency at the
Digital Illusion: Entertaining the Future with Daniel Langlois Foundation in 2007. This es-
High Technology, pp. 27–47. New York, NY: ACM say was adapted from an essay published on the
Press/Addison-Wesley Publishing Co., 1998. foundation’s website http://www.fondation-
2 Lord, W., Oral History Review (1968), quoted
in Reimer, D., Voices: A Guide to Oral His-
tory. Victoria, B.C.: Sound and Moving Image
Division, Provincial Archives of British
Columbia, 1984.
There have already been signif- It also redresses a historical in the field. The project ship of media art to its social
icant advances in methodologies imbalance in the kinds of in- What’s Welsh for Performance and cultural context.
for documenting media artworks formation that are recorded, Art?, led by Heike Roms, has Oral history is part of a spoken
from an archival and preserva- valued, and will be made avail- created a rich archive of rather than a written tradi-
tion perspective. The Variable able to people in the future. interviews with leading Welsh tion. Its materials are produced
Media Network, for example, Reimer describes oral history as performance artists. Roms’ from a conversation between
has developed an approach that the use of the actual words and innovative technique includes the archivist/researcher and
seeks to identify the essen- voices of those who lived and publicly staged interviews that the subject, which implies a
tial qualities of an artwork by witnessed history to document allow members of the audience significant ethical dimension in
interviewing the artist and people and topics previously who were present during the its production. As described in
others involved in the creation absent from the historical events to question or correct the quote from Walter Lord that
of the work. 4 The Capturing Un- record. Such gaps appear, he the accounts given by the inter- opens this essay, many histo-
stable Media project has devel- argues, when ‘groups in society viewee. Despite these valuable rians immediately consign oral
oped a formal conceptual model [have] neither the means nor oral history projects there documents to the periphery. Such
for describing and preserving occasion to represent themselves is still a lack of material accounts are necessarily less
aspects of electronic artworks, by written records and hence that records the experience of polished than written records,
which is flexible enough to our knowledge of them [comes] the ‘non-professional’ partici- and therefore seem to have less
accommodate the iterative and through impersonal statistics….’ 6 pants. The audience remains a authority in the text-based
processual nature of media arts The media art audience is such a silent majority in the history world of historical research.
projects. 5 Both the Variable group. of media art – much talked about Countering this position Reimer
6•2 Media Network and the Capturing Whilst there are already but rarely heard. points out that oral history was 6•3
Unstable Media initiative agree existing oral history projects Curators, conservators, artists in fact one of the first ways of
that audience experience is that relate to art, these and arts administrators have registering history, which was
important, and both make focus mainly on the lives and the power and the responsibility eclipsed when the technology
space in their structures for accounts of important or power- to select or produce insti- of the written word became our
experiential material. However ful figures in art history. The tutional archival records primary mode of recording. 7
neither has developed methods Archives of American Art Oral about the art of today. Oral However, modern technologies such
for dealing with this aspect of History Program, for example, histories of media art should as the telephone, video and In-
documentation, and the audience which began in 1958, documents address the gap in experiential ternet are bringing orality back
experience continues to be a gap the history of the visual arts documentation by recording many more strongly into our culture.
in the documentary record. in the United States, primarily different perspectives on a Mackay argues that oral history
through interviews with artists, work – including the views of has developed hand-in-hand with
Oral Histories; valuing historians, dealers and critics. the artist, curator and tech- technology. 8 Beginning with
experience,listening to voices The CACHe Project (Computer nician – but their particular the open reel tape recorders
The field of oral history offers Arts, Contexts, Histories, etc.) contributions would serve to of the 1930s and 1940s, it
precedents, models and guides for collates numerous archives rela- emphasise the experience of was developments in recording
good practice in recording, ting to British computer art, the general audience. These technology that first made the
cataloguing and preserving ac- and includes interviews with histories would offer rich and recording of people’s verbal
counts of individual experiences. artists considered to be pioneers varied portraits of how the descriptions possible. The 1960s
artworks existed in experience and 1970s represented a boom
and would necessarily widen our in oral history recordings due
4 Depocas, A., J. Ippolito, and C. Jones 5 Fromme, R. and S. Fauconnier, ‘Capturing
understanding of the relation- to the introduction of small
(eds.), Permanence Through Change: The Unstable Media Arts – A Formal Model for
Variable Media Approach. New York, NY: Describing and Preserving Aspects of
The Daniel Langlois Foundation for Art, Electronic Art’, in Frohne, U., J. Guiton
Science, and Technology, Montreal, and and M. Schieren (eds.), Present Continuous 6 Reimer, D. (ed.), Voices: A Guide to Oral 7 Reimer, D., 1984, op. cit.
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 2003. Link: Past(s): Media Art: Strategies of History. Victoria, B.C.: Sound and Moving Im-
http://www.fondation-langlois.org/html/e/ Presentation, Mediation and Dissemination. age Division, Provincial Archives of British 8 Mackay, N., Curating Oral Histories. Walnut
page.php?NumPage=200. Heidelberg: Springer Verlag, 2005. Columbia, 1984. Creek, CA: Left Coast Press, 2007.
portable tape recorders. Digital biases of their creators as from its language database, practical and methodological
technology introduced in the openly as oral interviews. The responding to parameters such issues that must be considered
1990s opened new possibilities challenge, then, in creating as colour, form and position. when producing oral records of
for preserving and presenting an oral history of media art The computer speaks the descrip- audience experiences. In the
records, and video offered the is to find ways to present tion aloud, and it appears as remainder of this essay I outline
option of adding visual informa- experiential accounts that allow text on a screen showing an the most important of these
tion. The relationship of oral the oral register to be valued, image of the object, suspended issues, and describe the solutions
history to technology makes it a understood and placed centrally directly above the plinth. we implemented in our own work.
particularly interesting form of in the history of media art. In The sentences it produces are
documentation for media art, as the second part of this essay grammatically correct but non- 1
both the artform and its means I describe an example that sensical. The descriptions The role of the researcher
of documentation reflect and attempted to solve some of these may seem poetic, whimsical or The creation of oral records
exploit technological change. problems through the creation foolish to the human observer, necessarily entails questions
Advances in Internet technolo- of an online documentary case but, crucially for Rokeby, they of validity and reliability.
gies – particularly the ability study that combined traditional should not be perceived as being Oral records are considered by
to easily upload and download archival materials with oral completely random. some to have diminished status
video and audio content to web- records from both the artist and The documentary collection among other forms of historical
sites – offer the possibilities the audience. includes an interview with David documentation, because they
of distributed production and Rokeby, interviews with audience necessarily reflect the perso-
widespread dissemination of Case study: members and museum guards, nal viewpoints of both the
6•4 audiovisual records. 9 An oral history of David as well as detailed technical record-creator and the subject. 6•5
Whereas in the early days of Rokeby’s The Giver of Names documentation of the work, There are two useful strategies
oral history the written tran- In 2007 The Daniel Langlois photographs and bibliographic proposed in the literature of
scription of an account was Foundation commissioned Caitlin references. Our strategy was to oral history11 to counter these
considered the primary document, Jones and me to create a documen- emphasise the dialogue between objections. The first is to
current practice emphasizes tary collection for the artwork the ideal, conceptual existence make created oral materials
the central importance of the The Giver of Names (1991-), of the work, and its actual available in conjunction with
audiovisual recording. This by David Rokeby (see image). manifestation through different a variety of other kinds of
emphasis recognizes that the Through the creation of this iterations and exhibitions in materials wherever possible.
value and content of an oral case study we have developed the real world. Maintaining this This allows for a form of tri-
account is inextricably bound up a promising approach to media tension between the real and the angulation in which different
with its telling: the time-based art documentation that inte- ideal allowed us to articulate types of material can validate
unravelling of the story in the grates oral records from both the relationship of experien- and problematize one another.
voice of the person who tells the artist and the audience with tial material in10 the broader The second is to emphasise the
it. The tone of voice, attitude traditional archival materials. archival context. unique value of the reflexive
and the emotion of the speaker, The Giver of Names is a computer During the course of the exhi- way in which oral records are
the memory lapses and self- system programmed to see, bition we interviewed audience produced. Oral documentation
correction are all vital analyze and describe objects members of all ages and with implies a proactive role for
parts of oral records, which offered to it by partici- many different backgrounds, the archivist/researcher as the
situate the account related pants. In the ideal scenario professions and levels of expe- record-creator – and not merely
by the speaker. Even in their envisaged by the artist, a rience with art and technology. as the custodian. Materials are
complete form oral records participant chooses objects The creation of this case produced self-consciously for
are clearly subjective and from a pile on the floor and study shed light on the many an array of future purposes and
selective; no single oral places them on a plinth to be
9 Mackay N., 2007, op. cit. Jones, C. and L. Muller Ellis, J., Keeping Archives.
record claims to hold the whole analyzed and described by 10 11

