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Imago Revisited - re-installation of multimedia art

Improving guidelines for the re-installation and long-term preservation of multimedia art.

In the 1990s an exhibition of Dutch media art travelled all over the world: Imago, fin de siècle in Dutch contemporary art. The re-installation of two installations from this exhibition, Panta Rhei by Ricardo Füglistahler and Mill x Molen by Bert Schutter, gave cause to improve guidelines and protocols and carry out digitalisation for greater accessibility.

Imago-exhibition in Amsterdam in 2009.

Imago-exhibition in Amsterdam in 2009. In the background the work Mill x Molen of Bert Schutter'.

Multimedia installations go out-of-date at lightning speed due to on-going technical progress. Hence this kind of art demands special attention in the field of management and conservation. In practice the re-installation or conservation of video art for example, often means 'migration' in which the video signal is transferred to a carrier that is compatible with today's state-of-the-art hardware so that the signal is readable for current viewers.


In the period 2002-2006, three video installations from the Imago exhibition were re-installed, conserved and documented: A Virus of Sadness by Lydia Schouten, Albert's Ark by Bill Spinhoven and Revolution by Jeffrey Shaw and Tjebbe van Tijen. The re-installation of Revolution and Albert's Ark took place as part of Inside Installations, an international collaborative project in which more than thirty similar case studies were conducted. Inside Installations led to the first guidelines for the management, conservation and documentation of installation art. However, these guidelines were not yet widely applicable and accessible for collection managers. 

Guidelines and protocols

The Imago Revisited project changed the situation. The ICN (now RCE) and the NIMk (now the Living Media Art Foundation, LIMA) aimed to test the guidelines developed during Inside Installations on two additional case studies. In addition the guidelines would be further developed into generally applicable protocols for the management and conservation of multimedia art. The choice of the case studies fell on the installations of Panta Rhei by Ricardo Füglistahler (1988) and Mill x Molen by Bert Schutter (1982), which were re-installed in the NIMK. The technology, functionality and significance of the works have been extensively researched and documented. Conservation was carried out in collaboration with the artists where necessary. The re-installation of these two works was intended not only to assess the existing guidelines from the previous Inside installations project but also to further develop them into generally applicable protocols that are accessible online and also applicable for similar multimedia works.

Conservation of Contemporary Art

Imago Revisited is associated with PRACTICs (Practices, Research, Access, Collaboration, Teaching In Conservation of Contemporary Art), a European project in which more than thirty museums and educational institutions collaborate on the conservation of contemporary art. The connection with Obsolete Equipment of PACKED and NIMk (conducted in collaboration with a number of Dutch and Belgian museums) was more specific. This project involves the digitisation and preservation of audio-visual artworks in the context of missing original playback equipment. The results of the Imago Revisited project are also published through the communication channels of these projects. 

About Imago

The Imago exhibition was a co-production of ICN and Media Art Institute (forerunners of the RCE and LIMA, the Living Media Art Foundation). The exhibition displayed to a large public the different ways in which Dutch artists incorporate new technologies into their work. The exhibition, which consists of thirteen multimedia installations, was acquired by the ICN in its entirety in the late 1990s. The RCE now manages the objects and the LIMA the video material.