Second Summit on New Media Art Archiving
June 10, MACBA – Convent dels Àngels. Panel.
Keywords: non-fungible tokens, preservation, distributed ledger, blockchain, digital art
This panel examines claims of blockchain as a preservation tool, neither buying into mass deception around NFT marketing nor rejecting the reality that a subset of artists create significant, challenging works that inherently utilize these technologies. Preserving software is in the wheelhouse of professionals but distributed ledgers have unique, nuanced challenges.
Artists have experimented with cryptocurrency incentivized distributed ledgers such as blockchains since the advent of Bitcoin. In parallel, crypto advocates frequently claim that distributed ledger protocols will ensure an accessible and immutable record of anything registered to it, including artwork. This panel examines this idea with nuance, neither buying into the mass deception around NFT marketing tactics nor rejecting the reality that a subset of artists are creating significant, challenging works that inherently utilize these technologies. Preserving the asset may seem to be in the regular wheelhouse of preservation professionals, who have decades of experience developing guidelines for saving software-based art, but ledger-based technologies have their own preservation promises and challenges.
- John Bell is a software developer and artist at Dartmouth College, USA. His work there includes acting as Director of the Data Experiences and Visualizations Studio, Associate Director of the Media Ecology Project, Manager of Dartmouth Research Computing’s Digital Humanities Programx, and teaching as a Lecturer in Film and Media Studies. His research focuses on collaborative creativity and has produced everything from utilitarian semantic web publishing platforms to aggressively useless installation art. In addition to his work at Dartmouth, he is Assistant Professor of Digital Curation at the University of Maine, where he teaches the preservation and presentation of digital media, and Senior Researcher for the Still Water Lab. He holds one of what is believed to be the first three collaborative doctoral degrees ever conferred in the United States, the other two of which are held by the co-authors of their collective dissertation on collaboration in the arts. http://www.johnpbell.com
- Regina Harsanyi (USA) is passionate about improving and educating others on best practices for the longevity of variable media, from plastics to distributed ledger technologies. A graduate of New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts, Harsanyi has primarily focused on the topic of time-based media art from historical and technical perspectives in both private and public sectors. She has led major time-based media preventive conservation projects for multiple institutions, studios, and collectors, including but not limited to Museum of the Moving Image, bitforms gallery, and TRANSFER gallery. From 2017-2020, Harsanyi also facilitated over 200 exhibitions across 26 locations under Wallplay, many of which highlighted the legitimacy of creative technology. She remains dedicated to creating interdisciplinary bridges between academia, museums, collectors, corporations, and artists to better serve the longevity of complex works of art. https://www.quora.com/profile/Regina-Harsanyi
- Jon Ippolito (USA) is a new media artist, curator, and educator whose work aims to expand the art world beyond its traditional confines. As an artist, Ippolito exhibited work at the Walker Art Center and ZKM/Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe; as a curator, he curated Virtual Reality: An Emerging Medium and, with John G. Hanhardt, The Worlds of Nam June Paik at the Guggenheim; as a Professor of New Media, he founded the University of Maine’s graduate Digital Curation program. In almost 200 presentations, Ippolito has spoken out on copyright maximalism, academic insularity, and technological obsolescence. Along with his books At the Edge of Art and Re-collection: Art, New Media, and Social Memory, he has published chapters in 20 anthologies and articles in periodicals from the Art Journal to the Washington Post. http://three.org/ippolito