‘Between Real and Ideal: Port Melbourne: Thorpe in as-

truth. As Reimer argues, few the computer. The computer’s Documenting Media Art’, in sociation with the Australian
historical records reveal the descriptions are assembled Leonardo, vol. 41, no. 4, Society of Archivists, 1993.
2008, pp. 418–19.
with an awareness of current to future researchers. The main own perceptions of the general Conclusion:
practice. The rigour of this requirements include the need to behaviour of the crowd, and pro- Towards an oral history
practice is generated through an certify informed consent, and to vide something of a contextual of media art
emphasis on clarity of motives transfer copyright from the par- overview of the audience. Cap- The work done for The Giver of
and methods and a reflex. ticipant to the researcher. In turing the individual experiences Names case study demonstrates
most instances the necessity of of the attendants in this way pro- that oral documentation is val-
2 completing the correct paperwork vides a more interesting source uable, but also time-consuming
Technical considerations needs to be balanced against the of more general information than and difficult. To make a
Creating audiovisual documenta- challenge of persuading general quantitative surveys. significant impact on the way
tion of digital installations is visitors to participate in an that media art is understood
notoriously difficult because interview. Long, complex and 5 now and in the future, oral
of the prevalence of darkness, intimidating consent forms could How many experiences to record? history initiatives need to
screens and projections. Often discourage potential partici- The aim of creating an oral pool the efforts of the many
the local conditions of an artwork pants, so it is vital to spend record of the audience’s ex- researchers and institutions
(e.g., the ambient lighting) will time preparing the simplest periences of any particular who are interested in audience
need to be adjusted to create paperwork possible, whilst artwork is not (and could experience, and to galvanize
good photographic or video meeting all necessary legal and never be) to create a complete others to begin to include this
documentation. When documenting ethical requirements. record of the different ways in kind of work in their documen-
audience interactions, these which an artwork manifests. Each tary processes. The increasing
kinds of adjustments are impos- 4 person’s experience is both ease of uploading and down-
6•6 sible, as they will affect the Capturing negative or necessarily partial – only loading video content via the 6•7
participant’s experience of the neutral experiences showing some of the many aspects Internet makes such a global
work. There is no easy solution An important challenge in creat- of an artwork – and at the same perspective not only desirable,
to this problem. Experience ing experiential documentation time complete in itself. Just but also achievable. The issues
suggests that a combination of is the question of how to record one real experience is enough raised by this case study show
the best available camera and ‘negative’ experiences. It is to open up the field of pos- that such an initiative would
maximum manual control (to avoid much easier for researchers sibilities that exists in an need to strike a delicate
particular problems like auto- to record interviews with par- artwork and add a spark of life balance between openness and
focus), a good camera operator, ticipants who have clearly to its documentation. The kind of flexibility on the one hand,
as well as considerable tweak- had a satisfying, or at least experiential records that would and rigour and structure on
ing during post-production, a reasonably long interaction form an oral history are quali- the other. An oral history
achieves reasonable results. On with the artwork. In many cases, tative rather than quantitative of media art would need to
the other hand it is important however, visitors are likely in nature, and do not lend them- establish standards of collec-
to remember that in recording to have only minimal engage- selves to statistical uses. On tion and curating that cover
audience experiences the verbal ment with the work. In order the other hand, comparisons a range of areas, including
report of the participant is for the documentation not to between different people’s production values, ethical and
the most important information. be misleading, it is necessary experiences can be very illumi- legal issues, reflexive and
Our technical priority in The to contextualise the high- nating, and recording a variety accountable methods, and the
Giver of Names case study was quality experiences recorded in of different experiences adds intelligibility of records
to always ensure that the sound interviews within the larger richness to a collection. In The supported by detailed contextual
quality was as good as possible. field of less attentive encoun- Giver of Names case study we information and cataloguing.
ters. The solution we used in created a multilayered portrait The reward would be a signifi-
3 The Giver of Names case study was of the work by ensuring a balance cant response to the gap that
Ethics, consent, copyright to include interviews with the between the genders, a good currently exists in our records
The ethical and legal status of professional gallery attendants spread of ages, and different of audience experience. Such a
an experiential record is vital who watch over the artwork every kinds of expertise and interests resource would ensure the lively
if it is to be made available day. The attendants describe their in the people we interviewed. existence of today’s artworks
in the future, as well as a
re-balancing of art historical
accounts to include the reality,
not just the idea, of the
audience’s active role in
media art.


David Rokeby, The Giver of Names, 1991-2004,

variable dimensions, video camera, computer,
custom software, objects, pedestal, video
projector, rear-projection screen, small
multimedia speakers. Photograph: Silversalt
Photography, courtesy Campbelltown Arts Centre.
lizzie muller archive2020
Lizzie Muller is a curator, writer
and researcher specializing in
interaction, audience experience and
interdisciplinary collaboration.
She is Senior Lecturer in the School
of Design at the University of
Technology, Sydney. Recent projects
include Thinking Through the Body,
a programme of interdisciplinary
collaborative research funded by the
Australia Council and Mirror States;

and an exhibition of interactive
artworks at Campbelltown Art Centre,
Sydney and MIC Toi Rerehiko,

Auckland. In 2007 she was Researcher
in Residence at the Daniel Langlois
Foundation in Montreal, investigating
the role of audience experience in

media art archives and documentation.




file under

audience participation, oral history,

non-professional, context, (audio) Annet Dekker
visual documentation, copyright, in conversation with
Jeroen van Mastrigt
in conversation with

At the Art, Media and Technology Faculty at the Utrecht School

of the Arts (HKU) you develop knowhow for education and related
fields about new disciplines that occur at the boundary of art
and technology. Why has the emphasis shifted to games in the last
few years?

