Introduction to Knowledge Mangement and Information Exchange (2007)
creator(s) Craig Gordon (software developer)
publisher MNCARS

It was almost universally acknowledged and said many times in different ways, during the project, that installations by their very nature required more work than traditional types of art, not only in manipulation, conservation, maintenance and exhibiting, but also in managing the necessary documentation. Installations are complex and highly variable as witnessed by the variety seen in the case studies. Each can present unique and difficult problems to solve, given that the artist’s intent should always be respected, the concept reproduced as faithfully as possible wherever the work might be exhibited. In the second instance, many went on to say that structures, systems, precedents and the like didn’t exist and they documented their activities in whatever way was convenient or possible. But this really is central to the purpose of the project as a whole, which was to undertake studies to see what problems were encountered and then find strategies to deal with them.

Without any discussion, the unspoken assumption was that many of the solutions lie with Information Technology (IT). And undoubtedly this is true. IT is in fact where the majority of the solution lies, but also with technology, technology in the sense of gadgets, systems and tools that measure, analyse, determine and remove doubt. IT can and demonstrably does improve productivity if it is correctly focused and applicable to the situation, is user-friendly, and allows a greater quantity of data to be handled or repurposed.

Even though the focus was, during the project, on doing case studies and the efforts made to understand, illustrate and document installations, probably the burden of documentation is not much less for normal day to day activities concerning installations. It was cited on various occasions that to work properly with an installation and the artist, one had to understand the artwork and the artist’s intentions. Then analyse it from many angles (practically and conceptually), and try to put this on paper, film or whatever medium would be appropriate in order to transfer that knowledge - gained by the experience of working with the work and the artist - to those that might work with the installation in the future.

Within the scope of B5 Knowledge management and information exchange it was decided to undertake several tasks that could enlighten or make easier the work within the project or day to day activities within the restoration field where installations are concerned.

The various objectives and deliverables are outlined below. Various activities were collaborative efforts and crossed the boundaries between activities. Further elaboration on these cross-boundary activities will be found within the respective project summaries and published material.

Primarily, the website was created as a publishing medium for the documentation, findings and deliberations of the participants during the project’s life-span, and finally to present the deliverables from the project and its activities.

Three educational packages were included in this activity. Tate produced the first e-learning package for the project. Taking as its subject matter the case study of Bruce Nauman’s MAPPING THE STUDIO II with color shift, flip, flop & flip/flop (Fat Chance John Cage), 1991, the aim was to look at whether it was possible to make information about the presentation and preservation of installation art available to a wider public. In preparation for this, Time-based media conservation worked closely with Tate’s e-learning curator to look at what kind of audience would be appropriate for this type of content. In the month of March 2006 alone the site had 3,000 visitors. This was very encouraging and demonstrated the public interest in this type of content. Two other educational packages are about the project itself (Virtual Tour) and Video documentation of installations. The virtual tour is meant for all visitors to the website to explain the richness of the project, its results and how to access these results within the project website. The online course on video documentation of installations was created with museum professionals in mind. A document outlining the philosophy, policy and creation of e-learning packages was also researched and created as an adjunct to this educational package activity.

Document manager
Further, originally unforeseen deliverable is an application related to documentation management. The application has the aim of integrating some (or eliminating some) of the concerns outlined above and to provide a structure within which to document or simplify documentation practices and procedures. This idea evolved from the analysis put forward by the reserach themé's coordinator in a project’s workshop held in Karlsruhe (December 2005), namely that even when dealing with highly complex and variable things (like installation works of art) many processes and aspects remained the same. This in fact is the very idea on which ‘business blueprinting’ is based: 80% of any process is documentable, analysable, constant and repeatable, in the remaining 20%, which is variable (which can sometimes make it seem as if two situations have nothing in common), it is left to the users to find immediate solutions to the situation at hand. These findings have paved the path to creating this application, for which the basis was also shaped by the concerns of project participants and project objectives voiced throughout the years.

A prototype of the document manager can be easily downloaded from the project’s website. It was designed to be simple to use, flexible and adaptable from a user’s point of view. It is not intended as a replacement or substitute for database systems, nor should it compete with other management systems; however it could be used as intermediate solution to having a fully integrated database or perhaps as a support system to such a database. It uses only free to download and use components and requires no paid licensing in itself (but does rely on Windows as a platform and Microsoft Office as the productivity applications which are licensed). It should work on Windows based systems from Windows 2000 onwards.

The document manager provides a structure within which to place documentation. While the hierarchy of folders and their contents remains open to user’s interpretation and implementation, some guidance is given on what is thought to be a suitable hierarchy to organise the compiled information. Furthermore, it provides a container for institutional templates that can be developed further to incorporate the policy and necessities of the implementer. The menu that provides access to these templates is created dynamically on the application start-up. These templates provide datasheets, institutional document templates and check sheets that assist the documentation procedure. Also, it provides a simple document versioning capability. The real benefit of this system, however, is the incorporation of metadata which is contextual information about the resource at hand (the file). To that purpose the document manager provides a consistent interface to the data (files) and the associated metadata. It allows an expanded set of information to be kept and synchronised with the file and is the basis upon which searches are made. Alongside the metadata, a preview is possible for media file types without the need to open each file individually while searching for the required information,

The prototype and guidance to use it are provided at the project’s website under Research Documentation.

B5 Knowledge management and information exchange was coordinated by MNCARS.
The Inside Installations website was developed by Tatja Scholte, Ernst Roza (web applications) and Ariënne Boelens (design) and all project participants who contributed content.

The e-learning site on Bruce Nauman’s MAPPING THE STUDIO II with color shift, flip, flop & flip/flop (Fat Chance John Cage), 1991 was developed and written by Rosie Cardiff and Pip Laurenson with additional text by Maggie Hills; plans and photography were by Frederico Fazenda-Rodrigues of FAZE and the video capture was carried out by Tim McGill. The site was designed by Hugh Williams of Dunk Digital.

The e-learning package ’virtual tour’ was designed by Karen te Brake-Baldock, Tatja Scholte and Ariënne Boelens (design).

The e-learning ’video documentation’ was designed by Karen te Brake-Baldock, Gaby Wijers and Sami Kallinen (content), Ariënne Boelens (design).

The document manager prototype was developed by Craig Gordon, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia

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