Online Art Archives: Shifting from Storage to Dynamic Circulation

An Uncertain Archives Afternoon Seminar with Annet Dekker

With the advent of the web, museum archives gradually changed from a storage depot for physical objects to a data set of digital files. With this change, visitor attention shifts from physical to ‘virtual’ environments, radically transforming how we experience the objects themselves. In other words, an archive’s traditional relationship to social identity, agency, history and memory is challenged by the distributed, processual and ambiguous nature of networked media, and a new set of values emerges but remains unarticulated. To answer how the transformation of the archive into a networked device is changing how archives are curated, experienced and preserved, several art projects are presented in which challenges and the potential of the digital archive are explored.

In the process, this research seeks to develop an understanding of the relationship between the software practices and cultures by which online archives are maintained and the socio-political, commercial and organisational practices of what is still considered the preservation of documents and objects. 

Annet Dekker is an independent curator and researcher. Currently she is researcher digital preservation at Tate, London, visiting lecturer at London South Bank University/The Photographers’ Gallery, London, fellow at Het Nieuwe Institute, Rotterdam, and tutor at Piet Zwart Institute, Rotterdam. She publishes widely on issues of digital art and preservation in international peer reviewed journals, books and magazines, and edited several publications. Previously she worked as Web curator for SKOR (Foundation for Art and Public Domain, 2010–2012), was programme manager at Virtueel Platform (2008–2010), and head of exhibitions, education and artists-in-residence at the Netherlands Media Art Institute (1999–2008). In 2014 she completed her PhD on strategies for conserving net art at the Centre for Cultural Studies at Goldsmiths University of London. Thesis title: Enabling the Future, or How to Survive FOREVER. A study of networks, processes and ambiguity in net art and the need for an expanded practice of conservation.

Please sign up by sending an email to: