Context & Culture Homepage

Subject: CCE - Context & Culture - 2015

VUIT Digital Arts, Victoria University

Teacher Name: Lisa Cianci - email:
Education Manager: Adam Hutterer - email:

Class Website -

Class 10 - Contemporary Art Practices & Creativity - Future-proofing for Artists

Class Activities

1. 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 online 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.

Some issues to consider:


2. The next task - Assessment Task 2 - Documenting & Managing Creative Content Project

See the Assessment Task 2 brief in the Unit Guide on page 9 - Unit Guide

Today we will work on writing an Archival Plan.

Writing an Archival Plan

Describe how you are keeping your creative development and production content for art projects you are undertaking throughout the course. What about other work? 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, text files, 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 - 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).

include documentation of how you are future-proofing your own creative practice, considering the development of some of the following elements:

Using archival materials for analogue artworks;

Documenting analogue artworks in digital formats such as image, video, text description, diagrams, specification documents, instructions, scores, scripts, etc;

Standard digital file formats to use for digital artworks or documentation of analogue works;

Naming protocols for both analogue and digital files & content;

File systems, version control, etc;

Physical backup – digital storage media & backing up, cloud backup;

Trusted custodians  - now and in the future – who would you give your passwords to?

Tiering - Social media systems, interlinking with similar sites, creating an extended online presence;

Semantic web – Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) RDF, Friend of a Friend (FOAF) etc



3. Writing an essay plan

You should now be at the stage where you develop an essay plan for your next assessment task. The essay plan will help you to identify what you want to write about and help you to structure your essay in a flowing and logical way. It will also hlep you to identify what references you need and where you can use quotes.

The essay plan will be assessed as part of the overall essay assessment task so make sure you put it together.

Here are some guides to help with this process:

Essay Plan - Study Gurus -

Write an essay Plan - State Library of Victoria -

Writing skills for Art & Design - Monash University -


Homework / Readings

Follow up on some of the references provided today and the research done in class - if you find something that interests you, you might want to make a blog post about it.

Begin thinking about the next writing task & doing some introductory research on your selected area.


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, viewed 12/01/2012, <>

Harding, Anna (ed) 2002, Potential: Ongoing Archive, p.51, published by Artimo, Anna Harding & the John Hansard Gallery, UK

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