Medienkunst: Zeit, Materialität, Authentizität

When: 17 November 2017, 18.00–19.30 pm, afterwards aperitif
Where: SIK-ISEA, Zollikerstrasse 32 (near Kreuzplatz), CH-8032 Zurich


Participation is free of charge, no registration required. The presentation will be given in German.

Speech by Dr. Hanna B. Hölling, Lecturer in Art History and Material Studies, University College London

Medienkunst: Zeit, Materialität, Authentizität

«In the future, the only artwork that will survive will have no gravity at all» maintained Nam June Paik, the acclaimed father of video art, in1980. He speculated that the art of the future, once liberated from the gravity of its material, will lack a «preservable» aspect. Paik’s prophetic statement seems to reflect the reality confronted by the many institutions and private collectors acquiring, displaying and preserving media artworks.

Media artworks based on film and video technologies confront us with the vulnerability and instability of their physical carriers and visual contents. The hybrid combinations of display and playback technologies characteristic for media installation differ markedly from the majority of traditional artworks such as painting and sculpture by refusing to conform to the traditional collecting, archiving and musealization processes. Changeable by nature, these works question the established views considering what an artwork is, or might be, what is being exhibited and preserved, and what enters the realm of cultural memory.

How to grapple with the well-rooted paradigms of material authenticity that for centuries embodied the artwork’s value? How much change is allowed before the artwork loses its identity and ceases to be recognized as the same piece? How can change in artworks be better understood in relation to time? Last but not least, how to conserve the unconservable or, in other words, what is the future of media art?

Engaging with the notions of time, materiality, archive, Hölling aims to reconsider the standard assumptions about the conservation of artworks in general, and media artworks in particular. By introducing the concept of temporal materiality, she challenges the idea of an enduring object and a linear, ready-made temporality that for decades underpinned conservation. To illustrate her thoughts, Hölling will present iterant multimedia installations from her recent book Paik’s Virtual Archive: Time, Change, and Materiality in Media Art published by University of California Press in February 2017.