March 30, 1996, Afternoon
LUKE HONES: [ after video screening ]
That was a trip. Thank you very much for showing that, and thank you, Chris Hill, for curating it. This is magnificent work that's being done by the Video Data Bank and Electronic Arts Intermix. The next panel, which is an exciting one, is an international panel. We're not only going to hear voices from outside the United States, but we're also going to hear some very important voices from the art world. The person who's going to be moderating this is Carol Anne Klonarides, who is certainly recognized as one of the strong leaders at the Long Beach Museum of Art in developing their archives and their collection. And also, Steven Vitiello, from Electronic Arts Intermix, which is really a national resource for all of us in the media arts world, and it's exciting to have him up on the panel. Joining him will be Evelyn Berg Ioschpe. Carol Anne, I'm going to give it over to you.
CAROL ANNE KLONARIDES: As well as having worked at the Long Beach Museum of Art as their Media Arts Curator for four years, I have spent the past 20 years as a video producer, collaborating with artists to work in other media, as well as having worked with programming for cable television in New York City and working on other independent productions and public displays of video art, such as collaboration with the Video Data Bank, doing the Video Drive-in in countries such as Portugal and Spain and in Chicago and New York City. I've also been fortunate over the years to have been invited to curate exhibitions internationally and recently did extensive travel in Brazil, meeting video artists in five different cities. So that's basically my perspective and experience in working with an international artist video community. Could we roll the tape? I'm going to play as I talk, without sound, a promotional tape of the collection of video from the Long Beach Museum of Art, which spans its 20 year investment in collecting video.
One of the initial attractions I had personally to video as a medium of creative expression was its potential to cross all boundaries, to alleviate all cultural, racial and gender discriminations, and to reach an audience so vast and complex that it had never been imagined possible in the history of visual communication. Almost 22 years later, I am confronted with the realization that to many, video art is now an established art form on its way to becoming part of the history of art. To those more advanced or sophisticated, video is now dead, a medium on its way to being obsolete. But why do I still feel that video has not been completely accepted as art? And before that is achieved, may be replaced by the exciting frontiers of the World Wide Web and the Internet. For me, many discoveries achieved with video technologies have not yet been challenged by the art done on the Internet, and are virtually unknown to many young artists sitting down to the computer with hopes of being the geniuses of their time. It was with this in mind that I began to see the urgency in preserving works done by video artists and to make them accessible. In particular, make known the complete bodies of work done by artists working around the world, since the 60s, with this medium and to enlighten those that have now dismissed it, that the visual and political content that is unique to video and has influenced all other media of its time, has yet to be surpassed. There is a visual language that is internationally shared, and the international video community has had the privilege of an intimacy and cultural exchange within its imposed art ghetto that is really quite special. We do not share common languages, and in many cases, we do not share the same technologies or presentation formats, but we do share a common concern. Our interest in communication through the visualization of creative ideas, and to have these ideas shared with the largest audience possible, a network has been created - and is growing - as the Lila Wallace, Readers Digest, Soroche and Rockefeller Foundations, the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as national consulates and cultural agencies have enabled media arts curators and artists to travel and form new networks.
The conference so far has concentrated on national concerns for the creation of a preservation standard, but many of the same concerns hold true for the international community, although I have to say, in many countries, the need to preserve video has not been acknowledged or discussed, being that there are many more immediate concerns pertaining to education, accessibility to technologies and survival, that are obviously more pertinent at this time. Some countries are now just being exposed to technologies that are discarded - in many cases, discarded equipment - from more advanced countries, and these technologies are being passed on and made accessible to artists that find new creative uses of these discarded technologies. There is much to be learned by this exploration, and as we develop standards for preservation for all creative levels, we should also share and learn from this information as well.
I would also like to mention that there are members in our audience from the international video community, and we are going to open this panel and invite them to speak. But first, I'd like to introduce our panelists, and we're going to start with a presentation by Evelyn Ioschpe. She's visiting us from São Paolo, Brazil. She is a cultural administrator, president of the Brazilian Group Council of Institutes, Foundations and Business, a major council for business philanthropy, and she is president of the Iochpe Foundation, founded in 1989 by Iochpe Maxium, a publicly held corporation operating in the industrial, services and agricultural sectors, with significant holdings in companies active in computer, cellulose and paper industries. As one of its many philanthropic contributions to Brazilian culture, the Iochpe Foundation created a video library with an emphasis on the visual arts and, in particular, documentary videos about Brazilian and international artists. The library is made available to teachers of art and public schools. Some 700 teachers of varying degrees of education have profited directly from the project, which has indirectly touched as many as 600,000 students. She will talk to us today about the uniqueness of the Iochpe Foundation, its role in collecting and preserving video art, and the difficulties in innovations of education, preservation and access in Brazil. I now introduce Evelyn Ioschpe.
