Overview of MW98: Why you should attend MW98 Learn new skills to enhance your museum site Explore issues and controversies facing Museums and the Web Experts featured at MW98 Commercial products and services to enhance your web site Organizations supporting MW98: Online interchange regarding the virtual museum experience Juried awards to best web sites in 5 categories Overview of MW98: Why you should attend MW98 Learn new skills to enhance your museum site Explore issues and controversies facing Museums and the Web Experts featured at MW98 Commercial products and services to enhance your web site Organizations supporting MW98: Online interchange regarding the virtual museum experience Juried awards to best web sites in 5 categories

Overview of MW98: Why you should attend MW98 Learn new skills to enhance your museum site Explore issues and controversies facing Museums and the Web Experts featured at MW98 Commercial products and services to enhance your web site Organizations supporting MW98: Online interchange regarding the virtual museum experience Juried awards to best web sites in 5 categories

Archives & Museum Informatics

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www.archimuse.comArchives and Museum Informatics Home Page

published April 1998
updated Nov. 2010

ZKM Logo

ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe:
The Museum of the Future

Dr. Gerd Schwandner

The ZKM I Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe - founded in 1989 - is a unique new cultural foundation. As is the norm for every cultural institution in Germany, the ZKM is funded 100% by public money.The ZKM is a Public Foundation (Stiftung des öffentlichen Rechts) created by the State of Baden-Württemberg and the City of Karlsruhe.

The ZKM operates in different fields:

  • Presentation - of the permanent collections of the two museums, and of temporary exhibitions.
  • Production - of visual art, music, theater, opera, dance, etc. and especially interdisciplinary conjunctions between the various art forms as are being afforded by the new media technologies.
  • Research and development - of new theoretical structures and hardware and software tools and interfaces that can afford the cultural development of the new media technologies.
  • Education - addressing the general public and providing resources for academic studies

Financing and Organization

The City of Karlsruhe - a medium sized city of 280 000 inhabitants - has contributed 100% of the costs of establishing the ZKM (totaling DM 153 million). The City of Karlsruhe and the State of Baden-Württemberg will each contribute DM 8 million towards the yearly operating costs in 1998. Additional income will be generated by tickets sales, sale of ZKM publications, renting different parts of the facilities, revenues from the restaurant and museum shop. Our target is to generate 1,5 million DM in 1998.

Until now there has only been a small level of private/industrial sponsorship. We expect this to increase as long as 'no strings are attached'. There has been no tradition in Germany for public/private partnership in the area of cultural institutions since the 1930's. For more than sixty years museums, orchestras, theaters, libraries have taken the availability of public mney for granted - sometimes with no specific effort to match the needs of the public. In Germany federal, state and municipal support for the arts amounted to a total of around $10 billion a year in 1994, and is still increasing despite all the complaints about crisis of the public budgets).

In the context of artistic production, product development revenue and licensing fees are not felt to be relevant. General purpose developments made by the ZKM are shareware. A small number of income generating projects are undertaken that are felt to have cultural and/or social value. The City of Karlsruhe and the State of Baden-Württenberg guarantee long term structural support of the ZKM. Incidental support is used to further increase the ZKM's productivity.

Mission statement

Target groups and audiences are the general public of Karlsruhe and Germany, as well as European and international visitors, and more specifically the worldwide community of all persons engaged in one way or another in the synergy of all forms of art and new media. Symbolizing the transition into the multimedia era, the ZKM is the world`s first institution dedicated entirely to art as it relates to the new media, and is organized along unconventional lines which gather under one roof the fields of research, development, collection and presentation.

An initiative of this scale of course embodies many interests/objectives.

Some are:

  • to promote the evolution of the (interdisciplinary) artistic applications of the media technologies (and to locate these applications in the context of contemporary art as a whole).
  • to create a center of significant contemporary cultural value for the citizens of Karlsruhe and the neighboring regions (including northeast France), as well for national, European and international visitors.
  • to create an European (and international) center of artistic production by providing high level technological and intellectual resources to guest artists (and scientists).
  • to create a media cultural compliment to the overall technological interests and infrastructures of the Karlsruhe region and to add to the overall prestige of Karlsruhe and Baden-Württemberg.

