Panel: From New Media to Old Utopias: ‘Red’ Art in Late Capitalism?
Whilst communist utopianism permeates the process of making and dissemination for many New Media Art works, it is the social aims and principles of public access and the care of collection for future generations that, within a museum context, drive the need for expanded research into the collection and conservation of digital art. This paper uses the V&A’s recently acquired born digital works Shaping Form 14/5/2007 by Ernest Edmonds, Study for a Mirror, 2009-2010 by rAndom International and Process 18, 2010 by Casey Reas, as case studies to explore acquisition, documentation and preservation considerations and the challenges of working in new ways. The V&A’s emerging digital art collection builds on the museum’s existing comprehensive holdings of historical computational work, providing a route for understanding the contemporary significance of early computer artists’ work. The V&A has been collecting computer-generated art and design since the 1960s, but it was not until more recent years with the acquisition of two major collections and the Computer Art and Technocultures Project (funded by the AHRC held jointly by Birkbeck College and the V&A) that the museum has solidified its status as the UK’s national collection of computer art. The collection predominately consists of two-dimensional works on paper, such as plotter drawings, screenprints, inkjet prints, laser prints and photographs. The material nature of these works sits within the traditional framework of conservational practices and the art works are accessible to the public through the Prints and Drawings Study Room. However, the care and collection of born digital works poses a new set of questions including: What informs the collection policy; how are access rights mediated; what are the signficant properties of the software and hardware to be preserved; what are the challenges of emulation, migration and replication; what metadata and licencing structures are needed; and if a more networked way of working is required what collaborations can be idenified?
- Melanie Lenz is Computer Art Curator at the V&A. She has worked on a variety of contemporary art exhibitions and digital commissions. She holds a MA in Museum Studies and previously worked at the Barbican Art Gallery and Tate Modern.
Full text (PDF) p. 1508-1509