EVELYN BERG IOSCHPE: Let me thank the organizers of Playback 96 for the invitation to be here with you at this international panel. Flying in here, which means some 15 hours up in the air, I was wondering why and how we were invited to this glimpse into the future. When you live in a country like Brazil, there are only two ways you can look at the reality around you. You will have to realize that you are either a Third World country, or more positively, that you are a country of the future. We have to live with the idea that we are the ninth economy. On the other hand, the third country in income concentration on the planet. It's not exactly something to be proud of. The fact that all this wealth is concentrated in the hands of a happy few means that you have a majority of your population who are subcitizens, of which 20% are below the poverty line. Prisons are overcrowded, at one hand. At the other extreme, the affluent population is prisoner in their homes, in permanent fright for their personal security. We know there is a gigantic bridge to cross, in order to enclose all of Brazil's Brazilians in this Brazil of the future. Believe me, we're all working hard on it. But let me tell you how I feel this paradox also affects us. In order to survive, we have to be creative. With little or no resources, we have to do a real lot.
We put up a research study to assure us that we were in the right direction. Since we were going to use one medium to teach another medium, video showing the visual arts, we wanted to know the quality of the reception of this media in the classroom, and since we were going into art education, we wanted to compare the traditional modernistic approach, which thinks of art education as an activity, where children are supposed to have fun while they express themselves, or the new DBAE approach, which thinks of art as a discipline, as something to be taught.
Well, so we did. We were expecting favorable results with our research, but the results we got were even better than we expected. Children were able to learn art more and faster with video than without video. And this was even more so when associated with DBAE. I'm not going to go into the scientific findings of the research, since this is not our topic here, but if you are interested, I can send you material about it. We published a book about it, in Portuguese, of course.
We started acquiring Brazilian videos on the visual arts, and soon discovered that not only was there no proper market, but also that the legislation on authorship rights was not clear at all. Together with some videomakers, we set up the rules, and very soon found out that only one video library would not be enough in a country with continental dimensions as does Brazil. The interest of the teachers was growing, and while we started a program of continuous education, we went on to expand our video library. Nowadays, we own around 400 titles, which comprise the largest video library of its kind in Brazil. And we operate eight sites, eight video libraries, from the top north of the country near the rainforest, to the farthest south of Brazil near Argentina and Uruguay. The video libraries were donated, either to universities or museums, which give evidence of technical conditions to receive them. With the compromise on their part that these institutions train teachers at secondary schools in order to upgrade art education, and this means education in general in Brazil. This far, we have been very lucky, since eight institutions already started their dissemination process, and today will reach some 250 cities throughout the country.
What is the great attraction to get into the arts and school network? Why do teachers come to us and then disseminate their new knowledge so fast? We think that, first, because they feel accomplished. There is a common feeling among them that using this knowledge and the video, they can be more effective and give better lessons. The video is seen as a way to give better classes. It is not difficult to understand why if we dig a little bit into Brazilian culture. I would like to invite you to go into that with me for one minute.
Some data: there is research showing that the preschool child in Brazil will spend six to eight hours in front of TV. I do not know the figures in this case, but the way TV is produced and distributed in our two countries will probably explain the differences. If we divide TV production into two main groups, namely massive and fragmented TV, we will see that Brazil falls into the first category. Our massive TV is produced in the main cities, especially [unintelligible] and Sao Paolo, entirely financed by publicity. The main TV corporations nowadays export their production especially to Europe and other Latin American countries. There has been a continuous growth of the number of homes which have TV sets. In the last two decades, for instance, the index of homes reached by TVs went from 24% to the present 75%. TV is such an important business in Brazil, especially the soap operas, that when our president visits a foreign country, he might bring along a TV actor or actress as an ambassador of goodwill. So, it's easy to understand why a video library is such a great success among art teachers and students. It has to do with genuine Brazilian cultural values, and it's certainly the most democratic way to introduce art education.
Our responsibility, therefore, as a private foundation was to maximize its use. That's why, from our original plan of having one video library we grew to eight, and will still grow up to twelve. Now, what happens? We have to take good care of this collection, and we knew that public cultural centers do not usually have the ideal set for video conservation. When we went out to study that matter, we saw what was being done in Brazil, and did not feel satisfied with what was out there. Our video preservation consultant, Mr. Marcelo Costasoza, suggested the use of laser, which seemed to be the best option in face of the two great questions we had to face: preservation and multiplication.
And now we get into the technical theme we were talking about. Our system central equipment is a Sony LVR-5000 videolaser record player. This was chosen mainly because of the durability of the recordable videodisc, by laser process, a process that causes the physical change of the base where the data, digitally coded, are recorded. This means that the recorded image is divided into pictures, and these pictures are formed by a matrix of points. These points are coded in the binary system, and in the case of LVR, all the pictures are not compacted, and therefore have maximum resolution. Its durability is foreseen to be more than 30 years. On the other side, as we saw here, during these two days, the magnetic tapes use a base of acetate or polyester, covered with magnetic emulsion. As a consequence of the deterioration of the emulsion, and its natural loss of magnetization, the manufacturers indicate five years as a reasonable time for good playing to be possible. Once the simplified concepts of the two formats of register are understood, it is easy to see that the digital bands of laser recording keep the signal as long as the physical base of registers exist. Here, the durability indicator time: 30 years. On the other hand, magnetic media for registration of analog signals deteriorate as time goes by, with a maximum of five years foreseen.
