TechFocus III: Caring for Software-Based Art

September 25-26, 2015
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York 

Speaker Bios

Software-based artworks have been gradually entering collections over the past three decades. However, the preservation of works created in this medium has proved challenging for collection caretakers due to its relative scarcity and perceived complexity. Designed to educate collection professionals of all disciplines, this two-day workshop and symposium bridged this knowledge gap and presented some of the challenges, risks, and the state of current practice in the care of software-based artworks, with contributions from conservators, curators, art historians, archivists, artists, and computer scientists.
Topics included the history of software-based art and its underlying technology, code analysis, documentation methods, risk assessment, storage and access, and strategies for long-term preservation. Four practical exercises introduced participants to the concepts of coding, version control as a preservation tool, disk imaging and emulation.
It is hoped that the program raised awareness and advanced the development of standards and best practice in the care and conservation of this new genre of contemporary art. The workshop also provided a forum for professionals to gather and debate these emerging preservation strategies on an international level.
The workshop was made possible by the generous support of the Foundation of the American Institute for the Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (FAIC), the National Endowment of the Arts and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.

TechFocus III Planning Committee
Helen Bailey, Christine Frohnert, Agathe Jarczyk, Mona Jimenez, Kate Lewis, Joanna Phillips, Eric Pourchot, and Martha Singer.


Day 1: Friday Sept. 25, 2015

8:30 – 9:30 Breakfast, registration and laptop prep for Day 2 Practical Sessions
9:30 – 9:40 Welcome by the Guggenheim and AIC’s Electronic Media Group
Carol Stringari, Deputy Director and Chief Conservator, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum


Helen Bailey, Chair of the Electronic Media Group (EMG) of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC); Digital Curation Analyst, MIT Libraries

9:40 – 10:00 Approaching the Challenge: Caring for Software-based Art in Museum Collections
Joanna Phillips, Time-based Media Conservator, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum


10:00 – 10:30 The Evolution of Software-based Art: A History of Art Production and Curatorial Practice
Christiane Paul, Associate Professor, School of Media Studies at The New School; Adjunct Curator of New Media Arts at the Whitney Museum of American Art


 10:30 – 11:00 The History of Technology underlying the Evolution of Software-based Art
Mark Hellar, Principal, Hellar Studios LLC


11:00 – 11:30 Coffee Break
11:30 – 12:00 The Anatomy of the Artwork: Dissecting Software-based Art
Mona Jimenez, Associate Arts Professor; Associate Director, Moving Image Archiving and Preservation, Tisch School of the Arts, New York University


12:00 – 12:30 Case Study #1: Acquiring and Documenting Jürg Lehni’s “Viktor” (2006~)
Martina Haidvogl, Advanced Fellow in the Conservation of Contemporary Art, SFMOMA


12:30 – 1:00 Case Study #2: Examination and Code Analysis of Siebren Versteeg’s “Untitled Film 2” (2006)
Brian Castriota, Samuel H. Kress Fellow in Time-based Media Conservation, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
Mia Matthias, Minor in Web Programming and Applications, Class of 2015, New York University
Jiwon Shin, Major in Computer Science, Class of 2016, New York University Abu Dhabi
Caroline Slason, Minor in Web Programming and Applications, Class of 2015,  New York University


1:00 – 2:30 Lunch Break
2:30 – 3:00 Identifying the Artwork’s Significances and Work-defining Properties
Panel with artists Jürg Lehni and Siebren Versteeg. Moderator: Joanna PhillipsTime-based Media Conservator, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum


3:00 – 3:30 Case Study #3: Preparing for Exhibition: Feng Mengbo “Long March: Restart” (2008)
Ben Fino-Radin, Digital Repository Manager, MoMA
Kate Lewis, Media Conservator, MoMA


3:30 – 4:00 Case Study #4: Virtualizing John Gerrard’s “Sow Farm” (2009), or not?
Patricia Falcao, Time-Based Media Conservator, Tate
Annet Dekker, Researcher Digital Preservation, Tate


