Saturday, April 22, 2017

On Friday, April 21, New York University (NYU) celebrated the launch of the David Wojnarowicz Knowledge Base, at the Artist Archives Initiative Symposium. The project is in collaboration between two departments: the Fales Library and Special Collections, as well as the Digital Department.

Diana Kamin, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Media, Cultural, and Communication at NYU, introduces the website

Here is an official statement from New York University's Center for Humanities:
"We needed to create a database and website that would accommodate complex relationships between objects, media, people, dates, places, exhibits, conservation reports, publications, and other archival resources regarding Wojnarowicz’ life and work. These relationships proved to be challenging to conventional database design that privileges a highly structured and hierarchical arrangement of information."

Diana Kamin (Speaker) and Deena Engel (Center), who is the Director of the Program in Digital Humanities and Social Sciences

Laura McCann, the Conservation Librarian in the Barbara Goldsmith Preservation and Conservation Department at NYU Libraries, explains the conservation process

The Panelists: Wharton (Podium), Marvin J. Taylor (Left), Kamin, McCann, Engel, and Kevin McCoy (Right)

Glenn Wharton

This process of categorization, Glenn Wharton (above) acknowledged, does not fit every artists agenda -- some artists prefer to keep a content of mystery, rather than have every detail of their work examined. In response,  Bob Lee brought up artist Nam June Paik, who had taken a photograph of himself with his hair full of ink moving his head across a long strip of paper. The Museum of Modern Art struggled to archive and categorize the photograph: was this A photograph of an art performance?; or, was the photograph itself the actual artwork. Since Nam June created this specifically to make it impossible for MoMA to categorize his work, Lee stated that Asian American artists will create works that challenge the cognitive structure of Western knowledge, such as categorization. 

(At another conference, the issue was raised in the context of Alfonso Ossorio. In his will he wanted the museum at Harvard to retain all of his collected things and place them together, rather than into separate categories.)

Lee suggested that innovative developments in artist's archives might consider the next step in structuring human knowledge and find a place for wisdom. Wharton acknowledged how Paik's name was often raised in such discussions, and said that his department was open to others to assist them in further exploring this field and confronting such questions.

Different Themes
Written by Lovely

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