Assembling traces, or the conservation of net art
Author(s): Dekker, Annet
Net art is built and distributed through a complex, intricate, and interrelated system of networks that presents an assemblage of art, technology, politics, and social relations ‐ all merged and related to form a variable entity. In the last decade a discussion on how to conserve net art emerged in museums of contemporary art. Nevertheless, many net art projects from the 1990s have long disappeared ‐ their server payments lapsed, software was not kept up-to-date, or artists felt the concept was no longer appropriate in a changed context. The project mouchette.org is an exception in that the artist has kept the website up and running since it began. In this article I will show that net artworks are inherently assemblages that evolve over time. These works are distributed and ensured by networks of people; their continuation happens through multiple authors and caretakers. All together these actors signify and give meaning to the works. Therefore, instead of thinking of a ‘freeze frame’ the presentation and conservation of net art should focus on variability. This opens up different paths and options, making for conservation strategies akin to assembling traces.
Dekker, Annet: Assembling traces, or the conservation of net art. In: NECSUS. European Journal of Media Studies, Jg. 3 (2014), Nr. 1, S. 171–193. DOI: https://doi.org/10.25969/mediarep/15140.
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