Museology &
ZKPVI - Nettime reader

Quotations from artists and curators at the "Sins of Change:
Media Arts in Transition, Again" conference, Walker Art Center, 2000

"I have realized that a visual arts curator is a non-media curator. A non-media curator belongs to a category of people who get very emotional when it comes time to put a nail in a wall, an object on a pedestal, or a piece of paper in a vitrine. It's only under huge pressure that a visual arts curator would agree to hang a video projector, and only if it is agreed the projector will project an image on the wall and take us back to painting. Only under threat of torture will a visual arts curator put a computer in the galleries, and then it has to be an imac, to show art ["no, art," interjects Lev Manovich.] When I see a computer I start to sweat and I have panic attacks when my computer crashes. We [at the Walker] are a multidisciplinary institution, so everyone has to be a non-medium curator and then everything is fluid and it allows us to consider the work. As a curator I spend all day at my computer doing online banking and buying books at Amazon[.com], so when I come home I find reassurance in Tomb Raider." - Philippe Vergne

"What I try to do is not throw the Internet out of the window but rather encourage critical use of it." - Craig Baldwin

"How does netart get into the wonderful museum? In a network-centered world we have to understand how art fits into the nodal system. We envy these net artists artists their knowledge. We do not confuse Hollywood with all filmic practice. We know MTV and we do not confuse that with video art. Net artists engage in a RANGE of network practice." - Steve Dietz

"Curatorial decisions are made through a need to justify hardware and software investments. Artists are a test case." - Vuk Cosic

"There's something happening to a lot of people and its that by the time you end a sentence it is already mainstream. You can choose to either go and live in the academy (and become like Ted Kazinski), or to do something about it. [net.artist] Alexi Shulgin wrote a text on art and power. He said: don't become a master, leave the field before you become ensconced. I prefer to be a research artist and not make final projects. What's the e of the ecommerce? Evolution. How do you stay inspired? You don't, you just keep making your work." - Vuk Cosic

"[In 1998] all the ideals-that net.artists don't need curators, museums, galleries-started to disappear and there was an expansion of museum and institutions to our space. I started to become more involved in these discussions: what is it; how to exhibit it; is it possible to sell it, etc. Once you start to contribute to this conflict you don't have a chance to leave it. My contribution to this discussion was the first gallery, Teleportica. It was to show that net.artists are not the cheapest artists on the market. The idea was to sell works and establish prices. The gallery has becomes a forum for ideas, and a document of discussions." - Olia Lialina

"[There are] three important things about net art and net art collections: [1] an online museum can be simply a collection of links; [2] it is not a complete closed project, it grows; [3] only the net allows us to make these [types of] works in progress. If you are a curator it is a crime not to use it. - Olia Lialina

"My work is primary about the use of the computer. I've used the [mass] media to fool curators into thinking I wasn't using the computer. But you can't pretend anymore. Artists are not getting rich on dot.orgs" - Simon Biggs

"The Bureau of Inverse Technology was incorporated in 1991 in the Canaan islands. There's also rTMark,, fakeshop, the Museum of Jurassic Technology - all this work is in the form of corporations. They are different as a group from 1970s collectives and focus more around a process of ownership, responsibility, and consensus. I would assert that those organizations do not necessarily have a consensual process - they're manipulating the corporate means, the authority, the lack of forum to contest the corporate imagination. Corporate technologies determine our immediate culture. I don't think critics are engaging in the issue of corporate complicity." - Natalie Jeremijenko

"The Top Five strategies for overcoming sloth in your artistic/curatorial practice in relation to the issue of having your audience gain access to the work: 5. Don't think technological barriers will fall - there are ever-increasing barriers of technology business. [For instance, we need to] re-create a way of public streaming video online - its expensive for alternative operations, but cheap for corporate operations. The problems include corporate practices, copyright, business practices, and that bandwidth is never going to be free. [Therefore...]
4. Focus your energy on technology that is beginning to arise, something not too far away, [something that you can] get refinanced by local politics. Today [it could be] Internet radio hybrid devices.
3. Don't lose sight of producers and of quality for audiences; the more you watch the less you know.
2: Do think hybrid, not just hardware or software. Digital culture can be simultaneously many things at once; producers and audiences can both be content creators, something that really matters. The art-world mix of producers [can create] another form of knowledge - from media into media art. (i.e. Muntadas' Archive Project and
1. Don't censor yourself, don't wimp out, don't think anyone knows more than you do. Silicon alley [was a] dream job [for the creation of] arts content for online convergence television, [but it] didn't succeed, [we had the] feeling we could not mention the word art. Sponsors [were not from] art culture. [But] can we prosper by focussing on money anyway? Find niche opportunities. Opera conversations never begin with subject of money. Prioritize your original content." - Robert Atkins

"Consider doing small productions to the velocity of distribution, files move fast [and people] perceive things fast. Escape [the] arena [by working in] real time, don't accept work on things that are more than one day to do. [it gets complex across] weeks and years, [and] everything just dies. Make essential works. look at what you need. [there are] 70 different ways to get what you need, none of it is stable, [but you] cannot give up. [There is a]fetishization of independence [but] partners [have] skill sets and resource bases." - Vuk Cosic