Games are incredibly popular. In the past few decades games

have grown into a mainstream phenomenon at the centre of the
media landscape and they play an increasingly important role in
contemporary culture. They are symbolic centres in and around
which various subcultures define themselves. In my opinion, we
can describe many of these subcultures as ‘playful cultures’. 7•1
As a result, game development has become an important new design
discipline. Young developers want to express themselves by making
games and by reflecting on playful cultures.
Games are also applied to an increasing degree in other contexts,
such as communication, education, cultural heritage and health
care. People have been using game technology and game design
beyond an entertainment context for as long as video games have
existed. Armies have been using computer simulations to train
soldiers for decades: flight simulators, combat simulators
and strategy war games are all examples of these. The American
military created the game America’s Army at the beginning of
the twenty-first century and used it to attract new recruits.
It was a huge success. This led to the evolution of a ‘serious
games’ movement. Besides being used as educational aids or as
supplementary tools during therapy, academics, designers and
entrepreneurs widely believed that games could be implemented
to modify behaviour. I no longer use the term ‘serious games’
because you learn something from every game you play, including
entertainment games. What you learn cannot always be applied
immediately beyond the context of the game itself. This is why
I use the term ‘Applied Game Design’ when referring to applying
gaming principles to stimulate people to take action or induce a
perception relating to all manner of contexts and problems.
F.A.T.S. (Fitness Achievement Technology Sneaker), 2008.
The creative and meaningful application of game design and
gaming technology in all sorts of contexts is a very complicated
activity. Designing a meaningful experience and gameplay based
on well-balanced game rules and mechanics is already complex – simple at the moment and the application is primarily applicable
certainly when it comes to multi-player games. Relating in marketing contexts, for example, free coffee for the ‘mayor’
the experiences and gameplay to set objectives is even more at Starbucks.
difficult. Furthermore, designing these types of games involves You could also think of other contexts to which this could be
many disparate disciplines that do not always mesh properly. In applied. For example, our students developed a shoe called
particular the interaction between specialists from the field F.A.T.S. (Fitness Achievement Technology Sneaker) in cooperation
and game designers leaves much to be desired. The creative fields with the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research
and the context in which games are used call for design models (TNO) that changes colour if it is used a lot. The shoe was
and methods for Applied Game Design and knowledge relating to the primarily developed for children with obesity. You add aspects
design process. This is why the research conducted by the Art, such as competitiveness and status to the shoes, but users
Media and Technology Faculty pays a great deal of attention to are not necessarily aware of this. In the future more of these
design models, methods and processes. metagames will be developed that will stimulate people to deal
more responsibly with energy in their day-to-day lives. These
Can you tell us more about the role of games in society? games are not necessarily about something, but they can use gaming
principles to modify behaviour.
Media theoretician Henry Jenkins suggests that while gamers are
playing games they develop all types of skills that are of vital Back to the subject of this publication: archiving and preserving
importance in an information society, such as coping with vast born-digital material. Besides traditional computer and console
amounts of highly complex information, recognizing patterns in games we are witnessing the emergence of games in which the
rapidly changing information streams, working with others to social and physical realities beyond the console are becoming
7•2 interpret information and basing actions on that interpretation, more important. How should we approach this when dealing with 7•3
assuming roles, etc. You cannot learn these types of skills management and preservation?
from a book; at best you only develop them to a very limited
degree. Gaming is an important aid to learning essential skills You probably shouldn’t make games if you want to create something
such as these. The institutes that play an important role in that lasts forever, but there are ways to preserve games. There
nurturing these skills among new generations – museums, schools, are two paradigms. The first is a traditional paradigm that
universities and the media – are not yet ready to start integrating regards a game as an object. The other paradigm regards a game
games and gaming in their core activities. One of the reasons for as a system that only exists in relation to social and physical
this is that they do not understand games, gaming and gamers. contexts.
They regard the phenomenon from their own perspective in which Let’s start with the first paradigm. Some people preserve games
games are objects, and consequently they are walking backwards by maintaining or emulating the hardware and software (the game
into the future. system, the operating systems and other necessary software) of
Perhaps the ascent of social media, wireless networking and all sorts of old systems, so that these games can still be played.
sensor technology will alter this perception. People are playing This is an expensive and time-consuming procedure. Preserving
‘together’ and ‘outside’, and realize that game design principles this history and ensuring its accessibility at several locations
can also be applied to their physical and social surroundings. is a very worthwhile endeavour, however. It is important that
For example, Foursquare is a popular application for the iPhone researchers and developers can access this essential part of
(and others) that relates game design principles to the physical history in the future. It might be interesting, for example, to
and social space. In Foursquare people can ‘log-in’ from a investigate how a new generation of gamers deal with older games
location, for example, a station, museum, shop or cafe. If you like Simcity2000.
visit specific locations you are awarded a ‘badge’ (a type of This brings me to the second paradigm: preserving games with a view
scouting insignia). A gamer can receive the ‘gym rat badge’ if he to their social and physical contexts. This is considerably more
goes to the gym several times a week. People who most frequently complex, but still important because many contemporary games only
visit a particular location become the ‘mayor’ of that place. exist in relation to social and physical contexts. For example,
Many people like collecting the badges and gaining recognition how do you preserve games like World of Warcraft, Farmville or a
on social networks. Using gaming principles could be a way to virtual world like Second Life? Millions of people now play these
get people to go to the gym more often. Foursquare is still quite MMOGs (massive multiplayer online games). These types of games do
not exist without players, gameplay or user-generated content. between design decisions and the experiences players had while
The gameplay consists of moments that you create and experience playing them. I believe the highest priority at the moment is
together. It is impossible to ‘save’ these gaming worlds and their transferring and maintaining design knowhow and developing a
social contexts as objects. Of course, it is possible to document gaming culture that is capable of developing itself in relation
and analyze the data relating to the behaviour of players, or by to other aspects of our culture. Such a gaming culture will then
using a more qualitative method such as conducting ethnographic be able to re-mediate past gaming concepts and principles and re-
research within these worlds and saving the information gleaned. apply them in new contexts. We haven’t reached this point yet.
The growing tendency to link these types of games to physical
reality by means of devices like the WiiMote, the WiiBalance How do we get there?
board, Microsoft’s Project Natal, and mobile iPhone and iPad
games, compounds the difficulties involved in preserving these Games are still in their infancy and we still know relatively
games because the physical context of the gaming experience is little about how they are designed. The poetics of gaming are
an essential component. How do you save a football game? You can still very much in development. An academy where game creation and
save the rules of the game and even film a match while it is being research go hand in hand and where makers, users and contexts are
played. Furthermore, you can now use technology to capture all involved in the collective design and reflection on design plays
kinds of data about the game, for example, by placing sensors in a important role in developing and transferring these poetics,
the shoes of the players and the ball, and save it in a different and in their meaningful application. Reflecting on design and on
way. But what do these recordings and saved data reveal about the transferring design knowhow is essential to advancing a gaming
types of experiences the players had? With the aid of information culture that is capable of developing itself in relation to other
technology like sensors we can save more data about performances aspects of our culture.
7•4 than we could previously, but not the performance itself. I think that preserving and transferring design models, 7•5
techniques, strategies, methods and processes are key issues.
How can you preserve games if you start with the paradigm that These have to be made much more explicit than they are at present,
games are systems that only exist in relation to social and and should be preserved and transferred to a new generation of
physical contexts? makers who can then apply them in contexts that they consider
relevant. This is why, in this context, I believe more in a living
Saving data about (the digital component relating to) the use of museum, a living laboratory, a new academy.
games is simple. Analyzing and anticipating user behaviour plays
an increasingly important role for large game companies, just as This is not about exchanging knowledge but more about an ongoing
it does for Google. Saving this data does not necessarily mean discussion between practise and theory?
that it will be accessible, however. As a rule the data is usually
in private hands and cannot be accessed by researchers, curators It is important to understand that certain games work for specific
or even the players themselves. The huge quantity of data that reasons. There is still too little information available about
the makers of Farmville have accumulated relating to the use of the relationship between design choices and the creation of
this game is staggering, but does it actually contribute anything behaviour or sensations among groups of players. These insights
to our understanding of a specific group of players’ specific are now slowly gaining currency among ‘reflective practitioners’
Farmville experience at a specific moment? but have to be developed further and made explicit. How can we
In my opinion, documenting games or gaming moments is comparable to deploy gaming principles, game rules and mechanics in strategic
preserving oral cultures, sports, martial arts or performing arts ways to create feelings and experiences or motivate people to act
such as theatre and dance. A dance performance is a living system in a certain way?
that continues developing, and because it is passed on through Next, you can examine the issue of how knowledge can be transferred
body movements it can only ever be in a state of development. to new generations through physical activity – in the same way
In fact, saving the performance itself is impossible. Preserving that poses and movements are used to transfer knowledge in martial
recordings and user data is only one side of the coin. Other arts or dance. You can then use this knowledge to preserve all
possibilities could include ethnographic in-game research or types of material that we did not preserve in the past. You not
documenting the ideas behind the development of a game, the design only transfer the result of a specific action or a particular way
strategies that underlie specific games, and the relationship of thinking, but you transfer the action or the particular way
of thinking itself, so that someone else can make, experience or What’s more, the increasing use of digital tools will provide
think about it themselves afterwards. much more information about methods and processes. But as I
Anyway, I don’t think that this only applies to games but to mentioned earlier, data can only convey so much. Other aspects
all kinds of creative and less creative practises. Here’s an about works or objects that you cannot actually save should
example from a more traditional discipline, the art of painting. be recorded, for example, through ethnographic methods. Art
Technology makes it possible for us to gather a great deal of education can and should, in my opinion, play an important role
information about the methods and processes that artists use. in clarifying and transferring design methods and processes. Not
Brushes could be fitted with sensors that record how a particular only because it is the only area where you can directly access a
artist works. In addition, you could structurally document more large portion of the creative industry, but especially because
qualitative reflection on the painting process. Recording, art education can reflect intensively on design and methods and
preserving and ensuring accessibility to the information will processes of production for longer periods. Art education is a
enable new generations to see how an artist went about creating ‘living laboratory’ that plays an essential role in capturing,
his work. Picasso experimented by filming himself painting. preserving, transferring and re-mediating the intangible.
You can then transfer this knowledge, perhaps in a game that
teaches you to paint like Picasso. Nowadays all types of design In which ways does a ‘living laboratory’ compare to traditional
(and other) practises are supported with digital tools. Saving museums?
processes and reflecting on them is becoming easier.
At this point in time I think that a conservation strategy in
Currently, many of these developments are taking place in the which a dynamic place like an (art) academy plays a more central
creative industry, but this field is not known for research and role is more practical than a strategy that is dominated by
7•6 reflection. What are your thoughts about this? traditional museums focusing on preserving ‘objects’. Online 7•7
games are important symbolic centres for new generations, and
Art is part of the creative industry and I believe its relationship form the ‘heart’ of their subculture, but many of these symbolic
with the creative industry is comparable to the relationship centres are controlled by global media conglomerates. It is vital
between fundamental science and practical (product) application. that we not only teach younger generations to read, but also
This is why art, and especially born-digital art, is so important teach them to write and speak (in gaming terms) and that we
for the contemporary creative industry. Many companies in link their symbolic centres to public culture and the knowledge
the creative industry are very small, and are often one-man infrastructure so that we can make collective decisions about
businesses. At the moment there is a drastic downscaling within what we as a society consider important to preserve.
the creative field because of the ascent of networking technology This results in an entirely different definition of a museum.
and applications. Unlike large companies, small companies usually It has to be a place where people can become actively engaged.
have far less time to spend on far-reaching analyses of their Ideally, it is a place where you can study – not only the game but
processes and methods. There is also less urgency, because there also how it’s played.
is less need to harmonize. Large companies have to account for
their actions, which means that they are automatically more
concerned with methods and processes. Reflecting on methods and
processes has been going on for a long time in fields such as
architecture and product development. This is because they are
more regulated and greater consequences can result from poor
design decisions. Buildings can collapse, after all. Until now
there hasn’t been much interest in processes and methods in art
and their creative applications. Many creatives hide behind terms
like ‘inspiration’ and mystify their design processes. Because
of the increasing importance of applying creativity and its
effectiveness, more attention should be paid to design processes
and methods, and to sharing and transferring these processes.

