Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, "Subtitled Public", 2013. Foto: Antimodular Research

Conservation Piece(s) IV: How to deal with technical obsolescence?

All things are based on the fact that they change continuously. Especially in media art this process can be rapid, sometimes even unpredictable. A talk with the conservators Patrícia Falcão and Tom Ensom, the director of Espace Multimédia Gantner Valérie Perrin and artist Marc Lee.

event/Conservation Piece(s), conference

25.06.2018, 15:00-18:00

Admission: free

Obsolescence is one of the main risks when preserving time-based media artworks. What does it look like when a 13 year old work which has not been displayed for 10 years needs to be brought back to the limelight? In preparation for a 2 year tour with the exhibition Unstable Presence (a co-production of MAC Montreal and SFMoMA), Tate was asked to lend the work Subtitled Public. This work is a complex software-based artwork by the artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer. People entering the dark exhibition space have a word (a verb conjugated in the third person) projected onto them at about chest height, which then follows them around the space wherever they go. It uses a tracking system to find people within the space, randomly select a word from a list and then project it to the visitor. For the tour it was necessary to create a new variant of the work, using new reliable hardware and avoiding alterations of the original software. The aim was only minimal intervention.

In its 4th edition, the series "Conservation Piece(s)" is devoted to the topic of technical obsolescence from an institutional and artistic perspective. A keynote address will be given by Patricia Falcão and Tom Ensom (Tate Britain), who will talk about the conservation strategies of the interactive work "Subtitled Public" by the Mexican-Canadian artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, which was purchased by the Tate in London 10 years ago. Valerie Perrin will report on conservation strategies at Espace Multimedia Gantner in Bourogne, France, and Swiss artist Marc Lee will present his personal strategy in dealing with web technologies. 

Patrícia Falcão has been a Time-based Media Conservator at Tate since 2008. Her main area of interest is the preservation of digital components of contemporary artworks with a further focus on software-based artworks. She collaborates internally and externally to develop digital strategies and infrastructure at Tate. Patricia completed her MA at the University of the Arts in Bern in 2010 with a thesis on risk assessment of software-based artworks and continues to develop research in the field of software-based art preservation since.

Tom Ensom is a London-based digital conservator and is currently finishing his PhD at King's College London, undertaken in collaboration with Tate. His PhD research has sought to better understand how processes of analysis and documentation support the long-term preservation of software-based artworks. Prior to starting his PhD, Tom worked in digital archives, holding a number of research and development positions at the UK Data Archive. Tom's primary research interests relate to the preservation of complex digital things, particularly those falling within the domain of cultural memory institutions such as time-based media artworks and video games.

Since 2007, Valérie Perrin is the director of the Espace Multimédia Gantner, a center for contemporary art and a multimedia antenna of the Médiathèque Départementale du Territoire de Belfort (France).She has also produced several exhibitions and podcasts on digital art practices and co-curated the festival Impetus.

Marc Lee creates network-oriented interactive art projects, interactive installations, media art, internet art, performance art and video art since 1999, experiments with information and communication technologies and locates topic clusters that contain creative, cultural, social, economic and political aspects.

The lectures will be held in English.

Conservation Piece(s) IV: How to deal with technical obsolescence?

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