Conservation Strategies for Computer-Based Artworks

Research Project Description
Because of the rapid development of digital technologies the software and hardware used by contemporary artists quickly becomes obsolete. The conservation of these works requires strategies that make the data less dependent on the hardware – strategies with underexplored implications for the appearance and functionality of the original work. One of these strategies is virtualization: the code and the operating system are migrated into a new hardware environment, or the data are transferred to a new, hardware-independent environment of web-based servers.
This PhD project aims to answer the question ‘What are the opportunities and implications of virtualization as a strategy for the conservation of computer-based artworks?’ The usefulness and implications of virtualization as a strategy for the conservation of works in Dutch museum collections will be evaluated by studying, testing and adapting existing tools and models developed by the Bern University of the Arts and NIMK/UvA/Bill Spinhoven. These models will be tested in-situ on exemplary artworks by three reputed Dutch artists, Peter Struycken (a CD ROM-based work), Julika Rudelius (synchronisation hardware and software in multi-screen installations), and Bill Spinhoven van Oosten (interactive installation art).The research comprises reconstructing the production context and exhibition history (documentation, artist interviews), understanding and defining the ‘logic’ of each work (its technical and semantic layers), investigating the problems with their functionality, and conducting a risk-assessment of their long-term preservation. In combination with the hands-on knowledge and skills obtained during an internship, the student will be able to advise on the implementation of research findings in the workflow of institutions such as LiMA.

Claudia Röck

Home Institution
Department of Media Studies & Amsterdam School for Heritage, Memory and Material Culture (AHM)
University of Amsterdam
Amsterdam, Netherlands

Promotor: Prof. dr. Julia Noordegraaf, Department of Media Studies, University of Amsterdam
Co-promotor: Dr. Klaus Rechert, University of Freiburg
Co-promotor: Gaby Wijers, LIMA, Amsterdam

Project Partners
LiMA, Amsterdam

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