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Soft Cinema (Manovich, Lev), 2002

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Software–Soft cinema–Soft space

But let us look at the traditional museum space again. The ‹White Cube› isolates the exhibited object from specific spatial contexts and is thus aiming at distancing and reflection on a neutral ground. The ‹Black Box› or better the ‹Black Cube›[58] also works by separating from context (see the often detailed and controlled equipping of these installation rooms with sound- and light-insulating material), but it also isolates the subject in order to admit the sensual immersive element of ‹being in the picture› that reflection usually provokes in retrospect. Cinema as a device has found its way back into museums in many video installations, and helps to restore the aura of works of art. But we should also point out that the database is not the only cultural form marking the digital age: the archive is its counterpart in real space. Thus a media archive within a space becomes an abundance of options that are constantly reconfiguring themselves dynamically. The question remains of the extent to which museums will also open up to visions of multi-sensory, fluid spaces. The invisible omnipresence of software in real space in the cinematographic and the architectural sense of «Soft Cinema»[59] and modular


«Soft Spaces» are bound to provoke resistance, revision and nostalgic complaints.[60] Back to the object, to painting, to the image–but beyond the sequence of recursions and fashions–it will not be possible to halt the digitalization of museum space. This is particularly obvious in the case of media art. If it is possible at the same time to keep a whole range of formats and thus of forms alive and to undermine the effects of universal standardization under the banner of MicroSOFT, there will also be room for all the examples that address the dysfunctionality or marginal use of apparatuses, machines and technologies and to preserve a completely independent artistic and poetic potential.


Translation by Michael Robinson