Permanent exhibition developed by Nintendo game designer Shigeru Myamoto in which

he applies game-design principles and technology as a way to inspire visitors to
discover traditional Japanese gaming culture. Photograph: Shigureden, Kyoto.
jeroen van mastrigt archive2020
Jeroen van Mastrigt lectures in Art
& Technology at the Utrecht School
of the Arts (HKU), where he is also
responsible for the multi-disciplinary
R&D programme Applied Game Design,
among others. Jeroen is a member of
the steering commission of GATE, a
government-funded national research
programme in the area of games and
gaming technology. He is the secretary
of Dutch Game Garden, a game-incubator
and hub for the Dutch gaming industry.
Jeroen’s past activities include
co-founding the web-technology company
GX and developing Europe’s first
course in gaming technology for the

Utrecht School of the Arts.




file under & &

Playful cultures, Applied Game Design,
research, strategies, methods and
processes, living laboratory, new
academy, living museum
Maurits van der Graaf, Gerhard Jan Nauta

There is a general expectation and growth of born-digital

that we will witness an explosive cultural heritage collections –
growth of born-digital heritage hard facts are needed to
in the near future. The number underpin future policy aimed
of cultural manifestations at the preservation of digital
that use digital techniques is cultural heritage, and, on the
increasing rapidly. But is other hand, on identifying the
the national heritage sector areas where an institutional –
adequately prepared for this possibly even a cross-sectoral
anticipated growth? Insiders – approach is desirable. The 8•1
are pessimistic and fear that quantitative part of the re-
much valuable digital cultural search focused on developing
heritage has already been lost, acceptable terminology for
and more will be in the future. future research: what are the
To gain a better understanding most important types of born-
of the scope of the problem, digital cultural heritage, and
Digital Heritage Netherlands how can the size of collections
(DEN) asked Maurits van der of this type of material be
Graaf from Pleiade research measured? This research is part
bureau to conduct preliminary of The Digital Facts project that
studies at a number of heritage DEN has worked on since 2008. 2
institutes. The archives, li- The study encompassed explora-
braries and museums selected tory research in the literature,
for this research can be re- interviews, group discussions and
garded as among the trail- a short questionnaire. Research
blazers in the Netherlands. 1 was conducted at approximately
40 Dutch institutes that are
The purpose of the study considered to be among the
On the one hand, the research pioneers in the area of digital
concentrated on the possi- heritage and in ensuring long-
bility of assessing the size term accessibility to digital

1 Graaf, Maurits van der, Born-digital erfgoedmaterialen bij een selectie van Nederlandse erfgoed-
instellingen. Technical report, DEN Foundation: The Hague, 2010. Link: http://www.den.nl/

