Data sheet (Document):
|Type of document
2- Documentation of media art
Observer: Vanessa Sparks
NewArtTv produces videos on contemporary art, which are then available to view on their website. NewArtTv is the brainchild of Robert Knafo, an independent curator and art critic based out of New York. The content of the videos range from studio visits with artists, gallery openings, and art fairs. They usually run from 3 to 12 minutes and there are currently 65 videos available to view. It is not a unique site; Life/StyleTV, Artinfo , artreview.com, Vernissage Tv , and James Kalm’s YouTube videos all feature videos with similar subject matter albeit with varying approaches and features. Thinking of NewArtTv in the context of documenting and preserving contemporary art, including new media artworks, prompts a number of questions:
Do these videos document and preserve artworks? Does it matter that they may not be created to do so? What is the viewer experiencing when they watch a video of a gallery opening, for example? Is the experience of watching a video of a gallery opening an authentic experience of the event and the artwork? Are the videos essentially creating an archive?
Consider the video of the Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery booth at the Scope Art Fair, a gallery which specializes in video and new media artwork (http://www.newarttv.com/index.php?id=243). The video allows the viewer to see the artworks – not stills or screenshots, but video – with a commentary by Wolkowitz. There is also footage of people looking and interacting with the artworks. Given the somewhat privileged perspective which the camera occupies as it roams around the Scope Art Fair, there is a sense in which it is documenting not only the appearance of the artworks it records, but also the critical interpretation of Wolkowitz and the interaction between the artworks and those experiencing them firsthand. Viewing the video is an avenue of accessibility to these artworks, providing a different but also valuable experience of the art as well as the art world and all its stakeholders.
In addition to shedding light and providing access to these artworks, NewArtTv also acts as a kind of preservation tool. For artworks possessing an element of ephemerality, this kind of footage is a means of documenting their existence, and preserving the videos would be a step towards preserving that ephemeral aspect of the artwork, if not the physical artifact. Artworks that would benefit greatly from this kind of documentation and preservation tool would be art forms like new media and performance art. Obviously, preserving NewArtTv videos in a stable format that would remain accessible online is not a simple task, because of the nature of the Internet and evolving technologies (in some ways, the videos and new media art share similar problems).
Yet, it can be argued that videos produced by NewArtTv, as well as the other websites mentioned above, may serve as an archive of contemporary art, even in its present form. More specifically, NewArtTv operates as an independent archive, outside of traditional archival institutions. Besides being a resource to find out about contemporary art, NewArtTv and similar websites are valuable because of the position they occupy with regard to the ‘institutional’ art world. Not necessarily opposed, but different, and valuable because of the archival potential as well as the different perspective.
From a more user oriented perspective, NewArtTv is pretty enjoyable to surf. The videos load quite quickly and the image is reasonable. It is also possible to leave comments and share videos. However, the search feature is not as precise as it could be if the videos were tagged in a more thorough manner. Once the quantity of videos reaches a point where serendipitous browsing becomes more irritating than serendipitous, the site will have to alter its search feature in some way to facilitate searches where the user does not know the artist name. Presently, though, NewArtTv is an excellent resource for contemporary art.
James Kalm videos
[Online] (Pages consulted on February 5, 2008)