4:00 – 4:30 Coffee Break
4:30 – 5:00 Preserving 2000 Net Artworks: Practical Approaches to Object Identification, Risk Assessment and Permanent Access at Scale
Dragan Espenschied, Digital Conservator, Rhizome


5:00 – 5:30 Panel with Day 1 Speakers: Assessing Risks and Developing Conservation Strategies
Moderator: Glenn WhartonClinical Associate Professor of Museum Studies, New York University



Day 2: Saturday Sept. 26, 2015

8:30 – 9:30 Breakfast, registration and laptop prep for Day 2 Practical Sessions
Part I: Understanding Code as the Foundation of Software-based Art: Coding Exercise in “Processing”
Part II: Introduction to the Concept of Version Control as a Preservation and Documentation Tool for Software-based Art: Exercises employing “GitHub”
Deena Engel, Clinical Professor and Associate Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Computer Science Minors programs, Department of Computer Science, Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, New York University
Mark Hellar, Principal, Hellar Studios LLC


11:00 – 11:30 Coffee Break
Part III: Creating Disk Images of Software-based Artworks
Part IV: Storing and Accessing Disk Images through Emulation
Ben Fino-Radin, Associate Media Conservator, MoMA


1:00 – 2:30 Lunch Break
2:30 – 3:00 Disk Image—and then what? Sustainable Long-Term Storage and Access
Helen Bailey, Digital Curation Analyst, MIT Libraries


3:00-3:30 The Documentation of Artists’ Source Code as a Preservation Tool
Deena Engel, Clinical Professor and Associate Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Computer Science Minors programs, Department of Computer Science, Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, New York University
Glenn Wharton, Clinical Associate Professor of Museum Studies, New York University


3:30 – 4:00 The Documentation of the Audiovisual Output and Interactive Experience
Agathe Jarczyk, Lecturer, Bern University of the Arts; Owner, Studio for Video Conservation


4:00 – 4:30 Coffee Break
4:30 – 5:15 The Integration of Software-based Art into the Collection Management Establishment
Panel with Annet Dekker, Martina HaidvoglKate Lewis and Joanna Phillips. Moderator: Christine Frohnert, Partner, Bek & Frohnert LLC


5:15 – 5:45 Panel with Day 2 speakers: Conclusion
Moderator: Christine Frohnert, Partner, Bek & Frohnert LLC



Helen Bailey
Helen Bailey is a Digital Curation Analyst at the MIT Libraries, following a two-year stint as the MIT Library Fellow for Digital Curation and Preservation. She received her MSIS and CAS in Conservation from the University of Texas at Austin in 2010. In her current position, Helen provides software development and data visualization support for the Libraries’ digital curation initiatives. Helen also chairs the Electronic Media Group of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works, and in her spare time she dabbles in bookbinding and creative coding.

Brian Castriota
Brian Castriota is a Samuel H. Kress Fellow in Time-Based Media Conservation at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. He received an MA in Art History and CAS in Conservation from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University in 2014. He completed advanced internships in the conservation departments of the National Museums Scotland and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and has worked as a contract conservator for time-based media artworks at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. His research interests include the theoretical and practical implications of technological obsolescence and change, and perceptions of integrity and authenticity in modern and contemporary art.

Annet Dekker
Annet Dekker is an independent researcher and curator. She is currently Researcher Digital Preservation at Tate, London, Post-doc Research Fellow at London South Bank University / The Photographers Gallery, and core tutor at Piet Zwart Institute, Rotterdam (Master Media Design and Communication, Networked Media and Lens-Based Media). Previously she worked as Web curator for SKOR (Foundation for Art and Public Domain, 2010–12), was programme manager at Virtueel Platform (2008–10), and head of exhibitions, education and artists-in-residence at the Netherlands Media Art Institute (1999–2008). From 2008-14 she wrote her Ph.D. “Enabling the Future, or How to Survive FOREVER. A study of networks, processes and ambiguity in net art and the need for an expanded practice of conservation” at the Centre for Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths University, London.

Deena Engel
Deena Engel is a Clinical Professor as well as the Associate Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Computer Science Minors programs in the Department of Computer Science at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences of New York University. She teaches undergraduate computer science courses on web and database technologies, as well as courses for undergraduate and graduate students in the Digital Humanities and the Arts. She also supervises undergraduate and graduate student research projects in the Digital Humanities and the Arts. Prior to returning to academe, she ran a systems group in an international art auction house for nine years. Over the last six years, Prof. Engel has conducted collaborative research on the conservation of software-based art with conservators at the Museum of Modern Art and at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City.

Dragan Espenschied
Dragan Espenschied (1975 Germany) is a media artist, home computer folk musician, digital culture researcher and conservator. As an artist, Espenschied focuses on the historization of Digital Culture from the perspective of users rather than hackers, developers or “inventors.” Together with net art pioneer Olia Lialina he created a significant body of work concerned with representing and writing a culture-centric history of the networked age. They together have been restoring and culturally analyzing 1 TB of GeoCities data. Espenschied worked with the transmediale’s archive and the Vilem Flusser Archive to conceptually and technically integrate large scale emulation while working at the University of Freiburg and the University of Applied Arts in Karlsruhe. Publications include papers on large scale curation of complex digital artifacts, emulation and digital culture, the influential reader Digital Folklore as well as music releases on Aphex Twin’s label Rephlex. Since April 2014, he is leading the Digital Conservation Program at Rhizome.

Patricia Falcao
Patricia Falcao is a Time-based Media Conservator at Tate. Her role includes the conservation of new time-based media artworks coming to the Tate Collection. Ms. Falcao is part of a team at Tate developing the processes necessary for preservation of digital artworks. During 2013/14 she researched the use of virtualisation for the preservation of software-based artworks. Ms. Falcao completed her MA at the University of the Arts in Bern with a thesis on risk assessment for software-based artworks. She continues to develop research in this field within the ambit of Pericles, a pan-European project that aims to address the challenge of ensuring that digital content remains accessible in an environment that is subject to continual change.

Ben Fino-Radin
Ben Fino-Radin is a museum professional specializing in the preservation of digital contemporary art and cultural heritage. At the Museum of Modern Art Ben serves as Digital Repository Manager in the department of conservation, and also serves as an Adjunct Professor in NYU’s Moving Image Archiving and Preservation program. Fino-Radin holds an MS in Information Science, and MFA in Digital Art from Pratt Institute.

Christine Frohnert
Christine Frohnert completed her training as painting/sculpture conservator in 1993, joined the Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany, and was Chief Conservator from 2000 – 2005.  She holds a graduate degree in the Conservation of Modern Materials and Media, University of Arts, Berne, Switzerland (2003).  From 2002-2005, she was the deputy head of the modern art section of the German Conservators’ Association, VDR.  She worked with Cranmer Art Group in NYC from 2005 until 2012. In 2008, she was elected to Chair of the Electronic Media Group, AIC and initiated the conference series TechFocus. In 2012, she was named the inaugural Judith Praska Distinguished Visiting Professor in Conservation at NYU, Institute of Fine Arts, Conservation Center teaching the seminar course: Art with a Plug -The Conservation of Artworks containing Motion, Sound, Light, Moving Images and Interactivity. Since 2012 Christine is partner of Bek & Frohnert LLC, Conservation of Contemporary Art, in NYC.

Martina Haidvogl
Martina Haidvogl studied conservation and restoration at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, Austria, and the Bern University of the Arts, Switzerland, majoring in conservation of modern and contemporary art. Specializing in media art, she worked in a film lab, for the Austrian Filmmuseum and for Agathe Jarczyk, a freelance video conservator in Bern. In November 2011 she began an advanced fellowship in contemporary art conservation at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Mark Hellar
Mark Hellar is a leading technology consultant for cultural institutions throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond and owner of Hellar Studios LLC. Mark specializes in creative yet practical digital media and web-based solutions for multimedia artists and the institutions that support their work, with an emphasis on developing systems and best practices for archiving, documentation and exhibition.  Before opening Hellar Studios LLC in 2009, Mark worked as a systems architect at the Tides Foundation, the academic technology manager at the San Francisco Art Institute and as digital-media specialist at Bay Area Video Coalition. Mark is currently working on new media conservation initiatives at SFMoMA, including the conservation and care of their software-based artworks. He is also developing software for artist Lynn Hershman Leeson and oversaw the installation of her retrospective, Civic Radar at the ZKM Center for Art and Media in Karlsruhe, Germany in 2014.

