39th Annual Meeting – Electronic Media Afternoon Session 6/3/11, Equipment Obsolescence, The Tree Decision Making Model for the Preservation of Technological Equipment for Time Based Media Art, a DOCAM Research Tool Outcome, Richard Gaigner

Richard Gaigner, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
The Tree Decision Making Model for the Preservation of Technological Equipment for Time Based Media Art, a DOCAM (Documentation et Conservation du Patromoine des Arts Mediatiques) Research Tool Outcome

The goal of the project was to take a holistic approach to time based media, and to bring awareness to the format.  The research was done in French because DOCAM is located in Montreal, but also to augment the small amount of research in French in this field.  The research team was made up of 14 researchers from a variety of backgrounds and expertise.  Did the research by focusing on 7 case studies.  Established a topology of practice and approach to the issues at hand.

Case one involved a very specific installation, and a complicated production of the image.  The artist took parts from multiple films to create a complex layered image.  Used a Barco projector to show the image.  Over time these machines essentially self destruct, so migration had to be considered.  Looked at the complexities of creating a suitable substitute.

Case two was an early Jenny Holzer sign made by the American Sign Company (which only existed for a short time), which predates her LED work.  The sign took a lot of wear due it’s design, which uses an electric arm to turn tiny RGB beads to create the image.  The sign had stopped working so the artist’s suggestion was to recreate the technology, but it was an expensive project.  The other option was to recreate the sign in LED.

Case three is a computer based design program, which makes “blob architecture”.

Caase four is a Nam June Paik from 1989, ten monitors making up a sculpture.  The issue was the CRT monitors undergoing expected degradation.

Case five is a Sony video Walkman, a mini tv essentially.  This piece was acquired unable to produce an image, and they were unable to fix it.  After contacting the artist the solution was to use a Casio mini monitor as a replacement.  They have been trolling eBay now looking for replacements for the original monitor.

Case six is a monitor with a piece of paper held on the screen by static to make the image look more grainy.

***I seem to be missing the seventh case from the DOCAM project here, if anyone has notes on it please contact me so I can add the missing information (mmw356@nyu.edu).  My apologies!

Out of the project they developed a three part guide: common problems, recommendations, etc.  They also thought critically about integrity and authenticity of art (Brandi), and the significance of the work, its behavior, the viewers experience, and aesthetics.

The decision making tree was made in Free Mind, an open source program, which asks you a series of question like, can it be repaired?  Do you want to repair it?  The steps help you to make an informed decision as to whether to fix or replace the equipment.  More questions include is the equipment visible?  Does it have any other significance to the work?  Is the equipment stable or obsolete?  Is it easy or hard to replace the equipment?  The tree is only available in French, but it can be accessed online on the DOCAM website.

Question: how can we apply Brandi’s theories to time based media more specifically?  Brandi is a good starting point to think about the significance of original material, particularly with TBM