Baltan Laboratories - Eindhoven
14 - 15 / 12 / 2012

… a matter of translation and (historical) knowledge
A working conference organized by Baltan Laboratories in collaboration with the Van Abbemuseum
A project initiated by Angela Plohman and further conceptualised by Annet Dekker (

“Why is it still easier to get an entire museum collection on the Internet than to get a single work of Internet-based Art in a museum space?” This question was posed during a book launch of the Viennese curators collective in August 2011. It very clearly points to one of the sore spots in the discussion of why there is so little digital art in museums collections. Although it is common to use digital technologies for information exchange both inside the museum and outside, through distributing content through their websites and social media platforms, the presentation and presence of digital art in museum collections is still rare.

This conference will address significant changes in contemporary artistic production by facilitating knowledge exchange between different art worlds. Through this we aim to increase understanding of each others content, aesthetics, art historical links, prejudices and technical challenges.

While there is a growing understanding around the use of technological tools for dissemination or mediation in the museum,
artistic experiences that are facilitated by new technologies are less familiar. As an art discipline, the language is new and theory is still being written. The technical knowledge required to facilitate the production of this type of art or art research is not usually in-house. In order to better produce, present and preserve this type of work, an understanding of its history and the material is required in order to undertake any in-depth inquiry into the subject.

Media arts organisations and labs are recognised as spaces that facilitate new ideas and critical thinking around contemporary art and technological culture, but there is often little knowledge and experience with the economic and structural systems inherent to the contemporary art world. The full chain of research, development, presentation and discourse/theory around digital artworks is not fully developed and interdisciplinary dialogue is needed as a step to move forward. By bringing together museums, galleries and media labs, bridges will be built between the different worlds in order to address these issues.

The working conference will address five main themes:

1. Writing histories, or staging a different future

2. Aesthetics: from formalism to networked and social

3. Exhibiting: including production and presentation

4. Collecting: about contracts, registration and preservation

5. Advancing collaboration, or developing organisational structures

Case studies will be used within each theme in order to explain the stakes and explore the different themes. Underlying the themes are issues around the challenges of production, presentation, collecting, economies, distribution and participation.

The sessions will be led by:

Christiane Berndes (Van Abbemuseum), Steve Carroll (Carroll / Fletcher gallery), Sarah Cook (CRUMB), Galit Eilat (Van Abbemuseum), Annie Fletcher (Van Abbemuseum) Paulien ’t Hoen and Gaby Wijers (SBMK/NIMk), Christiane Paul (Whitney
Museum of American Art), Edward Shanken (University of Memphis) and Jill Sterrett (SFMoma).


Two days of intensive talks and discussions with some plenary discussion, but with a focus on small group conversations around specific issues and case studies brought from various collections.