TechFocus III: Caring for Software-based Art

September 25-26, 2015
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York 

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Software-based artworks have been gradually entering collections over the past three decades. However, the preservation of works created in this medium has proved challenging for collection caretakers due to its relative scarcity and perceived complexity. Designed to educate collection professionals of all disciplines, this two-day workshop and symposium bridged this knowledge gap and presented some of the challenges, risks, and the state of current practice in the care of software-based artworks, with contributions from conservators, curators, art historians, archivists, artists, and computer scientists.
Topics included the history of software-based art and its underlying technology, code analysis, documentation methods, risk assessment, storage and access, and strategies for long-term preservation. Four practical exercises introduced participants to the concepts of coding, version control as a preservation tool, disk imaging and emulation.
It is hoped that the program raised awareness and advanced the development of standards and best practice in the care and conservation of this new genre of contemporary art. The workshop also provided a forum for professionals to gather and debate these emerging preservation strategies on an international level.
The workshop was made possible by the generous support of the Foundation of the American Institute for the Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (FAIC), the National Endowment of the Arts and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.

PROGRAM

Day 1: Friday Sept. 25, 2015

8:30 – 9:30 Breakfast, registration and laptop prep for Day 2 Practical Sessions
9:30 – 9:40 Welcome by the Guggenheim and AIC’s Electronic Media Group
Carol Stringari, Deputy Director and Chief Conservator, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

Helen Bailey, Chair of the Electronic Media Group (EMG) of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC); Digital Curation Analyst, MIT Libraries

9:40 – 10:00 Approaching the Challenge: Caring for Software-based Art in Museum Collections
Joanna Phillips, Time-based Media Conservator, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
10:00 – 10:30 The Evolution of Software-based Art: A History of Art Production and Curatorial Practice
Christiane Paul, Associate Professor, School of Media Studies at The New School; Adjunct Curator of New Media Arts at the Whitney Museum of American Art
 10:30 – 11:00 The History of Technology underlying the Evolution of Software-based Art
Mark Hellar, Principal, Hellar Studios LLC
11:00 – 11:30 Coffee Break
11:30 – 12:00 The Anatomy of the Artwork: Dissecting Software-based Art
Mona Jimenez, Associate Arts Professor; Associate Director, Moving Image Archiving and Preservation, Tisch School of the Arts, New York University
12:00 – 12:30 Case Study #1: Acquiring and Documenting Jürg Lehni’s “Viktor” (2006~)
Martina Haidvogl, Advanced Fellow in the Conservation of Contemporary Art, SFMOMA
12:30 – 1:00 Case Study #2: Examination and Code Analysis of Siebren Versteeg’s “Untitled Film 2” (2006)
Brian Castriota, Samuel H. Kress Fellow in Time-based Media Conservation, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
Mia Matthias, Minor in Web Programming and Applications, Class of 2015, New York University
Jiwon Shin, Major in Computer Science, Class of 2016, New York University Abu Dhabi
Caroline Slason, Minor in Web Programming and Applications, Class of 2015,  New York University
1:00 – 2:30 Lunch Break
2:30 – 3:00 Identifying the Artwork’s Significances and Work-defining Properties
Panel with artists Jürg Lehni and Siebren Versteeg. Moderator: Joanna PhillipsTime-based Media Conservator, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
3:00 – 3:30 Case Study #3: Preparing for Exhibition: Feng Mengbo “Long March: Restart” (2008)
Ben Fino-Radin, Digital Repository Manager, MoMA
Kate Lewis, Media Conservator, MoMA
3:30 – 4:00 Case Study #4: Virtualizing John Gerrard’s “Sow Farm” (2009), or not?
Patricia Falcao, Time-Based Media Conservator, Tate
Annet Dekker, Researcher Digital Preservation, Tate
4:00 – 4:30 Coffee Break
4:30 – 5:00 Preserving 2000 Net Artworks: Practical Approaches to Object Identification, Risk Assessment and Permanent Access at Scale
Dragan Espenschied, Digital Conservator, Rhizome
5:00 – 5:30 Panel with Day 1 Speakers: Assessing Risks and Developing Conservation Strategies
Moderator: Glenn WhartonClinical Associate Professor of Museum Studies, New York University

Day 2: Saturday Sept. 26, 2015

8:30 – 9:30 Breakfast, registration and laptop prep for Day 2 Practical Sessions
9:30 – 11:00 PRACTICAL SESSION: BRING YOUR OWN LAPTOP!
Part I: Understanding Code as the Foundation of Software-based Art: Coding Exercise in “Processing”
Part II: Introduction to the Concept of Version Control as a Preservation and Documentation Tool for Software-based Art: Exercises employing “GitHub”
Deena Engel, Clinical Professor and Associate Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Computer Science Minors programs, Department of Computer Science, Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, New York University
Mark Hellar, Principal, Hellar Studios LLC
11:00 – 11:30 Coffee Break
11:30 – 1:00 PRACTICAL SESSION: BRING YOUR OWN LAPTOP!
Part III: Creating Disk Images of Software-based Artworks
Part IV: Storing and Accessing Disk Images through Emulation
Ben Fino-Radin, Associate Media Conservator, MoMA
1:00 – 2:30 Lunch Break
2:30 – 3:00 Disk Image—and then what? Sustainable Long-Term Storage and Access
Helen Bailey, Digital Curation Analyst, MIT Libraries
3:00-3:30 The Documentation of Artists’ Source Code as a Preservation Tool
Deena Engel, Clinical Professor and Associate Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Computer Science Minors programs, Department of Computer Science, Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, New York University
Glenn Wharton, Clinical Associate Professor of Museum Studies, New York University
3:30 – 4:00 The Documentation of the Audiovisual Output and Interactive Experience
Agathe Jarczyk, Lecturer, Bern University of the Arts; Owner, Studio for Video Conservation
4:00 – 4:30 Coffee Break
4:30 – 5:15 The Integration of Software-based Art into the Collection Management Establishment
Panel with Annet Dekker, Martina HaidvoglKate Lewis and Joanna Phillips. Moderator: Christine Frohnert, Partner, Bek & Frohnert LLC
5:15 – 5:45 Panel with Day 2 speakers: Conclusion
Moderator: Christine Frohnert, Partner, Bek & Frohnert LLC

 

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