PART III: How to Activate the Past and (Re)Present It: Digital Canon?!

Sanneke Huisman (LIMA)
Jan Robert Leegte (Artist)

On Friday, March 22, LIMA launched the Dutch canon of digital art. The presentation, by Sanneke Huisman and Jan Robert Leegte, took place in front of the international audience of Transformation Digital Art symposium 2019 at LIMA. The primary objective of the project is to add these digital works to the collective cultural memory and to fuel the discussion about the selection and preservation of digital art. The digital canon consists of twenty digital artworks made on Dutch soil between 1960 and 2000:

The Senster (1968-1970) - Edward Ihnatowicz
Computerstructuren (1969-1972) - Peter Struycken
Violin Power (1969-1978) - Steina
Moiré (1970-1975) - Livinus & Jeep van de Bundt
Ideofoon I (1970-2013) - Dick Raaijmakers
Points of View (1983) - Jeffrey Shaw
The Hands (1984-2000) - Michel Waisvisz
Institute of Artificial Art Amsterdam (1990-now) - Remko Scha (1995) - Jodi
Breed (1995-2007) - Driessens & Verstappen
Nara Zoyd/La Zoyd’s Pataverse (1996-1998) - Yvonne le Grand
clickclub (1996-2001) - Peter Luining (1996-now) - Martine Neddam
the_living (1997-1998) - Debra Solomon
Being Human (1997-2007) - Annie Abrahams
#11, Marey <-> Moiré (1999) - Joost Rekveld
TST (2000) - Bas van Koolwijk
Scrollbar Composition (2000) - Jan Robert Leegte
Spatial Sounds (100dB at 100 km/h) (2000) - Marnix de Nijs and Edwin van der Heide
Agora Phobia (digitalis) (2000-2009) - Lancel/Maat

The result can be seen on a website dedicated to the project: The twenty canonical works here each have their own page with images, excerpts, videos, quotes from the artists and texts. The works have been researched for this purpose. In addition, the website also contains clear insight into the development of the selection presented and some critical texts about canonizing digital art. The design emphasizes this dual nature by dividing the website into a front and back. This innovative design is made by Yehwan Song. Song is a South Korean designer, web designer and web developer. She designs and develops experimental websites and interactive graphical interfaces. Song is known for her playful design in which she reverses and challenges the general understanding of web design both conceptually and visually.

Screenshot of

The canon is by no means an endpoint, but is the starting point for further investigation of the selected works. The first follow-up steps are already being taken. In addition to the website, an exhibition concept will be developed, which involves various relevant issues. For some of the selected works, for example, only documentation material is left and for other works restoration is needed. The canon is also a starting point for discussion and critical reflection, whereby canonization and the selection procedure are critically examined. The title of the 

conversation between Josephine Bosma, Martijn van Boven, Annet Dekker, Sandra Fauconnier, Jan Robert Leegte and Gaby Wijers is significant from this point of view: "Canonization as an Activist Act". The traditional form of canonization is used to open a conversation. The expert group invites the field to make its voice heard. The first new text to be published on the website will be the first lecture of the symposium: Re-writing the Present: To Inhabit the Inhabitable by Willem van Weelden looks critically and philosophically at (the lack of) historical awareness in the field of canonization and preservation of digital art 

After the launch of the digital canon, questions from the audience were addressed and answered and Gaby Wijers took the stage for the last time to sum up two days of symposium in her final conclusion. Afterwards, the symposium as well the Digital Canon were celebrated at the cafe/restaurant of LAB111.  

Sanneke Huisman and Jan Robert Leegte

Gaby Wijers