To artists-in-residence from all round the world, ZKM offers a platform for critical and creative confrontation with the technological revolution. To the public, ZKM offers an opportunity to share in this exciting process, to play and experiment with unprecedented possibilities.

ZKM airial

viewZKM invites one and all to discover the world of new media. Awaiting visitors - on floor space totaling more than 40.000 square meters -are two museums-the Museum for Contemporary Art and the Media Museum. In the first 100 days since the opening, more than 100 000 museum visitors have been at the ZKM , not counting thousands of additional visitors of conferences, concerts and theater-performances.

Technical details

The ZKM has practically ALL the medium and high end hardware and software for sound and image creation, presentation and performance (a complete list can be supplied on request). Also some unusual devices such as a simulation platform, a motion controlled camera rig, and various virtual reality and spatialised audio systems. Interactive interfacing is also another area that is strongly supported. Our network technology is ATM (155 MB/sec), fast Ethernet (100 MB/sec) and normal Ethernet (10 MB/sec). There is a 2 MB/sec Internet connection, 50 MB/sec connection to the University of Karlsruhe.

The main limitation regarding the technical facilities is the technical complexity of this sophisticated infrastructure which needs highly skilled management and maintenance, as well as a governmental salary structure that does not adequately compensate the qualifications of such people.


ZKM | Museum for Contemporary Art
With its opening on 18 October 1997 the ZKM | Museum for Contemporary Art for the first time presents a broad selection of its collection on exhibition space of some 4.000 square meters. The collection has been systematically assembled since 1989. While individual works of art were exhibited at earlier 'Multimediale' festivals or at shows in Germany and abroad, the move into permanent premises means it is now possible to display the full range of the collection.

The technical images of photography, video and holography have taken their place alongside the classical genres of painting, graphics and sculpture, and have drastically changed the world of art in the process. The Museum for Contemporary Art meets the challenges posed by these developments: it is a museum of all the arts, and combines painting, graphics, sculpture, photography and media art. Its collection of media art, one of the most extensive to be found in any museum, is especially impressive in juxtaposition with the other genres: the unmoving images geared towards contemplation are confronted with the moving pictures on the monitors and projection surfaces. This dialogue between different art forms opens up new perspectives for the future.

Included in the exhibits displayed by the Museum for Contemporary Art are 'classical' works of the still-young genre of media art such as Bill Viola's 'The City of Man' and Nam June Paik's 'Passage'. Well-known video artists such as Gary Hill, Marie-Jo Lafontaine, Bruce Nauman and Fabrizio Plessi are represented with important works. After the neo-figuration of post-modernist painting, abstract and representationally abstracting images have returned to the foreground. This aspect is accentuated by the Museum for Contemporary Art, with a special focus being placed on contemporary German painting. The range of photography includes images by Thomas Struth, Thomas Ruff and Andreas Gursky; among the sculptures are works by Christian Boltanski, Ulrich Rueckriem and Imi Knoebel. In this interplay of different genres the Museum for Contemporary Art thus offers a comprehensive panorama of current art.


Private collections enrich the ZKM | Museum for Contemporary Art
The 'Collectors' Museum' represents significant addition to the ZKM | Museum for Contemporary Art. A decision by the Ministerial Council of the State of Baden-Württemberg foresees the conversion, at a cost of DM 24.5 million, of the currently unused light wells 1 and 2 to house the private collections. The City of Karlsruhe has agreed to carry out the basic reconstruction of both light wells, and hand them over free of charge to ZKM for completion. The running costs for the Museum for Contemporary Art will amount to DM 6.3 million, of which sum DM 2.3 million will come from the general State subsidy allocated to ZKM, while the remaining DM 4 million will be furnished by an additional State grant.

From fall 1999 onward, ZKM will be able to show first-class works from the collections of Frieder Burda, Josef Froehlich, Anni Graesslin, Friedrich Rentschler and Siegfried Weishaupt. They will be complemented by the collection of Count Panza di Biumo of Milan/Varese, which is devoted mainly to contemporary American art. The private collections include works by major contemporary artists such as Baselitz, Polke, Penck, Luepertz, Kiefer, Beuys, Warhol, Lichtenstein, Stella, Haring, Fontana, Oehlen, Mucha, Wols and many others besides. One of the largest groups of modern art collections will then be gathered together in the Museum for Contemporary Art.


