The year covered by this report, 2009, was the first in the period of the ‘Cultuurnota 2009 – 2012’, on which occasion institutions reformulate their vision for the coming four years. The Netherlands Media Art Institute (NIMk) described its future policy in terms of the expectation for the upcoming four years as ‘Culture 2.0’:
“New communications technology, digital production and reproduction, and data management are rapidly being applied in the economy and are influencing all facets of our society and its culture.
With Youtube, Second Life, teleporting – in short, web 2.0 – we have entered a second phase of the digital era, in which the user is central. Traditional art and cultural institutions are faced with the challenge of translating this development programmatically. This is also true for producers, distributors, intermediaries, collection administrators and curators. The Netherlands Media Art Institute presents and represents art and artists who make use of these new technologies.”

Read the full annual Report as a PDF: ANNUAL REPORT 2009

The year 2009 was also the year in which we celebrated thirty years of the existence of the NIMk, made a changeover from video distribution to the distribution of media art, introduced a MediaArtMobile in order to reach a larger audience, and internationally focused our attention on the rising economies in Asia, Africa and South America. In the new definitions employed by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, the NIMk is designated as a ‘supporting institution’:
“The minister may provide a four-year institutional subsidy to an institution which, as its core activity, performs one or more supporting tasks in a field in the cultural system [...] For the purposes of this first paragraph, supporting tasks are to be understood to include:
a. representation or promotion at a national or international level [...]
b. provision of education, information and promoting reflection on developments in the field involved, by means of expositions, lectures, symposia and publications;
c. inventorying, stimulating appreciation for and providing access to heritage;
d. documentation of and archiving relevant material in the field involved, by means of an archive, library or video and mediatheque;
e. harmonizing interests and encouraging coordination among relevant parties in the field involved.”
(Cultural Council 07/08, Toward the Basic Infrastructure)

In 2009 the Netherlands Media Art Institute celebrated its thirtieth anniversary, with the slogan Here we are, there we go!. On 8 May the NIMk organized the conference Positions in flux: On the changing role of the artist and the institution in the Trouw Building. Speakers from The Netherlands and other countries provided answers to and commentary on questions such as: What fundamental changes are coming our way as a result of technological innovation? What is the influence of tomorrow’s digital environment on art and artists today? And: what does this mean for an institution like the NIMk? Who are we, what do we do and what don’t we do, and does that tally with the times? It was an ideal opportunity to determine where we stand and to look forward to the future. With an Open House on 9 and 10 May we hosted a long weekend full of discussions, visual art and technology. We raised a glass to the future and invited everyone to think along with us about the art of today and tomorrow and about media art and digital culture in all their facets. The extent of our tasks, well reflected in the above description and expanded over the past 30 years, makes it clear that the NIMk has grown to become a place where many diverse tasks are carried out in the service of artists and institutions, and ultimately in the service of the audience, who always play an important role.

New activities at the NIMk in 2009 have included:
– our mediatheque’s design and furnishings were entirely revamped last year with the support of the City of Amsterdam;
– 2009 saw the first steps in the MediaArtMobile project, which the NIMk hopes to use to visit festivals, schools and many otherlocations in the coming years;
– the wrap-up of GAMA, a joint project by 19 European institutions: the Gateway to Archives of Media Art provides access to a wealth of information about the works of both well-known and emerging media artists from European collections of media art.
The media art content initially comes from eight European media art archives and can be searched and browsed on this navigation platform;
– the NIMk made the 8 o’clock news with the fashion show it organized in De Melkweg during the 5 Days Off Wearable Technologies event;
– many educational activities and workshops as part of and accompanying exhibitions;
– in 2009, together with the Foundation for the Conservation of Modern Art and Virtueel Platform, the next step was taken in furthering digital durability of a large number of national media art archives.

The mission of the Netherlands Media Art Institute is to support and encourage the free development of media art. Over the course of the years this art form, which is defined by its connection with technology, has undergone a very diverse development: from video art, performance and work on Super8, through internet and Second Life, to wearable technology and blogging. René Coelho, founder of Monte Video, always answered the question of the definition of media art succinctly: “That is art with a plug.” Since then much has changed in the forms that media art takes, but he is still essentially right. Media art takes on many guises, which do not always easily fit with – or indeed sometimes even seem at odds with – the definition of ‘Art’. It includes works that are made with ever advancing generations of technology, while the fields where all these technologies are applied are also expanding further: digital art, computer graphics, virtual art, computer animation, robotics, internet art, interactive technologies and biotechnology.

What has continued to fascinate us through all these years, and what remains the only real condition for us to interest ourselves with technology, is that we want to know what artists do with it.
The diversity in our mission provides direction for our future, but also continually challenges us to come up with innovative solutions for the various ways in which the Institute is connected with media art: exhibitions, collecting, distribution and promotion, preservation, production, research, reflection and education. It is our intention that our activities will be trend-setting and provide food for thought, and we work together with many individuals and institutions, here in The Netherlands and internationally, to achieve this. We take nothing for granted, we continue to investigate our role and seek a role in the vanguard. We want to provide direction and function on the cutting edge, between visual art and media. We will also have to look ahead.

The year 2009 was the year in which the full impact of the economic crisis unfolded: sponsoring and subsidies will apparently be affected. This requires the cultural world to prove itself, to provide a rationale for its work, even to capitalize it. Art and Culture increase understanding, bring prosperity and bind people together. Large numbers of people therefore participate in Art and Culture, individually and in groups. Art and Culture are more than color and taste; they shape our identity, they fill us with pride and joy and offer comfort and insight. Art and Culture are of and for everyone. Therefore Art and Culture are in the public interest, and that is why the government contributes to their development, and to making them accessible. (Vision Statement from the Cultural Federation, Cultuurformatie, FNV KIEM, Arts ’92, March ‘10)

We produced our new website in 2009. We frequently refer to this website in this annual report, and we hope you will enjoy what you see and read there. Our work is the best thing there is, and we hope that you will continue to look at it with us. We extend our thanks to the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, the City of Amsterdam, BeamSystems, all our funders and sponsors, the press, our visitors, and especially to all those who have on every occasion helped us in realizing all these activities: the Board of Trustees, our staff and all our interns and volunteers.

Heiner Holtappels
Annette Mullink