LI-MA case studies: Six interviews with Geert Mul

Published on: 06-02-2018

LI-MA – Geert Mul Case Studies Six interviews with Geert Mul (synopsis 11 minutes) – Shan Shui (2013) – Random Access Memories (2008-present) – Match of the Day (2004-present) – The Library of Babel (2003) – This Land is Man-Made (2000) – Toen en Nu (1990

Future Proof Media Art – Case Studies – Artist Geert Mul

As part of the Future Proof project, LIMA’s research team of art conservation, documentation, technology, digital engineering, and sound and video production experts have been working intently to conduct a large-scale investigation into documentation and preservation approaches of complex software-based and interactive media artworks in order to define an artwork script to guide future presentation. At the basis of this research is 10 works by Dutch media artist Geert Mul who has been making media artworks for over 25 years, and whose significant retrospective exhibition at Stedelijk Museum Schiedam in November 2016 was a perfect opportunity to re-stage and refurbish a large body of work dating back to 1990. Furthermore, the exhibition acted as fertile ground upon which to use these 10 artworks as case studies to explore and develop an “artwork script” for the documentation and preservation of complex born-digital (interactive) installations. While there are a few earlier cases, it is certainly since 2003 that Geert has been invested in exploring the power of images and developing databases and algorithms as tools to investigate and handle them.

The 10 artworks selected resulted in 7 case studies: Toen en Nu (1990), This Land is Man-Made (2000), The Library of Babel (2003), God’s Browser (2010) and Match of the Day (2004-2008) resulted in individual case studies; Data Architecture (2003), The Order of Things (2005) and Random Access Memories (2008-present) are discussed in a combined case study as they share the same software and interface for configuring the specific set-up of each work; and the artworks Horizons (2008) and Shan Shui (2013) which share the same software but different image database are being investigated by PhD candidate of the University of Amsterdam Claudia Roeck as part of her dissertation.

For each artwork case study, LIMA developed an artist documentation package, or “artwork script” as we’re calling it. This package includes a series of activities and their resulting materials that together form a complete artwork script that enables the artist to manage their artwork over time, and creates a consolidated body of information that can be shared with museums, galleries and collectors. The actions and activities that makeup the artwork script include: doing a complete system backup of the computer the artwork is housed on; source code and programme backups; confirming software specifications; confirming hardware specifications and creating wiring diagrams; developing installation instructions and on/off protocol for the artwork; developing an interactivity script that describes the behavior and timing of the interactive works; conducting in-depth artist interviews to understand the work’s history, concept, context, functioning and behaviour, etc; creating a video registration that offers an impression of the artwork, its behavior and how one interacts with it, with the artist standing in to describe these things; and researching previously published materials on the artist and artwork (text, video, audio). Much of this information is translated into a report stored alongside the video registration and connected to the system and software backups stored in LIMA’s digital repository.

The full constellation of actions and activities that makes up the artwork script for each individual work is required in order to develop a thorough understanding of the work in terms of its historical and conceptual context as well as specifications around software, technology, exhibition space and installation in order to understand its needs for preservation and future presentations.

Below you will find the titles of the artworks with a link to the summary of the case study. The full case study reports, together with the video registration for each case study, will be uploaded in the autumn.

Please email should you like to receive the case studies upon their publishing.