ZKM | Media Museum
The ZKM breaks new ground with its Media Museum. Based on a wholly interactive concept, the museum focuses on the new media. Where do the new technologies come from, how do they affect our way of thinking and our lives, where are they leading us? In a range of interactive installations that involve the spectator, artists and academics deliver informative and entertaining comments on these questions, take a critical look at developments in media technology, and present their own visions.

Most of the installations and works of media art were created directly for the ZKM|Media Museum, and are associated with specific themes it addresses. The Media Bodies section, for instance, shows how our image of the human body is being altered by the new technologies and in particular by simulation techniques. Notions sometimes playing an exaggerated role in discussions about the new media - 'Cyber Space' and 'Virtual Reality' are just two examples - are illuminated playfully and critically by turns. The Media Visions section features a series of imaginative installations offering visitors to the museum a glimpse into the future of media such as books, films and theater. The ZKM|Media Museum also houses an 'interactive art gallery' presenting a selection of interactive works important to the genre's development history, and shows the breadth meanwhile encompassed by the field. Masaki Fujihata`s "Beyond Pages" is one work exhibited, Jeffrey Shaw's 'The Legible City' another.

'The World of Games' provides visitors with an opportunity to experience at first hand the fascination exuded by computer games, as well as the dangers they harbor. The museum's 'laboratories' are concerned less with artistic content than with equipment, systems and techniques. Visitors are invited to experiment at workstations and acquire their own knowledge of media technology basics.

The 'Salon Digital' is the museum's virtual wing and ZKM's window to the outside world. Visitors to the salon have full access to the Internet, and surfers on the Net are reciprocally invited to visit the ZKM|Media Museum via the same gateway. A regular program of events organized by visiting curators is foreseen; again, participation by Internet users will be welcomed.


ZKM | Media Library
The collection of contemporary music, videotapes, and literature on 20th-century art offered by the ZKM | Media Library is among the widest of its kind. A gold mine for researchers, the library is equally a place where the general public is welcome to spend time browsing and learning. Information about artists and their works can be called up directly from the library's database, and fast viewing and jukebox playback facilities are available for videotapes and CD-ROMs. The Media Library and its collections can also be accessed over the Internet. However, all videotapes, CDs and books can be used on the premises only. The Media Library is divided up into three collections: Audio, Video and Print.

The Audio Collection is devoted to contemporary music, and places a particular emphasis on electroacoustic music. At present, the collection includes some 12,000 titles supplemented by scores, specialist literature, historical photographs and posters. A major role is played by the International Digital Electroacoustic Music Archives IDEAMA, which encompass all important compositions from the beginnings of electroacoustic music up to the present day. Another department presents the most important works of New Music.

The designated purpose of the Video Collection is to raise awareness of video as an art form in its own right. It is the first collection of its kind in Germany concerned with presenting the history of video art. The current stock of more than 500 artists' videos accounts for 120 hours of running time. Another central aspect of the collection is the video magazine 'Infermental', which is a unique document of 1980s video art. An important task in the future will be the conservation of early videotapes already threatened by deterioration - thus, all tapes will be digitized.

The shared print library of the ZKM and Academy of Design encompasses some 20.000 books and CD-ROMs. 120 periodicals are on hand. The library focuses on art in the 20th century - media art, above all, followed by architecture, design, media theory, film, photography, and electroacoustic music. The two research and development departments are the Institute for Visual Media and the Institute for Music and Acoustics .


ZKM | Institute for Visual Media
The ZKM | Institute for Visual Media sees itself as a forum for the creative and critical analysis of a constantly changing media culture. It offers artists-in-residence from all over the world an opportunity to investigate the most recent media technologies and create art-works of different kinds. Artists working at the Institute have access to the full potential of the Institute: sophisticated graphics computers and digital video equipment, as well as a virtual studio and multimedia laboratory. Other focal activities include in-house research, as well as hard- and software development tailored to artistic requirements. The work of the ZKM|Institute for Visual Media centers on those media technologies considered important to contemporary artistic practice: digital video, interactivity, virtual reality, simulation, telecommunications, computer graphics, multimedia and CD-ROM.

