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Information Curation and Database Aesthetics
Archiving Context: Preservation Strategies for Net-based Art
                      (A Case Study)
                         Christiane Paul
I.    Defining Database Aesthetics

II.   Applying Database Aesthetics in Curation

III. Applying Database in Archiving and Preservation
I. Defining Database Aesthetics

= the aesthetic principles applied in imposing the logic
  of the database to any type of information

= filtering data collections

= visualizing data
  [not the aesthetics of the database as structure itself]

* database aesthetics as a conceptual potential and cultural form
* a way of revealing (visual) patterns of knowledge, beliefs, and social
behavior
II. Applying Database (Aesthetics) in Curation



• Presenting art projects relying on database aesthetics

• Using databases in the presentation of art
     (as repositories of art; as structure for crowd curation)
Wattenberg and Walczak, Apartment (installation sketch)
Apartment at Ars Electronica, Linz Austria:
                                             2 user stations, 2 projections (2D / 3D
                                             component), 1 archive station




Apartment at Electrohype Festival, Sweden:
1 projection (2D) onto table
George Legrady, Pockets Full of Memories
runme software art
 repository (2003)
Your Show Here, Mass MoCA (2001)
Potentiality of Database - Semiotics of Database


• Ferdinand de Saussure:
syntagmatic relations         referring intratextually to other words
                              co-present within the text
paradigmatic relations        referring intertextually to words
                              absent from the text


• Lev Manovich:
narrative                syntagmatic dimension = explicit
                         paradigmatic dimension = implicit
database                 paradigmatic dimension = explicit, privileged
                         syntagmatic dimension = downplayed, dematerialized
III. Applying Database in Preservation and Archiving

• Database as structure for archiving art / context
    (Wayback Machine)


• Database as structure for archiving metadata about art
  and preservation approaches
     (Forging The Future Initiative, a working group of The Variable Media
    Network founded by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and the
    Daniel Langlois Foundation for Art, Science, and Technology; members
    include(d) the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive,
    Cleveland Performance Art Festival and Archive, the Walker Art Center,
    Franklin Furnace Archive, Rhizome.org, and the Whitney Museum of
    American Art)
Archiving Context


• If net art is intrinsically contextual—since it often makes
context its content through a process of linking—do
institutions need to archive its fluctuating context?

• The archiving of the context of net art would require a new
understanding of the archive as a living environment that
can itself adapt to the changing requirements of the
mutable “records” it contains.
The World's First Collaborative Sentence
                           Douglas Davis, 1994



Originally commissioned by the Lehman College Art Gallery, Bronx, New
York, in conjunction with "Interactions," its 1994 survey exhibition of the
artist's work




 With the assistance of Gary Welz,
 Robert Schneider, and Susan Hoeltzel
Preservation Challenges

• Nonfunctional Submission Form
In the process of migrating the work from the Lehman server to Whitney ones, crucial files (the
CGI script) powering the form that allowed users to contribute to the Sentence, were omitted.

• Large Text Size
Several pages of the Sentence included text that became increasingly large, eventually making
the browser slow down and rendering the work essentially unusable. This problem was caused by
online user contributions that were not properly formatted; while older browser versions
compensated for this issue and correctly displayed the text, newer ones showed increasingly
large letters.

• Link Rot
Many of the links that were contributed by visitors to the Sentence became obsolete over the
years (a process referred to as “link rot”), because the pages and files to which they were pointing
were moved or deleted.

• Garbled Korean Characters
Several pages of the Sentence appear as garbled characters, a problem caused by the fact that
the work was shown at the 1995 Gwangju Biennale in South Korea. The Korean character set did
not properly display in the browser because it was not defined in the header of the pages.
Live Version



• restores the work's functionality and allows visitors to contribute
  (PHP script replaces the original CGI)


• display of the work has been promoted to current standards
  (original HTML has been modified to include closing tags)


• original links and URLs posted by contributors were left “broken”
  (to point to the ephemeral nature of the Web)


• legibility of the Korean characters was not restored
Korean Character Set


• “garbage text” as it appears on many pages:
μ‚²oeËüüŽ ‚Í«ì«ô ÀË«Ì åŸ Ë ÕíË…¡’ËøËê‚„ ¡Ÿ¦ÖËí²oe¸Ë«ì«ô ¦‚ ÒÈé€Ò


• example of characters above written in their raw form in HTML:
╦л╠ хЯ ╦Н╒э╦ЕбТ ╦°╦ъВД бЯж╓╦э▓Ь╕╦льлЇ


• “garbage text” with encoding:
탞쿇劍􁪽 궼レヴ 읫ヌ 􁪽            􁪽 藜􁪽 죸 傑鋸굜 줋┶健쿇맷レヴ 쫩 蘆􁪽 􁪽 읒 잴
Historic Version




• leaves the code mainly untouched and shows work as it would
have been experienced from 1994-2005 when it stopped
functioning

• displays as it would have at the time of its creation
• links have been modified to copies of the original pages at the
Internet Archive's Wayback Machine

