Still Water Senior Researcher John Bell presents the third-generation Variable Media Questionnaire at the 2010 International Symposium on Electronic Art.
Hosted by the Inter Media Art Institute of Dusseldorf (imai), the symposium “Still Accessible? Rethinking the Preservation of Media Art” gathered experts from organizations such as the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and Netherlands Media Art Institute for a conversation on best practices for rescuing contemporary media art from oblivion.
As Bell writes in his introduction:
The Third Edition Variable Media Questionnaire (VMQ3) is an information system based on a seemingly paradoxical goal: it seeks to preserve artworks by describing how they can be changed. Implicit in this goal is the acknowledgement that the physical components of any artwork, regardless of medium, will eventually degrade and lose their power; the only variable is time. Unlike a traditional museum collection management system that takes a physical artifact to be the point of greatest fixity in an artwork and thus focuses on preserving the artifact, the VMQ3 suggests that there are other aspects of an artwork that may be at least as important to preserve as the artifact itself. If the traditional system is premised on a fixed physical artifact, the VMQ3 is premised on a fixed experience of an artwork.
Bell is the lead developer on the Variable Media Questionnaire, which is available to artists and arts professionals as a free Web service at VariableMediaQuestionnaire.net. Potential users can experiment with a free demo version available at this site, or request a free account to add real works from their collection to the Questionnaire.
TOP LEFT: Synchronous Objects Project by the William Forsythe Company and Ohio State University, ISEA 2010.