Peter Weibel: Towards a Material History of Media


The restoration and conservation of paintings and sculptures was never just a question of style and composition, but also a question of materiality. Similarly, the restoration and conservation of media art works is never just a question of concept, but more than ever a question of materiality. What will museums do with art works whose deterioration is foreseeable, be they the chocolate sculptures of Dieter Roth or magnetic tape or data storage. My thesis is: storage space is expanding infinitely, storage time is imploding at ever shorter intervals. The shortage of resources is the fate of the technical storage media and of the technical arts, from neon lamps to television sets.

Born in Odessa in 1944, Peter Weibel studied literature, medicine, logic, philosophy and film in Paris and Vienna. He became a central figure in European media art on account of his various activities as artist, media theorist and curator. Since 1984 he is professor at the University of Applied Arts Vienna, from 1984 to 1989 he was head of the digital arts laboratory at the Media Department of New York University in Buffalo, and in 1989 he founded the Institute of New Media at the Städelschule in Frankfurton- Main, which he directed until 1995. Between 1986 and 1995, he was in charge of the Ars Electronica in Linz, he c ommissioned the Austrian pavilions at the Venice Biennale from 1993 to 1999. From 1993 to 1998 he was chief curator at the Neue Galerie Graz, Austria, and since 1999 he is Chairman and CEO of the ZKM | Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe.