WILL ANYONE IN FIFTY YEARS FROM NOW KNOW WHAT A SOFA BED LOOKED LIKE, OR PROBLEMS WITH THE DOCUMENTATION OF CURRENT ART
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Starting with the 1970s almost every large town has been opening a museum with a collection of modern art. Problems of collecting, describing and rendering available museum exhibits have turned into essential questions of contemporary museology. During the last several decades art has undergone parallel enormous changes and the place of such traditional forms of artistic expression as a painting or a sculpture has been taken by works whose medium is an installation, often large-scale and composed of a great assortment of material, or an audio-visual recording. Mean-while, methods of describing an artwork and defining the technique of execution and used material remain the same as a hundred years ago. Taking into account works representing an entirely novel technique all traditional descriptions, records of sizes, and applied vocabulary and conceits no longer pass the test. Another problem involves systems of collection digitisation, created without consultation with museum experts on current art. Such systems, diverse and used in numerous museums, are constantly being prepared for recording works executed with traditional means, and even old art. Every author of a system is setting up dictionaries enabling a description of a given artwork, and even such important questions as choosing a dictionary of keywords remain an arbitrary decision of each institution. The harmonization of terminology and jointly conceived divisions concerning the manner of describing, storing and exhibiting works of art as well as their conservation/reconstruction, and the problem of copies and original versions in the case of films signify an enormous domain of tasks that custodians and conservators concerned with contemporary art well be forced to carry out in the nearest future. Otherwise, there will emerge instruments totally incompatible vis a vis existing needs and, sitll worse, not cohesive even within the range of a single language.
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