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ZKM as blueprint
... for new media centres
In the meantime, the ZKM has become an important model of reference for many
cultural institutions around the world focusing on new media art. Among them are such
renowned institutions as the NTT Inter Communication Center in Tokyo, Japan, the Ars
Electronica Center in Linz, Austria or the yet-to-be-built Las Palmas in Rotterdam,
Netherlands. Although all these institutions created their own profile and their distinct
identity, ZKM to them has been a point of reference to distinguish themselves.
The underlying model is that of establishing, around the globe, unique centres of artistic
creativity and production that supplement each other. ZKM and other new media arts
centres are partners in a network of institutions that have developed complementary focal
points. As the technologies used to produce new media art are exceptionally expensive, each
of the partnering institutes has specialised in certain areas where they try to purchase and
maintain high-level equipment.Thus, within the new media art scene, the ZKM is known
for virtual reality and real time computer graphics and visualisation systems, whereas, for
example, the Centre d'Arts Electroniques Virtual Vocation Internationale Pierre Schaeffer
in France is known for video, video postproduction and more recently its streaming video
ZKM as blueprint
Intercommunication Centre,Tokyo, Japan <>
Ars Electronica Center, Linz, Austria <>
Las Palmas, Rotterdam, Netherlands <>
ZKM as reference model
Centre d'Arts Electroniques Virtuel Vocation Internationale Pierre Schaeffer
V2, Netherlands <>
... for traditional museums
Yet, can the ZKM also serve as a role model for traditional museums?
Not very likely, although some organisations, like the Guggenheim Foundation, tried
and discovered later how difficult it is to do so. Introducing technological research and
production components into a cultural institution actually means to introduce a completely
new philosophy into the organisation, not to talk about the enormous investment it takes.
The institution also needs new knowledge and skills normally not available in traditional
museums to be able to manage the complexity of technology-based art.
The complexity of the technology, to Jeffrey Shaw, is one of the primary reasons why
new media art is "so slow in its penetration in the traditional art world. Basically museum
directors are frightened of this stuff: they don't understand the technology, they don't know
how to maintain it, so they keep their distance." And he adds:"It's only recently that video
art has been fully incorporated into museums, and this has a lot to do with the fact that
current DVD playback and LCD projection technologies allow for the simple installation
and maintenance of such works. On the other hand, computer based interactive installations
still demand a much higher level of expertise from museum staff and of course everyone
is panicked by the idea that the artwork might `break down'.
The good news is that the recent rapid development of robust technologies in the video-
game industry now also offers a very high level of operational stability for interactive art