When all that was exposed, it is easy to understand why six years ago, we first chose a laser recording system and Sony's equipment, because it seems to be the most reliable company for the maintenance of the compatibility of the protocols for the video artists signals, as well as the control and communication of the equipment. At the time of the purchase of the equipment, the alternatives were: first, to record again the material on various formats in tapes as professional standard-type Betacam. Second, recording in digital systems based on magnetic tapes. Third, at this time, there was a starting of the commercial utilization of the digital formats for compacted video recording, for example, Ampex. But there is still some distortion caused, as we saw yesterday, by the strong compacting and the reduction of 13 to 15 pictures per second. Finally, there were other equipment brands for video laser recording systems, but the previous considerations, as well as the cost, led us to Sony's LVR 5000. Sony still commercializes this model and others, which are compatible with the recordings already carried out.
I would say, to finish, that presently, there isn't any more a territorial limit for technology. It doesn't seem reasonable for us to define a technology that is not universal. Five years ago we had the first 486 computers. Today, we have the Pentium, and we are already talking about the 686 models. Betacam was a success in video and digital video, and was starting to be present in the market with the digital recording protocol D1, used in Sony's LVR 5000. After some turnouts, D1 protocol, as we also saw yesterday, shows out again stronger in the top model, at least until the next NAB, the digital Betacam, launched in 1994 by Sony. In these last years, we have watched the struggle for the definitions of digital standards for storing images and sounds. We're unsure in some points as to what would be ideal to preserve videos and films. First, the register shall be physical, causing physical alterations to the support base. Example: the microholes of a CD. Second, the definition of each frame or photogram shall be the closest possible to the original quoted in a matrix of points, which would present the minimum of 65,000 colors.
The main point of this discussion is to understand why the material is being preserved. First, simply as a visual reference or distribution or total preservation of the document, ensuring its integrity as a matrix. In the first case, if we respect the concept of home and office computers, it seems more feasible the options for the MPEG 1 or 2 formats. In the second case, which I think is the case we're examining here, the definition is very difficult in the present moment for the implementation of a new system, because we do not see a technology that could be pointed out as responsible for putting an end in a difference, or even as capable of lasting satisfactorily for the years to come. The safest position in the present moment would be to wait for what is being launched in the next year, and look especially at the output of the research on holography. Back to reality.
As for the material we have, it's already guaranteed that we have surpassed the five year barrier, and it is our duty to preserve the initial principle, that is, to keep up good maintenance for the LVR 5000 recorder, utilizing it only as a master, and therefore reducing its use, ensuring a long, useful life for the equipment. We are considering the acquisition of a new player compatible with the system to work as a backup. At the moment, we do not feel the need to replace our technology from a technical point of view, as our recordings present the same quality obtained at the moment of the recording. Some of them, it's almost been five years. This will last as long as there is a machine to give video display. Just for your information, there is equipment located at the Federal University of [unintelligible], which is our partner in the project, has an RS-232 serial communications protocol, with easy to understand commands, thus enabling the programmer to utilize all internal and external commands of the recorder from the microcomputer. We let a system developed in a Clipper language, that allows a digitized search of image and laser. We also have a program based on three software: Word, Access and Excel, which allows the elaboration of technical data on the videos, to catalog them, to make the video labels with its respective synopsis and technical data, mailing actualization, and finally, to put up the whole system of the video library.
So, I would like to finish with a proposal. I think we are here at the final moments of Playback 96, which we want to be a landmark, as far as video preservation goes. We will hear what our colleagues have to say, but from my point of view in Brazil, I can feel already that there was a big step taken before this conference, when you had the regional panels throughout the United States. I feel that it's now the moment to go internationally, and to hear what the countries have to say in that matter, and where the solutions come from. Yesterday, we were speaking about what it means to have the multinational companies on one hand, and the needs on the other hand. Why don't we put hands in hands, and try to, together, confront this reality?
CAROLE ANN KLONARIDES: I'm going to introduce our next speaker. Christine van Assche is the Media Arts Curator at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, France. She has curated exhibitions and produced new works with such media artists as Gary Hill, Tony Oursler, Joan Loeb, Nam June Paik, Marcel Olembach, Joan Loge and Thierry Kuntzell. She is, with curator Catherine DeVide and critic Raymond Balour, the producer-curator of the exhibition "Passage de la Image," which was presented during its tour at the San Francisco Museum of Art 1992. In 1993, van Assche began to collect works of video and computer art, resulting in an international collection of over 600 videotapes, 27 installations and 2 CD ROMs. The entire collection is available to the public through an open access policy in a space video located in the museum. A catalogue of the collection is available, containing 450 analytical and critical reviews, a text on the history of the medium, 1000 photos and a complete bibliography. Christine van Assche will now address issues of institutional collaboration with artists to produce, collect and preserve works for public viewing throughout Europe.
CHRISTINE VAN ASSCHE: Thank you so much. I also thank BAVC for inviting me here. I had prepared a talk about questions and problems raised by the museum collection, but this talk would have fit better in the morning session, so I changed it yesterday evening and prepared another talk, in which the first part is going to be about the situation in Europe. I think in this seminar, a review of the international situation is missing, and after I'm going to talk a little about the Pompidou Centre collection, some problems, some questions.
