Digital Canon?!

When and where does digital art begin? How do we define digital art? And can this be limited to national borders? Which artists, artworks, networks, institutions and moments were and are of everlasting influence and importance? Digital art is a discourse in motion, discursive and always subject to change, just like the discipline itself. In collaboration with Josephine Bosma, Martijn van Boven, Annet Dekker, Sandra Fauconnier and Jan Robert Leegte among others, LIMA is currently opening up the discussion on the importance of digital art, it’s heritage and pioniers in our collective memory by initiating the project Digital Canon?! The research project is meant as a starting point for further analysis and debate and actions. Our goal is to bring the rich history of this art to the foreground in an increasingly 'digital' minded contemporary art context and to open it to the public at large.

How is a canon formed? By who? Do we actually need a canon for digital art? And how to deal with subjective views, different opinions and knowledge? The project Digital Canon?! Is strongly tended towards questioning the possibility of or need for a canon. All conversations and results within the framework of this project will be documented and made public. Next to this, public events will be organised to give insight in the progress and methodology. On this page, we will keep you informed about events and activities within the framework of this project. 
The practical research project Digital Canon?! Born-digital art in the Netherlands is twofold. On the one hand, a selected group of experts will reflect and work on the methodology and the development of selection criteria. Specific attention will be paid to defining the discipline that can be found on the intersection of art, science and technology. On the other hand, many people from the field will be asked to participate to the making of the actual canon: a list, map, website, network or representation of artworks and artists. The canon will be made collectively by both experts and the field. The resulting canon is also immediately under discussion: it is a starting point for further analysis and debate and actions. 

Meet-up at Transmediale

On 1 February 2018,  a community meet-up was held  at the Transmediale in Berlin. Josephine Bosma, Sanneke Huisman, Jan Robert Leegte and Gaby Wijers were present on behalf of the expert group. Around twenty participants showed up to engage in a lively and interesting discussion that led to important pointers on how to develop a digital art canon. Education, publication and exhibition—creating a digital art sphere—was emphasized, in order to enhance the visibility and understanding of digital artworks. Other steps were also deemed necessary in order to successfully create a canon. 

Read the transcription of the discussion here.


Meet-up at Transmediale 2018. Photo Andreia Afonso.

Workshop Mapping the canon

In a first step towards a ‘real’ canon, a mapping session was organised at LIMA on 13 April 2018. Jurian Strik and Sanneke Huisman organised a workshop in which participants could place important artists, artworks, institutes and technological developments on a timeline. The workshop was a possible way of giving shape to a canon and opened up debates on both the selection and methodology. 

Watch the workshop and its results here.



Workshop Mapping the canon at LIMA. Photo's José Miguel Biscaya.