Subject: CX4 - Context & Culture 4

Course: Diploma of Visual Art (21885VIC)


Unit of Competency: VPAU014 - Manage creative and professional self
School of IT & Creative Industries, Faculty of Workforce Development, Victoria University

Teacher Name: Lisa Cianci | email:
Course Coordinator & Education Manager: Alan Morgans | email:

Class Website -


Class 11 -Managing creative content - introduction

Class Discussion

Artists and the Archive.

This has become a "hot" topic in recent years, although it has always been something that artists have engaged with in different ways. How do artists engage with the archive as a basis for making art, and as a means of keeping art?

Over the next couple of weeks we will work on a project involving the documentation of your own work, and you will be considering the use of the archive in your own work.

Here's a brief intro to just a few of the many artists that have engaged with the archive over the past 100 years...

Duchamp's Boîtes en Valises

Joseph Cornell's assemblages & films
Ubuweb -

Fluxus Artists' "fluxkits", scripts and scores for performances

Mike Parr et al - Inhibodress - a sarcastic article with some history of Inhibodress can be found here:

Sophie Calle & Susan Hiller - installations in the Freud Museum

Ilya Kabokov's Russian apartment art & "ropes" installation

Lyndal Jones' The Prediction Pieces at MCA archive and the At Home series documented as part of my PhD project

Yann Le Guenec's destruction of the archive - Le Catalogue (

The "New Aesthetic" - what is this?


Can anyone think of other contemporary examples? The show at MUMA - Liquid Archive for example...


Future-proofing for Creative Practitioners

Research and Discussion Topics: Some ideas for creative practitioners & contemporary artists to incorporate archival practices into their creative practices...

What is preservation? What is archiving?  What is a keeping-place?

Digital Media Preservation – methods – storage, emulation, migration, reinterpretation.

What is Variable media? How can we deal with variable media artworks? What are we trying to preserve?

What’s happening out there? – cultural institutions & organisations, open-source code & apps, research, art projects, other?

  • What can I do as an artist / designer / creator?
  • How much do I need to know?
  • The risks for artists - what are they?
  • Remembering, repressing & forgetting - the archive as site of power
  • Authenticity - whose content is it?
  • What to keep? How & why? - decision making in the archive
  • Past work informs future work – the archive as a useful tool for creation
  • What's out there already that can be used as helpful tools or guidelines?
  • What can we do for ourselves without cultural institutions?
  • Documentation & metadata, Semantics & web 2.0, DCMI, SEO, RDF, Microdata
  • Implications of social media - ownership, authenticity, risk, custody, IP, what happens to our distributed data when we die?
  • Creative Intent – how should our work be presented, re-presented over time? Consider essential source, environment, technology, installation, interactivity & fungible elements.
  • Intellectual property – copyright / copyleft, creative commons?
  • What is an artwork?  What might the artwork consist of?
  • What about choosing destruction & forgetting, erasing the trace? Derrida & other philosophers, artworks as examples such as work by Le Guennec and others
  • Resistance to archiving  (resistance is futile?)
  • Remix Everything – Remix manifesto & recombinant poetics
  • Tiering - using multiple onlilne systems such as social media and blogs to document, preserve and distribute creative content
  • Machine readable / Human readable, digital / analogue, soft-copy / hard-copy - how should we keep/document our content?




Class Activity

  1. Biograhpical Note / Artist Statement - Write a brief artist statement about your self and your creative practice. Focus on who you are and what you do. Research is useful here to see how other artists present themselves. You will find many examples online, or at any exhibition you might attend. Tone and style of the statement also say something about you.
    Here are some useful online articles about writing an artist statement:

  2. Collection Description/Archival Plan- Make a plan for your creative content archival collection. Describe your Collection. What will you keep? How will you keep it? Where will you keep it? Write a short statement about your plan for your own personal archive. Think about reviewing it each year.