Agathe Jarczyk
Agathe Jarczyk is a Conservator of Modern Materials and Media. Since 2008, Jarczyk is the owner of the “Studio for Video Conservation“ (Atelier für Videokonservierung GmbH) in Berne, Switzerland. Her studio focuses on conservation treatment and caretaking of video artworks for numerous Swiss and international museums and collections.  Since 2011, she is lecturer at the Department for Conservation and Restoration at the University of the Arts, Berne. Between 2010 to 2012, Jarczyk worked as a conservation researcher in a number of national research projects, including “Vacuum freeze drying as a first aid measure for water damaged magnetic tapes – developing a new method for saving endangered archive stock” (funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation) and “Developing durable Foodstuffs for Contemporary Art”. Besides different articles on practical aspects on the conservation of video art, Jarczyk is a co-author of the “Compendium of Image Errors in Analogue Video”, published in 2013.  Website:

Mona Jimenez
Mona Jimenez started transferring obsolete videotapes in the late 1980s and has been an advocate and organizer for the preservation of independent media and media art ever since. She is Associate Arts Professor/Associate Director in NYU’s Moving Image Archiving and Preservation Program, where she teaches the preservation of video and digital works. She is co-editor with Sherry Miller Hocking and Kathy High of The Emergence of Video Processing Tools: Television Becoming Unglued, that documents collaborations between artists and technologists to create custom tools for media art (for the book, visit: University Chicago press). Since 2009 she has been experimenting with participatory models of media/film archiving locally and through Community Archiving Workshops organized by the Independent Media Committee of the Association of Moving Image Archivists. She is the founder of Audiovisual Preservation Exchange (APEX), a project to network audiovisual archivists, educators and students internationally through shared work on collections. Website:

Jürg Lehni
Artist Jürg Lehni works collaboratively across disciplines, dealing with the nuances of technology, tools and the human condition. His works often take the form of platforms and scenarios for production, such as the drawing machines Hektor, Rita and Viktor, as well as software-based structures and frameworks, including Paper.js, Scriptographer and Lehni has shown work internationally in group and solo shows at the MoMA New York, Walker Art Center, Centre Pompidou, Institute of Contemporary Arts London, Victoria and Albert Museum, Kunsthalle St. Gallen, etc.  He runs an independent practice in Switzerland since 2002, but has lived and worked in many places around the globe: As the Arts Council Visiting Professor at the UCLA Department of Design Media Arts in 2012-2013, running his own studio in London in 2008-2011, on a Swiss Design Awards residency in New York in 2007, and on a research residency at Sony SET Studio in Tokyo in 2006.

Kate Lewis
Kate Lewis is a Media Conservator at The Museum of Modern Art in New York, where she focuses on the conservation of audio, performance, software, video and film-based works. She presently serves as Program Chair for the Electronic Media Group of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works, is on the Editorial board for Studies in Conservation, and is part of the Matters in Media Art project. Prior to joining MoMA, from 2005 she was a Time-based Media Conservator at Tate in London. Lewis holds an M.A. in the Conservation of Works of Art from the University of Northumbria at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and a B.A in the History of Art from the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London, United Kingdom.

Mia Matthias
Mia Matthias graduated from New York University in May of 2015 with a joint degree in Anthropology and Linguistics, and minors in Web Programming and Applications and French. An avid researcher of online interactivity and discourse, Matthias studied applications of Computer Science in Art and the Humanities under Professor Deena Engel in the Department of Computer Science. Matthias participated in the Spring 2015 research on the conservation of software-based art at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, analyzing, documenting, and archiving the code of Siebren Versteeg’s “Untitled Film II” (2006).

