[thingist] What about a subjective, evolving, archive?

w w at thing.net
Mon Jul 19 19:01:49 UTC 2010

dear fellow thingists,

there have been numerous attempts already at archiving various THE THING

number one, MoMA still has the box of ephemera (flyers, disks, posters,
press releases, the classic thing baseball cap, etc.) that was given to
barbara london about ten years ago on the occasion of the potential sale
of http://old.thing.net to MoMA (a deal that collapsed after MoMA
lawyers raised copyright issues - unlike rhizome i never bothered to
secure rights from the artists).  the box had been lost during their
move to queens, but has recently re-surfaced.

number two, jerome joy, who runs the audio lab at villa arson in nice,
started collecting snippets of history on the web and on mailing lists
and put a web site together:  A brief history of The Thing - '91 to '07
(this was a spontaneous individual initiative, so kudos to jerome!)
it's by no means a comprehensive history, but an excellent starting
point.  and as if anticipating this discussion, jerome installed a wiki
for the collection of more material which - as i understand it - now is
open to everyone to contribute.  maybe jerome can say something more
about this:  http://thing.nujus.net/

third, the ludwig boltzmann institute in linz, austria so far undertook
the most comprehensive archiving endeavor:  

the institute, which is headquartered in vienna, had a media art
research branch in linz.  the media art office was lead by art
historians dieter daniels and gunther resinger and concerned itself with
the preserving and archiving of early net art (which was then rightly
seen as some sort of endangered species, because of the entropy inherent
in on-line storage media).  this effort folded when the media branch was
shut down at the beginning of this year for reasons not entirely clear
to me (most likely budgetary).  gunther reisinger ported the project
over to the university of graz and he continues to work with max kossatz
(the original programmer) and walter palmetshofer on the restoration of
bbs.thing.net (1997 - 2004).  unfortunately this project is also way
behind schedule.  http://netpioneers.info/node/5

the original plan was to have an exhibition at the austrian cultural
forum in nyc in february 2010 and in 2012 a larger exhibition of early
net art at the lentos museum in linz.  with the closing of the institute
these projects were shelved.  however, the book project, netpioneers
1.0, survived and was published this year by sternberg press.  it's
available in ny at the MoMA bookstore and the dieter daniels essay on
the importance of "frameworks," multiple user platforms such as THE
THING, is highly recommended.

gunther reisinger also took three large containers of documents from our
filing cabinets and had them scanned and put into an on-line archive.
unfortunately the reproductions are so small that they are virtually
useless.  i also would have liked to be involved in the prioritization
and contextualization of the material (as far as i know, this was done
by a young intern); at the moment i cannot make heads nor tails from it:

so this is the state of the affair, it's not a pretty picture but not
entirely hopeless either.  lots of bits and pieces and loose ends
floating around.  there are no exclusive contracts (in my view the lbi
contract is null and void, since they did not fulfill their
obligations), so i am open to any suggestion.  my inclination is to work
with jerome joy's wiki and collect as much from the original members as
possible (stories, documents, images etc) and this way create a source
pool for a potential future thing publication.  hopefully the bbs
restoration will be completed this year and the on-line projects, video
and audio works, the various mailing list archives will be available for
the public once again.

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