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acoustic music from 1929-1970, as one of the most important tasks of the Mediathek
concerns the digitisation and preservation of older pieces of music and video art that are in
danger of being lost.
The diverse media collection is fully searchable, and combined with the latest jukebox
technology to call up individual audio and video titles.The databases of the Mediathek
archives can also be accessed and searched over the Internet.
The institutional model differentiates the ZKM from any traditional museum. Although
it creates an enormous organisational challenge to keep the individual departments each
with its own particular structure and function from drifting apart, it is in the unique
combination of research, production and presentation of new media art, where the ZKM
can develop its innovative power.Thus, although still a relatively young institution, the
ZKM can already demonstrate an impressive track record of technological innovation in
areas like virtual reality, real time simulation and visualisation, computer animation, network
installations, digital sound technologies, and new electronic instruments.
The ZKM approach to the Internet
In 1999, an in-house Internet research department, the Institute for Net Development,
was added to the other facilities of the ZKM.
Institute for Net Development
While there have been a number of seminal networked tele-presence projects done at
the Institute for Visual Media in the context of its virtual reality activities, it was only two
years ago with the founding of the Institute for Net Development that the ZKM identified
the Internet as art medium in its own terms that is worth exploring and experimenting
with. Since that point, however, the Internet has been embraced in its totality with a
concept that sees the Web not only as the "domestic extension" of the ZKM by establishing
a web presence, but following its understanding as a museum of all future media as a
digital museum in its own right.
In the realisation of the digital museum, it became instantly obvious, that the purpose
was not to give a 3D-visualisation of the ZKM, but that the primary function is social
relations. Any kind of reproduction of the museum on the Internet was thought to be
doomed to fail. As such, the Internet front-end of the ZKM understands itself as a sort of
"metamuseum" that shows both the institutional and social relationships that drive new
media art production. Monitoring the latest trends in new media art, the outcome is a
digital museum that looks more like a logbook than a virtual exhibition.
Today, the ZKM digital museum publishes the latest trends in new media art on a daily
basis: museums that go online, important online projects in the museum context, the tools
necessary to realise those ventures, artists on the Internet and their exhibitions in the real
world. In addition, each in-house exhibition of the ZKM is supplemented with an own
web site that includes 200-300 pages of content in at least two languages.
In course of monitoring the happenings in new media art on the Internet, the Institute
for Net Developments in the last two years built its own XML-based content management and
archiving system that runs on all major platforms, UNIX,Windows and Macintosh.This
content management system has an object-oriented database in the back and offers a set of
easy to handle tools for editing, hierarchical access management, time-controlled data entry,
image and multimedia upload, discussion forums, user profiling and management, user
tracking and reporting, internal as well as external communication, and creating an own
web site.The content management system is based on templates that even allows non-
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