2 See ICT Monitor DEN: De Digitale Feiten. Link:

cultural heritage. Nearly 30 search is that the distinction gaps threaten to occur in the database records? Further-
institutes participated in at between digitised and born- national heritage. For this more, the digital equivalents
least one of the areas of the digital cultural heritage had reason, a table was included of some conventional categories
study. The exploratory char- little relevance for many of in the DEN research with a of objects fragment into pri-
acter of the study means that the respondents. This seems balanced selection of types of mary (constituent) categories.
the results cannot be applied to be linked to the fact that objects, compiled based on the Perhaps the greatest problem
across the board arbitrarily. many collections include both research in the literature and is that digital artworks can be
digitised analogue material and information gleaned from the combined in numerous ways in the
Qualitative results born-digital material, while interviews. The use of the table digital environment, they can
from the research both types of material appear to by the participants in the re- be related to each other, and
The study indicates that it be managed in the same systems. search facilitated the creation they can incorporate one another
is important to start dealing Is it possible that most of of a more concise version that (embedding, for example).
with born-digital material as the institutes involved in the can be applied during subsequent This compounds the difficulty
early as possible. It is not study concentrate on material research, for example, in the of estimating the size of a
a good idea to wait to process that strongly resembles digi- framework of the European Nu- digital collection, which only
it for as long as is usual with tised analogue material? Or is meric project. 3 seems to be exacerbated when
conventional/analogue cultural the management and preservation While developing the quanti- dealing with born-digital archi-
heritage because of the rapid of born-digital cultural her- tative methodology decisions val material. By its very
obsolescence of file formats itage – in the strictest sense, have to be made in response to nature an archive is a
and computer applications, and material that does not lend complex questions such as those collection of containers, but
8•2 the limited lifespan of storage itself to being converted to an that arose during interviews how does one start measuring 8•3
media. The research considered analogue form – too complex? Is and group discussions. an archive? In the analogue
measures such as establishing the interest in this still too • How does the question above world archival collections are
guidelines, providing informa- limited? Perhaps quantitative relate to the importance that measured by the number of metres
tion to the producers of cul- research into this issue will is attached to the quality of that an archive comprises, or in
tural heritage, making interim provide a definite answer. cultural heritage material? terms of separate objects. It is
backups, and providing services Video art and documentaries can difficult to make clear digital
(tools, storage capacity, etc.). Quantitative research into be grouped into one category, equivalents. Perhaps this partly
It was evident from the inter- born-digital cultural heritage but video art is more likely to explains the reluctance of the
views, group discussions and Part of the research conducted be included in distinct heritage participating institutes to
the online questionnaire that in the Netherlands focused on collections and, as a result, provide details in the survey
people are concerned about creating definitions and units the choices that are made with about how many archives they
losing born-digital cultural of measurement for different regard to storage media and/or have (macro level) and the
heritage produced in the Nether- types of born-digital cultural the loss of image quality can number of objects in their
lands. All the participants heritage. How can born-digital vary widely for video works. archives (micro level). The
acknowledged the importance of collections be quantified in a • An unavoidable issue relating available categories do not ade-
reaching suitable agreements consistent, reproducible way? to several types of objects was quately reflect the complexity
regarding collecting practises, The underlying idea is that determining at which aggregation of a modern hybrid archive.
particularly of the new types in order to take cross- level born-digital collections Another explanation could
of born-digital material. institutional measures – whether could best be described. It be that archives no longer
There also appears to be an this involves agreements about is difficult to provide un- distinguish between digitised
overall demand for best prac- acquisitions and selection, equivocal answers: does the and born-digital material for
tices in the context of digital and processing and providing assessment refer to journals important data flows, with
sustainability, selection and accessibility to an archive – or articles, weblogs or we- the exception of institutes
acquisition procedures, and there should be clarity about blog entries, databases or that mainly acquire and manage
other issues. who collects and manages what
A surprising result of the re- (and how much of it) and where 3 See the (archived) Numeric website: http://www.numeric.ws.
private archives. In such cases together, prompting the different versions of almost collection of born-digital
is it still advisable to deploy question: which circumstances all digital objects while they cultural heritage. Collections
the concept ‘born-digital cul- cause this stagnation? In this are being made. Institutes are at heritage institutes are
tural heritage’? respect, it can be helpful discouraged by the additional frequently organized according
The way in which respondents to refocus on the parties workload if the producer/maker to conventional categories:
dealt with the request to identified in the Open Archival allows this to happen, and if his photographs, paintings, utility
provide details in the table Information System (OAIS) model, personal archive is provided to wares… One of the characteris-
about the digital collections namely the producer/maker of the the cultural heritage institute tics of born-digital material is
in their own institute resulted heritage, the consumer/user, in a raw state. The heritage precisely that different types
in the following provisional and their intermediary, the institute can do two things: of objects can be combined and
conclusions: custodian of the material: 1. Persuade the producer to interrelated with great ease.
• Large quantities of several the heritage institute. 5 Besides explain his working method, or This applies in particular to
types of objects with a these three parties, the nature 2. Accept the situation for what compound objects (see below)
traditional and/or digitised of the material itself is it is and invest in unravelling and results in a blurring of the
equivalent are included in the also a determining factor for the transferred material boundaries between traditional
heritage collections of the the feasibility of long-term (digital detective work or even categories, with possible
institutes that participated accessibility to born-digital digital archaeology). consequences for the thorough-
in the survey. Examples material. ness with which an institute
include photographs, video and National heritage institutes can acquire its objects.
audio recordings, e-books and Producer/maker Although the global community
8•4 e-articles. According to the OAIS model has come up with numerous Consumer/user 8•5
• Several new manifestations the cultural heritage material solutions for the processing Users are assigned a central
in the born-digital world, i.e., and any relevant information of digital cultural heritage, role in the OAIS model. The
objects without a traditional is provided by the producer to and although many methods and organization of the reposi-
or digitised equivalent, are the archive (ingest). An ideal techniques are documented tory of a cultural heritage
either not or are only collected approach would be to formalize online, it remains difficult collection is dependent on the
in negligible quantities by the this procedure in such a way for a heritage institute with- target group of the system,
institutes that participated that we can speak of a submission out any experience in the the so-called designated
in the survey. Examples include agreement. This would establish digital domain to make an community. It makes a great
websites (several thousands how much and what type of data informed choice from the deal of difference if clear
have been included, while is involved, the formats used maze of possibilities. They requirements relating to the
3,6 million websites are to encode the transferred data, would have to free up time to material can be made with
registered in the Netherlands the type of metadata that is conduct research and develop respect to this target group
domain); 4 games (a few have available, etc. The reference systems, but the regular budget that can then be rendered as
been included); and 3D designs or model assumes the involvement of many institutes does not unambiguous requirements for
reconstructions (dozens have of a discerning producer, but even allow for the processing its storage. The philosopher
been included). this figure is absent from a of the increasing analogue Nelson Goodman once made the
large proportion of heritage cultural heritage in a suitable distinction regarding repre-
Stagnation during institutes. Artists, writers way. Postponing the problems sentation between repleteness
the collecting of new and architects are not used associated with processing and attenuation. A schematic
digital cultural heritage to having to think about image born-digital cultural heritage representation is attenuated:
It thus appears that stagnation formats or metadata during the is an understandable strategy not all the characteristics
occurs when new born-digital creative process. Moreover, it under such conditions, but of the image are relevant. An
cultural heritage is brought is extremely simple to develop this will likely give rise to a oil painting is replete: all
‘digital no man’s land’. the qualities of the image
4 Source: SIDN website: http://www.sidn.nl.
Traditional acquisition prac- have a potential meaning.
5 CCDSD. Reference Model for an Open Archival Information System (OAIS). Blue book. 1 January 2002. tises can also impede the Goodman’s ideas play a role
in his discussion about the take various forms. Digital tional and even cross-sectoral gerhard jan nauta
notation of images. 6 The objects for which alternative agreements, the mutability
Gerhard Jan Nauta studied Art History,
parallel in the digital domain presentation formats are of the digital domain still
Psychology and Computer Science (as
is that bitstream is also a provided during their creation makes it unfeasible to a subsidiary subject) at Leiden
form of notation. With regard (for example, a page of text formulate overarching policy University. He has lectured on the
to digital artworks it is not with a structural mark-up) based on the facts alone (in the theory of art history and has worked
as a researcher at Leiden University
possible to anticipate which differ from objects for which short term). This means that Special Collections. He teaches
characteristics of the object in principle only one (fixed) institutes should not wait for humanities and computing with a focus
are – or will be – deemed to form is intended (for example, a cues that could point to an on the use of computers in exposing
visual resources. He is currently a
be relevant by the designated digital photograph). unequivocal direction for their
researcher at the Digital Heritage
community. This can directly • The complexity of a digital policy relating to collecting Netherlands Foundation (DEN) and
influence the efficiency with object is also a distinguishing born-digital materials, or that coordinator of education at the
which an institute can process feature. At one end of the could guide their approach when Department of Art History in Leiden.

