In the process of establishing electronic networks, artists were among the first to enter the electronic domain, to experiment with and to use information and communication technologies for cultural purposes.
The pioneering artistic exploration of multimedia and the electronic domain has brought about a shift in contemporary art towards digital, web-based, interactive, and
multi-medial production and distribution.
The vital, rich and diverse digital electronic cultures represent a testimony of our time that helps to understand the complexity and nature of life and endows cultural
identities. The digital art of today is the cultural heritage of tomorrow.
While museums start to digitize their collections and thus past times’ cultural testimonies, little effort is undertaken to provide space for today’s art and to establish a vibrant digital artistic practice for future generations. Without reinforced promotion of art in the electronic domain, humankind risks the disappearance of future heritage in a black hole of oblivion.
A major issue of digital art is to point out that tomorrow’s cultural heritage is exposed to a number of dangers the public at large is not aware of yet:
- The rise of powerful media oligopolies resulting in an increasing uniformity and commerciality of content, information warfare, computer viruses and the regression of the public domain in electronic networks threaten to displace a broad artistic expression and production.
- The gap between software, more and more designed for commercial and specialist use only, and a broad application of contemporary technology is widening.
- The rapid development of communication networks and their technological fundaments as well as hard- and software monopolies tend to destroy valuable electronic culture by turning it into unreadable data. The permanent change of file types and storage technologies entails a loss of our own cultural memory.
Securing the future heritage requires appropriate legal, technical, scientific and financial measures. Close cooperation and collaboration between technology developers, artists and scientists can provide the test bed necessary for a rich and diverse electronic culture. This must include the constant upgrading, storage and accessibility of digital art, the enhancement of non-commercial, public electronic networks, as well as the enforced presentation and mediation of electronic art.
Above all, the preservation of the future heritage requires a large-scale increase of awareness. If humankind refrains from these efforts, our generation will transmit an
impoverished, mutilated heritage to the generations to come.