new media

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

Author(s)  
Multiple
Editor(s)  
Rinehart, Richard
Ippolito, Jon
Publisher  
MIT Press
2014

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

New Collecting: Exhibiting and Audiences after New Media Art

Author(s)  
Graham, Beryl
Editor(s)  
Graham, Beryl
Publisher  
Surrey: Ashgate
2014

Comprised of ten essays, New Collecting addresses many of the issues and opportunities raised by the collection of ‘new media art’ with a particular emphasis on computer and internet- based artwork. This type of art demands not only a revision of a museum’s collecting procedure but a reevaluation of what it means to collect. Such a situation is not without precedent. Several of the articles allude to instances in art history that have demanded a similar reevaluation of institutional procedures. Of course, the issues raised specifically by computer-based art are constantly evolving in tandem with technology, thus denying the implementation of a uniform collecting procedure. However, at a more general level, a two-tiered approach which includes both a physical collection and a digital archive has proven to be an effective model for accommodating the specific demands and risks of technologically-engaged new media art. This type of collecting both limits the risk associated with collecting new media art for the institution and preserves the integrity of the art which often considers democratic access to be an essential component. New Collecting demonstrates how expanding the role of the museum from a purely “collecting institution” to that of a “circulating institution” allows the museum to evolve in conjunction with the art it collects to better suit the needs of a 21st century audience.

Paige Hirschey

Collecting the New

Author(s)  
Multiple
Editor(s)  
Altshuler, Bruce
Publisher  
Princeton University Press
2007

This collection of essays addresses both the conceptual and practical challenges facing museum collections in the twenty first century. Authors wrestle with reconciling contemporary acquisitions into permanent collections, considering the ongoing challenge of determining just what ‘contemporary’ art is. Questions arise such as when is contemporary; is it best to collect only living artists; established artists? The permanent collections of contemporary art embodies a paradox, argues Jeffrey Weiss of the National Gallery of Art (Washington D.C.), as the older ‘contemporary’ art is pushed further into history and the collection of new art (of the present) is historicised by the identity of the museum ‘undeniably confers instant pastness onto present art.’ Other essays in the book address traditional narratives of encyclopaedic collections that are threatened by globalised trends of contemporary art that potentially rupture the established categories. Likewise, curators reconsider out-dated treatment of minority artists within collections which have been mistreated or misunderstood by past curatorial methodologies. One of the most practical concerns facing museums collecting contemporary art is new media, which can too quickly become old media. Technological restraints or poor understanding of technical art prevents the adequate collection of ‘new media’ art. Several curators outline their approach to collecting, displaying and conserving media art such as film, internet and other digital art.

Shelby Lakins

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