Several collections of tapes and videotape installations exists in European museums. There are also very large collections of documentary tapes in libraries, but I don't know so much the situation in the libraries, and nearly none of the collections are in universities, as far as I know. In art museums, which is the field I know the best, several European museums are collecting tapes and installations. The most well known are the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, the Ludwig Museum in Cologne, the National Gallery in Berlin, the Modern Art Museum in Basen, the [unintelligible] in Madrid, the New Contemporary Arts Museum in Santiago, and the National Tape Gallery in London, and I may have forgotten some. In France, the New Contemporary Art Museum in Lyon has started to collect installations and may start to collect tapes. There is also a collection in original organization we called the Fracque, and they buy quite a lot of installations by young artists. The Minister of Culture has also started to buy installations and some tapes. There is also a collection of tapes in Festivals, such as [unintelligible]. We also have distributors like LVA, or a center like MonteVideo, which have tapes that you can see on request. They also do programs and participate in national and international activities. So there are a lot of activities going on between the museums, cultural centers, regional organizations, and festivals.
But I must say that there hasn't been any seminar or meeting about preservation, that I know of. I was thinking that maybe one of the festivals could have organized a seminar like that in one of the sessions. But it's not really their main purpose. So I was thinking maybe that the International Committee of Museums - ICOM- could have organized one at various meetings, but they still have not included video in their art forms. They've started to include photos, but not yet video. I don't really see which organization can organize such a seminar in Europe, and must also say that in France, for instance, besides the university, there is no teaching for curators to learn about video collection, video restoring, or video preservation. There is a school in France called L'Ecole du [unintelligible], where curators go to learn their job, and they have just included photography in the teaching.
But the situation is not so pessimistic, because there are a lot of activities and people work quite lot with preservation questions. So at the Pompidou, we have one of the largest collections of tapes. We have started to buy some CD ROMs, and have been buying installations since 1976. So we have some very old installations from the 60s and 70s, and we saw the problems that it means to preserve and show those works. Some of the installations that we have been restoring are the following - and at the same time I'll describe them very quickly, and inform about some of the solutions that we've found, and the way we have looked for them.
We have bought Nam June Paik's "[unintelligible] TV," which is an installation from 1965 composed of fifteen televisions from '65. We bought in the beginning of '92 a bunch of TVs from that time, which we still could find in shops outside of Paris. So the installation is safe for a few more years. But also, Nam June gave us a version of tapes that he shot from the screens, so we have a solution for the next maybe 20 years, because we produced the tapes on videodisc, but he told us that he would do a computer version from the moon, and put it on digital chips for the next one hundred years. This was a nice collaboration with the artist himself, because it's one of his favorite pieces, and he really wants this piece to go into the future. But I will always keep all the monitors, even if they are completely broken.
We have another work from 74 by Dan Cohan, "Present Continues Past," which is a time delay, working with two reel-to-reel decks, and this installation has been working very little in fact, because the tape was taking the dust each time it went from one deck to the other. So in 1981, we replaced the deck with a computer, a microprocessor, which stores the image for five seconds, and gave the image back to the public. But this installation has been shown a lot around the world, and we are lending this computer to other places, and we now have to replace it again. But the budget to buy this new computer, it's the budget for restoration for the entire museum, so I have to find the solution to replace the computer quite soon, because the image is full of big pixels. We have another installation by Vito Acconci, "Bodybuilding in the Great Northwest," where, with his help, we put the film on the videodisc and the sound on CD, which is pretty easy to install and restore today. But the goal is more or less to work with the artists, and technicians in the Pompidou when it's possible. When it's not possible, we find the solutions with special technicians who know how to deal with these kind of techniques. So far, we haven't lost any installations - we lost only one tape.
In the matter of tapes, we buy the best format possible, 2-inch, 1-inch, Betacam, and we'll start to buy D2. And we store them in not really the best of conditions, but next to the Picasso and Miro in the storage room, where the temperature is low, and humidity is quite protected. But we'll have a storage room when we redo the building in 1999, and we will have special storage for the tapes. And I was planning to put them on D2, on digital anyway, starting from 1988, slowly. With the budget that I will find and receive. But I was thinking it would be interesting, in the matter of tapes, as many museums have some tapes in common, and maybe distributors also have the tapes, maybe to share the cost of putting the tapes on digital, because if we do it we pay the entire price, it's a price that can be shared by several organizations and several institutions in the world. And I was thinking it would also be possible for installations. Like we know artists produce installations in two or three examples, and for a method of keeping them for the future, it would be nice to share the cost of putting them on a digital format - between the museum and the collectors who have the same installation. And I think this is a matter of information and of maybe what can be done in another conference like this conference, where an international curator can come and have some practical exchange, and try to see if it's possible to share the cost of all this preservation and restoration. Because we haven't talked about money, but the problem's also there. Thank you so much.
CAROLE ANN KLONARIDES: For eight years, Steven Vitiello has been the Director of Distribution at Electronic Arts Intermix, a nonprofit media arts organization, which for 25 years has represented and distributed the work of seminal video artists, with distribution of American artists throughout Europe and the introduction of the work of European artists here. Housed in New York City in SoHo, EAI is a great resource for curators, institutions, collectors, artists and the multimedia and entertainment industries. With Abbeville Press, they published a descriptive book on video artists, which is available in the Museum's bookstore. Steven is also a composer and performer of original music compositions, creating many soundtracks for video productions by such artists as Nam June Paik, Etter Santos, Tony Oursler, and Constance de Jean. This coming Wednesday, Steven will present the film of Brazilian artist Etter Santos at the Pacific Film Archive at the University of California at Berkeley. His international travels as a performer and a distributor will provide insights to the methods of collecting, technological use, and the difficulties of maintaining an international format for preservation. And I turn this over to Steven.
