Christa Sommerer is an internationally renowned media artist, researcher and pioneer of interactive art. After working, researching and teaching in the US and Japan for 10 years, she in 2004 together with French media artist Laurent Mignonneau set up the department for Interface Cultures at the University of Art and Design in Linz, Austria, where they are both professors. Sommerer is also an Obel Guest Professor at Aalborg University in Denmark, a Visiting Professor at Tsukuba University Department of Empowerment Informatics in Japan and together with Laurent Mignoneau Chaire International Guest Professors at the Université Paris 8 in Paris, France. Sommerer and Mignonneau created around 30 interactive artworks, which have been shown in around 250 international exhibitions. They have received numerous awards: the BEEP Award at ARCO Art Fair in Madrid in 2016, the 2012 Wu Guanzhong Art and Science Innovation Prize of the Ministry of Culture China; the 2001 World Technology Award in London UK, the 1995 Ovation Award of the Interactive Media Festival in Los Angeles; the Multi Media Award’95 in Japan and the Golden Nica at Ars Electronica 1994.
An Artistic Approach to Media Art Archiving
Now that more than 40 years of electronic art history have passed, it is generally agreed that museums and art institutions are facing a serious problem in respect to the preservation of works of media art. A large number of historical works are currently disappearing due to the technical, as well as organizational difficulties that their maintenance entails. While this might seem to be a problem that is only of concern for art historians and archiving specialists, artists and creative practitioners will also have to play a role in the development of practical solutions and innovative concepts to deal with this issue. Decay is in fact a topos that we encounter throughout many decades of art history. From the Dadaist, to Gutai, the Viennese Actionists to the manifestos of Arte Povera and Destructivism, impermanence has been inspiring many artists. As we know, media art is an especially ephemeral form of art, since its components are particularly prone to obsolescence. But a recent surge of media art archiving strategies shows that there is a longing for more permanence and for the conservation of artefacts. To deal with the issue of impermanence, decay, and archiving, we created a series of artworks called Portrait on the Fly. We have taken a proactive approach by proposing a personal artistic archiving strategy that involves the collection and preservation of portraits of important media art protagonist. In this talk, various artistic and personal conservation strategies of interactive artworks from the past 25 years will be outlined.