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20 8 Christiane Paul (2006) New Media Art and Institutional Critique: Networks vs. Institutions. In Institutional Critique and After: SoCCAS Symposium Vol. II, edited by John C. Welchman. Zurich: JRP|Ringier Kunstverlag AG. 9 Hans Haacke’s work is concerned with issues that are at the core of postmodern investigations – the nature of art as institution, the authorship of the artist, the social behaviour of the art world, the network of cultural policies such as the role and function of the museum, the critic, and the public, and many other sociological issues.

and of itself.8 There are few new media works that position themselves as institutional critique in the way Hans Haacke’s projects did, for example.9 But the nature of new media art runs counter to the infrastructure of museums in many ways: the medium itself and the decentralisation it entails; the fact that most digital art doesn’t rely on the museum and gallery to be ‘distributed’ to the public; the question of authorship – very often digital works are created by collaborative teams, or artists create a framework and the artwork is then executed by the audience. I remember once listing all the programmers and collaborators involved in a project on the draft for the exhibition label, and during the editing the names were cut because, as the argument went, ‘we just don’t have that much space on a museum label to list them all’. New media doesn’t necessarily support the ‘single star’ system of the traditional art world. Collaboration in art is not new, but it is important to remember that earlier collaborative artworks also faced difficulties in being accepted by the art world. New media art runs counter to museum infrastructures in so many ways, from the ‘materiality’ or rather ‘immateriality’ of the work and the question of what constitutes the art object, to open modes of creation and distribution systems that do not rely on the white cube. The structure and organisation of museums will need to change if they want to accommodate this art.

At the same time, if digital art has already built its infrastructures and audiences, why should it want to be in the museum? Where, or what, does it need the museum for? The answer to this question relates more to the writing of art history than to art and artists’ need for the museum. Indeed, digital art is doing fine; it is commissioned and increasingly accepted within society at large; many works,

10 For more information about Scott Snibbe see

Scott Snibbe’s apps, for example, are reaching a wider audience than they ever would if they had been exhibited solely in the museum system.10 But if digital media is not considered in relation to more traditional art forms, we’re constructing two different kinds of art history. What happens to art history if digital artworks cannot be seen

Speculative Scenarios — Edited by Annet Dekker  

There is a growing understanding of the use of technological tools for dissemination or mediation in the museum, but artistic experiences th...

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