    Things to consider:

    • What kinds of content do you create? Painting, drawing, sculpture, mixed media, installation, performance, digital images, videos, texts (all kinds of writing), animations, games, websites, email, other?

    • What is the function of your content? artworks, design, instructional, administration, documentation, promotion, social communication, funding applications, evidence of transactions?

    • If you consider these types of content and their function, then which of those content "items" should be kept indefinitely? Which for a few years? Are there any reasons you might keep items longer, that would usually be deleted at the end of a project or after a short periods of time?

    • What about all the content you are keeping in online systems? Blogs, wikis, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Vimeo, Tumblr Flickr - how would you "archive" the content from these systems, and once you get the content out, how would you access it?

    • if you begin to identify what items you need to keep and why, then you can start to think about how you should keep them... storage methods & strategies, file formats with the best chance at longevity, physical digital storage of documentation (hard disks, DVDs, cloud servers, etc).


You can save your work as Word docs or OpenOffice files - whatever format will allow you to keep working on the assessment task. You may also post this content to your blog.


Homework / Readings

Read the excerpts provided and consider how these texts might relate to your own creative practice.

Keep adding content to you blog

Work on the third assessment task - managing your creative content.





As this is my special area of interest, you might like to peruse my online exegesis titled, "The Blackaeonium Project: Workspace/Keeping-Place - An Archival Continuum of Creative Practice":


for some more direct links...


websites Artbase

Variable Media Network / Forging the Future

DOCAM Research Alliance

Digital Lives Research Project


Artnodes #10

Dublin Core Metadata Standard

Archival description - ISAD(G)

Archives/Records Continuum



Dekker, Annet (ed) 2010, Archive2020: Sustainable Archiving of Born–Digital Cultural Content, Virtueel Platform, May 2010

Derrida, Jacques 1996, Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression, University of Chicago Press, USA

Dietz, Steve 2005, “Collecting New Media Art: Just Like Anything Else, Only Different”, in Bruce Altshuler, ed. Collecting the New, Princeton University Press: Princeton and Oxford

Eden, Xandra (curator) et al 2008, The Lining of Forgetting: Internal and External Memory in Art, Weatherspoon Art Museum, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Enwezor, Okwui 2008, Archive Fever: Uses of the Document in Contemporary Art, International Center of Photography, New York, USA and Steidl Publishers, Göttingen, Germany

Fino-Radin, Ben 2011, Digital Preservation Practices and the Rhizome Artbase, Rhizome at the New Museum, Rh

Harding, Anna (ed) 2002, Potential: Ongoing Archive, p.51, published by Artimo, Anna Harding & the John Hansard Gallery, viewed 12/01/2012, <>

Manoff, Marlene 2004, Theories of the Archive from Across the Disciplines”, Project Muse portal: Libraries and the Academy, Vol. 4, No. 1 (2004), pp. 9–25. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore

MCA 2012, MCA Contemporary Art Archive, Museum of Contemporary Art, viewed 03/01/2012, <>

Merewether, C. (ed) 2006, The Archive: Documents of Contemporary Art, Whitechapel Gallery, London, UK and The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA

Morris, Frances 1998, “Art Now: Sophie Calle”, Tate Online, Tate Britain, viewed 10/10/2010, <>

Pederson, Ann 2001, “Basic concepts and principles of archives and records management”, Understanding Society Through its Records, John Curtain University, viewed 12/03/2007, <>

SAA (Society of American Archivists), 2004, Glossary of Archival and Records Terminology, Society of American Archivists, last viewed 17/9/2004, <>

Spieker, Sven. (2008). The Big Archive: art from bureaucracy, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, The MIT Press (Copyright, Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

Warnke, Martin & Wedemeyer, Carmen 2010, “Documenting Artistic Networks: Anna Oppermann’s Ensembles Are Complex Networks!”, Leonardo, Vol. 44, No. 3, pp. 258–259, 2011