Curated by the Tate, and supported by Channel 4 and the AHRC, the website sports images, essays, and soundbites thus far, making it a very useful resource.
Firstly, the website grabbed my attention with its sleek interface design, created by the lovely people at ISO Design Studio, who I’ve just found out are based in Glasgow, (which makes me very proud!)
Secondly, the idea of a digital archive of lost art is a great idea. Interesting, on the back of numerous articles about the potential loss of data (in this case artworks) whether due to our inability to archive everything digitally, or the instability of the digital mean with which we archive, it makes complete sense to think about works that are already lost, rather than start worrying about what hasn’t happened already.
Thirdly, it is of specific resonance to me as I continue to explore the mediated world of technology and in particular the idea of erasure in the photographic image.
The website/virtual exhibition allows you to search through menus by artist, type of loss, or keep up-to-date via the blog. Some of the categories of loss are quite interesting. There are the more obvious: Stolen, Destroyed, Missing. Ones that look like they have interesting back stories: Attacked, Erased. And then some that leave me curious about their inclusion: Transient, for example, implies that the artist wanted the artwork to be ‘lost’ other than in its experience. Artists like Tino Sehgal, are quite particular that their staged ‘happenings’ aren’t translated into a new material entity, making them resistant to documentation that exists later in time and place, thereby rendering the artwork conceptually lost from the start. Similarly, Rejected, Unrealised and Discarded imply the artworks weren’t ‘good enough’ in some way, according to some persons criteria (i.e. the artists, or a curator, commissioner) which again might be something the artist would not want to be recorded for future prosperity.
But these are initial musings and of course, too simplistic categorisations. And I am sure that the creators have all permissions for the work they have on the website.
The twist? Oh yeah, after one year the website itself will disappear…lost to us, with its archive, forever (with perhaps the exception of through the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, for those who know to look for it.)