The installation documentation is produced by the owner and accompanies the loan. The installation documentation for time-based media works of art is ideally agreed with the artist when a work is acquired. This project assumes that the artist’s views have been recorded prior to loan and are able to guide the lender and the borrower in honouring what is important for a good installation of the work. When this is not the case, the loan may provide an occasion for dialogue and documentation. It may be part of the nature of the work that there are different ways in which it can be installed and this should be indicated in the installation documentation. In some cases the installation documentation will have evolved through an ongoing dialogue between the owner and the artist. The installation of the work provides an opportunity to add to the documentation. This is a live document with room for evolution.

The goal of this document is to provide a basic framework to help understand all of the elements required for the successful installation of time-based media works of art and to maintain their integrity. Some artworks require rigid and specific installation instructions. Other works allow for more flexibility within the installation. In putting together installation documentation, consider what you would need to know if you were coming fresh to this work for the first time. We have also provided a sample template.

Artwork description

A brief description of the artwork using standard terminology. The goal is to enable a reader to quickly understand the nature of the artwork. (For example: a 35-minute, 4-channel, colour video installation with stereo sound). It is also helpful to describe how the work appears if working properly.

Installation ingredients

This represents a comprehensive list of all physical components that make up the installed artwork. This would cover the details of the exhibition format, the equipment list, the details of the installation space and materials required for the installation and any spares or consumables needed to keep the installation running.

Exhibition format details

Enter details of the exhibition format and its duration. Some things to consider:

  • Is the material looped? Is the loop intended to be seamless? If not, what is the duration of black on the loop?
  • If the work comprises more than one channel, are the channels synchronised?
  • What is the availability of spares? Who is authorised to produce spares?
  • For film, slide and tapes how often should these be replaced with new copies?

DVDs

  • Is the video NTSC or PAL? It is often not appropriate to change this for a loan as the visual qualities of the two systems are different. However it may affect compatibility with display equipment.
  • What type of DVD is it and how was it made? (some players will not play all formats of DVD)
  • Is frame accurate searching enabled?
  • What is the structure of the disk (Title/chapters etc)?

Audio works

  • Is the sound played from a tape/disc/wav, AIFF, ATRAC3 file?
  • Stereo?/Mono?/Dolby 5.1 etc

35 mm colour transparencies

  • What is the stock used?
  • How are they mounted?
  • Are they pin-registered?

Film

  • What is the stock used?
  • Is there any coating on the prints?
  • Is it intended for a looper? What is the point where the loop is spliced?
  • Are the prints graded for Xenon or Halogen?

Equipment list

  • What equipment is used? (make/model number or specification )
  • What is its role in the installation? – is it purely functional or does it have a conceptual or aesthetic significance?
  • Is the equipment still available or is it obsolete?
  • What important features or qualities have led to this choice of equipment?

Details of the installation space

Produce a scale plan and an elevation and written narrative confirming the details of the installation. Things to consider are:

Space

  • Dimensions and shape of the space
  • Position of the entrances and exits – including details of any light-lock corridors required.
  • Details of the floor and ceiling
  • Details of the construction – for example skirting etc.

Elements within the space

  • Position of the equipment
  • Projection distances
  • Height and width of any projected images and their relationship to adjoining walls, ceilings and floors
  • Space between plinths and height of plinths
  • Position and nature of acoustic materials
  • Position of any sculptural elements
  • Position and design of any display furniture

Qualities

  • Acoustic qualities and audio levels
  • Wall and ceiling colour
  • Light levels

Other materials required for the installation

Some things to consider:

  • Cable specifications including a wiring diagram
  • Brackets
  • Ceiling support for any suspended elements
  • Equipment cupboard with access and shelving
  • Benches
  • Plinths
  • Special signage
  • Exit signs
  • Barriers
  • High reflective paint
  • Screens

Spares and consumables

  • Enter details of filters, lamps etc. Prior to the installation find out how many hours the lamps and filters last. Manufacturers have data on this. However, these figures are affected by the amount of dust in the space and also how the equipment is switched on and off. Enter the estimated cost into the budget template and ensure that spares are on hand.
  • Equipment failure – what spares do you have available if/when this happens? What is the procedure for notifying the lender? What does the borrower have permission to do?

Key qualities / key requirements

A description of both the specific and ephemeral elements necessary to maintain the integrity of the artwork. Decisions about what constitutes integrity are based on information gathered from the artist and other sources, relating to the essential nature of the artwork and its components. Some things to consider:

  • If the artist has said that specific qualities are important (such as light level, sound, wall colours etc) can these be measured to establish a reference
  • A non-technical description of what the viewer experiences can often be a valuable guide to installation
  • Are there fixed dimensions, such as image size or gallery dimensions?
  • Must the equipment be arranged or configured in a specific way?

Artist’s statement

  • What does the artist regard as critical to a good installation of the work? Where possible ask the artist to sign off installation instructions and include a statement as to what they consider key for a good installation of the work. Where an artist’s interview has been conducted, relevant extracts might be included.

Minimum technical knowledge / skill level required

What is the minimum technical knowledge required to install and maintain this work? 

Some things to consider:

  • Do the art handlers need to have a knowledge of construction, electrical systems, audio-visual technology, art handling, computer programming?
  • List any special tools required (for example – signal generator, special screwdrivers for converging cathode ray tube projectors)
  • Do the technicians need particular certification to operate the required lifting equipment etc?
  • How many technicians are required to install the artwork?
  • How long will it take to install the work?

Electricians notes

Can any of the electrical elements (e.g. plugs/cables) be modified without the approval of the lender?

Power requirements

  • What is the voltage?
  • How many sockets/power supplies are needed in the equipment cupboard?
  • How many sockets/power supplies are needed in the space? Where are they needed?
  • What is the approximate rating in amps of the equipment?
  • What is the number of constant power supplies required? In the equipment room? In the space?
  • What is the number of supplies which will be switched off nightly from a central switch? In the equipment room? In the space?
  • What are the power conditioning requirements?
  • Is a light required in the equipment cupboard?

Synchronisation details (if applicable)

  • Provide the time-code references
  • Describe any authoring requirements
  • Describe which synchronisation units can be used
  • Describe the degree of accuracy required

Key operational notes

  • Include procedures for switching the work on and off

Maintenance requirements

  • The maintenance required to ensure the integrity of the artwork is maintained while on display
  • What is the nature and frequency of the maintenance required?
  • What technical skill is required for carrying out the maintenance?
  • How many people are required to carry out the maintenance?
  • Can you foresee the most likely operational failures?
  • Is there a servicing schedule that will need to be put into effect during the display? (for example a six monthly deep clean may require projectors to be swapped with a spare during a long display)
  • Are there any ephemeral elements that will be exhausted and will need to be replenished?

Health and safety requirements

  • Are any of the components potentially dangerous to the installation crew?
  • Are any of the components potentially dangerous to the public? (consider light levels, exit and entrance arrangements/sound levels/moving parts/exposed electrical or electronic components/strobe effects etc.)
  • Do any of the components present a fire hazard? What safeguards are in place?
  • Has a risk assessment been completed?

General notes

This section provides an opportunity to emphasise any aspect of the installation which requires special attention.

  • What details should the installation crew pay special attention to?
  • Has the work been shown in a similar environment before (hours of operation etc)?
  • What is the status of the components:
  • Has any of the equipment been modified by the artist?
  • Is any of the equipment no longer easily available?
  • Are any of the components sculptural objects requiring different skills in the crew?
  • Do any components require the wearing of gloves?
  • What is most likely to go wrong?