Many works of art produced at the institute have won acknowledgment at international exhibitions, for instance at the Lyons Biennial, the 'Mediascape' show in the Guggenheim Museum, New York, or the Ars Electronica, Linz. Naturally, the works were also shown at the previous Multimediale festivals staged by the ZKM. Many works are the product of cooperation with internationally renowned research institutions and media centers such as the Intercommunication Center (ICC) in Tokyo (JAPAN) or Le Fresnoy in Tourcoing, France.

The multimedia laboratory established by the institute in collaboration with the ZKM | Media Museum places a special focus on producing CD-ROMs with art content. The annual editions of the interactive CD-ROM magazine 'artintact', for example, have been produced in the laboratory since 1994.


ZKM | Institute for Music and Acoustics
The ZKM | Institute for Music and Acoustics unites artistic production with research and development in conjunction with an ambitious schedule of regular events. Over the past few years, artists and engineers have collaborated in the creation of numerous commissioned works and in-house productions that were subsequently presented to the public. The spectrum of works ranges from live electronic compositions for the concert stage to music theater, from loudspeaker installations to film music and radio plays. The institute was also involved in a series of intermedia productions, of which the most recent example is the music-theater project 'To the Unborn Gods'. For this production, which was devised for the ZKM inauguration in collaboration with the ZKM|Institute for Visual Media, composer Kiyoshi Furukawa (JAPAN) and artist Robert Darroll jointly created an audio-visual interactive environment for the theater stage.

Software engineering is a further aspect of the institute's work. The composition software Common Music/Stella developed there by composer and programmer Heinrich Taube has meanwhile achieved international success - in particular at universities and electronic studios devoted to research and the training of composers.

In the blue cube-shaped building that fronts the ZKM, the institute has at its disposal a superbly equipped recording studio. It allows the advanced technologies now becoming standard in the media industry to be incorporated in the creative production process from the first step onward.


National network

The ZKM is also very closely associated (and shares the same building) with the Staatliche Hochschule für Gestaltung (State School of Design), The ZKM is connected to all the institutions belonging to the so-called Technology Region Karlsruhe and to all the local, national and international institutions (e.g. contemporary art museums, science museums, media art centers, media technology research centers) that have overlapping interests with the ZKM.

The ZKM has structural relations with for instance the University of Karlsruhe (e.g. computer science department, computer graphics department, robotics department), and the Research Center Karlsruhe (e.g. robotics department). There is also a strong relationship with the GMD-German National Research Center for Information Technology.


International network

In an increasingly interconnected world cultural institutions have to operate globally .The ZKM has an intensive exchange program with institutions all over the world. We are working together with American, European, Pacific and Asian universities, research centers and museums. The ZKM has close relations with other media cultural institutions such as the Guggenheim Museum (New York), the Museum of Contemporary Art in Strasbourg, France and the Le Fresnoy National Studio of Contemporary Arts (Tourcoing) France. The NTT InterCommunication Center (Tokyo) is one of the major partner Institutions of the ZKM and the closest one regarding the program, the infrastructure and the facilities.

The ZKM has also cooperated with many other cultural and media art related institutions and events worldwide, as well as with many of the Goethe Institutes. There are also strong contacts with universities such as MIT Media Lab Mass. USA, Chulalongkorn University Bangkok and Baptist University Hong Kong ( the latter with a one-way student exchange program).

The ZKM | Institute for Music and Acoustics works closely with comparable research institutions around the world; these include the IRCAM at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, and the Computer Music Center at Stanford University in the USA.

In some cases this co-operation is formalized, in most cases it is done on project-by-project basis.


ZKM Strategy for the net

The ZKM has developed a multiple strategy on the net to match a whole variety of different activities from the artistic events to services for the public and visitors. In general our net visitors are coming from all over the world especially from the USA, Japan, France to name the most active countries. Foreign visitors outnumber German visitors. The ZKM provides the home page in German, English and French in full version and an additional short version in Chinese characters. A new design for the fourth version on the net will be developed and installed in spring 1998.