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Christiane Paul - Arquivando o contexto: estratégias de preservação para a net art (um estudo de caso)/ Archiving the context: strategies for preserving the web-based art (a case study)

  • 1. Information Curation and Database Aesthetics Archiving Context: Preservation Strategies for Net-based Art (A Case Study) Christiane Paul
  • 2. I. Defining Database Aesthetics II. Applying Database Aesthetics in Curation III. Applying Database in Archiving and Preservation
  • 3. I. Defining Database Aesthetics = the aesthetic principles applied in imposing the logic of the database to any type of information = filtering data collections = visualizing data [not the aesthetics of the database as structure itself] * database aesthetics as a conceptual potential and cultural form * a way of revealing (visual) patterns of knowledge, beliefs, and social behavior
  • 4. II. Applying Database (Aesthetics) in Curation • Presenting art projects relying on database aesthetics • Using databases in the presentation of art (as repositories of art; as structure for crowd curation)
  • 5. Wattenberg and Walczak, Apartment (installation sketch)
  • 6. Apartment at Ars Electronica, Linz Austria: 2 user stations, 2 projections (2D / 3D component), 1 archive station Apartment at Electrohype Festival, Sweden: 1 projection (2D) onto table
  • 7. George Legrady, Pockets Full of Memories
  • 8. runme software art repository (2003)
  • 9. Your Show Here, Mass MoCA (2001)
  • 10.
  • 11.
  • 12.
  • 13. Potentiality of Database - Semiotics of Database • Ferdinand de Saussure: syntagmatic relations referring intratextually to other words co-present within the text paradigmatic relations referring intertextually to words absent from the text • Lev Manovich: narrative syntagmatic dimension = explicit paradigmatic dimension = implicit database paradigmatic dimension = explicit, privileged syntagmatic dimension = downplayed, dematerialized
  • 14. III. Applying Database in Preservation and Archiving • Database as structure for archiving art / context (Wayback Machine) • Database as structure for archiving metadata about art and preservation approaches (Forging The Future Initiative, a working group of The Variable Media Network founded by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and the Daniel Langlois Foundation for Art, Science, and Technology; members include(d) the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Cleveland Performance Art Festival and Archive, the Walker Art Center, Franklin Furnace Archive, Rhizome.org, and the Whitney Museum of American Art)
  • 15.
  • 16.
  • 17. Archiving Context • If net art is intrinsically contextual—since it often makes context its content through a process of linking—do institutions need to archive its fluctuating context? • The archiving of the context of net art would require a new understanding of the archive as a living environment that can itself adapt to the changing requirements of the mutable “records” it contains.
  • 18. The World's First Collaborative Sentence Douglas Davis, 1994 Originally commissioned by the Lehman College Art Gallery, Bronx, New York, in conjunction with "Interactions," its 1994 survey exhibition of the artist's work With the assistance of Gary Welz, Robert Schneider, and Susan Hoeltzel
  • 19. Preservation Challenges • Nonfunctional Submission Form In the process of migrating the work from the Lehman server to Whitney ones, crucial files (the CGI script) powering the form that allowed users to contribute to the Sentence, were omitted. • Large Text Size Several pages of the Sentence included text that became increasingly large, eventually making the browser slow down and rendering the work essentially unusable. This problem was caused by online user contributions that were not properly formatted; while older browser versions compensated for this issue and correctly displayed the text, newer ones showed increasingly large letters. • Link Rot Many of the links that were contributed by visitors to the Sentence became obsolete over the years (a process referred to as “link rot”), because the pages and files to which they were pointing were moved or deleted. • Garbled Korean Characters Several pages of the Sentence appear as garbled characters, a problem caused by the fact that the work was shown at the 1995 Gwangju Biennale in South Korea. The Korean character set did not properly display in the browser because it was not defined in the header of the pages.
  • 20. Live Version • restores the work's functionality and allows visitors to contribute (PHP script replaces the original CGI) • display of the work has been promoted to current standards (original HTML has been modified to include closing tags) • original links and URLs posted by contributors were left “broken” (to point to the ephemeral nature of the Web) • legibility of the Korean characters was not restored
  • 21. Korean Character Set • “garbage text” as it appears on many pages: μ‚²oeËüüŽ ‚Í«ì«ô ÀË«Ì åŸ Ë ÕíË…¡’ËøËê‚„ ¡Ÿ¦ÖËí²oe¸Ë«ì«ô ¦‚ ÒÈé€Ò • example of characters above written in their raw form in HTML: ╦л╠ хЯ ╦Н╒э╦ЕбТ ╦°╦ъВД бЯж╓╦э▓Ь╕╦льлЇ • “garbage text” with encoding: 탞쿇劍􁪽 궼レヴ 읫ヌ 􁪽 􁪽 藜􁪽 죸 傑鋸굜 줋┶健쿇맷レヴ 쫩 蘆􁪽 􁪽 읒 잴
  • 22. Historic Version • leaves the code mainly untouched and shows work as it would have been experienced from 1994-2005 when it stopped functioning • displays as it would have at the time of its creation • links have been modified to copies of the original pages at the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine