Articles

This in-progress section brings together scholarly articles and essays that address the collection of media installation. The following texts, accessible as downloadable PDFs or through links, have been made available with the permission of their authors and publishers.

Bishop, Mitchell Hearns, Evolving Exemplary Pluralism: Steve McQueen's Deadpan and Eija-Liisa Ahtila's Anne, Aki and God - Two Case Studies for Conserving Technology-Based Installation Art. In Journal of the American Institute for Conservation Vol. 40, No. 3, pp. 179-191, Fall/Winter 2001. View paper

In a paper presented at "TechArchaeology: A Symposium on Installation Art Preservation," Bishop discusses conservation issues inherent in the works of Steve McQueen and Eija-Liisa Ahtila, two artists included in the exhibition Seeing Time: Selections from the Pamela and Richard Kramlich Collection of Media Art, then on view at SFMOMA. A series of questions about each work and its preservation are put to each artist; their answers are discussed. Broader questions of how museums and collectors exhibit, preserve and document media works are addressed.


Cook, Sarah, An interview with Larry Rinder, 2001. Published by CRUMB (Curatorial Resource for Upstart Media Bliss), University of Sunderland. Available from CRUMB.

Whitney Museum of American Art curator Rinder discusses the origins of the show "BitStreams" (with sound component co-curated with Debra Singer), which was to include work expressed through digital media and reflecting on the conditions of life in the digital age. Curatorial choices are discussed under the conditions imposed by a constrained planning schedule; its concurrent run with Christiane Paul's "Data Dynamics" is addressed, as are the politics of exhibiting work not necessarily created for museum/gallery display. The impact of new media art on the curator's role and on museum practice, as regards corporate sponsorship, are also considered.


Cook, Sarah, Multi-Multi-Media: an interview with Barbara London. 2001. Published by CRUMB (Curatorial Resource for Upstart Media Bliss), University of Sunderland. Available from CRUMB

The video and media curator at the Museum of Modern Art discusses her early video and Internet projects with MoMA-curatorial dispatches from trips to China, Russia, and Japan-and later MoMA web commissions. She describes the challenges of showing Internet projects in gallery settings and of acquiring new media art, and stresses the museum's important role in pushing the field forward.


Hanhardt, John, Nam June Paik, TV Garden. Permanence Through Change: The Variable media Approach. Published by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, in New York, and the Daniel Langlois Foundation, in Montreal, 2003. View discussion

A brief description of Korean artist Nam June Paik's pioneering role in contemporary art is followed by a discussion between Hanhardt and artist and former Paik studio assistant Stephen Vitiello, focusing on the key elements of the 1974 multimedia installation TV Garden. They discuss the balance between fixed and variable-maintaining vital aspects of the piece while dealing with the exigencies of installing it in various settings. They also touch on how to maintain the artwork into the future.

Huber, Hans Dieter. PPP: From Point to Point or from Production to Presentation to Preservation of Media Art. Lecture at the congress 404 Object Not Found, Dortmund, June 2003. View lecture

Huber explores the relationship among production, presentation and preservation of media art installations. Distinguishing between organization and structure, he discusses, respectively, the replaceable and un-replaceable parts of media installation artworks, with attention to the effect on the meaning of the work as parts are replaced. Using the analogy of a musical score and performance, he analyzes the abstract notation and specific installation of media artworks. He concludes by asking, apropos of presentation of media installations, whether, paradoxically, the more the parts of a media installation may be substituted, the more it may be presented, thus better preserving it.

Laurenson, Pip. The Conservation and Documentation of Video Art. Published in: Hummelen, IJ., Sillé, D., Modern Art: Who Cares?, Amsterdam: Foundation for the Conservation of Modern Art/ Netherlands Institute for Cultural Heritage, 1999, p. 263-271. View paper

Laurenson describes in detail the Tate Gallery's approach to video art conservation as regards its own collection. This begins with assessing the work, from various technical questions to appraising its condition and estimating costs that will be associated with its preservation. She describes the process of creating an archival master and specifies the Tate's plan to regularly transfer video onto new stock to overcome the obsolescence of playback equipment. Appendices include Tate Gallery guidelines for care of video artworks and questions to ask artists when interviewing them regarding a work for acquisition.

Laurenson, Pip. Developing Strategies for the Conservation of Installations Incorporating Time-based Media: Gary Hill's Between Cinema and a Hard Place Journal of the American Institute for Conservation 40 (3), 2001: 259-266. View paper

In a paper presented at "TechArchaeology: A Symposium on Installation Art Preservation," Laurenson discusses strategies for the conservation of a complex installation by Gary Hill, with special attention to the cathode ray tube monitors and the system that controls the distribution of sound and images. She describes the changing role of conservators as contemporary art has de-emphasized the material object, shifting from care of precious artifacts to managing change in the objects in question. Laurenson points out parallels between media art conservation and that of traditional media.

Laurenson, Pip. The Management of Display Equipment in Time-based Media Installations. Tate Papers, Spring 2005. Originally published in the pre-prints of the International Institute for Conservation (IIC) 2004 Congress in Bilbao, pp. 49 - 53. View paper

Laurenson asks how conservators of media art can deal with the inevitable obsolescence of display equipment used in time-based media installations, especially when it is often unclear which elements are essential to the meaning of the piece. She offers a set of questions for conservators to assist in evaluating the functional vs. aesthetic, historical or conceptual significance of the displayed equipment in a given piece. She points out that consensus between artist and museum can be difficult to reach on how to approach conservation of a piece due to varying priorities. She offers a set of guidelines for maintenance and care of display equipment.

Messier, Paul, Dara Birnbaum's Tiananmen Square: Break-In Transmission: A Case Study in the Examination, Documentation, and Preservation of a Video-Based Installation. In Journal of the American Institute for Conservation Vol. 40, No. 3, pp. 193-209, Fall/Winter 2001. View paper

The paper presents the specifics of a method for examining and documenting a video-based installation, using Birnbaum's 1989-90 work as a case study. It painstakingly describes the artist's working method and equipment; itemizes exhibition hardware and its physical arrangement, specifying how display relates to the artist's intentions; and discusses the ideal environment for exhibiting the piece. The paper describes each of the A/V components and formats used in the work as it bears on the work's preservation prospects, concluding with an analysis of the threats to its preservation and recommendations for circumventing them, including considering entirely new formats for presentation as a way to preserve the artist's intent.

Van Saaze, Vivian, ICN and Gaby Wijers, Netherlands Media Art Institute Research into four media installations. Materiaaltechnische informatie over beeldende kunst (Information on materials used in the visual arts), No. 46, Summer 2003. View study

Sponsored by the Netherlands Media Art Institute, the authors studied four works: 25 Caramboles en variaties. Verjaardagscadeau voor een 25-jarige (25 Caramboles and Variations. Birthday Present for a 25-Year-Old) by Miguel-Ángel Cárdenas; Outside Inside by Elsa Stansfield and Madelon Hooykaas; Are You Afraid of Video? by Servaas; and A Word of Welcome by eddie d. The study looked at the aspects of the works that were important to consider in re-installation; tried to determine which aesthetic and technical aspects were essential for preserving the integrity of the works; considered registration and documentation of the pieces; and described the technical competence necessary to present the works.