The International Museum of Electrography – Innovation Centre in Art and New Technologies (MIDECIANT) of Cuenca is a museum and research centre (labelled as a lab-museum) which belongs to the University of Castilla-La Mancha (UCLM), whose regular staff forms part of several departments of the university (mainly of Fine Arts, Art History, Humanities, Technical and Computer Engineering).
As a museum, MIDE has a collection of more than four thousand artworks of electrographic and digital art, which are stored and distributed to be consulted by scholars and researchers who request them, and it also has an exhibit room for temporary exhibitions in the ancient part of the city.
As a research centre, which has been since its creation and because of that it officially expanded its name to MIDECIANT in 2005; provides researchers, artists and stakeholders, a documentation centre-media library, education and diverse disclosure activities. Until 2012, which it paralyzed the production of artworks in order to focus on the conservation activities and dissemination of their collections by linking since then to the CAAC mark (Collections and Archives of Contemporary Art) in Cuenca. This university research centre provided artists and resident researchers a workshop of digital technologies for artistic graphics and a multimedia laboratory where experimental artistic work and research projects, always related to artistic creation and use of new imaging technologies were developed.
History and Objectives
The creation of the International Museum of Electrography of Cuenca was a personal and specific request by the rector team of the UCLM made in 1989 to José Ramón Alcalá (then Associate Professor recently added to the Faculty of Fine Arts in Cuenca), who was guided by an international group of experts in these subjects, led by Professor of the School of Visual Arts in New York, the French Christian Rigal (and electrographic artist under the pseudonym Cejar), and German artist and graphic designer Klaus Urbons (creator and director of the Museum für Fotokopie of Mülheim / Ruhr).
In May 1990, the Rector of the University of Castilla-La Mancha, Luis Arroyo Zapatero, inaugurated the permanent location of the MIDE in the beautifully restored convent of Discalced Carmelites, located in the ancient part of the city of Cuenca, at the edge of the Huécar river gorge facing, in front of the Convent of Saint Paul. Its initial main purpose was to preserve, display and increase an international collection of works by artists who had used for their realization any kind of machines and processes related to these new generation, reproduction and printing of images technologies called electrographic.
At the same time of its inauguration, the museum incorporated into its functional structure, thanks to a collaboration agreement with the Canon-Spain Company, an electrographic technologies laboratory with the main objective of making theoretical and practical investigations of its applications in the field of artistic creation. Just a year later, it was added to these openings a documentation centre with a small specialized library and Research Centre of the Image (CIDI), regarded as an applications support of the results of the Electrography Workshop of the MIDECIANT in the field of graphic design, corporate identity and advertisement creation.
For twenty-five years since its inauguration, the MIDECIANT has been a museum-centre of research alive and dynamic, an example of specialized centre in whole lines of research that, with a reduced budget, achieved its original objectives based on five precise lines of action:
- Research: Opening lines of their own investigation and calling artists from all around the world to cooperate in their own research projects in progress, under theUniversity of Castilla-La Mancha and the Ministry ofEducation and Science.
- Disclosure: Performing exhibitions and shows related to the field o fMediaArt, orArt and New Technologies, generating publications and offering the bibliographical, video and multimedia funds from its ownDocumentation Centre.
- Preservation: Creating, maintaining and restoring a collection of historical and current artworks which are alive and dynamic (both physically and virtually), capable of showing national and international news about the artistic applications of new imaging technologies.
- Formation: Upgrading knowledge of artists, researchers, professionals, students and curious people, both national and international, and offering courses and specialized seminars under its specialized fellowship programs for researchers and assistants of the
- Sponsor: Collaborating in funding of research projects, giving the facilities and equipment of the MIDECIANT to artists and researchers to develop specific projects and activities, providing the experience, technical advising and financing research projects and artistic proposals of interest either of the research and issues covered as specific areas of activity of the centre.
Due to its forced transfer in 2003, from the Convent of the Discalced Carmelites (founding headquarters) to the university campus of the UCLM, MIDECIANT has preserved, stored and classified the works belonging to its permanent collection as small treasures, shining with their own light behind the doors of that archive-warehouse, waiting to be recognized for the indisputable value they possess to understand the current Media Art.
It is precisely now, at a time when the theories and methodologies in charge of studying the artistic practices linked to the new technologies, specifically (New) Media Art, focus, among other objectives, on performing Media Archeology to find and understand the true root of these artistic proposals, when the funds of this center created as a museum are beginning to take on its importance.
Four thousand works of graphic and digital art explain, like no other museum at an international level, the true transition from analog art to digital art, the passage from tangible art to intangible art. In addition, as a Center for Innovation in Art and New Technologies (CIANT), officially since 2005, it offers a large space for documentation to teachers, researchers and artists, and it was, until 2012, a workshop on digital technologies for graphics and a multimedia laboratory where experimental art works and research projects were developed, always related to the artistic creation through the use of the new technologies of the image, being one of the most important Medialab in the national and international historical scope within what currently Is designated under the genre Media Art.
