Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Aaa, sdafsda, sxjhk hfjk asfjkl. What reminds of onomatopoeia or a poem by Ernst Jandl, are actually tags that can be found as descriptive metadata in archives of Media Art. They describe and depict the contents of these archives. I call these words magical because they conjure up works and knowledge from the depths of the archive. Magical also, because who but a magician would know about the “spell” sxjhk hfjk asfjkl? What and if we actually find something in an archive significantly depends on the quality and accessibility of the descriptive metadata assigned to the artworks.

“Word magic” provides insights into hystorical and current attempts to capture ephemeral Media Art via descriptive metadata and thus create a system of order. Methods and contraptions for the linguistic extraction of essential qualities are discussed; and prospective cures and damages of different terminology models examined (the “majikal rites” of experts culture vs the “digital punk approach” of open public tagging). What is lost and what is gained with different documenting strategies is core to this investigation.

In analyzing existing archives and their strategies, I contrast open and closed approaches to documenting Media Art and the effects on knowledge creation. Throughout my research, I identify the closure of archival database systems as a main problem. The question of opening up these processes to or closing them from the public is at core a political issue. It exceeds the limits of Media Art and sheds a light on the value of openness in society at large and on how accessibility of knowledge shaped and shapes specific societies. In addition to a critique of and an alternative to current approaches, I suggest models of openness, such as Wittgenstein's Sprachspiel (language-game) as more functionally fitting the task of describing evolving knowledge and culture.

published in "mind and matter. comparative approaches towards complexity", transcript verlag, 2011

link to the online version

Friday, November 5, 2010

media art ghosts

seminal media art histories texts are databend and sonified.

so far the media art ghosts series includes:
  • vannevar bush's "as we may think"
  • donna haraway's "a cyborg manifesto"
  • william s. burrough and brion gysin's "the third mind"
  • michel foucault's "archaeology of knowledge"

media art ghosts by nina wenhart

in my appropriations of these texts, i only use sources found online and in various formats. the remixes are then fed back into the public domain. i thereby want to make a statement about open access to digital cultural heritage and express my approach to archiving as an active process.

this series is inspired by all of the above mentioned texts, especially by the following quote from "the third mind":
Any narrative passage or any passage, say, of poetic images is subject to any number of variations, all of which may be interesting and valid in their own right. A page of Rimbaud cut up and rearranged will give you quite new images. Rimbaud images—real Rimbaud images—but new ones.