Christiane Paul
Christiane Paul is Associate Prof. and Associate Dean at the School of Media Studies, The New School, and Adjunct Curator of New Media Arts at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Her recent books are A Companion to Digital Art (forthcoming Blackwell-Wiley); Digital Art (Thames and Hudson, 3rd revised edition, 2015) Context Providers – Conditions of Meaning in Media Arts (Intellect, 2011; Chinese edition, 2012), co-edited with Margot Lovejoy and Victoria Vesna; and New Media in the White Cube and Beyond (UC Press, 2008). At the Whitney Museum she curated exhibitions including Cory Arcangel: Pro Tools (2011) and Profiling (2007), and is responsible for artport, the Whitney Museum’s portal to Internet art. Other curatorial work includes The Public Private (Kellen Gallery, The New School, 2013), Biennale Quadrilaterale 3 (Rijeka, Croatia, 2009-10); and Feedforward – The Angel of History (co-curated with Steve Dietz; LABoral, Gijon, Spain, Oct. 2009).

Joanna Phillips
Joanna Phillips is the Conservator of Time-based Media at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. At the Guggenheim, Phillips has founded the lab for time-based media conservation and develops and implements strategies for the preservation, reinstallation, and documentation of the media works in the collection. One of Phillips’ recent publications is the Compendium of Image Errors in Analogue Video (2013). As a committee member of the Electronic Media Group of AIC, Phillips is a founding co-organizer and co-programmer of EMG’s educational workshop series “TechFocus”.  Prior to joining the Guggenheim, Phillips specialized in the conservation of contemporary art at the Swiss Institute for Art Research in Zürich and explored the challenges of media art conservation as a conservation researcher in the Swiss project “AktiveArchive”. Phillips holds an M.A. in paintings conservation from the Hochschule für Bildende Künste Dresden (Germany).

Jiwon Shin
Jiwon Shin is currently a student of New York University Abu Dhabi, Class of 2016, majoring in Computer Science and Visual Arts. She has participated in research on topics in the conservation of software-based art as a student research intern at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Her work comprised conducting code analysis, creating documentation and researching conservation solutions for software-based artworks.

Caroline Slason
Caroline Slason graduated from New York University in May 2015, with a degree from the Gallatin School of Individualized Study. She created her own unique concentration, Theatre and Technology, and earned a minor in Web Programming and Applications within the Department of Computer Science. As an undergraduate student of Prof. Deena Engel, Slason participated in the collaborative case study research with the Guggenheim and conducted code analysis and documentation of Siebren Verteeg’s “Untitled Film II” (2006).

Siebren Versteeg
Siebren Versteeg spent most of the 90’s in Chicago where he earned a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and attended the MFA program at University of Illinois. In this century, he was a participant of the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, a part time instructor at Brooklyn College, and in 2009, The Kennedy visiting artist in residence at the Univerity of South Florida. Recent exhibitions include Days of Enless Time at Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden (DC) The Way of the Shovel: Art as Archaeology at The Museum of Contemporary Art (Chicago), CAUTION! Things may appear different than they are at Offen Aug AEG (Nürnberg, Germany), Grid’s World at Locust Projects (Miami), and Color Line at Outpost (Ridgewood, NY). Selected solo exhibitions include Inaction at Rhona Hoffman (Chicago) and En Masse at the Art Institute of Boston (Boston). He has exhibited in group exhibitions in venues throughout the world, including the ESSL MUSEUM (Vienna), the Albright-Knox Art Gallery (Buffalo, NY), The Suburban (Chicago), and HALLWALLS (Buffalo, NY). His work is held in collections that include the Ulrich Museum of Art, the Marguilies Collection, the RISD Museum, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, the Hirshhorn Museum, the Yale Art Gallery, and the Guggenheim Museum.

Glenn Wharton
Glenn Wharton is an Associate Professor in Museum Studies at New York University. From 2007-2013 he served as Media Conservator at the Museum of Modern Art, where he established the time-based media conservation program for video, performance, and software-based collections. At MoMA he initiated programs to digitize analog collections, develop a digital collections repository, and build documentation systems for media and performance art. In 2006 he founded Voices in Contemporary Art (VoCA), a non-profit organization devoted to preserving contemporary art through collaborating with artists and art professionals. Glenn’s current research is on building archives that document artist working methods and their concerns for future conservation and display. This research engages contemporary debates around intellectual property, authorship, and authenticity.