[ISEA2011] Panel: Nina Wen­hart (moderator) – (he)artbreaking to the core: zombie data and the arts of re/de/transcoding

Panel Statement

Chair Per­son: Nina Wen­hart


  1. Rosa Menkman  – The Col­lapse of PAL
  2. Melissa Bar­ron – Glitch Weav­ings
  3. Daniela Kuka – Dis­or­der
  4. Nina Wen­hart – <3break(s)core: an in­ap­pro­pri­a­tion

Dig­i­tal corpses all abound, zom­bie data that is still there, but can­not be per­formed any­more. Change is in­evitable, if the art­work should sur­vive. Be­sides the archivists’ ef­forts to re­vive the work in its orig­i­nal state, artists have de­vel­oped their own strate­gies of em­brac­ing the er­rors and glitches of re/de/transcod­ing processes.

Codecs, pro­grams, pro­to­cols and for­mats that are not sup­ported any­more have be­come cre­ative chal­lenges and often ini­ti­ate sub­ver­sive prac­tices. Not THAT, but HOW a work is changed and dis­torted be­comes the choice of the artist. In this process, the orig­i­nal and its res­ur­rec­tion enter a di­a­logue and open up ques­tions that go be­yond the sur­face, a di­alec­tics of orig­i­nal and copy, same­ness and change, ob­so­les­cence and progress, mem­ory and for­get­ting, sur­vival and death. And as the orig­i­nal (file) is dead, the orig­i­nal (as a con­cept) is re­born at the same time.

Artis­tic strate­gies of re/de/transcod­ing and serendipi­dous er­rors are po­si­tioned as an an­tithe­sis to an elit­ist or naive eu­pho­ria of con­stant tech­no­log­i­cal progress i.e. per­fec­tion. Nev­er­the­less, they are not nos­tal­gic but cel­e­brate a handson ap­proach where the code be­comes tan­gi­ble and ma­te­r­ial, lit­er­ally.

  • Nina Wen­hart is a Media Art his­to­rian and in­de­pen­dent re­searcher. She is a PhD can­di­date at the In­ter­face Cul­tures Lab at the Art Uni­ver­sity, Linz, writ­ing on Ex­per­i­men­tal Archiv­ing of Media Arts, and grad­u­ated from Prof. Oliver Grau’s Media Art His­to­ries pro­gram with a Mas­ter The­sis on De­scrip­tive Meta­data for Media Arts. She was teach­ing the Pre­hys­to­ries of New Media class at the School of the Art In­sti­tute of Chicago (SAIC) and in the Media Art His­to­ries pro­gram at the Danube Uni­ver­sity Krems.

Full text (PDF)  p. 2571-2576