Digitising art and culture in Vietnam

Digitising art and culture in Vietnam

As the Vietnamese art and culture sector begins to take baby steps towards digitising its collections, more opportunities are arising for local artists globally.

But the country’s creative industries run the risk of being left behind if the progress is unable to keep up with the rapidly growing environment, according to RMIT researchers.

Over the past four months, RMIT University lecturers Dr Emma Duester and Michal Teague have been researching how art and culture professionals in Hanoi are harnessing digital technology to develop the creative industries.

The focus has been on how institutions are digitising their collections, as well as the challenges they are facing in this process.

So far, the two researchers have interviewed 20 people and explored two creative hubs in particular, Matca Space for Photography and the Vietnamese Women’s Museum.

The findings have shown that the collections of many arts and cultural institutions in Hanoi are, in fact not yet publicly displayed on a digital platform, with the sector only just starting to digitise collections.

thumbnail-digitising-art-and-culture-in-vietnam RMIT University lecturers Michal Teague and Dr Emma Duester (from left to right).

“The common challenges for Hanoi institutions – and we believe for other institutions across the country as well – are a lack of human resources in terms of time and capacity, lack of capital investment, and lack of technical equipment like 3D scanners in order to properly digitise cultural objects,” said RMIT Professional Communication Lecturer Dr Emma Duester.

“These issues are hindering the ability of the art and culture sector to create international connections or engage with a wider audience in Vietnam.”

Yet, the opportunities that can arise from digitising art and cultural collections are threefold, according to RMIT Design Studies Associate Lecturer Michal Teague.

Firstly, the digitisation of content means that more people can access and view art and cultural collections, both relating to traditional culture and contemporary culture.

“Digital platforms allow Vietnamese cultural professionals to curate a more expansive contemporary image of Vietnamese culture,” Ms Teague said. “And when it comes to heritage-focused culture, digital display in a contemporary format and with contemporary curation can help to promote the content much better.”

Secondly, cultural professionals can shape their own narrative on what contemporary or traditional Vietnamese culture is with the digital shift.

Thirdly, using digital platforms enables for more international connections which “would improve the ability to raise awareness internationally on Vietnamese photography and Vietnamese women, for instance,” said Ms Teague.

Dr Duester added that “the digitisation of creative cultural content in Vietnam can provide an opportunity to ‘digitally export’ culture across the globe, and this format of cultural export is both cheaper and more immediate.”

news-2-digitising-art-and-culture-in-vietnam RMIT University owns one of the most prestigious collections of contemporary Vietnamese art in the world. (Pictured: Treasures by Nguyen Manh Hung, on display at RMIT’s Hanoi campus.)

The ongoing research by Dr Duester and Ms Teague is the latest effort in a long history of promoting Vietnamese art and culture at RMIT.

In fact, RMIT’s Contemporary Art Collection is a notable example of art digitisation in Vietnam. Most of the collection is already accessible digitally on RMIT’s website, with 3D scanning being explored for some works.

The University’s long-term goal is to help more people discover this collection, in order to raise public awareness of the significance, quality, and richness of contemporary art in Vietnam.

That is one motivation behind the exhibition titled No Rain without Clouds: Preserving Vietnamese Art & Culture for the Future, which will kick off the Vietnam Festival of Creativity & Design 2020 on 7 November.

Comprising 30 works curated by Dr Duester and Ms Teague, the exhibition will be the first to bring the RMIT collection outside the University’s campuses. It is open to the public both virtually via the Kunstmatrix digital platform and physically at the Vietnamese Women’s Museum in Hanoi.

The exhibition is supported by a program of events, including a national art review competition and a panel discussion. The panel will feature an artist from the RMIT Contemporary Art Collection, as well as the curators of the collection and the No Rain without Clouds exhibition. Find out more at https://vfcd.events.

news-3-digitising-art-and-culture-in-vietnam The exhibition “No Rain without Clouds: Preserving Vietnamese Art & Culture for the Future” is accessible free online via the Kunstmatrix platform from 20 October to 27 December 2020.

Read more about the No Rain without Clouds exhibition in a new in-depth conversation with Dr Duester and Ms Teague on the Vietnam Festival of Creativity & Design 2020 website.

The main story was adapted from an original piece written by Dr Emma Duester and published on Hanoi Grapevine.

Story: Ngoc Hoang

About the experts

Dr Emma Duester is a Lecturer at RMIT University’s School of Communication & Design. Her research interests include creative industries, the art and culture sector, digital technologies, and transnational communication. Dr Duester received a PhD in Media and Communications from Goldsmiths, University of London. Previously, she was an Associate Lecturer at the University of Roehampton, the University of the Arts London, and Goldsmiths, University of London.

Michal Teague is a Design Studies Associate Lecturer at RMIT University. For the past 10 years, Ms Teague has worked professionally as a transnational practitioner and educator in art, design and communication in the Middle East and Vietnam. She holds a Master of Arts in Public Space from RMIT University. Prior to becoming an educator, she ran a graphic design agency in Sydney, Australia for more than 10 years. Ms Teague’s areas of research interest and creative praxis are social design, creative and cultural industries, urban spaces and transnational design pedagogy.

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