“New media” a term coined as a way to categorize art dealing with digital technologies, robotics, interactivity and performance. While new media art has been around since the late 1800’s, it came to prominence in the 60’s with the likes of Nam Jun Paik and A. Michael Noll. As digital technologies have slowly taken over more of our lives, the boundaries and variety of Media works has increased drastically. The storage and archiving of these works creates a new set of rules and guidelines that are vastly different than normal curatorial practices.
The Museum site in Sidney becomes a hub in which many programmatic elements can rotate around. The site comes with several embedded factors that contribute to the form and function of the museum itself. Historically, Hickory Street was known as Front Street, as it faces the railroad lines. This street was home to over 80 saloons in the late 1800’s and became the center of the city, known infamously as “Sinful Sidney” This distinction died out as the town settled into the 1900’s and with it, the once thriving Front street. Today, Hickory Street is more of an ally space than a road, with none of the former businesses in existence, and a distinct lack of street activity. The City of Sidney recently expressed interest in the intersection of 10th and Hickory becoming the home to a community space, where farmers markets and other events could take place.
Programmatically, the museum allows for a 24 hour computing lounge, providing internet access to the community, the Media Lab, which would be responsible for the storage, replication, emulation and archiving of all media art data, a park and pavilion that provides both an amphitheater for projection of films, as well as a covered space for farmers markets and other community events, and a tower for observation and connection back to the highway
The museum itself provides a space that is universally adaptable to accommodate the vast variety of media types. A series of columns can be deployed across the gallery to create spaces for different shows. These columns allow for curving as well as rectilinear configurations, and provide the ability of the artist to completely control the viewing environment.
The design language comes from a variety of observational and site specific factors, culminating in a project that unifies many distinct forms into a composition of spaces. The museum itself takes its form from the pressures of the site, wrestling with the former front of the city in Hickory Street, and the current Main street a half block to the south. The patterning of the façade becomes a homage and play to the typical brick construction of the town, by digitizing the rhythm of brick into a pattern that reads differently at different distances. The daylight and structural systems unite on the roof to provide an abstracted mapping of a site. A red X marks the point on the map, surrounded by skylights patterned after a sampled image of crop circles from the area.
Adjacent, the pavilion makes similar moves, but on an actual landscape. The form recalls the sloping hills beyond the city, pierced by vertical circulation forms that again form figures on the landscape. Finally, a tower rises from between the two, providing views across and back toward the highway, visually connecting the through traffic to the site, as well as providing a canvas for artistic interventions and projections.
Display of digital art can exist outside of the museum walls, and taking advantage of that, a series of media benches can be placed throughout Sidney. This allows the artworks display to continue, even if another event or community gathering is using the museum space.