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Documenting Performance and Digital Art. The tension between professional and audience documentation, and its integration in museum archives.

KIEM Research Grant Annet Dekker

Performances and digital art (PDA) have been notoriously difficult for museums to handle. Despite the ‘easy’ presentation, the non-materiality of the artform challenges a museum’s conventional practice. This project will focus on solving the professional challenge of how documentation is created and consequently its integration in collection archives can be achieved. While the resistance to documentation has a long history, now that everyone documents everything, i.e. documentation has become ubiquitous and circulates through multiple layers of hardware, software and code into different cultural and social corners, its function has changed and it is slowly acknowledged that it has the potential to transform into something other than a representation of a specific moment. Harnessing the potential in digital and networking technologies to move beyond conventional object-based documentation practices, this project will identify best practice for the documentation of PDA. Moreover, this project will also place the expanded audience documentation at the core of its framework as it will offer innovative solutions for documenting PDA. Starting with the documentation practice of two distinct organisations invested in the legacy of PDA, Stedelijk Museum and LIMA, the aim of the project is to produce guidelines as well as new research questions on the value of documentation and analyse existing archival methods which can serve as the basis to support museums in archiving such documentation as well as that of their visitors, herewith also addressing the dispersed nature of the creation, presentation and (re)use or (re)interpretation of PDA.