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Standards and Guidelines

Works in New Media: Recommendations for the Formatting, Handling, and Screening of Works

Adopted by the CAA Board of Directors in 2000.

Video/Film, CD-ROM, Computer-Based Media, Time Arts, Electronic Art Installations, Websites, Works in Sound

This document has been created to assist visual-arts professionals with the review of artistic works using new technologies. Individuals as well as institutions need to become sensitive to the problems associated with the formatting, handling, and screening of works utilizing new media. Hopefully universities and museums will consider these recommendations when they create job descriptions for positions associated with the latest technologies. These guidelines may apply to curatorial events and programming as well.

The costs associated with the computer hardware, software, projection systems, etc., are considerable, and the ability to purchase the technologies to review the works will vary from institution to institution. Given these realities, institutions must be very clear when requesting actual works or documentation of art using new media.

Shipping and Handling

As with slides, institutions need not return materials that have not been sent with the appropriate return packaging and postage. When necessary, institutions should specify the type of packaging they require. Unless otherwise specified, candidates should send their work, and institutions should return that work, using bubble-wrap packages. Cardboard-filled envelopes “leak” fibers that damage videotapes and audiocassettes.

Information to Be Provided with Time-Based Works

Artists should provide with each work an identification sheet and/or label with the following information:

  1. Name of artist
  2. Title of work
  3. Date of completion
  4. Technological format
  5. Black and White or Color, Sound or Silent
  6. Total length of work
  7. Length of segment to be viewed (in minutes and seconds)
  8. Exactly where the tape is cued (in minutes and seconds)
  9. The role of the artist in producing the work

Artists should also provide detailed information as how to view or move through the work. Both containers and reels or cassettes should be labeled with the same information found on the identification sheets.

Recommendations for Those Requesting Works

Those wishing to review work should request separate videotapes or audiocassettes for each piece. This facilitates searching for particular passages or pieces, as compared with compilation reels, which require the viewer to fast-forward or rewind to locate specific projects.

If compilation reels or cassettes are requested or accepted, work should be ordered chronologically with the most recent work appearing first.

It should be made clear:

  • whether or not Macintosh- and/or IBM-compatible work may be submitted
  • whether or not it is acceptable to submit CD-ROM artwork as edited versions on videotape
  • which video formats are acceptable (for example: VHS, Beta, DVD)
  • if there are time limits for works being submitted

When requesting videos, individuals should be instructed to remove the plastic tabs at the top of the cassettes so the materials cannot be accidentally erased.

When requesting films, individuals should be instructed to send films “head out” and “projection wound.”

If work is being accepted from individuals outside the United States, then it should be specified that the work be submitted in NTSC (US video) format for viewing unless you or your institution has a tristandard playback deck with which to view PAL or SECAM formats (both are video formats used outside the US).

Recommendations for Screening Works

Those reviewing the work should have the appropriate equipment to screen CD-ROMs in a comfortable viewing environment. Search-committee members should be provided with ample time and equipment to review or properly screen musical scores, websites, DAT tapes (digital audio tapes), audiocassettes, videotapes, slides, CDs, CD-ROMs, DVDs, Zip/Jaz disks, URLs, etc.

Ideally the artist’s instructions on how to best view or move through the work should be honored. In the initial screening process, allow enough time to screen at least five minutes of work by each candidate.

Many works in new media are interactive. This can be especially problematic if committees or groups are reviewing the work. Reviewers should be sensitive to artists whose work on the web or CD-ROM is intended to be experienced by a solitary user. Committees should consider the idea of “private time” for works that require personal interaction.

Authors and Contributors

Submitted by the Professional Practices Committee, April 2000: Michael Aurbach, Vanderbilt University (chair); Frederick Asher, University of Minnesota; Ellen T. Baird, University of Illinois, Chicago (ex-officio); Bruce Bobick, State University of West Georgia; Marilyn Brown, Tulane University; John Clarke, University of Texas at Austin (ex-officio); Irina D. Costache, California State University, Northridge/Mount St. Mary’s College; Debra Drexler, University of Hawai‘i; Vanalyne Green, School of the Art Institute of Chicago; Linda Hults, College of Wooster; Gary Keown, Southeastern Louisiana University; Ellen Konowitz, State University of New York, New Paltz; Dewey F. Mosby, Colgate University.

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