Steim patterns&pleasures nina_wenhart_presentation

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presentation @ STEIM's patterns + pleasures festival, september 26th 2011. topic: descriptive meta data for archiving Media Art

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Steim patterns&pleasures nina_wenhart_presentation

  1. 1. descriptive meta datanina wenhartinterface cultures lab, art university linznina.wenhart@gmail.com
  2. 2. the new past“Digital archives forever change the relationship between past,present, and future. What does this mean for the practice ofart, music, and performance, and for STEIM – one of the oldestmedia labs in the world?What is the past of the future and the future of the past?”
  3. 3. a start
  4. 4. cleaning up
  5. 5. the bald man incident“bald man, riding a bicycle through a city made out of text on ascreen. media art.”
  6. 6. the bald man incidentgoogle for “media art bicycle city text screen”
  7. 7. the bald man incident
  8. 8. data enrichmentrough/broad + refined/narrowopen-endedlearning processrelationsattributing
  9. 9. “the lack of a standard terminology”“There is a lack of standard terminology for practices, activities and components in electronic art and for the types and genres of documentation that describes those.”eliminating diversity of terms and their relations does noteliminate ambiguity of meaning
  10. 10. analyzing terminologies- overlaps in general terms- differences in focus- limitations
  11. 11. standard terminology- terms are not self-explanatory- does not solve problems, only creates different ones: of how to interpret and apply these terms (→ test group of Gettys Art and Architecture Thesaurus, 88)
  12. 12. problems created- rigid structure- faking fixed meaning- internal logic of creator
  13. 13. “patterns & pleasures”- no exclusion & filtering at data entering side- allowing for diverse forms of relations, patterns- an open framework instead of a standard terminology- capturing knowledge in diverse forms of utterances
  14. 14. contactnina.wenhart@gmail.comtwitter: ninjafx“w0rdM4g1x” - excerpt of thesis is on:p-art-icles.blogspot.comninawenhart-cv.blogspot.com
  15. 15. descriptive meta datanina wenhartinterface cultures lab, art university linznina.wenhart@gmail.com
  16. 16. the new past“Digital archives forever change the relationship between past,present, and future. What does this mean for the practice ofart, music, and performance, and for STEIM – one of the oldestmedia labs in the world?What is the past of the future and the future of the past?”
  17. 17. a startI have a quite long intro, which is also a kind of conclusion as well.Just like Steina and Kristina, my interest in archiving comes from my personal background andinvolvement with a particular area of Media Art.I was born and live in Linz, the city that is best known for being home of Ars Electronica When ArsElectronica was born, I was 3.5 years old. The birth of the festival was celebrated with hugefireworks, and I was standing amidst this crowd of 100.00 people, mesmerized by what washappening.Years later – Ars and I had just turned twenty – I started working on creating their archives. I was thehead of the Futurelabs video studio, a windowless room with tapes covering the floor and unsortedfiles cramming the hard drives.
  18. 18. cleaning upBeing new to Ars and facing all these materials, I started cleaning up by making piles of similarthings and watching through all the videos, annotating what I saw amateurishlyAs simple as this approach might seem, the tapes now included information that they didnt havebefore. And when you google for: media art, bicycle, text, screen, city, what you get as a result is thename of the artist, the title of the work, and all kinds of further information.So what I did when I started cleaning up was to annotate assets with descriptive meta data. The assetsand the additional information were now connected. Things could only get better from then on.
  19. 19. the bald man incident “bald man, riding a bicycle through a city made out of text on a screen. media art.”Being new to Ars and facing all these materials, I started cleaning up by making piles of similarthings and watching through all the videos, annotating what I saw amateurishlyAs simple as this approach might seem, the tapes now included information that they didnt havebefore. And when you google for: media art, bicycle, text, screen, city, what you get as a result is thename of the artist, the title of the work, and all kinds of further information.So what I did when I started cleaning up was to annotate assets with descriptive meta data. The assetsand the additional information were now connected. Things could only get better from then on.
  20. 20. the bald man incident google for “media art bicycle city text screen”I described things without knowing anything about them at this point. I did not know much aboutmedia art. I definitely had no expert knowledge or expert vocabulary.Nor do many other people who still get the correct result when they simply enter media art, bicycle,text, screen.The point I want to make is not that expert vocabulary is bad. But: the people looking for somethingcannot be expected to know these expert vocabularies. They search with their own terms. Theysearch, because they want to find and they search because they do not know
