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conference 28.10.2008
PACKED, Centre of Expertise in Digital Heritage

conference LAb[au], Els Vermang

pixflow #2, generative art console
binary waves, cybernetic urban installation

Seminar on the preservation of analogue and digital carriers

Practical tips for the sector of arts and cultural heritage
October 28, 2008
Film theatre MuHKA_Media, Photo Museum Antwerp

Should you wear gloves when handling film? Is it best to store a videotape vertically or horizontally? Should you digitse vinyl-lp's? How long does a CD-R last? What if the monitors of an installation artwork need replacing? Is there an optimal climate for the storage of a hard disk?

The preservation of media art is different from the preservation of other heritage because of the specificity of the carriers. In contrast to a painting, carriers do not show anything of their visual content, unless they are played on compatible playback machines. Many of these carriers (filmstrip, videotapes, vinyl disks, ...) suffer a decrease in quality each time they are played. Besides this kind of

tear and wear, carriers can also be affected by the obsolescence of their playback equipment. Factors like too high temperature, humidity, illumination, ... speed up the aging process of analogue and digital media. Humidity can cause mold, heat deforms the container of the carrier.

But how can you prevent those things from happening? And what can you do in case the carrier has already been damaged? Will it still be possible to save the work? Although good preservation starts with easy and straightforward principles, practice shows that artists are not always familiar with the accurate guidelines. In the preservation of their analogue or digital media, they often do what they feel is best. The exchange of information resources and practical knowledge does not run smoothly because professionals and artists do not share a common knowledge platform. With this seminar, PACKED wanted to present and disseminate this lacking knowledge by bringing media artists in contact with experts from the field.

Els Vermang is a member of LAb[au] - laboratory for architecture and urbanism - from Brussel. LAb[au] creates interactive installations, audiovisual presentations and scenographies and develops own soft- and hardware to realise their creations. Presentation | Els Vermang presented LAb[au]'s methodology concerning digital art by two case-studies: PixFlow (1-2006 2-2007) and Binary Waves (2008), with special attention for technological aspects concerning maintenance and preservation.

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