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How much is too much? How to know when to stop documenting on the CRUMB Discussion List

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How much is too much? How to know when to stop documenting

May theme of the month: How much is too much? How to know when to stop documenting
CRUMB Discussion List

When we think of recent concerns raised by curators regarding the importance of learning how to collect new media art if there is to be any hope of preserving it, we look to documentation as an invaluable and essential tool to assist with curatorial activities such as preservation, display, installation and providing contextual information. In her 1951 publication, What is Documentation? librarian and documentalist Suzanne Briet (1894- 1989) viewed documentation as a ‘cultural technique’ that ‘addresses the needs of individual cultures of scientific disciplines and scholarly production, for the rapid and efficient delivery of documents toward scientific and scholarly advancement’. [1] Aware of the importance of standards, collaboration, and interoperability, but at that time unaware of the impact of technology upon art, her manifesto is regarded now, by some, as a ‘necessity for our time’.

Following on from Briet’s observation, Annet Dekker has broken down the purpose of documentation in the context of new media artworks into seven comprehensive sections as well as questioning what happens to it after it has been produced:

‘First, documentation produced for publicity and presentation; second, for purposes of reconstruction or preservation; third, for describing processual changes in the appearance of a work; fourth, for developing an aesthetical and/or a historical “framework” or reference; fifth, for educational purposes; sixth, for capturing audience experiences; and seventh, for capturing the creative or working process of the artist(s)’. [2]

As researchers, professionals, and promoters of collecting, displaying, and preserving new media art, we are all too aware of the role that documentation plays to ensure the demystification of the longevity of artworks, but how do we know when to stop? Can we become too involved with noting every single instruction, procedure, and detail so much that the documentation takes over the integrity of the original artwork? Does it become part of the artwork?

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TitleHow much is too much? How to know when to stop documenting on the CRUMB Discussion List
Date1/05/2131/05/21
Website
Degree of recognitionInternational event