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Born Digital Art Challenges Preservation


Bill Spinhoven - iEye (foto: Archief NIMk)

— Expertmeeting over 'born digital' archivering: Hoe kunnen we digitale werken behouden voor de toekomst?

Dit artikel is alleen beschikbaar in het Engels.

Expert meeting about Born Digital preservation co-organised by Virtueel Platform. With cases studies on Agent Ruby, I/EYE and World of Warkraft by experts Jill Sterrett (US), Gaby Wijers and Megan Winget (US).

Date and Location:

Tuesday 28 June, 13.00-17.00 Netherlands Media Art Institute, Keizersgracht 264, 1016 EV Amsterdam

The museum is one of the key institutions where cultural memory is produced. The traditional task of the museum has been to “take care” of objects by preserving and storing them, to save them for the future. However, with more and more ephemeral art works being made, threats of obsolete equipment, or art works that rely on participants' behavior and input this task is becoming increasingly difficult.

Born digital art is a category that poses many of these challenges, and it has therefore been chosen as the focus of this expert meeting. Questions that will be addressed are: Is there a need to rethink what it means to preserve an artwork? Can documentation take the place of preservation? Or should born digital art be considered as a process of components, and as such be treated in a similar way to a performance or theatre? How do museums deal with these challenges and what strategies are they developing?

The expert meeting will examine three case studies that challenge conventional conservation methods and ask for new solutions in order to safeguard the works for the future. The case studies are currently being implemented by three different organisations:

  • San Fransisco Moma (Jill Sterrett) is looking at the preservation capacity of a virtual server for web art, taking Lynn Hershmann’s web art Agent Ruby as an example;
  • Netherlands Media Art Institute (Gaby Wijers) is, in the scope of the Obsolete Equipment project together with PACKED, researching emulation and virtualisation as preservation strategy and re-installing the interactive computer installation I/Eye (1993) by Bill Spinhoven;
  • Megan Winget (University Texas at Austin) has been researching the multiplayer Internet game World of Warcraft.

The three presentation will be followed by working sessions in small groups, analysing the cases and focusing on specific problems that were encountered, discussing future technical advances that may effect the works in the (near) future, and looking at possibilities for standardising processes and strategies.

The goal of the day is to share and exchange knowledge with (inter)national experts from different backgrounds, including computer science, archeology, gaming, contemporary arts, conservation and performance. The group discussions will be monitored and an extensive report will be published.

Research project Born Digital Art
The expert meeting has been organised as part of the research project Born Digital Art in Dutch Museum Collections, Virtueel Platform, the Foundation for the Conservation of Contemporary Art (SBMK) Netherlands Media Art Institute (NIMk) and Digital Heritage Netherlands (DEN). See the blogpage for more information:

Foreign experts

Jill Sterrett will visit Amsterdam invited by Virtueel Platform's visitors program. Megan Winget is to the Netherlands by the Netherlands Institute of Heritage (Erfgoed Nederland). (Read more about Jill and Megan)



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