Arjon Dunnewind: Content with Context

By  Stijnie Thuijs
Arjon Dunnewind - 'Impakt Channel: Content with Context'. Photo by Anne Helmond.

Arjon Dunnewind - 'Impakt Channel: Content with Context'. Photo by Anne Helmond.

Being the festival, artistic and general director of Impakt, Arjon Dunnewind is in charge of a database of art related content for which he has to decide the most appropriate way of uploading to the web. An important factor to take into account, he explains, is that the audience on the web has different expectations than ‘offline audience’. Online archives are the next phase and make us rethink how we structure the art collection, connect both the online and offline audience  and exploit the merits of the online environment to use them in the best possible way.

How to involve an audience?
According to Dunnewind this can be done by providing the viewers quality instead of quantity. This means no comment space below the art content. Arjon would rather have a platform without any comments than low quality comments and spam on his channel. Moderation and hierarchy are keywords for the Impakt Channel, only inviting experts to give their opinion and opening little by little. Arjon wouldn’t mind never to open it for ordinary users though – as it can degrade the quality.

Legal issues
A struggle for Dunnewind are the legal issues. Foremost, who is responsible for the content and the legal issues is not always clear. While being online for supposedly 20 years, only since 5 years has there been options for artists as to in which degree their work is allowed to be published. There is no standard agreement with the artists (all permission has to be confirmed in direct contact with the artist) and more importantly: the artists themselves haven’t always cleared the legal issues of the materials used in their pieces. On the sunny side of the legal issues is that the organization is relatively small, so they don’t receive a lot of complaints. Also there is not much historical material in the database and the legal methods Impakt uses now actually bond the artist and the organization really well. Which results in allowing to put the work online.

The Impakt Channel : Give context to content. Or: how to make a difference
To differentiate yourself from video websites such as YouTube – which offer little to no context –  could be done in various ways. To Arjon, a way is to do that is to offer unique content. Also building a unique platform with alternate possibilities and limitations is a manner. Furthermore, connecting the online channel with the offline events, art projects and festivals, including bonus material for example, are adequate ways to create context. As are the display of background information, articles, introductions and comments by invited experts, interviews and curatorial texts from the original programs.

All that said, Arjon concludes with his wish for the online Impakt environment. ‘We want the Impakt Channel to become a new platform’, he says. A platform that creates exhibitions online, a flexible, dynamic, autonomous space on which can be experimented.