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The Archival Impulse: Collecting and Conserving the Moving Image in Asia

Since the 1950s, there has been an active production of experimental film, animation, and video art in Asia. Yet, much of this work has not been consistently conserved or shared with the public due to the lack of accessible archives or organized collections dedicated to its preservation and dissemination.

The conference “The Archival Impulse: Collecting and Conserving the Moving Image in Asia” took place on September 10, 2015 in the The Celeste Bartos Theater at the Museum of Modern Art. Co-organized by Asia Art Archive in America, Collaborative Cataloging Japan, and MoMA’s Contemporary and Modern Art Perspectives (C-MAP), it brought together archiving initiatives that have emerged in recent years across Asia, presenting an opportunity to rethink and share methods, philosophies, and challenges to archiving moving image and time-based media works. The event is divided into three panels.

In the first panel Developing Collections, Hiroko Tasaka, Farah Wardani, Fang Lu, and moderator Stuart Comer introduce collection strategies and compare archiving techniques at their respective organizations in Japan, Singapore, China, and New York. Keeping in mind the different regional contexts, the panel will explore the following issues: What was the impetus behind the development of these collections? What are the urgencies to which these collections respond? How do these collections expand upon existing art historical narratives? Complicating these questions is the complex nature of moving image and media works, which often blurs the boundary between disciplines and requires ongoing reevaluation of the organizational categories within institutions. Hiroko Tasaka introduces the collecting practice at the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, covering 19th century film and film production, film history of Japan and Asia, and international artists of today. Recognizing the discontinuities and missing links in the field of Southeast Asian art historiography, Farah Wardani discusses the collection strategies taken at the National Gallery Singapore Resource Centre, where she serves as Assistant Director. Fang Lu talks about how Video Bureau, an artist-run video archive founded in 2012, structures the archival process, and how this project is situated in the Chinese contemporary art world.

Archiving is never just about collecting and safeguarding materials; it is also about how to share and circulate these materials, and bring them into a rhizomatic network of knowledge. With the rise of digital modes of access, archiving initiatives are faced with a plentitude of possibilities, as well as new challenges, such as the privatization and commodification of information. In the second panel, Opening the Digital Vault, archivists Sen Uesaki, David Smith, Alf Chang, and moderator Ben Fino-Radin explore the transition from a static physical archive to a digital infrastructure that is open, nonlinear, web-like, and constantly evolving. They will also share their experience in emerging technologies, examining different ways to effectively digest, preserve, and distribute media works in the digital age. Taking a cue from the discussions on collecting practices in the first panel, Sen Uesaki reexamines the physical and digital natures of archival and artistic material by questioning its physical existence in the first place, exploring its function as information. David Smith discusses Asia Art Archive’s digital presence and the motivations behind its current restructuring efforts, looking at the relationship between the archivist, the collections, and the public. Alf Chang will introduce the history and archive of ETAT, an ongoing experiment started from 1995 to create an autonomous platform for sharing, interaction, and preservation.

In the third panel, Transforming Stories, Mariam Ghani, Go Hirasawa, Huang Chien-Hung, and moderator Jane DeBevoise discuss research projects that develop out of archival materials. Pointing to diverse sources of information, from personal archives to commercial and state-sponsored media production, these projects represent efforts to expand and add nuance to ways of thinking about history, politics, and collective memory. Mariam Ghani will present What we left unfinished, a long-term research, film, and dialogue project centered around five unfinished films commissioned, produced, and canceled by various iterations of the Afghan state. Go Hirasawa introduces his research, preservation, and curatorial projects focusing on two Japanese filmmakers—Masao Adachi and Motoharu Jonouchi—in order to examine how established narratives about certain works or artists may be reconsidered and reconstructed. Huang Chien-Hung presents Liu Asio’s documentary project that traces the life of an anti-communist hero, proposing a possibility to think of a topological Asia, an Asia not based on geography, nations, or races, but on interrelations between events, media, persons and the production of images.

