Thursday, May 31 • 3:00pm - 3:30pm
(Electronic Media) Conservation Surveys for Time-based Media Art Collections

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Collection surveys provide data to enable conservators to mitigate risks to art collections and to set priorities for item-level conservation going forward. Collection surveys are an essential tool to identify works with urgent needs, but assessing an entire collection of time-based media artworks can be daunting. These collections can exhibit great variations: obsolescent analog and digital videos; a multiplicity of film types, file-based works on optical media or hard drives; multi-channel projections/installations; software-based works; and works relying upon networks or databases, to name a few. Collection surveys typically focus primarily on environmental factors and item condition. However, with time-based media an depth-in examination of each individual artwork may not be feasible within the parameters of a survey. Common risks to time-based media art are material characteristics (such as inherent tape deterioration or the fragility of emulsion or substrates), and internal/external dependencies (such as obsolescence of critical equipment, software or communication protocols). While works in a collection may seem very disparate, a majority of works will fall into general categories that share at least some of the same risks. For example, multi-channel video works of a certain era likely use the same synchronizing devices. This session will propose categories that support the identification of works with shared risks and needs, drawing on an understanding of material characteristics, processes within a work, and artists’ working methods. Also, another historical emphasis of surveys – on environmental conditions and traditional storage practices – is not sufficient to identify risks. Time-based media artworks are increasingly created digitally, and digital holdings grow as older analog media are migrated to files for preservation. These artworks have not meshed easily with collection management and art handling practices, and in many cases are not given the same care as other art objects. New and reshaped museum systems are needed, and an examination of existing systems can be equally as important as the examination of the artworks themselves. Thus a survey should include information-gathering in areas such as descriptive systems and metadata management, the management of hardware and software, and the adequacy of digital storage systems. Taken together, the individual and systemic risks can then be weighed to develop a plan of action for the collection as a whole.

avatar for Mona Jimenez

Mona Jimenez

Conservator, Materia Media
Mona Jimenez is the principal at Materia Media She previously was a co-Associate Director and Associate Arts Professor at NYU's Moving Image Archiving and Preservation program (MIAP), serving as an expert on the preservation of video, digital media and multimedia. She has worked extensively... Read More →

Thursday May 31, 2018 3:00pm - 3:30pm
Briargrove Meeting Room Marriott Marquis Houston

Attendees (97)