New Media and Museums in Eastern Europe

New media art is no stranger to eastern Europe and the Balkans; from the early of Vuc Cosic to the collective work of Apsolutno, these regions were the proving ground for many groundbreaking experiments in media, politics, and art. So the upcoming international symposium on (New) Media Art in Museums this October in Croatia signals that the region's consideration of media art has come full circle from unknown outsiders and agitators to curated collectibles (not too dissimilar to the path traced in other regions or for other "avant-gardes"). The intersection of cultural institutions like museums with new media art continues to confound both artists and curators alike. No standard institutional model has arisen for the collecting of such work, for how to frame it in the overall programs of the museum, nor how to preserve the work. And since the world of digital culture extends so far beyond the art world, artists themselves still struggle with how (or whether) to engage with the museum or with alternative venues and partners. The aim of this symposium is ambitious and broad, " consider [the] status of (new)media art in museum collections, conditions of keeping, protection, modes of exhibiting and all the changes that (new) media art introduces into the everyday practice of contemporary museums." Given the region's strong history in the field of new media art and the potential for fresh perspectives from this part of the world and current cultural environment, the symposium could prove very informative if not transformative.

On the topic of how new media art relates to museums, and for those who cannot travel to Croatia, recent MIT graduate student Karen Verschooren submitted a highly intelligent thesis on the topic of Situating Internet Art in the Traditional Institution for Contemporary Art.