cultural heritage and the scale we have simple autonomous transferring and processing http://www.den.nl
storage capacity that this will objects (a digital bitmap, for the material and making it
require. example), and at the other end available externally. Instead,
there are digital compound they must rely on their own maurits van der graaf

Cultural heritage objects, which may depend on resourcefulness and initiate – Maurits van der Graaf is senior
Finally, the material itself one or more external factors possibly small scale/collabo- consultant/researcher at Pleiade
can obviously also have quali- for their representation (for rative – projects to gain Management & Consultancy and is
specialized in information services,
8•6 ties that can either simplify example, embedded objects in a experience with precisely these 8•7
science, education and culture.
or even aggravate the sustaina- webpage). new types of cultural heritage. Before joining Pleiade, he held
bility of a digital collection. • An exception to the above is It is advisable to provide various management positions in
We concentrate here on the the degree to which the compo- local projects with information publishing, at libraries and
documentation institutes, and in
distinguishing characteristics nents of a born-digital object about best practices from the public education, including Director
that are related to the fact are locally available, or are moment they start. Furthermore, of the Dutch Influenza Foundation,
that the representation of distributed in extremis (as a cross-sectoral / international the Dutch Agency for Current Research
Information, and Deputy Director
born-digital material is always with cloud computing), whereby a orientation that acknowledges the
of the Netherlands Institute of
dependent on information tech- single party no longer controls distinctions described above, is Scientific Information Services.
nology. Here are a few examples access to the components. also urgently required.
to illustrate this: We believe that distinctions http://www.pleiade.nl

• Computer applications requi- such as those described above

red to process digital objects: determine if the handling of
[This essay was adapted from an article
it is easier to invest in these born-digital objects will published in Information Professional
types of applications if they facilitate or hinder heritage (April 2010).]
can be used to deal with large institutes. It is important
quantities of objects. Digital that institutes take this into
objects that can be processed account when drafting their
in bulk (automatically, for plans.
example, e-mails) are differen-
tiated from digital objects to Conclusions
which this does not apply (for Although the development of a
example, digital artworks). quantitative measuring instrument
file under
• Depending on the software, could be an important long-term
the same digital object can aid when forming institu- digital and digitised archives,
submission agreement, designated
6 Goodman, Nelson, Languages of Art: An Approach to a Theory of Symbols. community, compound objects,
Indianapolis: Hackett, June 1976. digital archaeology
bepaald of onbepaald lidwoord, zo- Archieven hebben de belangrijke nen hun vakgebied en brengen de
als: het programma vertoont archief taak om cultureel erfgoed te bewa- meest urgente problemen naar voren.

om het verhaal te vertellen van…’ ren zodat het nooit verloren gaat.
Hetzelfde artikel benadrukt dat er Het domein van het archiveren van Gevestigd internet kunstenaar Mar-
vier ‘gearchiveerde’ delen van het born-digital materiaal heeft te ma- tine Neddam gaat in op de uitda-
computerspel Sonic the Hedgehog ver- ken met documenten die gekenmerkt gingen waar een internet kunstenaar
krijgbaar zijn die fans uitnodigen om worden door hun dynamische karak- door de jaren heen mee te maken
0• ARCHIVE 2020: HET DUURZAAM ‘terug in de tijd te reizen waar het ter, wat niet altijd makkelijk te krijgt: van het verlopen van do-
ARCHIVEREN VAN BORN-DIGITAL ooit allemaal begon’. 2 In Nederland bewaren is. In plaats van de voor- meinnaam registraties tot database
CULTUREEL ERFGOED. heeft het Nationale Archief altijd en nadelen van de digitale wereld back-ups, software updates en nog
al zo geheten, maar het equivalent te bespreken, is het beter om in veel meer. Onderzoekers en kunste-
Born-digital is een term die voortkomt in het Verenigd Koninkrijk heeft concrete termen de voorwaarden en naars Anne Laforet, Aymeric Mans-
uit het domein van digitaal behoud onlangs zijn naam verandert van UK de gevolgen van het digitale domein oux en Marloes de Valk leggen de
en digitaal erfgoed en beschrijft Public Record Office in The National op de lange termijn te onderzoeken. voordelen uit van het gebruik van
digitaal materiaal dat wordt veron- Archive. Deze veranderingen geven Wat zijn de kenmerken van born- FLOSS en open standaarden voor het
derstelt geen overeenkomstig equi- aan dat archieven toegroeien naar digital materiaal en hoe kunnen we behoud van born-digital materiaal.
valent te hebben, als de oorspron- collectieve geheugenbanken en geen het materiaal analyseren? Moeten we Florian Cramer, docent aan het Piet
kelijke bron of als een resultaat instrument van de staat meer zijn. het behoud van computerprogramma’s Zwart Instituut in Rotterdam blikt
van conversie naar analoge vorm. 1 Inmiddels zijn veel online kunst- die speciaal ontworpen zijn om deze terug op de internationale PRINT/
werken al verdwenen als gevolg werken toegankelijk en leesbaar te Pixel conferentie die werd gehouden
De digitalisering van grote hoeveel- van nieuwe richtlijnen, andere maken vooropstellen, of de ontwik- in mei 2009, en bespreekt het vraag-
heden materiaal zoals tekst, foto’s internetverbindingen of hun eigen keling van software en hardware? Of stuk over digitaal print materiaal.
of video, zorgt voor de opkomst van tijdgebonden (time-based) ontwerp. moeten we andere methoden zoeken De Canadese onderzoeker en schrij-
grote online databases van cultu- Zowel kunstenaars als culturele or- om het materiaal later te kunnen ver Caitlin Jones richt zich op de
reel erfgoed. Ook de erfgoed sector ganisaties staan voor de uitdaging begrijpen, zoals het documenteren verantwoordelijkheid van het in
is zich steeds meer bewust van de duurzame systemen voor de lange van het werk en het ontwikkelen van stand houden van het erfgoed van de
waarde van het archief voor deskun- termijn te ontwikkelen die hun ver- emulatie of migratie strategieën? mediakunst, met als vertrekpunt de
digen en voor een breder publiek. gaarde digitale en gedigitaliseerde Hoe belangrijk is het om de con- sluiting van twee belangrijke orga-
Zij zien de digitalisering van hun materiaal vastleggen en toeganke- text van deze werken te bewaren? De nisaties die pleiten voor het behoud
collecties en het gebruik van nieuwe lijk maken. Bij het grote publiek overdracht van kennis is belang- van mediakunst – de Daniel Langlois
technieken als een verbetering van is ook een toenemende interesse en rijk, maar wat houdt dat in – wat Foundation en het Ludwig Boltzmann
de toegankelijkheid tot deze col- een groeiende bewustwording voor de is de betekenis en de waarde ervan? Institute. Hoofd Collectie en Con-
lecties. Daarnaast zien culturele risico’s van born-digital inhoud. Met deze publicatie wil het Virtueel servering bij het NIMk Gaby Wijers
organisaties steeds vaker de waarde Kranten berichten dat ‘de geschie- Platform doordringen tot de kern van (NIMk, Amsterdam) en kunsthistori-
in van het vastleggen, het online denis op internet op het punt van deze vraagstukken: hoe veelvuldig cus Gabriele Blome (Universiteit
streamen en het archiveren van hun uitsterven staat’, ‘het streven naar zijn ze, wie houdt er zich mee be- van Siegen, Duitsland) gaan in op
conferenties, voorstellingen en duidelijkheid omtrent het archive- zig, wat doen zij en wat zijn de het eerste internationaal gedeelde
andere live evenementen, waarbij ren van emails’ en ‘forget storage belangrijkste stappen die nu geno- online archief GAMA – Gateway to
ze gebruik maken van verschillende if you want your files to last.’ men moeten worden om in 2020 born- European Media Art. De Australi-
content management systemen die deze Deze ontwikkelingen bevestigen het digital cultureel erfgoed nog te sche curator en onderzoeker Liz-
inhoud toegankelijk maken. Volgens belang om inzicht te krijgen in de kunnen bekijken? Virtueel Platform zie Muller wijst op het belang van
een recent rapport is Radio 4 van de kenmerken van dit nieuwe materiaal, heeft een aantal betrokkenen uit het vastleggen van ervaringen van
BBC zelfs het zelfstandig naamwoord of simpel gezegd: wat houdt archi- verschillende disciplines gevraagd het publiek in het proces van het
‘archief’ gaan gebruiken zonder veren in het internet tijdperk in? om hun ervaringen, bevindingen en bewaren van born-digital cultureel
oplossingen op te schrijven. Deze materiaal. Jeroen van Mastrigt,
1 Een korte archeologie van de term ‘born-digital’ 2 Breakell, Sue, ‘Perspectives: Negotiating the Achive’, specialisten op het gebied van pro- docent aan de Faculteit Kunst, Me-
kunt u vinden op onze website: http://www.virtueel- in TATE Papers, nummer 9, lente 2008:
ductie, behoud en archivering van dia & Technologie van de Hogeschool
platform.nl/en/#2564. Zie ook de lijst van defini- http://www.tate.org.uk/research/tateresearch/
ties op de Digital Preservation Coalition website: tatepapers/08spring/breakell.shtm. born-digital materiaal werpen licht voor de Kunsten Utrecht (HKU-KMT)
http://www.dpconline.org/advice/introduction- op de huidige stand van zaken bin- in Hilversum, bespreekt archive-
ring van processen in games. Deze script. Tevens ontstaan er proble- ceren onder een copyleft licentie pers, redacteuren en uitgevers.
anthologie eindigt met een recent men door niet sluitende afspraken vormen (naast het zorgvuldig docu- Eén van de onderwerpen tijdens
rapport van Digitaal Erfgoed Neder- met een database programmeur bij het menteren van het werk), volgens de de conferentie was het effect van
land, dat kwantitatief onderzoek uitbesteden van de noodzakelijke auteurs de belangrijkste onderdelen online media op de vorm en het
heeft uitgevoerd naar born-digital back-up, met als gevolg een regen in dit proces. Het FLOSS framework voortbestaan van gedrukte media.
cultureel erfgoed in Nederland. van klachten van gebruikers door het moet zorgvuldig gekozen worden. Het Vergelijkbaar met hoe mp3 de mu-
uitblijven van actuele updates. ‘Op moet voldoende transparantie bieden ziekindustrie heeft opgesplitst,
Deze publicatie is samen met een dat moment realiseer je’, aldus Ned- voor alle lagen van het kunstwerk ontwikkelt de online publicatie
rapport van de expertmeeting Ar- dam, ‘dat er veel mensen verslaafd door implementatie van open stan- zich tot een fragmentarisch model.
chive 2020, georganiseerd door het zijn aan je website, en vraag je je daarden, zoals een open-source pro- Volgens Cramer moeten uitgevers het
Virtueel Platform in mei 2009, de af wat er gebeurt als je overlijdt? grammeertaal. Een copyleft licentie traditionele idee dat ze een geheel
eerste stap richting meer inzicht Maar, op internet weet niemand dat geeft daarnaast iedereen het recht universum kunnen bereiken loslaten.
in de uitdagingen waar born-digital je dood bent’. Dan is er ook nog om de software vrijuit te kopiëren, Dit wil echter niet zeggen dat de
archiveren mee te maken heeft en hoe spam. Deze ongewilde comments en te distribueren, en te veranderen. zogenaamde kwaliteitsmedia zoals de
je deze moet aanpakken in een dyna- links naar viagra sites of casino’s Een kunstenaar moet zich ook bewust krant zullen verdwijnen. De (media)
mische en groeiende digitale wereld. moeten dagelijks verwijderd worden, zijn van latere copyright issues die geschiedenis laat zien dat commer-
wat de nodige tijd kost en frus- het toekomstig conserveren van het ciële modellen en modellen gebaseerd
tratie met zich meebrengt. Tot slot werk in de weg kunnen staan. Diverse op vrij beschikbare informatie va-
---------- SAMENVATTINGEN ---------- gaat Neddam in op moeilijkheden met benaderingen in het archiveren van ker naast elkaar hebben bestaan. Het
de lokaliteit van de server en de softwarekunst zoals ‘refactoring’, e-boek zal het gedrukte boek niet
continue en problematische zoek- ‘porteren’, ‘virtualizeren’ en laten verdwijnen, maar heeft andere
1• ZEN AND THE ART OF tocht naar een host die zorg kan ‘emuleren’ worden kort uiteengezet. kwaliteiten, aldus Cramer, zoals de
DATABASE MAINTANCE dragen voor een stabiele hosting op De conclusie van de auteurs is dat mogelijkheid een gehele collectie
de lange termijn. FLOSS en copyleft deze benaderingen op te slaan, wat nieuwe uitdagingen