STEVEN VITIELLO: Thanks. A lot of my work is dealing with the international market. Last year I presented tapes in 8 different countries. About 60% of Electronic Arts Intermix's money through distribution comes in through international museums, libraries and occasional television, and I would say if it wasn't for institutions like the Centre Georges Pompidou, EAI wouldn't really still exist. With the funding cuts, the ability to support and invest money in experimental video in this country has really, really died. In 1989, we had about 15% of the money that came in was through public libraries in the United States. It went down to zero when all of the institutions that were buying our tapes had all of their funding cut for independent media. So we've really, by working with specific - mostly Europe, but also Japan, Australia, Latin America, and specifically the art world, having embraced video, it's really kept us alive and allowed us to stay afloat.
I was thinking about Tom and the Worldwide Video Festival, and how the struggle that I've seen in Europe is even greater than here of video sort of fighting the world of new media. At the last video festival in Berlin, not this year, but the one before, every person was jumping up and saying video is dead, the book is dead, copyright is dead, this is all going to make you think in a new way. I was on a panel in Rome in December, on the history of cinema and the future of cinema, and Peter Vible, a very respected Austrian curator, writer, artist led the audience into almost this religious frenzy about how the history of cinema and the history of video has been this total failure, because it's all simulation, and that his new work and work in new media, and the stimulation of the brain, and then he showed tapes of people with things tacked to their head. Like a guy walking around in a room, and the waves would go very high - that this what was going to save us. And people were getting very angry, like, "See this has all been terrible work," and I knew from having talked to people during the week in Rome, that most of them hadn't seen almost any independent video except for some of the real classic work, like Bill Viola, they'd read a review last week of Gary Hill, but they were now convinced that it was all crap, and there is that sort of struggle of how will video survive, and really, the Video Art Festival has become a kind of dinosaur, and really for us, where video is sort of surviving is in the museums.
Another observation I had, talking about the problem of an international format. We about 90% distribute tapes in NTSC, whether it's to whatever part of the world, and one thing that I found is that a lot of people who are in countries where it's not an NTSC system are buying tri-standard VHS players, but then investing large amounts of money in collecting. We've had institutions in Spain, for example, buy a hundred VHS tapes, and it seems like such an unfortunate way to spend your money to me, because I know that those tapes won't really be very useful in five years, and I always try to make the argument, wouldn't you rather buy 25 tapes, and put them on 1 inch, and give that much more support to the work to the artist? But more is always sexier, almost, so very often, I think people are much more concerned with getting in those Gary Hill tapes that they just read about, than actually worrying about the next person who's going to be presenting those tapes in five years who has their job.
On the other hand, I made this list of some major institutions that are collecting "archival" formats, and every one I listed was different. The Pompidou has bought primarily 1-inch and Beta SP tapes. There is an institution in Spain that's looking to buy a hundred digital Beta tapes in the next five years. There is a museum in Finland that's been buying D2 tapes, and the National Gallery of Canada has been buying 3/4 inch archival. We have about five levels of purchase. The main point is that it goes from $45 for a VHS tape sold to an individual up to $2000 for a 1-inch or D2 tape with limited duplication rights.
Another note is that it's been talked about in the last two days by several curators, as well as almost everyone here, that it's the responsibility of the museums to preserve work. And for Electronic Arts Intermix, as well as Video Data Bank, it's really a necessity of our work that we do deal with preservation, and we preserve the tapes to make them available. We primarily, although the Data Bank's New History Project is a little bit different, but most of the cases where I've done preservation recently, it's been on specific requests for material. Chris and Kate and Maria Troy put together a curated program, which is a great luxury, and a very important program. But primarily, people ask for a tape. Christine calls and says, we want this tape. And I say, uh oh, it's in terrible shape - what do we do? And that's when I'm able to allocate the money. When I spoke at a Library of Congress hearing last week, one colleague made an excellent presentation but, I felt in a slightly negative way, pointed out, EAI is a major institution and that the major institutions are always the ones who get to do the preservation work. But what that means is a little bit vague, because in fact, we're three full-time people, I think the grant he was talking about was a $3000 grant, and we're dealing with 2000 tapes. It's very important to recognize as many collections as possible, but the work that we're doing, for me, is the most important part of the job that I do. If you have questions, please let me know.
CAROLE ANN KLONARIDES: Rather than do a summary, I thought it would be more appropriate to invite Jean Gagnon, the Associate Curator of Media Arts at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, Ontario, Kim Tomczak and Lisa Steele, Executive Directors of V Tape, a distributor of video art in Toronto, Canada, and the representatives from the Dutch Institute for Media Art, MonteVideo, to make some contributions to this discussion. And I'd like to invite them to come up right now, if they would.
RAMON COELHO: Ivo and I worked for three and a half years on the video conservation - preservation of ten collections in Holland. This has been done by a grant of the Dutch government. We did our best to do it as quickly as possible, because we couldn't select works - that would take another two years. So we did everything in 1200 hours, and there are doubles, triples in it. We have a catalogue with us, which everything is in.