It is in 2012, due to the economic crisis that plagues Spain and especially affected the university and its various artistic labs, when the MIDECIANT begins to focus on conservation and dissemination activities, all joining together to share and add objectives and forces with the rest of collections and archives that owns the Faculty of Fine Arts, happening to be denominated jointly CAAC (Collections and Archives of Contemporary Art) of Cuenca.
The MIDECIANT has promoted and developed, over its 25 years of existence (while still open today for its theoretical, historical and museology studies), the following lines of research which are clearly defined:
- Techniques and processes of the digital image through the use of new electrographic technologies in its use in the field of traditional artistic creation.
- Interactive Multimedia, Computer Graphics and Post Production of dynamic image of digital video.
- Techniques and creative processes of graphic telecommunications technologies. (Net.Art, Fax Art, Tele-transmission in real time via broadband and the Internet network, etc.).
- Digital Graphics, Expanded Graphic and Multiple Art.
- Didactic applications of the new technologies of the image. Pedagogy of new artistic technologies.
- New museology models of Contemporary Art at the digital and Telematics era. The virtual museum. Curating New Media Art.
Departments and Services of the MIDECIANT. Functional Structure
In 2002, the International Museum of Electrography was forced by the Provincial Council of Cuenca to give up its headquarters in the Convent of the Carmelites, so that it could be created the Antonio Pérez Foundation, considering that both this new foundation and the building, owned by the council. Since then, the MIDECIANT occupies a variety of spread spaces within the university campus to the University of Castilla-La Mancha owns just outside the new area of the city, where continuing their activities, with the limitation of not having yet to date today, a permanent exhibition space to show their work funds, having had to save those which are ordered and classified – in a store where they can be visited and studied by researchers who request it.
Over these twenty years of history of the MIDECIANT, this has had different sections (divisions), whose mission is to facilitate the research work, creation and dissemination of scholars and most innovative and talented creators, through its “Program of artists and researchers in residence”. These different sections, services and resources are currently organized by functional structure as follows:
It consisted of a number of laboratories and workshops, which were opened for the guest artist or resident ones to do their research. Assisted by our technical specialists in them could be accomplished what their mind was able to invent and the media was able to allow. The hardware and software were constantly updated through new acquisitions, thanks to funding provided the University of Castilla-La Mancha and the various agreements and contracts that the MIDECIANT and its various affiliated research groups supported. The renovation of the instruments and means it was essential to help the artist in his laboratory that was also a researcher to do all that his talent and concerns generated.
The collection of both physical and intangibles works, were -and continues being – available for all artists and guest or researchers in residence in order to provide a wider vision of creation in the electronic environment. In addition, through temporary exhibitions that are organized by MIDECIANT, are made known to the general public emblematic works of this medium as works generated as a result of the investigation of the artists in our laboratories.
The editorial work of our centre is handled by TEXT, the section of this museum and research centre in charge of making available to the public the research and teaching works done by the artists affiliated, researchers and collaborators who conduct research in the MIDECIANT. TEXT papers published in both paper and electronic, ranging from teaching on topics such as digital imaging and web, to theoretical research on different paths facing artistic creation in the XXI century.
The Didact collection targeted research works that are the result of the teaching provided by team members from MIDECIANT in undergraduate, postgraduate, masters and doctorates.
Are also developing other collections to publish the results and conclusions of the various research projects are coordinating, supervising and performing through MIDECIANT.
The archives centre have an extensive collection of books, magazines and other audio-visual documents covering its subject, more than twenty aspects and fields of electronic creation, as net art, networks, digital graphics, art, science and technology, holography, digital culture, etc. All these files and resources are also available to researchers either offline or online. Currently these resources are physically distributed between spaces of the MIDECIANT and the General Library of the UCLM of Cuenca. Since the end of 2013 takes part of the newly created CAAC (Collections and Archives of Contemporary Art. Fine Arts. UCLM. Cuenca).
Direction of MIDECIANT
Ana Navarrete Tudela: She is the director of MIDECIANT since December 2018. Principal investigator (PI) of the Spanish Archive of Media Art (SAOMA I+D). Teacher in the Faculty of Fine Arts at the UCLM, (Cuenca, Spain), since 1990. PI of the INDEVOL group research.
José Ramón Alcalá Mellado: He was its creator in 1989 and the first director until 2018. Teacher of the Faculty of Fine Arts of Cuenca since 1988, and professor of New Media Art since 2001. He was also the responsible of CAAC_Cuenca from its creation in 2012 until 2018.