It’s not a Dynamic Database… It’s a Dead Collection?

Photo by Anne Helmond.

It’s Not a Dead Collection, it’s a Dynamic Database

Now that museums, distributors and TV channels have put their collections online, what is the next phase for these digitalized archives? How can ‘the audience’ be involved in order to avoid a dead online collection with zero comments? Moreover, what forms of social dynamism can be critically forged in the default rush towards greater participation? How to jump through the hoops of copyright legislation, format compatibility and the spatial culture of consumption and production? Who controls the database, and what are the different ethics involved in putting up content from artist collections to indigenous material? Once collaboration comes into play, what impact do conflicting skill sets, different modes of knowledge production and varying social desires have?

Moderator: Rachel Somers Miles (CA/NL)

Arjon Dunnewind (NL)
Impakt Channel: Content with Context
YouTube might be an incredible tool when it comes to reaching worldwide audiences, but when it comes to creating context it’s performing poorly to say the least. Information on basic facts is often lacking and background information, curatorial statements and critics’ interpretations are a rarity. Can YouTube be used as a tool that not only gives visibility but also insight and reflection? Or is it better to move away from this hype-dominated environment and establish new platforms that are dedicated to quality? And how to generate traffic to these platforms? With the Impakt Channel, the Impakt Festival Utrecht is researching these questions and is experimenting with formats to find the best way to make high quality video content available to viewers around the globe.

Sandra Fauconnier (NL/BE)
Mediating Video Art Online
The Netherlands Media Art Institute (NIMk) in Amsterdam is a distributor of a large collection of video and media art. The changing landscape of online video and of internet culture in general challenges NIMk to redefine its video distribution activities and the way it represents and mediates video art online. In the course of 2010 NIMk has researched the user communities of its collection, in the context of the research project Culture Vortex. Next, NIMk’s online catalogue will be redesigned in 2011, aiming to make the collection more lively and participatory, and of opening up more video art to a wider audience. What will be NIMk’s issues and strategies in this area, taking into account the diverse perspectives that video artists take towards video art online, and the role of curators and professionals?

Mél Hogan (CA)
It’s not a Dynamic Database… It’s a Dead Collection?
This presentation surveys Canada’s three largest online video art repositories, all of which encountered severe setbacks in defining, creating, and maintaining an online presence. Of the three, two remain indefinitely defunct, traceable only through the Internet Archive Wayback Machine and local files stored at the various organisations. These examples serve as a case study and springboard into discussions about the larger issues that surround the context of online video art archives, nationally and beyond. Reversing the conference theme “It’s not a Dead Collection, it’s a Dynamic Database” this paper is intended as a provocation about the potential and limitations—dynamism or death—of the web within an archival framework.

Teague Schneiter (US/CA)
Digital ≠ Accessible: Improving Access and Facilitating Use of Indigenous Content with IsumaTV’s Hi-speed MediaPlayers
Historically there has been a problematic relationship between heritage institutions and indigenous cultural heritage, because indigenous people have not been afforded ownership and management rights of their own materials. By adapting existing technologies and acting as a middleman between heritage institutions and communities that desire content to be digitally repatriated, indigenous multimedia platform IsumaTV attempts to provide the technological infrastructure, such as their network of MediaPlayers (server networks) that allow low-bandwidth indigenous communities an equal opportunity to participate, to improve access and usability to Inuit content. Video archives can be uploaded and online for teaching, learning, sharing and strengthening language and culture. IsumaTV seeks to encourage (and build relationships with) indigenous communities and cultural heritage museums and repositories, indigenous language-speakers and participatory media organizations, to embrace more open and participatory paradigms, whilst enabling those that ‘own’ the content to be able to call the shots.

Catrien Schreuder (NL)
ArtTube: Museum Boijmans van Beuningen
In October 2009 Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen launched ArtTube, an online video channel broadcasting videos about art, design and exhibitions at the museum. From the beginning it grew quickly, and at present, contains about one hundred videos produced by the museum, and visited by about 14,000 viewers each month. Initiated as an educational platform, ArtTube is intended to translate, in an accessible way, specialist information present in the museum’s organization, and through the highly popular medium of online video disseminate more of what’s happening at the museum. In her talk Catrien Schreuder will present the website and discuss its aims and possibilities. She will evaluate the experiences with this new educational tool in its first year of existence, offering a look behind the scenes, but also giving insight in the main questions and challenges arising for the near future.

Annelies Termeer (NL)
Presentation title
Presentation abstract

Blogged here:


Providing Context
– system of notes within videos
– short video documentaries about collections
– short ‘behind-the-scenes’ videos about organizations
– introductory texts for video
– artist biography/videography
– links to personal artists sites
– central repository for video art or organization-based repositories
– using multiple platforms simultaneously (having a channel on YouTube for reach + own website for context)
– link to offline/’real’ public events
– digitizing old works, showcased alongside new works on website

Facilitating Participation
– encouraging established artist to upload full length videos on the web
– artist-driven profile (where they can manage their own ‘accounts’)
– share/embed functions, including twitter, facebook, personal websites, etc.
– develop API to export collection to other sites
– open/public tagging
– permit the creation of ‘playlists’ for public curation (that can be saved)
– moderated or open commenting
– invite model for contribution (like gmail invites) / artist as curator
– open call for submissions vs. curated/selected calls
– moderation and expert respondents/guest commenters
– creating a CSM as template for other organizations to use independently or collaboratively
– video remix as critical responses to video
– showcasing web-based portal into public events and festivals
– addressing different audiences – researchers, specialist, artists, curators, general public
– thinking about deployment for mobile/potable devices (apps?)
– institutional Tweets
– geotagging

Other Questions
– video as clips or full length art videos?
– should video online be free, but be paid for (if) in a curated context?
– what constitute a curated context online?
– funding (online) via donations or pay system? other options?
– licensing – copyright as default or creative commons options?
– focus on quality over # of hits?
– maintain close relationship to artist in order to share ‘ownership’ of collection
– metadata (if and how?)
– collaboration and partners (corporate, art-based, academic, etc?)
– creating layers of access (something different for curators, artists, general public, educators, etc)?
– scarcity as a business model, is this only possible if limited edition videos (remain offline?)
– video formats and codecs (open vs. proprietary / html5 vs. Flash)
– creating ‘archives’ template for organisations to use/share-using open source CMS (Drupal, WordPress, Cargo Collective) vs. custom made sites
– sustainability