Martine Neddam is een pionier in vergemakkelijken. Voor een kunste- voor de designer met zich meebrengt.
de internet kunst en beheert een naar is een belangrijke taak weg- Een belangrijk probleem volgens
negental websites rondom virtuele 2• ROCK, PAPER, SCISSORS gelegd die al begint tijdens het Cramer is dat nieuwe technologieën
karakters, zoals mouchette.org en AND FLOPPY DISKS ontwikkelingsproces. zoals het e-book omarmt worden zon-
davidstill.org. In dit korte ver- der over archiveringskwesties na
halende essay beschrijft Neddam op Anne Laforet, Aymeric Mansoux en te denken. Het gedrukte boek als
basis van haar persoonlijke ervaring Marloes de Valk reflecteren op de 3• PRINT OUT THE INTERNET: TWAN gedistribueerd medium is (voor een
tal van situaties die het voortbe- vraag in hoeverre kunstenaars kunnen EIKELENBOOM IN CONVERSATION groot deel) zelfvoorzienend in ar-
staan van haar websites continue in bijdragen aan het archiveringsproces WITH FLORIAN CRAMER chivering. Daarentegen is internet
gevaar hebben gebracht. Een voor- van software kunst. Software kunst volgens Cramer een nachtmerrie om
beeld hiervan is het verlopen van blijkt een lastig te archiveren In mei 2009 organiseerde Florian te archiveren. Zowel de technische
de registratie van de domeinnaam en kunstobject voor de lange termijn. Cramer (lector in Media Design en organisatie als mogelijkheden tot
het in handen vallen van het domein Zowel de onderliggende hardware als Communicatie aan de Piet Zwart aca- fysieke opslag zijn uitermate be-
bij de zogenaamde ‘domain-name- software verouderen in korte tijd, demie in Rotterdam) PRINT/pixel, perkt. De beste oplossing is het
snatchers’. Verder beschrijft Ned- vaak door het achterblijven van re- een internationale conferentie over uitprinten van internet. Het is in
dam hoe ze tijdens een presentatie gelmatige updates (software decay). de veranderende verhouding tussen ieder geval belangrijk om buiten de
van haar websites geconfronteerd Volgens de auteurs kan een kunste- online en print publicaties. De re- traditionele categorieën van ana-
wordt met een webhost die offline naar op basis van bewuste keuzes cente crisis in de gedrukte nieuws- loog en digitaal te denken om op die
is, waarna zij overgeleverd is aan tijdens het ontwikkelen van het werk media (mede veroorzaakt door toe- manier tot oplossingen te komen.
een lokale kopie, en er vervolgens het latere archiveringsproces verge- nemende aandacht van adverteerders
achterkomt dat de dynamische con- makkelijken en zo bijdragen aan een voor online werving die ten koste
tent van de website is opgeslagen langere levensduur van het werk. Het gaat van printadvertenties) en de
in een andere database waardoor er gebruik van Free/Libre/Open Source opkomst van nieuwe technologieën
niets anders op het scherm getoond Software (FLOSS) in de productie van zoals e-books en print-on-demand
kan worden dan lege pagina’s en PHP het werk en de keuze voor het publi- veranderen de wereld van ontwer-
4• dividuele kunstenaars die de prak- van genetwerkte en door samenwerking om een globaal perspectief te han-
DISTRIBUTING RESPONSIBILITY FOR tijk in eigen hand hebben genomen. opererende online software tools zo- teren: mondelinge overleveringen
MEDIA ARTS PRESERVATION AND Zelfarchivering, een praktijk die als de Gateway to Archives of Media in de vorm van audio-visuele be-
DOCUMENTATION vooral binnen academische kring- Art (GAMA) zijn hierbij volgens de standen kunnen makkelijk verspreid
en en gaming bekend is, volgt het auteurs dan ook cruciaal. en gedeeld worden. Als voorbeeld
Caitlin Jones gebruikt de DIY model van publiceren op neutrale Het in 2009 gelanceerde GAMA biedt bespreekt Muller een case-study
mentaliteit van de vroege video en openbare plekken op internet, gedeelde toegang en zoekmogelijkheid naar het werk The Giver of Names
pioniersdagen als basis om de archi- om op die manier toegang tot ken- in acht collecties en archieven van (1991) van David Rokeby. Hieruit
verings- en documentatietactieken nis te vergroten. Deze aanpak is mediakunst. De tool is belangrijk komen vijf praktische en methodo-
binnen de mediakunst te omschrijven. volgens Jones een mogelijkheid om voor de distributie van kennis en logische punten naar voren die in
Veel problemen van toen gelden ook aan de financieringsproblematiek te voor een verbetering van de zicht- acht genomen moeten worden bij het
voor born-digital materiaal: de ver- ontkomen. Binnen mediakunst is de baarheid van de instituten en hun produceren van verbale documenten:
oudering van hard- en software, het notie van een Open Museum opgekomen, collecties. Op samenwerking geba- de pro-actieve rol van de onderzoe-
continue veranderen van opslagfor- waarbij de verantwoordelijkheid voor seerde software tools kunnen tevens ker, het belang van de techniek,
maten en de vergankelijke aard van conservering gedecentraliseerd en een belangrijke rol spelen bij het ethische en rechten status van het
veel kunstwerken. Jones onderscheidt gedistribueerd is. Professionele en integreren van het publiek in het document, het documenteren van
twee documentatiepraktijken: ener- kunstenaarsnetwerken zijn cruciaal, betekenis en context geven aan de negatieve ervaringen, en het aan-
zijds die van gevestigde organisa- of het nu gaat om een open of geïn- werken, zoals veel recente voorbeel- tal te documenteren belevingen.
ties – zowel instituten met eigen stitutionaliseerd model, collectieve den van door het publiek samenge- Deze belangrijke onderwerpen tonen
collecties (Guggenheim, Berkely kennis en begrip verhogen de kwali- stelde tentoonstellingen aantonen. volgens Muller dat een initiatief
Art Museum, mediakunst instituten teit van het discours en vergroten Met het oog op de toekomst van me- tot mondelinge documentatie zowel
zoals NIMk, kennisinstituten zoals de kansen voor duurzame oplossing diakunst archieven zou volgens de open en flexibel, als uiterst nauw-
INCCA, Ludwig Boltzmann Instituut) van born-digital materiaal. auteurs duurzaam archiveren hand in keurig en gestructureerd moet zijn.
als online archieven (netzspannung. hand moeten gaan met het ontwikkelen Tot slot stelt Muller dat verbale
org, Rhizome.org’s ArtBase) – en van genetwerkte en op samenwerking documentatie waardevol is, maar ook
anderzijds initiatieven vanuit het 5• VISIBILITY, DISTRIBUTION AND gebaseerde software tools. tijdsrovend. Om een significante
gedistribueerde netwerk van DIY- MEMORY THROUGH NETWORKING impact te hebben op het begrip van
initiatieven en zelfarchivering. AND COLLABORATION mediakunst nu en in de toekomst is
Financiering voor de ontwikkeling 6• ORAL HISTORY AND THE AUDIENCE het daarom belangrijk de krachten
van het veld komt van nationale, re- Mediakunst instituten hebben be- OF MEDIA ART van diverse partijen in het gebied
gionale en lokale overheden en (voor langrijke mediakunst collecties en te bundelen.
een groot deel) uit de private sec- archieven in beheer die vragen om Lizzie Muller beargumenteert dat de
tor. Als de delicate balans van deze duurzame archivering en een zo breed geschiedenis van mediakunst uitge-
met elkaar verbonden geldstromen mogelijke toegankelijkheid. In dit breid moet worden met publiekser- 7• SERIOUS GAMING. PRESERVING THE
wordt verstoord, zijn de gevolgen essay beargumenteren Gabriele Blome varingen. Tot op heden ontbreken INTANGIBLE BY CAPTURING PROCESSES
ingrijpend. Jones noemt twee belang- en Gaby Wijers dat netwerken en sa- beschrijvingen van publieksbeleving
rijke instellingen die hun activi- menwerken belangrijke strategieën bijna volledig in de documentatie Games zijn enorm populair en worden
teiten drastisch verkleind hebben vormen in het preserveren van me- van mediakunst. Er zijn wel mon- op steeds grotere schaal toegepast
(Daniel Langlois Foundation) of diakunst. Deze strategieën kunnen delinge overleveringen, maar dan binnen verschillende contexten, zo-
zelfs moesten sluiten (Ludwig Boltz- echter nog verder uitgediept worden voornamelijk van kunstenaars en be- als communicatie, educatie, erfgoed
mann Instituut). De recente ontwik- ten behoeve van een betere distri- langrijke personen binnen de kunst- en zorg. Binnen het lectoraat Art
keling rondom financieringsbronnen butie en het contextualiseren van wereld. Ervaringen met het documen- and Technology van de Hogeschool
is volgens Jones zorgwekkend maar de werken. teren van de individuele beleving voor de Kunsten Utrecht (HKU) ligt
zou niet de boventoon moeten voeren Naast het opbouwen van een collec- in de praktijk, bekeken vanuit het de nadruk op onderzoek naar ontwerp-
in de discussie. De reeds ondernomen tie en het preserveren van media gebied van de orale geschiedenis, modellen en –methoden voor games.
initiatieven en onderzoeken gericht kunst is het in herinnering houden vormt volgens Muller het beste model Oftewel, gameprincipes ontwikkelen
op het preserveren en documenteren en voortdurend (re)contextualiseren om het immateriële karakter van de die mensen motiveren of kennis bij-
van mediakunst bieden een rijke van de werken een belangrijke taak ervaring te preserveren. brengen. Sinds kort is het aantal
basis voor kleine instituten en in- voor de instituten. Het ontwikkelen Internet maakt het tevens mogelijk games waarbij de sociale en fysieke
werkelijkheid een rol speelt enorm sant digitaal erfgoed zal de komende
gegroeid. Dit brengt specifieke jaren echter verloren gaan omdat
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