IVO VAN STIPHOUT: Hello, my name is Ivo van Stiphout. We both put all the tapes on the Betacam SP format, an analog system still, which was the best system available at the moment we started. And we were aware of the fact that these tapes would be deteriorated within ten years or so, so we think we're just halfway through the process now. At this moment, we're just buying time. We're buying time to investigate better systems available in the coming years, and in the meanwhile, we also are busy making a good documentation system, because there are many tapes which people don't know about their existence and didn't know where to find, didn't know how many copies were around. So, in the meantime, we're waiting for a better system to come up to make it digitally, and also all the issues we discussed for the last days about which formats you should turn your attention towards for duplicated media. While we are investigating that, we are also making a proper documentation and collection information system suitable for the use of video description, and of course, we want to make this adaptive to the national standards and international standards for museums, otherwise it will be a colossal waste of time. We also brought an inquiry form, a paper which you can fill in, because we are interested in how people are documenting their videotapes. Because we want to make an inquiry about how people should describe their works, and what they want in it. So people with collections, they can help us define what we need to put in there. We will try to reach people with these papers later today. People can ask me about the collections we preserve. The collection at MonteVideo contains about 800 tapes. A few years ago, we merged with an institute called Time Based Arts, which made us the biggest collection owner in Holland, and we initiated the preservation project of the tapes, together with the initiative of the Dutch government, to preserve all the art pieces which were kept in the museums, not only video art, but also sculptures and paintings. So, we heard about this Marshall Plan and we said, oh wait a minute, we have a lot of art laying around, which everybody forgot. So, we came up with the idea, within this Marshall Plan of preservation, to preserve the videotapes. Luckily, there are many people in the Dutch government who saw how important it was to save these works, and almost half the works by Dutch media artists are already 20 years old.
JEAN GAGNON: The National Gallery of Canada has been collecting video for 20 years now, and we have about 600 titles in the collection of videotapes, plus - I never counted how many video installations, film installations, and early electronic media sculptures, so a lot of the issues that have been discussed for the past two days are issues we deal with everyday, almost. And a lot of the questions and solutions that people proposed, we've been working on those for a while. I think for us, the big issue in terms of the videotape collection is the question of digital transfer, transferring the collection on digital media, and from the speakers we heard, this is a very costly process, so I guess it's like Christine van Assche was saying just before, we've got to find the solution where some of these costs could be shared, because it's quite prohibitive. And the situation in Canada right now is our government is cutting the budgets of most federal institutions, so we have to reduce programming. So far we haven't touched the acquisition budget and restoration budget, but who knows what will happen in the near future, so for us it's also a struggle right now to find new ways of financing our activities. So with a fairly large collection of video and film installations, we face financial restraints. So I don't know what to add, but if you have questions, I can answer.
LISA STEELE: My name is Lisa Steele from V Tape, and I'll just tell you very briefly, and my colleague, Kim Tomczak, will talk about preservation and restoration projects we're involved in. V Tape was started in 1980 by a group of artists, and we're actually very used to financial and fiscal restraints, so we do very well in these times - just joking. I'm not making light of anything, just being realistic. But we started to work, after 1983, after an international survey of what was needed to increase the distribution of independent video, video art. We surveyed a number of places, including the institutions in the United States and Europe, as well as across Canada, to see what was needed, and what was really needed at that point to increase a profile of Canadian video and video art, was some kind of a central listing. People were tired of little tiny pieces of paper with somebody's home phone number on it. So we began to do that about 1983, and the result, it took a long time to realize, but we have now a standardized form for registering all tapes in active distribution in Canada, and we have a centralized database which we hold and maintain, and we have one catalogue for the entire country, which is called a resource guide, or reference guide, or whatever we think to put on the cover when we print it. And this is, at this point, just over 3500 titles, and it gets added to daily. As new tapes come in, they are catalogued, and it's a cataloguing standard that was developed, a combination of just surveying what information was needed. So I think we have about 57 fields. We use FileMaker Pro, and we are going - as many fields as possible are entered, which includes everything from credits to descriptions. The most important thing, obviously, is who made it, how long is it, the vital statistics. We don't enter anything in that isn't as fully filled out as possible. That's our main cataloguing project. About three years ago, we embarked on another cataloguing project that will see the archival and collection holdings across Canada listed in a database. So this will include titled and untitled works, works that are documents of performances and that kind of thing, and to date, we have several hundred of these listed - I think 1600 are listed -and we think we're probably about a third of the way through. Again, we're using the same cataloguing form, but in this case, almost none of the material is fully catalogued, obviously. So this is the first run at trying to determine what is available across the country. And I was interested in what people were talking about earlier, collections in YWCAs and community groups, etc. We're going to the larger repositories right now, but we feel that once this project gets off the ground, it has to start somewhere. And I would tell you, just for interest, we don't add fields to the database very often, because then you have to go back and add something to every tape and fill it in, once you've done it. So a few years ago, we added Male/Female, because we were getting requests for tapes by women, and we forgot that part. So we went back and added and filled in, going backwards. And this year we've added "Aboriginal Produced," which in Canada, is a very big issue for the Aboriginal community, and we have begun to actively seek out work produced by native peoples and enter it in - making sure it's entered in as "Aboriginally Produced." Not just a tape about native issues, but one produced by them. So that's the newest field.