  21. 21. the bald man incidentContinuing this approach,i learned. Because people, works, events,... came up over and over again. Isaw similar things and started to relate them to each other.. and when I had learned something new orfound out about additional information, I went over old material and added my newly gained insights.My system of descriptive meta data got more and more refined over time.As for the amount of material, we kept continuing this approach with interns. So the first phase ofmeta data we added was very rough, temporary, waiting to be refined. But it served its purpose, whenI would read an interns description of “bed, guy, projection, stroking” I knew what the intern didnt.But I learned what I didnt know before, that “telematic dreaming” is at TC xyz on this particular tape.
  22. 22. data enrichment rough/broad + refined/narrow open-ended learning process relations attributingAn important lesson to learn from this approach was that no matter if someone is an amateur or anexpert, everyone will describe things in a different way. And considering that everyone also searchesfor things in different ways, the more diverse and rich these annotations got, the better the chances forretrieving a particular work.I even found out that with the rough description it was more likely that someone would know whatthe other one is talking about and would have more associations to other people and projects thanwith more narrow terms or terms an expert would come up with
  23. 23. “the lack of a standard terminology” “There is a lack of standard terminology for practices, activities and components in electronic art and for the types and genres of documentation that describes those.” eliminating diversity of terms and their relations does not eliminate ambiguity of meaningThe experiences I gained through my work inspired me to do more research about archiving,especially about descriptive meta data.In my media art histories master thesis I analyzed the biggest archives for media art based on theirvocabulariesI was surprised that research on this topic was a) more difficult to do than I had originally thought.There were hardly any sources about how these data are obtained and also the descriptive meta datawere not easily accessible as a whole. And b) that many of these institutions more and more foundthat research in this field was a pressing matter. The clearest position was made by V2_ who spoke ofit as a lack of a standard terminology for media artI took this as my starting point and questioned – based on my previous experiences – whether thislack is something bad or might even be a great advantage
  24. 24. analyzing terminologies- overlaps in general terms- differences in focus- limitations
  25. 25. standard terminology - terms are not self-explanatory - does not solve problems, only creates different ones: of how to interpret and apply these terms (→ test group of Gettys Art and Architecture Thesaurus, 88)What I found interesting is that even with a standard terminology, there remain some problems:- people still requested training in how to interpret and apply the terms ans- even if there were terms, thery were only sparsly attributedThis request for special training does not come from media art, but from a 1988 test group that usedthe Getty Art and Architecture ThesaurusTerms on their own do not carry enough unanimous meaning with them, especially not I a field suchas Media Art that stems from so many disciplines
  26. 26. problems created - rigid structure - faking fixed meaning - internal logic of creatorHearing this, I find it almost pervert to think that there ever could be anything like a standardterminology, or even worse, a hierarchical system based on such forced unambiguityThe problem I see is that in a database archive such terms become structural, petrifiedThese systems claim to be true, like in bivalent logic. True – false. They create knowledge systems,they determine what we can know about something. It is history, not histories. It is a subjective viewthat becomes code = law
  27. 27. The problem with a standard terminology is that it becomes an animal that does not exist in wild life.people might use completely different terms to search for something or describe. The expertterminology very often is an attempt to try to explain a complex situation in one word only. It is veryofetn made up for one purpose only.
  28. 28. “patterns & pleasures”- no exclusion & filtering at data entering side- allowing for diverse forms of relations, patterns- an open framework instead of a standard terminology- capturing knowledge in diverse forms of utterances
  29. 29. contactnina.wenhart@gmail.comtwitter: ninjafx“w0rdM4g1x” - excerpt of thesis is on:p-art-icles.blogspot.comninawenhart-cv.blogspot.com

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