How to Survive Forever

Enabling the Future, or How to Survive FOREVER

A study of networks, processes and ambiguity in net art and the need for an expanded practice of conservation
Annet Dekker

Thesis submitted to Centre for Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths, University of London, for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
December 2014

Net art is one of the most viewed and experienced artforms, yet some net artworks stop functioning in less than five months. At the heart of this research lies the question of net art’s survival. While net art is hardly accounted for in museum collections – the traditional keepers of cultural heritage – this dissertation explores the material and behaviour of net art. Using a broad range of interdisciplinary resources the chapters open up key theoretical issues that rethink museum practices. Among others, this includes notions of authenticity, authorship, documentation and documents, networks, open source, performativity and processual.
Arguing for the need to reconsider traditional attitudes in museums and notions of static conservation as well as acknowledging decentralised and community-based approaches, this dissertation describes an expanded practice of conservation in the computational age. It shows how net art operates through often imperceptible or ambiguous performance of processes and is networked in various ways. It then examines the way these strategies are used and fold back into notions of authenticity, documentation and variability.
It is in addressing and answering some of the challenges facing net art that this dissertation makes a distinctive contribution to the field of conservation, curatorial studies as well as to cultural and museum analysis. At the same time, an exploration of net art’s intersections with conservation puts studies on net art into a new perspective. Consequently, the study enables more informed decisions when responding to, critically analysing or working with net art, in particular software-based processes. Surviving FOREVER means embracing rather then fearing ephemerality, loss and obsolescence.

Here you can download the whole thesis:  CCS_thesis_DekkerA2014

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