Bruce Sterling on Tue, 9 Mar 2010 05:25:27 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Victims to their own volatile intent

1 Digital / Media Art and the Need for a Formal Notation System

Digital and media art forms include Internet art, software art,  
computer-mediated installations, as well as other non-traditional art  
forms such as conceptual art,
installation art, performance art, and video. It is important to point  
out the inclusion of  digital art in the approach explored here  
because of its unique nature, even among  media art forms, and because  
of how digital informatics informs models that may apply  to all the  
above art forms.

It is also important to note that the types of works discussed here  
are not limited to the traditional meaning of "media" art as analog,  
electronic media (i.e. video, film, audio, and electronics). Here,  
media art is intended to include digital art
and other variable media art forms.

These art forms have confounded traditional museological approaches to  
documentation  and preservation because of their ephemeral,  
documentary, technical, and multi-part nature and because of the  
variability and rapid obsolescence of the media formats often used in  
such works. In part due to lack of documentation methods, and thus  
access, such forms do not often form the foundation of research and  

  In many cases these art forms were created to contradict and bypass  
the traditional art world's values and resulting practices. They have  
been successful to the point of becoming victims to their own volatile  

Individual works of media art are moving away from all hope of
becoming part of the historic record at a rapid rate. Perhaps as  
important, the radical  intentionality encapsulated in their form is  
also in danger of being diluted as museums inappropriately apply  
traditional documentation and preservation methods or ignore  entire  
genres of these works altogether.

A new way of conceptualizing media art is needed to serve the needs of  
documentation  and preservation as well as other activities that  
surround media art such as education  and collaborative creation. New  
projects from the artistic, academic, and museum  communities are  
being formed to address these needs.

  This paper is a direct outgrowth and continuation of the efforts of  
two such projects, Archiving the Avant Garde (1) and the Variable  
Media Network (2).  ...

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