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January 2021, Vol. 46, No. 1

Who is the Electronic Media Group (EMG)?

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By Kristin MacDonough, Joseph Heinen, Alexandra Nichols, Brian Castriota, Jonathan Farbowitz, Meaghan Perry, and Sasha Arden for the Electronic Media Group

What does it mean to be a member of EMG? The purpose of the specialty group has evolved over time in response to the growing needs in conservation of contemporary art and other objects of cultural heritage, and we, the current EMG officers, found ourselves asking this question this past autumn. When EMG was formed in the late 1990s, the group’s primary focus was to broadly address the needs of artworks that integrate electricity into their creation or display and to connect conservators who were beginning to work with these new mediums. Over the years, artists have embraced emerging technologies to create artworks and other works of cultural significance utilizing born-digital video, custom computer hardware and software, virtual and augmented reality, and 3D printing/rapid prototyping, amongst other new media types. EMG has similarly evolved, as members continue to step up to the challenge of preserving and exhibiting these types of works.

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From the Executive Director

I am writing this missive in the last month of an extraordinary year—one far too full of anxiety and angst. It has been a year of adjusting to a new way of working and interacting with colleagues, while finding new ways to engage and support our members. I grieve for all who have become ill or died of COVID-19 as well as for positions lost and lives thrown in disarray by closed museums, libraries, and schools.

The year 2021 will continue to be challenging as we try to control the pandemic, deal with the financial repercussions, and work to build trust in our institutions, our norms, and each other. It is a time to examine the state of our society, despite the resulting discomfort, to determine how to address its inequities. It is also a time to re-assess cultural heritage conservation, thinking through how the field must adapt to continue to be viable, as well as relevant, in the coming decades.

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