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 12 - Continuing with the content management documentation - Future-proofing for Artists

Class Activities


Series Description

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 <>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.

You will 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:

The Series should contain a brief Description of the elements listed below, 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?


Series Description elements:

  • 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?).

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


Inventory Catalogue

Work on the second assessment task in class. Today we will look at creating an Inventory catalogue of selected artworks and related items - and you will formulate "series" groupings of these items to organise your documentation.

Document your artworks and support content in the manner of an art catalogue. Some of this content can then be used by students participating in your graduate exhibition. It will be a useful exercise for exhibition, funding/exhibition applications and as part of the archival documentation of your work. List the following information with a minimum of 1 image per piece:

  • Title of the work,
  • Medium/Media,
  • Size/Dimensions,
  • Installation instructions (if applicable - for complex works / if not described in the Series Description).

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

Document Formats and Layout

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

See this sample Word Doc for an example of using image and text together:


Often a Word doc or similar is sufficient when putting together a text/image-based document, but the problem with Word is that when someone opens your document on their computer, the pagination may change, they may not have the font you used, and other formatting or layout elements may differ.

The most common way around this is to convert your doc file to a PDF (Portable Document Format) file. PDF is the current standard for documents, and although it has it's own deficiencies, it will ensure that your document is not editable, and has the layout/style that you intended as it saves the formatting is a way that is cross platform and generally always looks the same.

If you don't have Adobe Acrobat to convert your docs to PDF, there are many free PDF converters online - including a service on the Adobe website. They generally work by allowing you to submit a Word or Open Office doc (and some other types of document), and then they ask for your email address and email you the converted PDF file, or email you a link to download the PDF file.

I have generally found these to be pretty good at conversion. Occasionally you may have problems with image quality, but trial and error is recommended.

Some Online PDF converters:


Homework / Readings

Work on your essay. You should have chosen a theme by now and have done some research on artists and artworks in that area.


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