29 OCTOBER 2011 - 12 FEBRUARY 2011

Curators of the exhibition: Bernhard Serexhe, Chiara Marchini Camia, Arnaud Obermann.

Co-curators: Valérie Perrin (exhibition at the Espace Multimédia Gantner, Bourogne), Catherine Mueller (exhibition at the CEAAC, Strasbourg)

Artists: Heiner Blum, Frank Fietzek, Herbert W. Franke, Hervé Graumann, Perry Hoberman, Jodi, Marc Lee, Nicolas Moulin, Michael Naimark, Nam June Paik, Samuel Rousseau, Antoine Schmitt, Jeffrey Shaw


For a few decades now, digitalization in the art context has enabled and simplified the processing and distribution of data. However, the preservation of new media artworks, in particular those that are digital-born, but also those subject to digitalization after their creation, is rendered difficult by the rapid pace of technological change. This circumstance creates uncertainty concerning the preservation and transmission of the artistic products of our time.

The exhibition Digital Art Works. The Challenges of Conservation aims to shed light on the variety of questions that art institutions and artists themselves are faced with in trying to guarantee the continuity of these particularly fragile works of art. While the core of computer-based artworks lies in their digital code, the particular challenge in preserving digital artworks has much more to do with the hardware and software required for their production and presentation.

The exhibition will showcase the ten case studies carried out by the EU-funded research project digital art conservation, which is led by the ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe in cooperation with five partner institutions in France and Switzerland. The project started in January 2010 and will run until December 2012.

Paired with a didactic documentation area, in which visitors will be able to learn about the artist’s own views regarding the future presentation of their works and the transmission of their legacy, the artworks themselves will be allowed to come into their own: classics of new media art such as Nam June Paik’s “Internet Dream” or Jeffrey Shaw‘s “The Legible City” will be presented alongside more recent works by the Dutch artist duo Jodi, or the French artist Antoine Schmitt. Visitors will be able to learn about the steps taken by the participating collections and artists to ensure the short and long-term physical endurance of the presented works.

The exhibition is accompanied by an exhibition booklet and an audio guide in German, French and English. The exhibition at the ZKM | Karlsruhe is accompanied by an education program directed at schools, young people and adults. Additionally, a lecture series will deal with special themes addressed by the exhibition. After the ZKM | Karlsruhe, the exhibition will travel to the Espace Multimédia Gantner, Bourogne, and the CEAAC (Centre Européen d’Actions Artistiques Contemporaines), Strasbourg.

During the course of the exhibition, digital art conservation’s second and concluding project symposium (following the symposium “The Digital Oblivion. Substance and Ethics in the Conservation of Computer-Based Art” held at the ZKM | Karlsruhe in November 2010) will take place at the École supérieure des arts décoratifs de Strasbourg on 24-25 November 2011.

The project will culminate in a comprehensive publication in 2012, discussing the results of the case studies and including the papers of the two projects symposia as well as the results of the seminars held at the Bern University of the Arts and the École supérieure des arts décoratifs de Strasbourg.