The Symposium on Media Libraries, in the 'Artnodes' magazine

This monograph is the result of the 1st International Symposium on Media Libraries and Archives for the 21st Century, orginsed by LABoral in May last year.

Published: Apr 07, 2011
The Symposium on Media Libraries, in the 'Artnodes' magazine

The front page of the magazine 'Artnodes'

The Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, UOC, in collaboration with LABoral Centro de Arte y Creación Industrial, has published a new edition of the digital journal, Artnodes, dedicated to reflecting on the change in archive models in artistic and cultural centres in the information society age. New, emerging artistic practices, along with the opportunities offered by digital technologies and the internet, lay behind the radical change in archive models in the context of contemporary art and culture, leading to a reassessment of some of the established processes in museums and cultural and art centres.

The publication of this monograph is the result of the 1st International Symposium on Media Libraries and Archives for the 21st Century held in May last year in Gijón. This forum, organised by LABoral, brought together prominent directors from artistic and cultural centres, both national and international, and part of their contributions are published in this edition.

In addition, it is a further step in the ongoing collaboration between LABoral and UOC towards developing a joint formative programme, presently reflected in the postgraduate, Cultural Innovation: the arts, digital media and popular culture. With this course, both institutions aim to provide the necessary tools to understand and take part in present-day culture from an interdisciplinary perspective, in connection with the main debates in arts, humanities, communication and social sciences on an international scale.

Rethinking the model

This edition of the Artnodes journal, which analyses the intersections between art, science and technology, examines in detail what it means to archive, conserve and document art and culture nowadays with the opportunities offered by digital technologies, alongside the challenge of creating specific ways of archiving to include digitally-supported artistic practice or other types of emerging technologies that involve a high level of experimentation and, quite frequently, obsolescence.

The co-ordinator of the monograph, Pau Alsina, points out how “today’s cultural institutions face the challenge of producing archives that are open, dynamic, flexible, agile, net-connected, transformable and modifiable, yet at the same time, solid and capable of responding to the needs and current demands of their users, who are now no longer solely specialists but also the general public”.

In turn, LABoral director, Rosina Gómez-Baeza explains “the generation of inclusive dynamics, the fostering of collaborative processes through the opening of codes, the creation of protocols for dialogue with institutions sharing the same goals up to a point that synergies unimaginable in pre-digital times emerge; this is a task requiring an ongoing exchange of ideas and proposals”.

The opinion of renowned experts

Leading experts involved in the directing of prestigious international centres contributed to this edition. In their essays they reflect on what it entails nowadays to archive and conserve art and culture; on how it should be carried out, and at the same time, take inspiration from the ways archives are dealt with beyond the main artistic and cultural institutions.

Along these lines, Alex Adriaansens, Director of Amsterdam´s V2, explores in his article to what extent the idea of archives is being transformed, making it necessary to reassess their role in institutions.  The way we structure, organise and process information in archives shapes our understanding of the past, present and future. Similarly, Mike Stubbs, Director of FACT in Liverpool, reflects on the challenges arising from digital culture and art; the need to build narratives from an abundance of data, the role of the viewer and the infinite capacity for storage are some of the subjects explored in his article.

Additionally, Jesús Carrillo, Director of Activities at Madrid’s Reina Sofia Museum, contributes with his reflections on the confirmation of the crisis in narrations that maintained the current role and function of museums in our society. A further article, contributed by Alessandro Ludovico, editor of the journal Neural, highlights the current void on the internet of information prior to 1994, and how the content of this information is gradually re-emerging in digital format. Finally, bringing the monograph to a close, Attila Marton of the London School of Economics shares his observations on how digital objects have become more technological operations than fixed entities.

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