Accepted Paper:

Infrastructures of preservation: continuity and maintenance for Media Arts  

Authors:

Vanina Yael Hofman (Universitat Oberta de Catalunya)
Daniel Lopez Gomez (Universitat Oberta de Catalunya)
Pau Alsina (Open University of Catalonia)

Paper short abstract:

Media arts points to a bundle of diverse projects that share the challenge of their preservation. This paper explores different relational infrastructures of maintenance and repairing -both inside museums and artists studios- that lay the base of media arts (im)permanence.

Paper long abstract:

Like maintenance and repair work, looking at preservation processes enable us to reconsider the usually taken-for-granted attributes of artworks' materials. Artworks need to undergo constant adjustments to maintain their existential continuity, which entails the visibilization and invisibilization of the involved caretaking work, as well as certain infrastructures (Star, 1999).

Collecting and storing media art poses a particular hurdle in the field of traditional artwork preservation, for which preservation means prolonging the immutability of the appearance of the artwork. Media art preservation prompts a "preservation-through-change" approach (Ippolito, 2006) that includes methods such as migration, emulation and re-mediation. Depending on the setting, these interventions may tend to render visible as new layers in the trajectory of artworks, in the case of some collections they might be concealed in favor of the artist's voice, whose account and creative process have been thoroughly registered and foregrounded to preserve the uniqueness of the idea and the artistic object (Dominguez-Rubio, 2014).

In this paper, we seek to explore the infrastructures of preservation in media art both when they are collected in Museums but also when artists keep them to be sold, re installed or transform them into new pieces in the future. By comparing these infrastructures of preservation we aim to empirically describe the multiple ways in which the continuity of the artwork is performed while put to the test the materialistic approach of STS to maintenance and repair work (Henke, 2000; Graham and Thrift, 2007; Denis and Pontille, 2013), in which objects are deemed as the stable grounds of social order.

Panel T007
Before/after/beyond breakdown: exploring regimes of maintenance