Capturing Unstable Media, Summary of research

Summary of the research project Capturing Unstable Media, written in 2003 by Sandra Fauconnier and Rens Frommé.

Die dingliche Umwelt ist uninteressant geworden, das Interesse hat sich auf die Dokumente verschoben. Vilém Flusser, 1989 [1]

Alle Kunstformen werden durch die Digitalisierung zu exakten wissenschaftlichen Disziplinen und können von der Wissenschaft nicht mehr unterscheiden werden. Vilém Flusser, 1991 [2]



Media and technology play an increasingly important role in contemporary society. Communications, production, trade, urbanism, medicine are all being changed by technological developments that are also transforming the arts. Art that makes use of electronic, especially digital or ‘unstable’ media, explores the meaning, the specificity and the boundaries of these media.

V2_ is a center for art, culture and technology in Rotterdam that engages itself with these electronic arts (or, synonymously, unstable media arts). For the last twenty years, V2_ has shown electronic art installations, applications, performances and related debates and research within the framework of festivals, exhibitions and other programs. V2_Lab is a workplace for artists, scientists and technicians emphasizing exchange and meeting between the various disciplines that are involved in the realization of unstable media productions.

So far, few attempts have been made to document and preserve this field of unstable media art (or electronic art), partly due to the complex, heterogeneous nature of these activities, partly because the field is still in its infancy. In order to stimulate the debate and to help safeguard its own history, V2_ has conducted research on the documentation aspects of the preservation of electronic art activities – or Capturing Unstable Media -, an approach between archiving and preservation. The research took place in 2003; it involved a broad inventory of related, relevant archiving and preservation initiatives (summarized below in the section on research context) and the formulation of recommendations in the areas of documentation strategies, formal modeling, metadata and archival interoperability (summarized in the section of research results).


1 Vilém Flusser, 'Auf dem Weg zum Unding.' Vilém Flusser Medienkultur, p. 189. Fischer Verlag, 1999.
2 Vilém Flusser, 'Digitaler Schein.' In: Vilém Flusser Medienkultur, p. 214. Fischer Verlag, 1999.


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