Acting in Contemporary Art Conservation

Published on November 15th, 2018


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Version Control Systems (VCS) check the differences between versions of code or text. By archiving (by means of a timestamp and the name of the author) and making available ongoing versions of a project, VCS allow multiple people to work on elements of a project without overwriting someone else’s entries. Changes that are made can easily be compared, restored, or, in some cases, merged. Finding a coherent and structured way to organise and control revisions has always been at the core of conservation, but it became even more urgent and complex in the era of computing.

Collaborative Archiving of Digital Art
15-16 November 2018

 

The Dutch Foundation for the Conservation of Contemporary Art (SBMK) was formed to manage the international project Modern Art: Who Cares (1995-1997). One of the results of this project was the foundation of INCCA: the International Network for the Conservation of Contemporary Art. Since the start of INCCA in 1999, many conservation related research projects have been carried out through international collaboration and the results shared through the INCCA website. SBMK continued to initiate projects, such as Inside Installations (2004 – 2007), Artist Interviews (1998 – 2004), and the international symposium Contemporary Art: Who Cares? (2010).
SBMK has taken the initiative to organise a new international symposium reflecting this background and to inspire future collaborations: Acting in Contemporary Art Conservation on 15-16 November 2018 in the Netherlands. The aim is to create a lively event where you can meet your peers, share current research and initiate new projects.

Museum Practices
One of the general outcomes of the research projects so far, has been a thorough understanding of the influence that conservation treatments and museum practices have on the future existence of contemporary artworks. Museum professionals and the audience are often actively engaged in contemporary art, sometimes becoming participants in the creative process, which poses challenging questions to the preservation of such artworks. These developments create new challenges for museum professionals and ask for specialist expertise, as they are in fact all acting in contemporary art conservation.

Topics
Several timely topics have been selected for this symposium and you are invited to present a proposal that either fits these topics or to suggest an additional theme, as the programme is open to include one more. The themes selected are: decision making, artist participation and oral history in conservation. As we are aiming to create a dynamic event, the format of the presentations need not be a plenary talk. Ideas for workshops and panel discussions are also welcome.

 

abstract
Version Control Systems (VCS) check the differences between versions of code or text. By archiving (by means of a timestamp and the name of the author) and making available ongoing versions of a project, VCS allow multiple people to work on elements of a project without overwriting someone else’s entries. Changes that are made can easily be compared, restored, or, in some cases, merged. Finding a coherent and structured way to organise and control revisions has always been at the core of conservation, but it became even more urgent and complex in the era of computing.

In this presentation we will briefly explore the different ways of using VCS for the purpose of conservation. With the aim to gain a better understanding of the underlying, but omnipresent, structures that support these environments we will present some of the outcomes of earlier workshops that we organised. The focus is on open systems such as Git and MediaWiki. Based on a case study, the work Chinese Gold by UBERMORGEN, we will talk about the pros and cons of using VCS in conservation practices and discuss the usefulness of collaborative working spaces by answering questions such as: what is the value of concepts such as provenance in Git and MediaWiki, what is the function of metadata in these systems, and how stable and secure is the data in a version controlled archive?

This research was conducted by: Dušan Barok, Julie Boschat Thorez, Annet Dekker, Claudia Roeck, David Gauthier, with the help and support of Judith Hartstein, Miglena Minkova, Megan Phipps, Lozana Rossenova, Larissa Tijsterman, Jim Wraith.

 

Image credit: UBERMORGEN, Chinese Gold, 2005-6


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