KIM TOMCZAK: I'll just mention two other kinds of initiatives that we're engaged in right now at V Tape. One is, like other centers that have spoken here, we have a homebuilt videotape cleaning machine for open reel, CV and AV format tapes, and we bring them back normally to Betacam SP. We have done some 1-inch as well, which I think is a better format, but Betacam SP is more affordable, so we're going to that mostly. And that mostly is on request when a museum wants to acquire a particular work from the early 70s, the late 60s, we'll go back and restore that work on demand, and we - it's just ad hoc. We'd like to do it in a more organized way, but we've been completely unsuccessful in getting specific funding for that. But, nevertheless, we're enthusiastic about continuing that process. The other initiative is a little bit more hopeful - it's a more national one - and it is an organization that came out of the Moving Image and Sound component of the National Archives of Canada, and that is a consortium that has been formed of stakeholders - the minority being federal agencies, and the majority being organizations like V Tape or independent organizations. So we're forming a consortium of stakeholders on a national basis that will take over the work of the Moving Image and Sound Archives component of the National Archives, because they can't keep up with the demand, so it will be a network of organizations doing this kind of work, and it will form a central organization which will be a fundraising device in order to carry on the work. It's in the very early stages, but I think it has a lot of promise. Thank you.
CAROLE ANN KLONARIDES: I want to thank all of the speakers. I don't know how much time we have, but do we have any time, Luke, for questions from the audience? I would like to open up the discussion for questions and comments, and if you have a specific question to address, please address it to whom you want to address it to.
MAN: I've worked on a couple of web projects, and I can give you a couple of scattered answers. Just one interesting observation is I worked - I contributed to a website with Nam June Paik that came up on March 1, and in that time, 5 million hits have been made on the site, which is a pretty amazing thing, because if we sell fifty copies of one of his tapes in two years, we're doing really, really well, so it's an amazing new way of getting information around. I collaborated on a project for the Dia Center for the Arts, and the producer, Karen Kelly, from the Dia Center is here, so maybe you can tell people what - because I never thought about how we would archive that project once we're done.
CHRISTINE VAN ASSCHE: I don't think everything must enter in a museum. I think the Internet is part of the next century, and maybe the museum has to get out of its building, and preservation won't be the question any more.
MAN: Just one other response to that. I'm very sympathetic to what you say, but I have a little bit of the same feeling as when Peter Vible got up, which is just to say that no matter how important new work is, we have to make sure that we focus the way we've been doing this weekend on not losing what's happened. So it's important to look at what you're doing and not lose what comes next, but we also have such an emergency on our hands on what's happened in the last 30 years. One other thing is, I've had this idea recently about video that I brought up last week at these meetings, about some kind of equivalent to dog years. Because I think if people have a ten year old VHS tape, it's sort of like 95 in dog years in their basement. Or a well-kept 3/4 inch tape that's 6 years old is still sort of getting to middle age, and so there's such an emergency about the recent history, that for me that's a bigger concern for the moment.
CAROLE ANN KLONARIDES: But perhaps a web site could be used as a way of sharing information for database archives, as well as putting out images that are being made that will encourage institutions not only to purchase and take them in their collections, but think about this as an issue for future preservation. Yes.
LISA STEELE: In spite of the five million hits, it still doesn't make Nam June a dollar, so I think the issue for us as distributors is to try to figure out how to economically support artists at a time when everything is becoming "free," and in regards to that, I think there was an informal meeting at the ISEA conference that we met at, and where the distributors round table happened. This was in Montreal last fall, and in the coming fall, it's happening in Besse Normandie at a video festival there at the French Center of Contemporary Art there, and this will, I think the discussion that is going on right now is how to... is making a single site on the Internet for each country trying to standardize some of that information. Obviously, language is an issue. It is within Canada, too, because our catalogue is only as bilingual as the entries come to us. We don't have the money or the resources to translate both ways, but we can enter both languages, but we can't do the translation. So we're partially bilingual on our catalogue. When this goes on to the Internet, it will be partially bilingual. And I think these are issues that we'll be talking about in November, at this international distribution round table, because distributors, more than anything, want to make money for the artists, and one of the hard things is to figure out how to make anybody any money off the - except, you know, Xerox and the hardware people.
MAN: I want to get an understanding of - making sure that people are preserving materials that are in foreign standards, from foreign locales, SECAM or PAL, in the native standard of the work of art or piece. And not do the standards conversion, and then making the preservation master. I wanted to ask you whether that was the case, because Brazil has a unique video standard. And I want to ask the other people whether they're preserving materials in their native standard or doing the standards conversions.
EVELYN IOSCHPE: This is a problem that we were talking about, between Europe and America, actually. In America, both in Latin America and North America, we have basically the same standard, so we can see it from - to each other. In Europe, it's not the same thing, so we cannot preserve European material in PAL and - because we are not going to be able to read it. We have educational functions in our project. So, yes, we do convert European videos to the way that we can see them and show them, and then we make the preservation.
MAN 2: One thing, because I do a lot of work in Brazil, I'm pretty sure I'm right, is that the broadcast standard is different - their own PAL, but the exhibition standard is NTSC, and that - I know several artists who have post-production facilities, and they're all working in NTSC.
