Three-year pilot project launched to archive Norwegian media art
In 2007 the Arts Council Norway published the report “í… bevare det flyktige” (On preserving the ephemeral), which painted a sad picture of the archival state of affairs for Norwegian video art. At present Norway has no infrastructure in place for the systematic collection, conservation, archiving and mediation of video art. It is against this background that the Arts Council announced in March 2011 a pilot project for the safeguarding and archiving of Norwegian video art, furnished with a budget of 3 million NKR (1.2 million euros) per annum. In September 2011 the organization PNEK (Production Network for Electronic Art) was awarded the contract to execute the project.
PNEK is able to draw here on its previous experience and its existing network of regional nodes and international partners. The network model forms the fulcrum for the concept. The goals cited in the project proposal include tackling the following steps and tasks:
– Research, collection and digitization
– Development of a database with a suitable interface and keyword functions (metatagging)
– Involvement of institutions, curators and freelance participants to build an “˜open culture’
– International mediation
– Development of a research strategy
The first step is to collect and conserve early video art. The originals of analogue data carriers (videotapes) are to be saved, but their content also digitized for further use. PNEK works for this purpose with Norgesfilm, a company with film archive experience, and with the Dutch Media Institute NIMK.
The object of the collecting efforts, incidentally, is media art in the broadest sense. This includes, among other things, film art, installations, sound art, performance, Web art and computer-based works.
All works are to be catalogued in a database, accompanied by metadata on each title. This metadata comprises texts, reviews, photographs, technical details and other information important for later research or mediation work.
With respect to the complex copyright issues, PNEK intends to proceed according to the watchword “Digitize first, ask questions later”. This does not apply to the distribution of the works, however, which is to take place only after obtaining the consent of their makers/owners. During the three-year pilot project, no works or rights to works are to be purchased. The focus will initially be only on digitally archiving, researching and mediating media art. As far as possible, works are to be placed online on various channels – in cooperation with GAMA, among others.
The network concept also involves making the evolving archive available to as many interested parties as possible – whether institutions, organizations, artists or curators, in Norway and abroad – for their own presentations or exhibitions. Part of the budget is explicitly earmarked for mediation projects. The archive itself intends to curate four smaller exhibition projects and one larger one each year, to be offered both in Norway and abroad.
Another emphasis is on the theoretical address of issues surrounding video and media art and their relationship to other areas of the arts. Associated academic research is to be carried out within the scope of the project.
PNEK itself is organized as a foundation with distinct nodes and distributed organizational structures. Accordingly, the various tasks required for the archive are to be delegated or carried out decentrally. Atelier Nord in Oslo is to be put in charge of the collection work and physical archiving. The vision for the future is that the Norwegian National Library would eventually acquire and take over running the archive.