Exhibition Concepts Homepage

Subject: EXC - Exhibition Concepts - 2013

Course: Diploma of Visual Art (21885VIC_13)

College of Arts, Victoria University

Teacher Name: Lisa Cianci | email: lisa.cianci@vu.edu.au
Course Coordinator & Education Manager: Alan Morgans | email: alan.morgans@vu.edu.au
College of Arts Office: City Flinders - Tel: 9919 1517

Class Website - http://lisacianci.vucreativeindustries.com/2013/EXC

Class 05 - Future Proofing for Artists

Class Activities

Ghost Signs

If you attended the Tuesday seminar "Ghost Sign Hunters" you might like to make a blog post about it. If you missed it, it was really interesting, although Stefan Schutt (the organiser of the event) didn't get the chance to discuss his project the Lewis & Skinner Archive. We will have a look at it in class:


I will have finalised the brief for this project, but thought we could discuss possibilities for the project which will involve curating selections of items from the archive into online exhibitions relating to Footscray and the West - which could form part of a larger project and potential physical exhibition.


Future-Proofing for Artists

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 – recognised 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?

Discuss these in class and/or conduct research on one or two areas listed above that interest you. Write up your findings on your blog.


Assessment Task 2 - Parts 3 (Collection Description) & 4 (Series Description)

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).


Series Description - Write an archival description and statement of intent for the broad series of artworks, projects, events or installations that you have produced over the last 12 months. Considers all of the implications discussed in the module – specifically looking at:

  • Source (Content, concept, theme, what is the work? What is it about?);

  • Environment (Environmental elements - location, geospatial, time/place);

  • Installation (How is the work presented to the audience? How is it installed in the exhibition space? What installed elements form the work? Are the elements physical, virtual, analogue, digital?);

  • Technology (Formats, media, technological requirements for creating/presenting the work);

  • Interaction (Audience engagement - how does the audience interact and engage with the work? Is it active, passive, participatory?);

  • Intent for preservation and future re-presentation of the work (How would you like your work to be presented/represented in the future? Are there any limitations? How open is the work to reinterpretation?).


When considering grouping series of works, in archival theory and practice, series are formed from "logical" groupings of items according to format, type, content or function. Keeping this in mind, you may consider different ways your works can be grouped.

Some works are consciously created as part of a series where you continue to develop ideas, techniques and/or practices over time, so the series is formed naturally or organically.

If this is not the case for your work, you may form series by grouping drawings as a series, paintings as a series, 3-dimensional works as a series, or you may group artworks based on a theme or concept as a series regardless of their format (see Gerhardt Richter's website <http://www.gerhard-richter.com/>for a good example of how his work is divided into series - although what is missing is a more archival description of the series overall).

Each of you may form your series in different ways - there's no right or wrong method, and it should be fairly apparent to you what the series are. You may also include non-art works in your series descriptions if relevant.

The Series should contain a brief Description of the above elements, and should also include the following:

Extent: number and extent of items in the series (dimensions or general description of the material)

Date range: the date range of the series - does it span years? months? etc. Is the series ongoing or complete?

You don't need images for this stage of the descriptive guide to your work, but next week the Inventory/Catalogue which lists each item within the series will require an image, so make sure you have digital files with you for next week's class.

The Inventory will include finished works, but may also include preparatory works, documentations, plans, instructions and other support materials.

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


Watch: Salvador Dali - A Soft Self Portrait (1967)




Homework / Readings

Readings: See attachments... we will discuss these next week.




As preservation of variable media 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...



Rhizome.org 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, UKizome.org viewed 12/01/2012, <http://media.rhizome.org/blog/8332/rhizome-digital-preservation-practices.pdf>

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, <http://www.mca.com.au/artists-and-works/mca-collection/about-mca-collection/contemporary-art-archive/>

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, <http://www.tate.org.uk/britain/exhibitions/artnow/sophiecalle/default.shtm>

Pederson, Ann 2001, “Basic concepts and principles of archives and records management”, Understanding Society Through its Records, John Curtain University, viewed 12/03/2007, <http://john.curtin.edu.au/society/archives/management.html>

SAA (Society of American Archivists), 2004, Glossary of Archival and Records Terminology, Society of American Archivists, last viewed 17/9/2004, <http://www.archivists.org/glossary>

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