Software-Based Media Art: From the Artistic Exhibition to the Conservation Models

Software-Based Media Art: From the Artistic Exhibition to the Conservation Models

Celia Soares, Emília Simão
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3669-8.ch003
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This chapter illustrates the reaction to the preservation and conservation of software-based media art and summarizes the crucial ideas and questions that involve this emergent area of conservation. The chapter analyzes the role in which conservators explore the impact of the method, attitudes to change, technology obsolescence, and the influence of the how the artist imagines and understands their practice on the conservation of these works as they enter the exhibition space. In addressing the conservation of software-based media art, this chapter highlights the variety of knowledge and expertise required: expertise that is personified in the teamwork of those who support these functions. The author completes the chapter by recommending that developing and maintaining these efforts has become a crucial part of the software-based media conservator's role.
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Conservation Models

It is extremely important begin by ensuring that software-based media art are not simply objects which involve analogue or digital media components, but that they are artworks (Laurenson, 2016). This determines where attention is directed, the ethical framework in which the work is treated, the context in which the work was created and is displayed, and also the significance of the relationship between the developer/creator and the artwork. The question ‘what kind of product we are trying to preserve?’ is essential to conservation subject and our capability to answer to that question for specific software-based media works depends on understanding: the importance of the hardware and the media; the importance of the software system; the mindsets to change; the impact of obsolescence on the artifacts; the influence on conservation of an artist’s practice and the knowledge required to produce the artwork.

The preservation forces to think about a long-term strategy, for this reason some museums have outlined some scenarios for defining work teams. There are four main models that are gain preeminence to describe how the software-based media art preservation needs are dealt with. The first model is based on a specialist conservation department, where conservators are specifically hired to assume the timed-based media artworks conservation. In the second model, the curators retain the responsibility for software-based media artworks conservation. The third model is considered a cross-disciplinary model, where an internal team responds collaboratively to the software-based media artworks needs including, conservators, representatives, and freelance specialist. And finally, in the fourth model, an external entity operates with a group of museums to support the software-based artworks.

In common these models have curators, conservators, and collection managers working collaboratively with specialists (technicians and artists) (Tanner & Huang, 2019).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Software-Based Artwork: Is a work of art where the creation of software, or concepts from software, play an important role.

Conservator: A person responsible for the repair and preservation of things of cultural or environmental interest, such as buildings or works of art.

Peripherals: A peripheral device is defined as a computer device, such as a keyboard or printer, that is not part of the essential computer.

Legacy Systems: A legacy system is outdated computing software and/or hardware that is still in use.

Conservation: Focuses on protection and care of tangible cultural heritage, including artworks, architecture, archaeology, and museum collection. Is the hands-on act of working directly with the object to preserve its current condition.

Software: Is the set of instructions that can be stored and run by hardware, is a collection of data or computer instructions that tell the computer how to work through its own language.

Algorithm: In computer science, an algorithm is a finite sequence of well-defined, computer-implementable instructions, typically to solve a class of problems or to perform a computation.

Programming Language: A programming language is a vocabulary and set of grammatical rules for instructing a computer or computing device to perform specific tasks.

Restoration: The action of returning something to a former owner, place, or condition.

Hardware: Includes the physical parts of a computer and supports the software execution.

Operating System: Is system software that manages computer hardware, software resources, and provides common services for computer programs.

Maintenance (Software): Is the process of modifying a software product after it has been delivered to the customer. The main purpose of software maintenance is to modify and update software application after delivery to correct faults and to improve performance.

Digital Art: Is an artistic work or practice that uses digital technology as part of the creative or presentation process.

Scalability: Is an attribute of a tool or a system to increase its capacity and functionalities based on its users' demand. Scalable software can remain stable while adapting to changes, upgrades, overhauls, and resource reduction.

Unified Markup Language (UML): Is a general-purpose, developmental, modeling language in the field of software engineering that is intended to provide a standard way to visualize the design of a system.

Preservation: Is the non-invasive act of minimizing deterioration and preventing future damage of the object or artifact.

Obsolescence: Digital obsolescence is a situation where a digital resource is no longer readable because of its archaic format. There are two main categories of digital obsolescence: Software: the software needed to access the digital file becomes obsolete.

Adaptability: Is a feature of a system or of a process, adaptability metrics involving human level of confidence and can be simplified to that extent in real life situations.

Curators: A keeper or custodian of a museum or other collection.

Artifact: An object made by a human being, typically one of cultural or historical interest.

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