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Archival Impulse: Collecting and Conserving the Moving Image in Asia


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Archival Impulse: Collecting and Conserving the Moving Image in Asia

Asia Art Archive in America, The Museum of Modern Art Contemporary and Modern Art Perspectives (MoMA C-MAP), and Collaborative Cataloging Japan present three public panels and a workshop.

September 10
Public Panels at MoMA

10:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m.
The Celeste Bartos Theater, The Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Education and Research Building, 4 West 54 Street (between Fifth and Sixth avenues), New York, NY  10019

10:00–10:05 a.m.
Opening remark and introduction of the first panel
Jay Levenson

10:05–10:55 a.m.
Developing Collections
Moderated by Stuart Comer
10:05 Hiroko Tasaka, Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography
10:20 Farah Wardani, National Gallery of Singapore
10:35 Fang Lu, Video Bureau
10:50 Discussion, Q&A, and introduction of the second panel

11:00–11:55 p.m.
Opening the Digital Vault
Moderated by Ben Fino-Radin
11:00 Sen Uesaki, Keio University  
11:15 David Smith, Asia Art Archive
11:30 Alf Chang, ETAT Lab
12:45 Discussion, Q&A, and introduction of the third panel

 12:00–1:00 p.m. 
 Transforming Histories
 Moderated by Jane DeBevoise
12:00 Mariam Ghani, artist  
12:15 Go Hirasawa, Meiji Gakuin
12:30 Huang Chien-Hung, Taipei National University of Arts
12:45 Discussion, Q&A, and closing remark

Program Summary:
Although there has been active production of experimental film, animation, and video art in Asia since the 1950s, 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. Co-organized by Asia Art Archive in America, Collaborative Cataloging Japan, and MoMA’s Contemporary and Modern Art Perspectives (C-MAP), this program brings 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.

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 will introduce the collecting practice at the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, which starts with 19th-century film and film production, continues through the film history of Japan and Asia in general, and includes international representative artists and works of today. The presentation will also detail how the subject of media conservation (digitization) affects the museum’s policies for collecting. Recognizing the discontinuities and missing links in the field of Southeast Asian art historiography, Farah Wardani will discuss the collection strategies taken at the National Gallery Singapore Resource Centre, where she serves as Assistant Director. Fang Lu will talk 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. As the modes of access continue to change, archiving initiatives are faced with a plentitude of digital possibilities, along with new challenges like 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 will 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 such as user interface, data visualization, open- and crowd- sourcing, and the digital commons, examining different ways to effectively digest, preserve, and distribute visual, sound, moving image, and other media works in the digital age. Taking a cue from the discussions on collecting practices in the first panel, Sen Uesaki will reexamine the physical and digital natures of archival and artistic material by questioning its physical existence in the first place, exploring its function as information. He will also present his recent projects and his thoughts on data structures and the Web interface. David Smith will discuss 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. Each panelist will consider the moving image in relation to different sociopolitical movements. 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 will introduce 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. Looking at archives as a set of mutating relationships between events, media, persons, and the production of images, Huang Chien-Hung will present 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 the interrelations between events, media, persons, and images.

Hiroko Tasaka, Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography
Farah Wardani, National Gallery Singapore
Fang Lu, Video Bureau (Beijing and Guangzhou)
Sen Uesaki, Keio University Art Center (Tokyo)
David Smith, Asia Art Archive (Hong Kong)
Alf Chang, ETAT Lab (Taipei)
Mariam Ghani, artist (New York)
Go Hirasawa, Meiji Gakuin University (Tokyo)
Huang Chien-Hung, Taipei National University of Arts

Moderators, Workshop Participants, and Organizers
Stuart Comer, Chief Curator of Media and Performance Art, MoMA
Ben Fino-Radin, Digital Repository Manager, Department of Conservation, MoMA
Jane DeBevoise, Chair of the Board of Directors of Asia Art Archive
Kate Lewis, Media Conservator, Department of Conservation, MoMA
Mona Jimenez, Moving Image Archiving Program, New York University
Ann Butler, Director of Library and Archives, Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College
Jay Levenson, Director, International Program, MoMA
Ann Adachi-Tasch, Executive Director, Collaborative Cataloging Japan
Xiaofei Mo, Program Coordinator, Asia Art Archive in America
Yu-Chieh Li, C-MAP Andrew W. Mellow Fellow, MoMA

This event is co-organized by Asia Art Archive in America; The Museum of Modern Art, Contemporary and Modern Art Perspectives; and Collaborative Cataloging Japan.

Support for this event is provided, in part by the Japan Foundation New York, Grants for Arts & Culture. 

Earlier Event: September 9
Archival Impulse: Field Trips