What to do about your broken new media art


I wanted to bring to your attention this new leonardo book which addresses
the complex issues surrounding curating, conservation, restoration work in new
media- rapidly our own memory is becoming fragmented by not being able to
experience the seminal and key works from the last fifty years of art
and technology.

we are having a yasmin discussion around the problems faced by artist
and institutions of how to make sure the key works of the last fifty
years can still be experience in the future


roger malina




How will our increasingly digital civilization persist beyond our
lifetimes? Audio and videotapes demagnetize; CDs delaminate; Internet
art links to websites that no longer exist; Amiga software doesn’t run
on iMacs. In Re-collection, Richard Rinehart and Jon Ippolito argue
that the vulnerability of new media art illustrates a larger crisis
for social memory. They describe a variable media approach to rescuing
new media, distributed across producers and consumers who can choose
appropriate strategies for each endangered work.

New media art poses novel preservation and conservation dilemmas.
Given the ephemerality of their mediums, software art, installation
art, and interactive games may be heading to obsolescence and
oblivion. Rinehart and Ippolito, both museum professionals, examine
the preservation of new media art from both practical and theoretical
perspectives, offering concrete examples that range from Nam June Paik
to Danger Mouse. They investigate three threats to
twenty-first-century creativity: technology, because much new media
art depends on rapidly changing software or hardware; institutions,
which may rely on preservation methods developed for older mediums;
and law, which complicates access with intellectual property
constraints such as copyright and licensing. Technology, institutions,
and law, however, can be enlisted as allies rather than enemies of
ephemeral artifacts and their preservation. The variable media
approach that Rinehart and Ippolito propose asks to what extent works
to be preserved might be medium-independent, translatable into new
mediums when their original formats are obsolete.

About the Authors
Richard Rinehart is Director of the Samek Art Gallery at Bucknell University.
Jon Ippolito is Associate Professor of New Media and Codirector of the Still Water Lab and Digital Curation Program at the University of Maine.


One Comment

  1. Roger, thanks for that introduction and hello to my colleagues on the Yasmin list,

    As Roger mentioned, in “Re-Collection: Art, New Media, & Social Memory” – the first book dedicated to the subject of collecting and preserving new media art – co-author Jon Ippolito and I have attempted to provide a broad introduction to the unique challenges that lie at the intersection of art, technology, and preservation. An overarching theme of the book is how digital media (art or not) are impacting our collective long-term or social memory (how do we remember for centuries when the object of memory may be comprised of invisible and fleeting bits?)

    I’d be happy to field comments or questions from the Yasmin list, and I’d be especially curious to hear from others who may have had any experience with the long-term retention of digital content or systems from any field or who have been involved in future-thinking planning around new technologies. Since this is all so new, even personal anecdotes can prove illustrative. What’s your story?

    In any case, greetings to you all and if you are curious about this topic, please also see: http://re-collection.net

    Richard Rinehart
    Samek Art Museum
    Bucknell University

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