Image caption: Mariam Ghani. Still from What we left unfinished. In progress. Research project, installations, and feature film. Shown: discarded scraps from the feature film Gunah (1979), and newsreel (1978). Courtesy of the artist

Author

Screen shot 2012 10 22 at 12.00.46 pm

Ann Adachi-Tasch

Executive Director Collaborative Cataloging Japan Ann Adachi-Tasch is Executive Director, Collaborative Cataloging Japan, a nonprofit organization supporting the preservation and archiving of Japanese historical and... Read more »
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Asia Art Archive

Through collecting and making information on the recent history of contemporary art in Asia easily accessible, Asia Art Archive aims to facilitate understanding, research,... Read more »

Alf Chang

ETAT Lab Alf Chang is Director, ETAT Lab. Founded by artist Huang Wen-hao in 1995, ETAT is one of the most important private-sector organizations dedicated to media and digital art... Read more »
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Huang Chien-Hung

Professor Taipei National University of Arts Huang Chien-Hung is Associate Professor, Institute of Trans-disciplinary Art, Taipei National University of Arts. He has published numerous books, including COQ (2009), An... Read more »
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Jane DeBevoise

Chair, Asia Art Archive, New York and Hong Kong Jane DeBevoise is Chair of the Board of Directors of Asia Art Archive in Hong Kong and New York. Prior to moving to Hong Kong in 2002, Ms. DeBevoise was Deputy Director of... Read more »
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Ben Fino-Radin

Digital Repository Manager The Museum of Modern Art Ben Fino-Radin is a museum professional specializing in the preservation of digital contemporary art and cultural heritage. At The Museum of Modern Art Ben serves as... Read more »
Headshot 12 crop

Mariam Ghani

artist Mariam Ghani is an artist, writer, filmmaker, and teacher. Her research-based practice spans video, installation, photography, performance, and text. Ghani has... Read more »
Go hirasawa1

Hirasawa Go

Researcher Meiji Gakuin University Go Hirasawa is a researcher at Meiji-Gakuin University working on underground and experimental films and avant-garde art movements in 1960s and '70s Japan. His... Read more »
Ccj logo copy

Collaborative Cataloging Japan

Established in 2015 in Philadelphia, not-for-profit organization Collaborative Cataloging Japan (CCJ) provides archival and media preservation support to institutional and... Read more »
Jaylevenson

Jay A. Levenson

Director, International Program The Museum of Modern Art Since 1996, Jay A. Levenson has been the Director of the International Program at The Museum of Modern Art, where he coordinates the Museum’s relations with institutions... Read more »
Yuchieh li

Yu-Chieh Li

Former Andrew W. Mellon C-MAP Fellow at The Museum of Modern Art Yu-Chieh Li was the Andrew W. Mellon C-MAP Fellow for the C-MAP Asia group from October 2013 to September 2015. At the Museum, she was a co-editor of post and organized... Read more »
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Fang Lu

artist Video Bureau Fang Lu is an artist currently lives and works in Beijing. She borns in Guangzhou China in 1981. She received her BFA from Graphic Design department at School of Visual... Read more »
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Xiaofei Mo

Asia Art Archive in America Xiaofei Mo is the program coordinator at Asia Art Archive in America (AAAinA), where she drives research on moving image through archiving, digitization, and public... Read more »
Senuesaki

Uesaki Sen

Archivist Keio University Art Center Sen Uesaki is an archivist and lecturer at Keio University Art Center (KUAC) whose projects focus on the design of archives for Japanese avant-garde art. His recent... Read more »

David Smith

Asia Art Archive David Smith is Head of Digital, Asia Art Archive (AAA), Hong Kong, and is currently leading AAA’s digital revamp. With an MA in film archiving from University of East... Read more »
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Hiroko Tasaka

Curator Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography Hiroko Tasaka is Curator, Department of Moving Image, Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography. She has co-curated Yebisu International Festival for Art & Alternative... Read more »

Farah Wardani

National Gallery Singapore Farah Wardani completed her MA in art history (20th century) at Goldsmiths College, London, in 2001. In 2007, she cowrote the book Indonesian Women Artists: The Curtain... Read more »
Show Less

The Archival Impulse: Collecting and Conserving the Moving Image in Asia

Since the 1950s, there has been an active production of experimental film, animation, and video art in Asia. Yet, much of this work has not been consistently conserved or shared with the public due to the lack of accessible archives or organized collections dedicated to its preservation and dissemination.

The conference “The Archival Impulse: Collecting and Conserving the Moving Image in Asia” took place on September 10, 2015 in the The Celeste Bartos Theater at the Museum of Modern Art. Co-organized by Asia Art Archive in America, Collaborative Cataloging Japan, and MoMA’s Contemporary and Modern Art Perspectives (C-MAP), it brought together archiving initiatives that have emerged in recent years across Asia, presenting an opportunity to rethink and share methods, philosophies, and challenges to archiving moving image and time-based media works. The event is divided into three panels.

