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DigiCULT
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Info
27
behaves is as important as what it looks like
or what it is made of. It begs the funda-
mental questions of preservation, "What is
important to remember?" and "How should
we remember?" The project Archiving the
Avant-Garde (http://www.bampfa.berke-
ley.edu/ciao/avant_garde.html) explores the
artistic, museological and technical implica-
tions posed by the challenge of preserving
digital art.'
Richard Rinehart, Director of Digital
Media, Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific
Film Archive (http://www.bampfa.
berkeley.edu/)
`
Due to the fact that [virtual] art depends
entirely on digital technology, its storage
methods, and operating systems, which are
in a constant state of change and develop-
ment, it is severely at risk. Many artworks,
for example, that are not even ten years
old can no longer be shown. Emulation,
the transfer or copying over of old soft-
ware onto new systems, or Re-creation,
the new construction of an HTML site on
the basis of the most up-to-date technol-
ogy, have only limited suitability for com-
municating at a future point in time the
spatial character of virtual art installations
or the seminal importance of the inter-
face. As strategies for preserving digital art,
their use is also limited for they can only be
used, with certain restrictions, for Net Art;
for virtual artworks, other, more ambitious
strategies will have to be developed. Time is
pressing and measures must be taken if we
do not want to lose two decades' worth of
media art. As reliable documentation is an
essential prerequisite for the conservation
and collection of artworks, our work as art
historians at the Database of Virtual Art is
to accompany this process and provide the
documentation, which is still the basis of
research in our discipline.'
Oliver Grau, Database of Virtual
Art (http://virtualart.hu-berlin.de),
Humboldt University
`
The most radical preservation strategy is
to reinterpret the work each time it is re-
created. ... Reinterpretation is a dangerous
technique when not warranted by the art-
ist, but it may be the only way to re-create
performance, installation, or networked art
designed to vary with context.'
Jon Ippolito, Guggenheim (http://
www.guggenheim.org/), New York
30
`
It is obvious that not everything that
exists in the Internet should be preserved
for posterity. So it is necessary to active-
ly select from the bandwidth of net.art in
order to draw an exemplary picture of it.
The selected objects to be preserved for
posterity are not chosen as material piec-
es of evidence of Internet reality as it was
at a certain time in the past, but rather as
examples, documents and exponents of cer-
tain aesthetic, cultural, social, economical
or political attitudes. The active selection of
works of net.art is the first step to preserv-
ing them. From the manifold diversity of
Internet art, those works should be chosen
that represent important socio-cultural val-
ues, whose preservation and memory are in
the interest of our society.
`
The collecting institution has the task of
documenting, presenting and preserving
the collected works as objects of aesthet-
ic, cultural, social, economical, technologi-
cal and political significance. It is therefore
not enough to store or exhibit merely the
original components, objects and materials.
Only by means of a detailed documenta-
tion of the original context, by transporting
and presenting the work as an authentic,
representative and typical sign of a certain
cultural or social situation, can a contem-
porary object become a historical, authentic
art work preserved for posterity.
`
In the case of net.art the two conflict-
ing demands [of preservation and access]
do not exist. As long as net.art is hosted on
a server and is accessible online, it is best
conserved and publicly exhibited at the
same time.
`
The difference between the physical code
and the various appearances of a work of
net.art in different hardware and software
systems [allows us to] recognise that there is
not one appearance of net.art, but that there
are many. As we cannot determine which
is the correct re-interpretation of a net.art
work, every re-interpretation is equally jus-
tified.'
Hans Dieter Huber, State Academy of
Visual Arts (http://www.abk-stuttgart.
de/), Stuttgart
ERPANET would like to thank Tina
Fiske and Chiara Grella (HATII Research
Assistant) for their work in planning and
delivering this workshop.
Oliver Grau
30 See DigiCULT.Info, Issue 2, for DigiCULT's previous interview
with John Ippolito on this subject. http://www.digicult.info/pages/
newsletter.php