"[The] new form of art by new artists working with a new medium [was born] outside the institutional frame. But now there is a growing interest of the institution to be involved with it. And all this work is decaying at extreme speed. The institution may be a solution to safeguard if not the work then at least the intent. [...] How can we address the preservation of ideas as opposed to objects?" - Benjamin Weil

"There are projects by artists whose purpose is not to be saved art as such. they are strategies. the notion of archiving is that you put it away offline. Which means what you then have is data. And that isn't art anymore because you can't experience it offline. If you take it out of the context of its online realm it means nothing, it won't operate in the void. The same is true with work that has links. There is very little work which can be viewed later. It was conceived to evolve with time - i.e. work based on search engines - as time passes the work that will result will be completely different." - Benjamin Weil

"We need to document how the artist intended the work to be perceived. The term collecting then no longer applies. Or we need to think about collection in a new way. We need the context. How can we think of the museum as a place that is providing access to information? Art considered as idea, as manifest in data." - Benjamin Weil

"There is a deep level of thought that needs to be given to acquisition; museums haven't had time. [In museums there are ] too many "buts" about new media. Museums consider having web presence as obligatory - as membership, information, ecommerce, etc. and then eventually an art space. The art space is not quite an afterthought, but it is not the prime focus. Then you also have the whole notion of acquisition, and I would tend to think that this is a different activity than preserving the memory, acquiring collateral, data, documents, etc. the intent. The commissioning model is helping that because the museum has a direct link with the artist as the work is being produced." - Benjamin Weil

"It's tough to get museums to change, to keep moving in new directions. In early days of video we didn't have access - parcel post is how they got around. Institutions have been collecting installation work, and now having to figure out how to preserve the actual hardware - you need to talk to the artists. The web moves really fast... what is the institution's responsibility?" - Barbara London

"Question: when you talk about having an acquisition policy for new media art - tactically, what do you get? the sole rights to platform it? Benjamin Weil: We don't know. we ask the artists the permission to get a copy of the files that constitute the online art, put onto whatever data containing support (disc, CD, server, etc.) A few years later this seems completely nonsensical. We collect something that may be re-purposed, or we collect the material that enables us to show it again, or give people access to the intent or the ideas. you can't spend millions on emulators. We can not recreate those conditions. We either let it decay online and that's fine or we preserve the memory and find a form to represent it in a manner that makes sense. who in this room has seen the Spiral Jetty? But we all know about it, at least we have a sense of what the intent was. Going backwards to understand how this work was produced is a good lesson."

"[New media art] practice challenges the notion of authorship, has to do with collective authorship; non western ideas of discourse is something the museum has always had trouble with. And what has happened on the net is a brain of a social collectivity, that allows discursive practice. I'm concerned that the authorizing role of museums is dangerous - of course we all want to be in the biennial because its a paycheck. How do you support and preserve a critical practice that is inclusive... how can you do that when it is difficult to pin down authorship?" - Sara Diamond

"Art critics have suddenly found pioneering figures in video installation, all from the early 90s. There is in fact a half-century of pioneers, and now we have to get the word out, not just the work out." - Bruce Jenkins

"Artists have to compromise to the market so often. Marcel Broodthaers said he was willing to make something insincere. Sincerity is it at the center of our century's relationship between art and institutions." - Bruce Jenkins

"The computer has moved from being specific a node, to being universal filter of mass culture. A frame through which activity is mediated; computer an interface to consciousness. digital artists have to adopt interdisciplinary ways of researching." - Lynn Hershman

"People in art worlds didn't know how to look at my work, or treat it. So I wrote my own reviews [under the pseudonym of] Prudence Juris. The reviews would talk about and argue about the work. Then I would take those articles and show them to the galleries to develop my own credibility. You have to create the language yourself to promote, historicize your work. Just doing the work isn't enough. you have to create preservation on your own." - Lynn Hershman

"Artists who work in the genre [of new media] have to continually transgress... the art of context provision (and not just content provision) is evident of a shift in art making - to collaborations, with art and science. Technology has helped the work expand from individual control to multiple viewings." - Lynn Hershman

"User experience is what art does best. To change the interface is to dramatically change the work." - Lev Manovich

"Lynn Hershman: You have to create the language yourself to promote, historicize your work. Just doing the work isn't enough. You have to create preservation on your own. Sara Diamond: There is a material problem. The stuff is ephemeral and it is disintegrating. As you are writing about it to include it into the discourse, watching it is killing it. The source has to be sustained.
Lev Manovich: I understand your position regarding museums, art institutions, preserving, archiving, databasing - but its so different from the Futurists who said shoot the painters, burn the museum. Here we are - the avant-garde - and we want to keep all the stuff. Sara Diamond: It's different when a canon is being created, as opposed to a movement. Lev Manovich: Maybe we should be looking towards the future.
Bruce Jenkins: the genesis of this conference was to address the amnesia of recent art critics. You must get up and think about them [the early media artists], teach them, write about them, make people watch them."