In the first panel Developing Collections, Hiroko Tasaka, Farah Wardani, Fang Lu, and moderator Stuart Comer introduce collection strategies and compare archiving techniques at their respective...

Show More

Since the 1950s, there has been an active production of experimental film, animation, and video art in Asia. Yet, much of this work has not been consistently conserved or shared with the public due to the lack of accessible archives or organized collections dedicated to its preservation and dissemination.

The conference “The Archival Impulse: Collecting and Conserving the Moving Image in Asia” took place on September 10, 2015 in the The Celeste Bartos Theater at the Museum of Modern Art. Co-organized by Asia Art Archive in America, Collaborative Cataloging Japan, and MoMA’s Contemporary and Modern Art Perspectives (C-MAP), it brought together archiving initiatives that have emerged in recent years across Asia, presenting an opportunity to rethink and share methods, philosophies, and challenges to archiving moving image and time-based media works. The event is divided into three panels.

In the first panel Developing Collections, Hiroko Tasaka, Farah Wardani, Fang Lu, and moderator Stuart Comer introduce collection strategies and compare archiving techniques at their respective organizations in Japan, Singapore, China, and New York. Keeping in mind the different regional contexts, the panel will explore the following issues: What was the impetus behind the development of these collections? What are the urgencies to which these collections respond? How do these collections expand upon existing art historical narratives? Complicating these questions is the complex nature of moving image and media works, which often blurs the boundary between disciplines and requires ongoing reevaluation of the organizational categories within institutions. Hiroko Tasaka introduces the collecting practice at the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, covering 19th century film and film production, film history of Japan and Asia, and international artists of today. Recognizing the discontinuities and missing links in the field of Southeast Asian art historiography, Farah Wardani discusses the collection strategies taken at the National Gallery Singapore Resource Centre, where she serves as Assistant Director. Fang Lu talks about how Video Bureau, an artist-run video archive founded in 2012, structures the archival process, and how this project is situated in the Chinese contemporary art world.

Archiving is never just about collecting and safeguarding materials; it is also about how to share and circulate these materials, and bring them into a rhizomatic network of knowledge. With the rise of digital modes of access, archiving initiatives are faced with a plentitude of possibilities, as well as new challenges, such as the privatization and commodification of information. In the second panel, Opening the Digital Vault, archivists Sen Uesaki, David Smith, Alf Chang, and moderator Ben Fino-Radin explore the transition from a static physical archive to a digital infrastructure that is open, nonlinear, web-like, and constantly evolving. They will also share their experience in emerging technologies, examining different ways to effectively digest, preserve, and distribute media works in the digital age. Taking a cue from the discussions on collecting practices in the first panel, Sen Uesaki reexamines the physical and digital natures of archival and artistic material by questioning its physical existence in the first place, exploring its function as information. David Smith discusses Asia Art Archive’s digital presence and the motivations behind its current restructuring efforts, looking at the relationship between the archivist, the collections, and the public. Alf Chang will introduce the history and archive of ETAT, an ongoing experiment started from 1995 to create an autonomous platform for sharing, interaction, and preservation.

In the third panel, Transforming Stories, Mariam Ghani, Go Hirasawa, Huang Chien-Hung, and moderator Jane DeBevoise discuss research projects that develop out of archival materials. Pointing to diverse sources of information, from personal archives to commercial and state-sponsored media production, these projects represent efforts to expand and add nuance to ways of thinking about history, politics, and collective memory. Mariam Ghani will present What we left unfinished, a long-term research, film, and dialogue project centered around five unfinished films commissioned, produced, and canceled by various iterations of the Afghan state. Go Hirasawa introduces his research, preservation, and curatorial projects focusing on two Japanese filmmakers—Masao Adachi and Motoharu Jonouchi—in order to examine how established narratives about certain works or artists may be reconsidered and reconstructed. Huang Chien-Hung presents Liu Asio’s documentary project that traces the life of an anti-communist hero, proposing a possibility to think of a topological Asia, an Asia not based on geography, nations, or races, but on interrelations between events, media, persons and the production of images.

Image caption: Mariam Ghani. Still from What we left unfinished. In progress. Research project, installations, and feature film. Shown: discarded scraps from the feature film Gunah (1979), and newsreel (1978). Courtesy of the artist

The Archival Impulse: Introduction

The Archival Impulse: Panel One

The Archival Impulse: Panel Two

The Archival Impulse: Panel Three

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