Tuesday, February 16, 2010

CHIN Digital Heritage Symposium - Part 4

Connecting in the Museum
Paul Loke – Senior Assistant Director of Computing & Information Systems, National Heritage Board of Singapore

The NHB is working to increase visitor numbers by enhancing the museum experience through the following means:
  1. Wireless internet – available free throughout all NHB museums (except in the bathrooms), with free public terminals.  This encouraged people to visit and stay longer, and also for teachers to research and conduct lessons in the museums.
  2. Interactive panels – an increase in interactive exhibits provides extra layers of content, encouraging children to experiment and learn.
  3. Gaming – designs tied to exhibit themes and used to increase the interest and hold attention of younger audiences.
  4. Audio-visual guides – optional guides that can be downloaded to cell phones or other PDAs
  5. 3D tours – an archive of exhibits are online for people who missed visiting them in person
  6. SGCool – NHBs online repository of artifacts and art, allowing people to view Singapore’s cultural treasures from anywhere in the world

Connecting in the Communities through Research
Graham Larkin – National Gallery of Canada

The gallery has been working on reconciling artworks in their collection that contain a gap in provenance, particularly when the gap falls in Europe during World War II.  Of all of the research that has been conducted, only one artwork has had to be returned to the rightful owner.  They hope that three things come out of this work:
  1. database of Nazi-era restitution art for provenance research
  2. information on how to care for and address artworks with a gap in provenance
  3. in-depth stories of the history of individual works will be shared

Digital Archive for Materials and Methods of Construction
Stephen Fai – Carleton University

Carleton has started a project to document ethno-cultural building practices in Canada, with the end goal being a culturally nuanced database that can be used in research work.  To pilot the project they focused on religious buildings as these would be the last to be culturally assimilated.  As these buildings are all aging and undergoing repairs and renovations, documentation of techniques and materials must be done before this information is lost.  Along with digital photographic images, the database will incorporate hand drawings, sketches and autocad drawings.  More information can be found at www.cims.carleton.ca.

Reciprocal Research Network
Susan Rowley – Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver

The RRN is a partnership project between the Museum of Anthropology, the Musqueam Indian Band, the Stó:lō Nation/Tribal Council, and the U’mista Cultural Society.  Operating as an online portal to BC First Nations material culture, the website allows communities to build projects, collaborate, record stories, upload files, hold discussions, research museum objects and create social networks.  One of the driving forces of this project is the wide dispersal of Northwest Coast native material culture, especially those items that were removed in the 1800s and early 1900s and are now housed in museums around the world.  The RRN allows for the reconnection of these with the original communities, providing a circular sharing of knowledge and information.  Research projects can be completely customized, being open to the public or kept private between one or two individuals.  For more information, visit www.rrnpilot.org.

Panel: Connecting in Communities – Digital Art

Ready or Not – Trials and Triumphs of Supporting the Production and Presentation of Digital Art
Liane Davison – Manager, Surrey Art Gallery

The Gallery has been establishing itself as an innovation institution in terms of digital art.  They host family days, artist talks, and have a technology lab with an artist-in-resident.  In creating the artist-in-residence program they worked with artists to build a space that was tech-friendly and allowed for collaboration on development and installation of exhibits. 

Technology lab:
This space is dedicated to continually presenting digital art, and consists of acoustic walls, soundproof unbreakable glass, linoleum flooring, high ceilings with accessible trusses, two networks with multiple ports, three lighting systems and natural light, a lockable door controlled only by the artist-in-residence.  It serves as an adjunct to the exhibit hall which also has a youth media gallery, recognizing kids` desire for creating digital art.

DOCAM – Documentation and Conservation of the Media Arts Heritage
Alain Depocas – Daniel Langlois Foundation

This project is a highly multi-disciplinary project that uses a multi-focus approach which includes documentation, conservation, cataloguing, terminology, technology and pedagogy.  Case studies will also be included.  It will look at the specific characteristics of new media works as they are often variable, unstable, location sensitive, performed, interactive, generative, non-linear, multimedia, open, hybrid, interconnected, networked, processual, collaborative, coded, and dynamic.

The question for museums becomes, ``what to preserve?``  Traditionally the need has only been to keep the object, but these new digital artworks require the keeping of the object, its functions and relations.  New documentation must be done in order to capture a functional description, user/visitor interaction, links and relations between components, and the pacing or rhythm of the piece.  This inevitably raises questions about authenticity and integrity.  A criteria must be set as these notions will never be perceived in the same way by artists, conservators, curators, etc.

Results of this project are that 5 tools have been created, outlining the functional requirements for bibliographic records.
  1. Work – recognized as a distinct intellectual or artistic creation
  2. Expression – the intellectual or artistic realization of the work
  3. Manifestation – the physical embodiment of expression
  4. Item – the single exemplar of manifestation

A cataloguing guide is currently being developed and will be available on CHIN`s website in the professional exchange.

Sara Diamond – President, Ontario College of Art and Design

Horizon0 was a collaboration between the Banff New Media Institute and Canadian Heritage, providing editorial commentary on the trickle down effects of Canadian new media art and invention to larger cultural industries.  It contains a deep and growing bank of current and recent knowledge about Canadian new media art, culture and invention and the institutions that made it possible.

The website is attempting to position itself as the vehicle to popularize Canadian scholarship on new media culture and technology.  It is a bilingual, national web portal that takes a unique approach and issue.  Navigation is guided by aesthetics and coherence, and it is accessible in flash and text versions. 

Originally it was anticipated that the big budget and high quality portal would be hosted by or linked to the Canadian online portal.  This fell through when a sustainability strategy could not be determined.  Horizon0 has recently returned with CodeLive as a relaunch and new issue.

Panel Question & Answer:
What should we preserve?
We need many different types of collections, mandates, and curators so in the future we will have a broad range of information.  This must include the documentation of the process of cultural networks, not just the art works themselves.  We need collective strategies and more dialogue.

How can museums serve a generation without memories based in objects and physicality?
We need to give up the authority of the museum.  We`ll always be looking for innovative solutions to issues of relevancy.  This is part of our heritage as museums and there is no real answer.

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