Encyclopedia for new media presented in brussels

Museums and the new media, brussel, 19 november 1998

The encyclopedia of new media, a trilingual online catalog, is the first museum catalog on the internet to feature video art excerpts. The catalog was presented on 19. November 1998 in brussels during the symposium "museums and the new media" presented. The publication of digital video excerpts, in order to provide the next generation with a primary source of rare media documents, was discussed in the context of presentations by artists and curators.

"Museums and the new media", a symposium of artists and curators, was held in the palais des beaux-arts de bruxelles from 19. Until 21. November 1998 organized. The public meeting was convened to present the encyclopedia of new media, the ambitious joint database, an online documentation project supported by the european union’s kaleidoscope fund 1998. The project was initiated by christine van assche, curator of media art at the centre georges pompidou paris. It is the first fully accessible database project online that uses film clips (ranging from 10 seconds to 2 minutes in length) in quicktime format of all time-based works.

Project partners for the encyclopedia are the museum ludwig in koln (which has no website), the centre pour l’image contemporaine, saint-gervais geneva and the belgian partner constant vwz, a project group for the demand and presentation of new media.

The encyclopedia of new media is not in fact, as the name might suggest, an encyclopedic listing of all media works. It is a catalog of the collections of the partner institutions. Presented in a graphically sparse format, the works are listed in a unified master list, and this structure includes a fairly detailed biography of each artist (or group of artists), documentation of exhibitions of the works, and a curatorial description of each work. Each media artwork (video, cd rom, or multi-media installation) is accompanied by a quicktime movie, which, while similar in appearance to the recently released cd rom from the videothek of the zkm, karlsruhe, is much easier to access than the offline example. The video excerpts were chosen by the curators to give an insight into the style, tone, and rhythm of each work, and the length was determined with a view to best representing the content of each work. In the discussion with the audience in brussels, it was originally feared that future generations would never experience the important time element of the time-based medium of video if these easily accessible short excerpts were available. But asked for a statement, van assche said future plans include the digitization of full-length videos of artists, which will be online as soon as the technology – and bandwidth – are available.

The trilingual new media encyclopedia (english, french, german) currently displays 200 works online (representing about 50 artists). When completed in 2000, the new media encyclopedia will include more than 1000 works by over 200 artists. The new media encyclopedia database will allow access to data alphabetically or chronologically. A search function by subject is being developed (it will include art references such as body art, conceptual art, fluxus, etc.). ) to enable the classification of artists and the restructuring of styles from different cultural references and time periods. Additional features of the new media encyclopedia include a glossary of terms (soon to be trilingual), a brief history of the media arts of representative countries where video, performance and multi-media flourished and made history in the 1970s and 1980s, and a bibliography of media-related publications that can be found in the libraries of every institution. These are useful tools for curators, students, and humanities scholars looking for both additional sources and accurate references.

The encyclopedia of new media presents the documentation of media art collections professionally and accurately, and the information provided in this online catalog is extraordinary, especially when compared to the elaborate websites of international video rental companies, which offer little information and no video images. Distributors such as london electronic arts, 235media, koln, and montevideo, amsterdam, have failed to provide basic biographical or production information to their online customer base. Electronic arts intermix, new york, provides good catalog text for each work and some still photos, but has not yet developed video excerpts. The video database at the art institute of chicago is in the process of developing an online catalog and plans to include digital video excerpts in 1999.

The first phase of the online encyclopedia is based on the collection of the musee national d’art moderne, centre georges pompidou. Among the first 30 artists presented from the pompidou collection are chris marker (france), peter fischli and david weiss (switzerland), johan grimonprez (belgium), marcel odenbach (germany) and jean-luc godard (france/switzerland). The museum ludwig has contributed exhibitions of their works by marina abramovic and ulay, joseph beuys, wolf vostel and bettina gruber and maria vedder. Many of the works are owned by the respective institution and will be uniformly represented, for example works by vito acconi, doublas davis, gary hill, bruce nauman, nam june paik and shigeko kubota. Later updates will be made with the participation of the artists who will assist in the recording of their works.

The symposium "museums and the new media" was organized in brussels, one of the few major european centers that does not have a collection of new media art, to focus the discussion on the relationship between museums, new media practice, and the unique cultural heritage of time-based art. Despite the lack of institutional recognition of new media art in belgium, the constant vwz a serious forum for the presentation and discussion of new media art for the online environment, with examples that included topics related to the documentation of art as well as unique original works developed specifically for the web. Participants included artists george legrady (stuttgart), vera frenkel (toronto), karel dudesek of van gogh tv (hh/vienna), moving art studio (brussels) and stefan decostere (brussels). Curators included simon lamauniere (geneva), curator of the documenta x net.Art, mckenzie wark (sydney), julie lazar:www.Moca- la.Org, director of experimental programs, moca (los angeles), and konrad becker, chairman of the institute for new cultural technologies and public netbase (vienna), who presented individual case studies and illustrated excellent ways in which the internet can bring together art, the museum, and institutional identity.

The preservation and documentation of early media art (especially video works) has been a cause of growing concern in the last 15 years, since the recognition that works made from the late 1960s onwards are subject to deterioration processes. This is a growing problem for both museums and artists. In the tidal wave of the communications revolution and the growth of the internet as a major theme, the medium of video has been considered by some critics and promoters of digital art even for "dead" explains. Now it seems that through digital technology, the historical reference works for digital culture and the masterpieces of countless contemporary artists who provided groundbreaking ideas have at least experienced a revival, if not a second life. This new digital life promises an eternal flame for the medium’s compromise between quality and availability, and offers the possibility of expanded distribution on the internet. One hopes that the curatorial interest in presenting and preserving time-based art, which has grown steadily over the past two decades, will find reward in this effort to offer information online. By the year 2000, when the encyclopedia of new media is fully online, the benefits of an easily accessible brief look at the important influences of video, performance, and conceptual art on social, political, and commercial media should be recognized by museums worldwide.