Re:shaping new challenges – the origins and future of a series of interactive generative artworks by British artist Ernest Edmonds, 1980s-2000s
This paper explores the origins and future of a series of interactive generative artworks created between the 1980s and 2000s by British artist Ernest Edmonds, and their curatorial and archival challenges. Edmonds’ early investigation into the changing relationship between artist and viewer started in the late 1960s and accelerated by the intervention of the computer. By looking at Edmonds’ first experiments in interactive art, his early time-based work using computer screens, and recent developments in interactive generative installations, this paper will investigate the challenges of archiving and preserving such material.
What did technology allow back in the early 1980s in terms of generative art production and how did archival and preservation strategies in the 1990s and 2000s deal with the change creative technology has experienced in the past thirty years? By combining the analysis of archival material held at the Edmonds’ Archive in Derbyshire, and the National Archive of Computer Based Art and Design, Victoria & Albert Museum, and a series of interviews conducted by the author in the past two years with the artist and curators and professionals involved in archiving, preserving and curating Edmonds’ works, this article will briefly answer these questions. By discussing the challenging issues of preserving and documenting interactive and generative art in the 2000s, the article will shed light on an original aspect of new media art curation and preservation and its consequences in the contemporary art conservation sphere.
Francesca Franco is a researcher specialising in the history of art and technology. She is Research Fellow at the Institute of Creative Technologies, De Montfort University, Leicester, where she is studying the Ernest Edmonds Archive of computational art material held at the Victoria & Albert Museum. She holds a PhD in the History of Art from Birkbeck (thesis title: Ars Ex Machina – The Missing History of New Media Art at the Venice Biennale, 1966–86). Her most recent publications include “The First Computer Art Show at the 1970 Venice Biennale. An Experiment or Product of the Bourgeois Culture?” in Relive: Media Art Histories, Cubitt and Thomas, editors, MIT Press (2013); “Exploring Intersections: Ernest Edmonds and his time-based generative art,” Digital Creativity, 24:3 (2013);“Documenting Art as Art: the case of Notes (2000-ongoing) by British artist Ernest Edmonds,” Visual Resources: An International Journal of Documentation, Vol. 29, No. 4 (2013).