Re-Collection: Art, New Media, and Social Memory

Rinehart, Richard
Ippolito, Jon
MIT Press

In this collection of essays, Richard Rinehart and John Ippolito raise various technical and philosophical questions regarding the feasibility of preserving new media art in the long-term. Bringing to the fore the institutional, practical and lawful “triple-threat” that is giving rise to “the death of contemporary culture”, the writers discuss a wide range of issues that are enabling the deterioration of new media and installation art in archives and collections today, and thus obstructing the capacity for future generations to appreciate these works. In the face of the rapid obsolescence of formats and softwares that are relied upon by much video and virtual art, Rinehart and Ippolito suggest a radical reassessment of conventional preservation methods, throwing away with default old media storage strategies in favour of audio-visual emulation and hardware migration. Similarly, they examine how legislation surrounding intellectual property and copyright may simultaneously aid and impede access to online art forms in a world seemingly governed by social media and the ‘sharing’ of content. Perhaps most prominently however, the main concerns of this publication are the implications for “social memory” that these practical issues raise. In centuries to come, what will be said for the art of today if contemporary culture refuses to safeguard against its own destruction? It is therefore imperative that the documents of our digital age remain intact, with these institutional revisions ultimately being presented as crucial moral responsibilities for contemporary art collections of the twenty first century.

Aaron Shaw

Saving Art for the Nation: 2003 Centenary Conference of the National Art Collections Fund

Art Fund
London, NACF

‘Saving Art for the Nation’ is a compilation of addresses, discussions and case studies from the 2003 Centenary Conference of the National Art Collections Fund; contributing voices include Sir Nicolas Serota (Tate London), Sir Timothy Clifford (National Galleries Scotland), Dr David Fleming (National Museum Liverpool) and a variety of museum professionals and interested parties. The most significant concern of the conference was to instigate ongoing collecting, after all, ‘a closed collection is a dead collection,’ especially focusing on the acquisition of contemporary art and international art—a weak point among many of the national collections. In fact, a growing appreciation for ‘global culture’ is present among many of the conference addresses. This is evidenced not only by relaxing attempts to keep pieces of heritage within the UK but also encouraging its display in other parts of the world and in new contexts. The conference also considered the vestiges of patriotism and heritage that surrounds national collections and encouraged institutions to challenge complacent notions of ‘Britishness’. These sentiments ultimately shifted the institutional responsibility towards its public audience and the ways that a collection should express the identity of a community.

Shelby Lakins