Entering the Flow: Museum Between Archive and Gesamtkunstwerk

  • Boris Groys
Part of the Arts, Research, Innovation and Society book series (ARIS)


Actually, the traditional museum that was a place of things and not events can be equally accused of functioning as a part of the art market. This kind of criticism is pretty easy to formulate—and it is universal enough to be applied to any possible artistic strategy. However, the Internet and the computer in general are a collective and observable, surveillable working places. We tend to speak about the Internet in terms of infinite data flow that transcends the limits of our control. But, in fact, the Internet is not a place of data flow—it is a machine to stop and reverse the data flow. The unobservability of the Internet is a myth. The medium of the Internet is electricity. In a world in which the goal to stop the flow of time is overtaken by the Internet, the function of the museum becomes to stage the flow—to stage the events that are synchronized with the lifetime of the spectators. That changes the topology of our relationship to art. The traditional hermeneutical position toward art required from the gaze of the external spectator to penetrate the artwork, to discover artistic intentions or social forces or vital energies that gave to the artwork its form. That is why by visiting the contemporary museum exhibitions, we are confronted with the irreversibility of time—we know that these exhibitions are merely temporary exhibitions, and we will not find them at the same place if we will visit the same museum after some period of time. The only things that remain will be documentations: a catalogue, a filmic documentation, or a website. Now the Internet itself is also a curatorial project, a Gesamtkunstwerk, because it is in a flow. But it does not have a human curator. Rather, the surveillance algorithms function here as curators—and also as only spectators of the Internet.


Flow Flow of time Gesamtkunstwerk Internet Museum Time 

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Boris Groys
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.New York UniversityNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Karlsruhe University of Arts and DesignKarlsruheGermany

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