Hans Belting: Schmetterlings-Netze


Hans Belting argued that the concept of the digital archive was contradictory. Digital media, he suggested, are subject to rapid change and thus inherently unstable, with a large gap likely to open up between, on the one hand, vast quantities of data and, on the other, limited possibilities for their preservation. In this context, he also noted that non-Western cultures have different ideas of contemporaneity, with less contradictory relations to concepts of tradition. In conclusion, Belting presented an analysis of media art as a »hybrid of technology and concept«. When placed in a museum, old technologies merely gathered dust. Artworks, by contrast, aged in a different way, since they had never been useful in the same manner. Thus, the conservation of artworks must concentrate on their contents. With reference to early media art, it was not clear why it should be reproduced – unlike established art, it wanted to be fleeting and evanescent. »To capture and mount a butterfly is to take away its ability to fly.« Hans Belting was co-founder of the Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design (1992) and professor of art history and media theory (until 2002). At present, he is amongst others advisor of the project GAM (Global Art and the Museum) and of the exhibition »The Global Contemporary. Art Worlds After 1989« at the Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe (ZKM).