New Media and Social Memory – Artists vs. Users?

Posted by on Friday January 19 2007

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8 Responses to “New Media and Social Memory – Artists vs. Users?”

  1. Kevin Edwards
    January 19th, 2007 03:40

    Personally I think George Lucas is wrong, in the sense that all versions of Star Wars will outlive him. He will be long gone, and every released version will slowly degrade from tape, but at some point copies made to longer lasting / permanent media will re-surface, and he’ll have nothing to say on the matter. That’s just what I think the reality will be.

    What I’d like to see happen is that George Lucas have the freedom to continue to “finish” his work as long as he has it in him. As a media producer, I totally understand this desire. However, I wish George Lucas would understand that every version released has historical and cultural value and that he’d help preserve high quality releases for this purpose.

    And of course, while this may “just be Star Wars”, it’s the test case for other works.

  2. Richard
    January 19th, 2007 04:20

    Hmmm..well if the experience is the thing then there is little the Special Edition DVDs can do to erase my experience of standing in line for hours to see the original. Or the experience I over the holidays watching a bootleg copy of “The Star Wars Holiday Special.”

    It seems that “preserving the experience” may also be harder than it seems at first glance. While for relatively static and isolated works it may be easier, how do you preserve netArt that depends on a living-breathing network to exist? How do you preserve the experience of an EverQuest universe where ten thousand people are interacting?

    I always feel my mind twisting when I think about this problem. In some ways its not all that different than what art already does – namely capture some essence and aspect of our temporal lives. So is the key to preservation of certain forms of a digital art to develop the art of documenting the experience?

  3. Chris Maddocks
    January 24th, 2007 10:10

    As Kevin pointed out – there is a bit more at stake than just platform dependency. Platforms reflect the concurrent state of their societys and cultures.

    I am reminded of the 2004 Whitney Biennial that included lo-fi works by Corey Arcangel.

    What stands out in my memory of the installation was the actual Nintendo box sitting in the corner of the room. Extension chords, A/V chords and controllers. This was, of course, intentional from a curatorial perspective; it recreated the dissonance of fluffy blue clouds and disarrayed technology on dingy basement carpets. The installation strikes at the heart of the power of legacy platforms – they are not just a medium but are a shared experience and carry psychological weight. Transferring this experience to “superior” mediums might make storage and archive sense – but it will not evoke the wonder of first moving Mario with a controller and the world-view revolution that induced.

    Cross posted on

  4. Alison Clark
    January 24th, 2007 11:17

    Museums exist because of our desire to meld direct user experience with cultural memory. In a way, it seems that the question being asked—is it the object or the experience that needs to be preserved—sort of misses the point. It’s always been an intentional experience—the artist(s) has always wanted to provoke a reaction from you. However, the greater the distance in time and space from the artist, the harder it is to interpret that experience. Most early modern European art would have been viewed in a salon-style display, very different from our current white-box model. The classical sculpture that littered some salons was definitely displayed in a way that did not even come close to replicating the original viewing experience. It seems to me that the question for digital media is similar, but accelerated due to relatively rapid advances and obsolesces in technology, and that it is a field where the majority of artists are still alive. Most art is allowed to age gracefully—perhaps a sort of digital patina will develop over time. (However, given the emphasis the conference appears to have had on re-mixing, maybe this concept is fundamentally alien to digital art? I don’t know.) Replicating the original experience may not be possible, as the media itself may be an inextricable part of the experience.

  5. New Media, but same old preservation « Jacob Nadal
    March 24th, 2007 12:31

    […] New Media, but same old preservation March 24th, 2007 I was troubled by Gunter Waible and Perian Sully’s posts about the New Media and Social Memory Symposium at the UC Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive, because their reporting was presented without any substantial critique of the symposium. I found this troubling because the preservation ideas they were reporting seemed very poorly thought out and may obscure or obstruct the actual preservation issues that we need to resolve for digital resources. […]

  6. KIm
    May 11th, 2007 06:21

    I agree with this completely, thanks for the post.

  7. Graceful Decay» Blog Archive » Hello world!
    October 10th, 2007 09:36

    […] was troubled by Gunter Waible and Perian Sully’s posts about the New Media and Social Memory Symposium at the UC Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific […]

  8. New media, same old preservation | Graceful Decay
    March 23rd, 2009 11:35

    […] was troubled by Gunter Waible and Perian Sully’s posts about the New Media and Social Memory Symposium at the UC Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific […]

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