TechFocus II: Caring for Film and Slide Art

TechFocus II: Caring for Film and Slide Art

Tech Focus II: Caring for Film and Slide Art, occurred April 27-28, 2012 at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, in Washington DC.  This workshop was designed to educate museum professionals about the technology of film and slide-based artworks and to recommend best practices for their acquisition, preservation and display.

The workshop includes a “School of Seeing”, similar to TechFocus I, were films and slides are projected as examples of different production processes, so that participants can learn how to look at them with a critical eye.

TechFocus II: Caring for Film and Slide Art

The TechFocus workshop series is being organized by the Electronic Media Group (EMG) of the American Institute for Conservation of HIstoric and Artistic Works (AIC) to provide detailed technical education in the preservation of media art.  A systematic lecture program, delivered by international experts, introduces participants to the technology behind these artworks and offers real-world guidelines for their preservation.


DAY 1: APRIL 27, 2012


TechFocus II: Caring for Film and Slide Art

9:30 Susan Lake: 


TechFocus II: Caring for Film and Slide Art

9:45  Kerry Brought: 

Curatorial Perspective

TechFocus II: Caring for Film and Slide Art

10:15 Jeffrey Martin:  

Film and Slides, A Technological Overview

Maurice Schechter

11:00 Maurice Schechter: 

Filmmaking Process


 Janice Allen discussed the process of creating exhibition copies of films using two examples. One was a cooperative effort between the Museum of Modern Art and the Pace Gallery to preserve and create exhibition copies of an Agnes Martin Film. They had two prints available to work with, a faded Eastman Kodak color print from the 70’s, which was completely red, and a Kodachrome print, which was high contrast and difficult to duplicate well. Both were used projection prints and not in good condition. However, clues on each print indicated who the original labs were, and they were able to obtain originals from those labs to work with instead of the projection prints. Janice showed the film and discussed aspects of both the image and sound quality. The second project involved making a negative from high-contrast projection originals for a dual-projection installation. The originals were worn, scratched, broken, spliced, and faded films that had been used in classrooms. Most were on Eastman color print from the 60’s and 70’s, which were very faded. Janice discussed the process of creating the films to line up for side-by-side projection, since the exhibit would require two films to be shown at once. They assembled master rolls out of the original film, along with new titles, made positives, and cut it all together into a 16mm master. Janice then demonstrated the final setup with side-by-side projection.

TechFocus II: Caring for Film and Slide Art

4:45 Paul Messier (Moderator) and Panel Discussion: 

Getting Ready for Life After Film: Are We Ready?

DAY 2: Saturday, April 28, 2012


TechFocus II: Caring for Film and Slide Art

10 AM  Christine Frohnert: 


 Christine Frohnert welcomed the audience to TechFocus II. She thanked the organizers and funders as well as the speakers, moderators and planning committee of the second event of a series of planned workshops on the preservation and presentation of technology-based art. Christine Frohnert summarized the program and outlooks of the second day of the conference and stressed the need for more education in time-based art conservation.

Few engaged and determined individuals have pioneered the field, and have worked to build a body of published research, including case studies and best practices. A handful of major museums have created positions for conservators exclusively devoted to the preservation of technology-based art. But in spite of these important developments, there are still few opportunities for most professionals to gain practical in-depth experience and hands-on technical knowledge that can be brought back to their institutions. With no formal education program for time-based art conservators in the US, the Electronic Media Group is dedicated to provide opportunities for further education, including the TechFocus workshop series and the first periodical publication Electronic Media Review focusing entirely on technology-based art.

Sara (Gordon) Bender discussed the use of 35mm slide projectors in installations and the unique challenges she faced when using equipment in ways that fall outside of the design intent. Based on her experience using slide projectors in a large, public institution open 364 days per year, she shared her experience in selecting proper equipment as well as general maintenance techniques and resources. Since Kodak ceased production of slide projectors in 2004, she focused on projectors that can still be found throughout the world today, covering models ranging from the Ektragraphic to the Ektapro. She broke down the major differences between the models and gave advice on selection. Sara reviewed lamp types and synchronizers, and she discussed how each may impact multi-channel installations. She concluded by reviewing care techniques for the short-term as well as long-term concerns and realities.

 Matthew Cowan discussed the challenges of installing film loopers for exhibits. Drawing from his experience installing loopers in a variety of galleries, he shared his lessons learned regarding gathering documentation and planning sketches for how to set up loopers in an exhibition space. Considerations included the height and distance of the projector from the wall, the sound and light levels in the space, and the impact the projection would have on other exhibits in the gallery. He described the process of selecting a looping projector, including considerations regarding the type of projector and lens to use. Matthew talked about the two primary types of loopers: handle and table top versions. Loopers can be professionally constructed or homemade, and he noted that images of and instructions for using loopers can be hard to find.  He demonstrated a table-top looper and walked through the mechanics of the looper setup, explaining that while they may be made slightly differently, loopers all function essentially the same way. Finally, he discussed many of the technical issues that can arise during a looper exhibit, such as scratching, blown bulbs, burned frames, loss of film path, accidental audience interference, and shift in image alignment, and offered a checklist for care and cleaning over the duration of the exhibit to ensure success.

TechFocus II: Caring for Film and Slide Art

11:30 Tina Weidner: SCHOOL OF SEEING:

Slide Works (Part 1)

TechFocus II: Caring for Film and Slide Art


TechFocus II: Caring for Film and Slide Art

2:15 pm Ross Lipman: 

School of Seeing: Film Works (Part 2)

 4:30 Sarah Stauderman (moderator): 

Dialog with the audience