me, kdg
Kim de Groot is a design researcher with an MA in new media. She is part of the lectoraat Communication in a digital age and teaches new media at the Willem de Kooning academy Kim's research deals with the inverted relation between image and reality. Moving from representation to the performative, from the visual to the infrastructural, images are no longer created to represent a reality but to manage it. Kim examines images as informational objects and traces the relations between image, event and media.

The materialization of the digital double of the artwork


I’m examining the relations of the museum with its collection, more specifically focusing on the potential of the digital double for the museum as a unique variant of the original.*1 Studying the digital management of the artwork, I aim to find the museum collection’s potential doubles or even multiple other.

The fact that the artwork is a different image in the context of the museum shop, the museum’s website or in the process of restoration, interests me. These contexts produce different property relations between the museum, the collection, the artwork and its image. Embedded within these relations are multiple representations of an original artwork. One could say, these relations produce an applied and desired image of the artwork. How can these images start to level with the collection's original?

The images of the artwork that arrive from its digital preservation and online documentation and representation can no longer be underestimated as copies of originals but as different originals. Museums should move beyond digitization as a tool for preservation only and embrace the potential of digitization for new exhibition concepts while preserving the unique quality of the museum; the materiality of the collection. How does the online ‘advertorial’ image of an artwork relate to the original and how can the museum’s collection of originals benefit from the digital double? How can museums overcome the border between original and copy and claim a truly digital networked attitude? To my opinion, by opening up to the (digital) concept of multiplicity within the original and to work with unique copies parallel to the original.

Part of my work for Imaginary Property is about introducing digital methods for locating the potential multiples of the collection; finding many in one. What are the various property relations that exist around the collection’s double such as the online representation of the artwork and the restored artwork? How can the collection’s double open up classic exhibition concepts that are based on presenting original works? This would include thinking about the materialization of the digital double by imaging it for example. Finally, it is important to discuss the position of the unique (digital) copy in the museum in relation to the collection.

RESTORATION: Archiving different originals
Restoration allows the restorer to perform various private acts such as zooming in and touching the artwork. The artwork’s decay or change is something the public is not allowed to see. The restorer is managing a noise margin between figure and medium in which the figure gets priority and the medium, the canvas for example, is updated to complete the original image of the work.*2 The figure cannot become something else since the medium is constantly being updated by the restorer, even though it claims visuality by fading out. Could the recording of the decay of the artwork lead to a transformation into another image or multiple images of the artwork? How can the restorers’ work be made available to the public? Can restoration as a tool be reconfigured and used for visualizing the different copies of an original? I propose to digitize and archive the restoration process to allow access and add value to the multiples of the original artwork.

ONLINE COLLECTION: Introducing the digital multiple in the museum
The implication of an online collection is the remote viewing of artworks outside of the museum context. It is a conclusion that is inevitable and should not result into a political process of exclusion of artwork images from the web and more copyrights. It should result in a reconsideration of the artwork’s presentation in the museum.*3 What is the difference between viewing an artwork online or offline and how can the museum adapt to both perspectives within an exhibition? The materialization of the digital double can help to level the original with its unique copy. If multiple originals can exist in a museum collection, how can they allow for a different experience of artworks and new exhibition concepts? How can the online collection be included as an integral part of the museum experience? What methods or tools can be developed to introduce the digital doubles of the collection in the museum?

*1 initiated by Florian Schneider

*2 In electrical engineering, noise margin is the amount by which a signal exceeds the minimum amount for proper peration.

*3 The Wiki loves art project, a free content photography contest among museums is an interesting case study in this context.