26 JULY 1997


Sent to the Museum-L list

The recent thread on museum salaries brings up the whole issue of the role of museums. There have been a number of interesting online discussions this summer connected with Documenta X in Kassel and the upcoming Ars Electronica in Linz, Austria where the issue is one of many threads weaving through the forums.

The following is an excerpt of an interview with Documenta X director Catherine David by Marleen Stikker, co-director of the Society for Old and New Media in Amsterdam. It was posted on the NETTIME mailing list and the full text can be found in the NETTIME archive: http://www.factory.org/nettime/archive/0917.html

The interview was conducted as part of the "Hybrid Workspace" project of Geert Lovink and Pit Shultz at Documenta where discussions have been revolving around the issues of bandwidth. David and Documenta X have been given a somewhat hostile reception in the cultural press because of the lack of what some consider proper objects on display.

As I sit in my studio this muggy New York morning in shorts and bare feet I'm accessing the "global virtual museum" through my phone line -- global in the computer search sense, virtual as in potentiality and museum as the meeting place of the muses. I can't help but marvel at this ability to create a portal between a small American Historical site struggling to survive, the Getty wondering how best to spend its millions and cities like Kassel, Muenster and Venice that allow themselves to be laboratories for a summer.

The URL for Hybrid Workspace: http://www.documenta.de/workspace


CD:[...] We should perhaps be going back to the first idea of the museum, the one in Alexandria, which was well known as a meeting place of the Muses. I am afraid we do not have Muses anymore, but the concept of the museum as a meeting place, which is a little distant from the immediate resolutions, which is for me the definition of a critical space, could be, again, a very interesting possibility.

MS: A last question: would you like to have more bandwidth yourself?

CD: Is it very important to have more bandwidth, but we should also think of alternatives, of situations where there are no computers at all. To take a step back, and asking also for more "bare feet-technology". And again, not being mechanistic. Access might be a human right, but we should also be able to articulate the dialectics of those without access.