Preserving, Documenting, and Exhibiting Siebren Versteeg’s Computer-Based Artwork

Taylor Healy and Briana Feston-Brunet
Electronic Media Review, Volume Eight: 2023-2024


Neither There Nor There (2005) is a computer-based artwork in the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden’s collection. It consists of two adjacent, wall-mounted LCD monitors and a custom-built computer. An executable computer program created in Macromedia Director by the artist, Siebren Versteeg (b. 1971), controls the images on the monitors. Neither There Nor There was over 15 years old and its components were in unknown condition. Preservation of computer-based artworks relies on the maintenance of its dependencies; where if one loses function or becomes obsolete, the intended behavior is compromised, or worse, the work cannot be activated. Computer-based artwork conservation practices have evolved significantly since the interventions and documentation conducted in 2014 by Hirshhorn time-based media fellows. This presentation will address updated preservation strategies including: identification of hardware and software dependencies, the creation of virtual access to the custom software, and documentation of artist-provided source code. Additionally, interventions including script error debugging, disk imaging hard-drives, and creating an exhibition copy will be described.