How do we conserve new media art that is based on/created with a technology that is now obsolete? When the art no longer “works”? Do we allow it to disappear? Become corrupted? Update the software? Read what the Whitney Museum of American Art did with Douglas Davis’s “The World’s First Collaborative Sentence”.
This raises questions about art making, art curating, and skills museum curators need today.
What interesting questions!
Be sure to click on the above links to see more about this art.
In response to the first question, I think that the way we preserve media art when it is becoming obsolete is 1) explore museums that contain art from the time period 2) study the time period 3) imitate an the certain accepted art ‘style’ and make it relevant. Also, this image reminds me of Barbara Kruger’s “Your Body is a Battleground” for some reason.
I think the best way to conserve media art is to promote and include it in elementary and high school level courses and education. By doing so, we will appeal to younger students who are ignorant of and unfamiliar with famous artworks. This will also enable them to truly appreciate art, become intrigued by it and develop a better understanding of it. Unfortunately, many people, especially the younger generation do not value art at all nor consider it beauty. That is why I believe it’s absolutely necessary to not only encourage people to go to art museums and galleries, but to appreciate it and acquire a strong adoration and passion for it.
Conserving technological artwork is a challenge because it is completely unlike conserving traditional forms of art. One cannot simply fix a deteriorating technological piece with a dab of paint. Fixing Douglas Davis’s “The World’s First Collaborative Sentence” did not mean simply fixing the original piece. It meant leaving the original as it was, and creating a new piece in a similar, but more modern format. There seemed to be no way to fix the piece without changing it in some way, meaning it was not technically “fixed”, but redone. If this is the only way to restore technological works of art, then it must be accepted that eventually broken originals will have to share the stage with modified doppelgängers.
This is something I had not given much thought to before. Technology advances so unbelievably quickly, so it makes sense that art made with certain technologies would become out of date. Although, I think now that people realize this is an issue, they will be able to correct it , just like how they figured out how to fix old paintings that had chips or other problems with deterioration.
I also have never thought of how technology is not always the answer to saving works of art and how sometimes it is not the answer for everything. In my opinion, in order to conserve art without relying on technology that is now obsolete, we should advertise artwork, including the time period in which it was produced, the artist, and the medium. This strategy allows people to appreciate what is being shown and share this work of art and this kind of knowledge with others. Although, knowing technology today and how much it improves each day, a more promising strategy using technology could be waiting to be revealed.
One question faced by artists is, does it need to last to be beautiful? In class one day, you showed us the contemporary artwork inspired by Sumerian figures that were made with perishable materials. The only chance for those figures to last would be via photos, which can also fade. Digital art may be made of some of the most perishable materials of all because of how fast new technology develops. I think that the museum did the right thing by presenting the work I both the original and updated forms. Although personally, if it had only been possible to do one, I would have gone with the updated one, keep the spirit and collaborative nature of the original.