Belated notes from CRUMB’S conference ‘Commissioning and Collecting Variable Media’

Commissioning and Collecting Variable Media

5 March 2010

BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art

Speaker: Benjamin Weil (La Boral)

[ada web], digital foundry NY

  • Hermes
  • Artist Space

Image: Christian Marclay, Video Quartet, 2002

Increase of technological software and hardware means there is no standing still. 2001 video was still widely, and the internet was still young and domestic based.

Lynn Hershman Leeson, Agent Ruby

Should commissioned online work be kept in the state it was created or updated to the level of technology of the time?

Collecting vs Archiving

Process vs Object

For example Felix Gonzales Torres or Dan Flavin. The types of bulbs they used in  their work (incandescent) will soon not be made anymore, so what do you do? Felix if alive would not be bothered, but we as curators/conservators are. Will it change the meaning/feeling of the work?

Collection/Constellation of date not just an object

When is it time to retire an original object and update it to a newer technology? Does it change the meaning or does keeping it as original date it or distract from the intended meaning (ie old monitor will invoke nostalgia in the viewer)

Image: Pablo Valbeuna, Augmented Sculpture, V1.2

HBox – video commissioner

– yearly commissioning program

– collapsible screening room

– artist retain ownership and may develop the work further

– Hermes Foundation retains screening and archiving rights. (they archive each version as the artist updates it)

The artist can continue to update and develop the work, so as new technology comes in the can update it.

Speaker: Lisa Panting, Picture This

‘Commissioning work for Collection’

Artist led, working and directed from the field

Budget, touring, technical issues

Commissioning to collect – for commissions, collection or someone else?

Problem with commissioning is that it can put to much emphasis on success and not open tp experimentation or failure.

What are the parameters for collection?


Public access issues?

Who own the work in terms of development? (The commissioner, collector or artist?)

Who decides what to commission/collect?

Speaker: Graham Harwood, artist

‘Being commissioned and collected’

Commissioned work that is publicly available already.

Outside influences affect the commission

Historical influences –local, regional, national, international

Institutional influences

Institutional critiques

Speaker: Lois Keidan: Live Art Network

‘Commissioniing Live Art’ – documentation/archiving

– Does documentation become the work?

– Does it destroy the viewers enjoyment of the live event?

– How conspicuous should the documentation be?

– What ois the artwork? The live performance or the documentation of the it?

NB: Tsing Hsieh

Who owns the documentation? The artist or the documenter? Service provider or collaborative relationship?

Image: Manuel Vason, photographer

Is interested in the documentation of  live art where the practice investigates the subject around live art.

Example: Ron Athey/Catherine Opie

Collections/ Community/ Process

Socially active aesthetics

New social spaces

Shoula all variable media be collected/conserved? What if the artist does not want to?

Authorship/ agency of the community

Community? Physical, virtual, real, constructed.

About Ben Jones

I am an artist and curator, interested mainly in web-based work, video, drawing and animation. I have exhibited locally, nationally and internationally gaining commissions as well as working with communities and in schools on projects. I have worked for a variety of different organisations from an artist run studio and gallery to a large contemporary gallery in a number of different roles. My practice deals with how the reality we live in is constructed by media, where there are many different beliefs, which can be accepted, rejected or modified. I am interested in the disintegration of traditional social discussion and debate, due to media saturation, and how it now manifest’s itself in many new and technological ways.
This entry was posted in CRUMB, Digital Media, New Media and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Belated notes from CRUMB’S conference ‘Commissioning and Collecting Variable Media’

  1. elizabethkane says:

    Lots of points to think about Ben particularly about technology becoming defunct (as in the incandescent bulbs) it would undoubtedly change the meaning and feel of a piece to change such a key component in a sculpture. I think the physical and formal elements of works such as Flavin’s demand the original… I guess a curator has the right to investigate possibilities but that these investigations might become essentially their own work if not undertaken alongside the artist (which is impossible in some instances).

    The notion of nostalgia and new media is interesting and inescapable. I’d be inclined to think that if something was made a particular way by an artist they’d want that piece to be shown in that manner (I guess that’s easy for me to say as someone who makes art that is stand alone and removed from technology). Yes this will ‘date’ something but it would also contextualise the idea behind the work and its realisation. Mmm I think there is a B:Read on some of these issues that I recall being very interesting.

    Smashing blog would love to hear your standpoint.

    Elizabeth Kane

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