One aspect of the new version will be a "live" window into the building by the use of non-security-relevant web cameras . Virtual visitors would be enabled to have an actual view what is happening in the building or e.g. in the Media theater.

The ZKM opened its virtual presence on the Net using a new virtual reality technology standard in the web VRML in 1997. The whole building with many artworks, media installations and paintings are available for the public to visit the ZKM virtually. Now the ZKM is developing a simplified version of this model, which will allow even broader public to use their normal PC's to make a virtual tour.

The ZKM shop has been online for nearly two years, but I have to admit that our shoppers still prefer to go offline for shopping.


Three more examples

The Morphogenesis Project by Bernd Lintermann .

Morphogenesis homepageThe installation is about the evolutionary development of a three dimensional organic form. It consists of two coupled systems. One system exists in real space, visitors interact with a virtual organic projected onto a screen via s special interface box constructed for that purpose. The second system uses the world wide web as user interface.

In both systems users evolve a three dimensional organic object created using genetic algorithms. The organic is defined by a genome, a set of components, which is successively mutated by the users. Out of six randomly generated mutations users select one, which in the next step is the starting point for new mutations. This way users choose a thread through a space out of approximately possible forms.

In the real space users additionally change the shape and behavior of the life like organic object via an interface box. Both systems are coupled and operate on the same data set constituting the genom, actions in the web space effect the real space and vice versa. If a change on the web happens , the organic in the real space slowly morphs towards the web selection, a change in real space directly affects the next web action. Morphogenesis was exhibited at the Multimediale 5 , October 18 - November 9 1997 at the ZKM.



"Global Bodies"

For the opening of ZKM at 18th and 19th October 1997 one of our major projects was an internet based video-conferencing-perfomance with the title "Global Bodies". This artistic online-conference connected 16 Goethe Institutes on four continents with the ZKM opening ceremony, transforming the Karlsruhe event to a real global party. The Australian media-artist Jill Scott, Thomas Gerwin Head of ZKM Audio-Collection and President of World Forum for Acoustic Ecology (WFAE) and artist at the Goethe Institutes exchanged artistic messages like pictures, sound files, web sites and texts. The contributions were not meant as just intellectual discourses but also as representative of the places where the Goethe Institutes are located. So, for example, one the second day of the opening we succeeded in having a Feng Shui examination of new ZKM building organized by the Goethe Institute in Hong Kong which was not only fascinating in terms of being a slightly strange tradition but was also fun.


Third is the Catal Höyük Archaeology and Multimedia Project ( CHAMP) .

This project - both a CD-ROM and the net version -is an interdisciplinary project between the Staatliche Hochschule für Gestaltung Karlsruhe, the University of Cambridge (UK), the Universität Karlsruhe and the ZKM.The ZKM begun 1992 with the production of the first three dimensional interactive virtual computer animations about Catal Höyük. Catal Höyük in the central anatolian highland in Turkey is an archaeological site of immense international significance, providing the first instance of complex settled life other than Jericho. Some of the spectacular sculptures and paintings are 9000 years old and provide a direct window into neolithic life.

One of the main tasks of CHAMP is to build a program that runs on all platforms, CD-ROM, the Internet and realtime.

The objective of CHAMP is for the first time to link video and "virtual" computer reconstructions and archaeological data in an integrated database that will enhance scientific understanding of archaeological sites and presentation of cultural heritage sites to a wider audience and the development of new forms of long-term documentation in the context of new media and the "virtualmuseum".

This project got the first prize from the MFG Agen cy (a state agency for Multimedia) and was presented in Cannes, France in February 1998 during the MILIA fair.


Even more traditional museums, though changed by the way we will use these technologies, will never become obsolete. As long there is a need for museums, there will be the real, physical thing, with real people inside, walking around looking at real artifacts and meeting real people in real life. But the "digital" museum will lead them to a better understanding and hopefully help them have more fun.

Dr.Gerd Schwandner
General Manager
Center for Art &Media Karlsruhe
D-76135 Karlsruhe

Tel. +49 - 721 - 8100 1000
Fax +49- 721 - 8100 1139
Email: schwandner@zkm.de


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