IVO VAN STIPHOUT: Of course in Europe, a lot of artists are working in PAL. So, it's hard to talk about what is standard. It's always a big fight between standards. And as far as our preservation project is concerned, it's very expensive to buy the equipment in one version, so it's double the price in two versions, and it's still hard to get in Europe. And of course, the same things - it's funded by the government, and so they want to have it for the same reasons as the people from Brazil - we have to show it on regular monitors, which are not capable of playing back NTSC signals, and that was not just the biggest part of it, so it was not justified to buy all the NTSC preservation equipment for it.
MAN: I don't think anybody is saying that you should...
IVO VAN STIPHOUT: Well, we think we should, but...
MAN: OK. I can't think of any European institutions that are buying archival copies from us on PAL of originally American produced work, but I know what you're saying.
IVO VAN STIPHOUT: Of course, in the Institute, we have NTSC playback facilities and everything.
CHRISTINE VAN ASSCHE: This is a very major question in international understanding. I mean, it's impossible to speak internationally if we cannot communicate in one language, if we cannot read PAL, and Europe cannot read NTSC, so we have a real problem there. And I think this should be on the agenda of the group that has the task to take this forward.
CAROLE ANN KLONARIDES: I'd just like to add - we haven't really discussed this, but does the whole issue of copyright vary from country to country? Would anybody like to address that?
EVELYN IOSCHPE: Well, what I can say is that in my country, in Brazil, of course there is a law of - author right - copyright? But there was not a very clear law for video, since it has a different way of reproducing. So what we did when we started our - this was the first task, and it took us very long. We met with videomakers, and we met with lawyers to put up a specific agreement for our work. Of course, it's not an agreement for the country, but there was nothing, so we had to build upon nothing, and what we have is good enough for us, but still, the country doesn't have it very clear.
CAROLE ANN KLONARIDES: I would like to ask Christine, as one being involved with an institution that was questioning the rights it had to its collection, because at the Long Beach Museum, the artists maintain the copyright. And therefore, as we moved forward to make it more publicly accessible, we didn't really know what the rights would be, and since you do that, I was curious what kind of copyright arrangement you have at the Pompidou?
CHRISTINE: In the matter of production and buying?
CAROLE ANN: What rights do you have in terms of showing the work or distributing the work in the collection?
CHRISTINE: When we produce the work, we share the rights with the artist, 50/50, and when we buy the works, we only buy the works to show them in the museum inside the collection, so we have very little rights when we buy the work, and more rights when we produce the work.
MAN: What happens if someday you want to sell the collection?
CHRISTINE: That's impossible - you cannot sell the national collection. We buy it forever. We have very strong contracts, by the way.
CAROLE ANN: It may be important along with preserving works to set a precedent by creating some sort of agreement or standard for what the use of these collections may be.
MAN: As distributor, we have a license agreement that we have if a new client signs. On a standard purchase, it says the tape cannot be copied, it cannot be loaned, it can be exhibited within that institution. There is a larger purchase format where, for example, with the Pompidou, they buy and they can have limited duplication for in-house use only. But from our point of view, if we sell a Bruce and Norman Yonemoto tape to a museum, it's for that museum, and from our point of view and from the wording we put in the license agreement and the copyright sticker on the tape, that's not to be resold.
IVO VAN STIPHOUT: The weakest part of the copyright system is also the attitude of artists themselves. You deliver a tape and hopefully it will be distributed by the distributor, and next time you deliver the same tape somewhere else. So both parties are running for him, and he thinks it's good, but in the end nobody knows what's what. So there's a point there for the artist to think about - how do you want your work to be protected? Of course, you make agreements with people, and you do it the best you can. Of course, you want the artist to gain money from it, like we do, we have 25% to 75% for the artist. This is the best you can do, I guess. You need the cooperation for the copyright from the artists themselves.
EVELYN IOSCHPE: I'd like to go back to this issue of the price of digital. I have been hearing through the whole conference that digital is too expensive, and that analog is viable. Well, I come from a poor country, and we are doing digital, so it's really very strange for me, this whole set. I would like to address this because I think the fact that digital is being looked upon as very expensive is pulling people away from it. I want to tell you how much we spent on our equipment, and you will be amazed at this. We spent between $25,000 and $30,000 buying the equipment, that was all. And we are spending money now buying the spare CDs which, when we started 5 years ago, cost $300, which was expensive at the time - each CD - and now went down to $160 and now to $100 each CD. So also, when you go into digital technology what happens is technology very, very fast gets to lower prices, so I think this whole phantasm of the price is not quite like that. Yesterday, you had different data, $160,000, I think.
IVO: I think we have to talk about the same standards - the same standards of quality and durability.
CHRISTINE: Well, we talked about standards all the time, but we also talked about price - it's very relevant to know how much things cost, and my feeling is that we are talking about that something's expensive, and not really saying how expensive and how reliable, and how much...
CAROLE ANN: Well, I have to say that tackling the whole issue of international concern about preservation was quite daunting, and I really do think that the invited guests, as well as the unexpectedly invited guests from the audience did a fantastic job, and I think it only goes to prove that the Getty has only just begun to fund investigation and support in this area of preservation, and I do hope that they are encouraged by the fantastic job that BAVC and all the participants have done in proving that this is a quite worthy area of support. And not only the Getty, I don't mean to single them out. I hope other institutions internationally, as well as corporations also see the validity of supporting this, and I guess this will be discussed in the wrap-up discussion. Thank you very much.