Archival Turn: Toward New Ways of Conceptualising Changeable Artworks

Hölling, Hanna Barbara (2015). Archival Turn: Toward New Ways of Conceptualising Changeable Artworks In: Smits, Raitis; Manovich, Lev (eds.) Data Drift: Archiving Media And Data Art In The 21st Century (pp. 73-81). Riga: RIXC and Liepaja’s University, Art Research Lab

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As inherently changeable artworks, computer-based installations are amongst the most demanding when it comes to their continuation, perpetuation and muzealisation. And yet, up to now, this topic has attracted little attention in the specialist literature, essentially due to gaps in professional training in the area of technology-based art and a requirement for in-depth interdisciplinary collaboration. Computer-based works may exist in a number of different versions, variations, and clones, pushing the boundaries of the traditional paradigms of museum collecting, archiving, and conservation practices, and questioning what has for so long been understood as a static, stable, and fixed “object.” The existent variants of a work may generate variations and further developments that are not necessarily associated with one another or that might only be loosely connected with the artist’s initial idea. Instead of determining an artwork, its conservation or recovery may lead to the fabrication of yet further versions. Computer-based works also provoke the most arduous disputes among professionals regarding the limits of their classification, as well as the display aesthetics and preservation standards. Next to the conservators, archivists, and curators, the artists, too, become caretakers and even decision-makers that shape the work long after it enters a museum collection and then reaches its presupposed stability. The archival turn suggests a radical change in the conceptualization of these artworks, with consequences for the normative framework of conservation that had long been compliant with museum practices related to conventional, apparently static artifacts.

Item Type:

Book Section (Book Chapter)


Bern Academy of the Arts
Bern Academy of the Arts > Institute Materiality in Art and Culture
Bern Academy of the Arts > Institute Materiality in Art and Culture > Contemporary Art and Media


Hölling, Hanna Barbara0000-0002-3063-4405;
Smits, Raitis and
Manovich, Lev


N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
T Technology > T Technology (General)




RIXC and Liepaja’s University, Art Research Lab




Hanna Barbara Hölling

Date Deposited:

13 Sep 2023 12:56

Last Modified:

13 Sep 2023 12:56

Related URLs:

Uncontrolled Keywords:

media, conservation




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