Hi all! I’m Eric, and I’m in my second and (knock on wood) final year in the MLS program, focusing primarily on archives and special collections. Like many of you, my background is not in libraries; I got my undergrad in English and then worked for several years in international education and development. I’m currently working on a metadata-focused project in the University Archives at UMBC, and a digitization project at UMD’s Special Collections in Performing Arts. My interests in this field are broad but I ideally hope to work with arts-related materials (in particular music or film), and am interested in the digital humanities in general, so I was excited to hear about this course.
This week’s readings were a great overview of the challenges involved in digital and new media arts preservation. Re-Collection in particular raised intriguing questions in each chapter. I appreciated that the readings overall covered the gamut from detailing current preservation problems, to discussing the issues involved on a more theoretical level, to reviewing individual case studies and detailing efforts to create more standardized guidelines to assist preservationists. Anchoring the big theoretical questions in specific real-world examples and institutions helped to connect the readings to the work I’m doing now, and the materials and institutions I hope to be involved with in the future.
The case studies in Re-Collection and the Fino-Radin article, however, also show how dauntingly complex these issues can quickly become when you get down to the details of a specific work. While I’m interested in the possibilities of emulation, the sheer number of different technical formats seems to make it inevitable that many of these works will be impossible to save in their original form, so I was particularly inspired by the reinterpretation section of Ippolito and Rinehart’s four preservation techniques.
I found the concepts for new media metadata formats intriguing, in particular Rinehart’s proposals for a “score” for new media artworks. The comparisons to musical notation (which also came up in the Smithsonian survey interviews), as well as the links to preservation issues for other performance-based art forms like dance and theater, are great examples of how reinterpretation can work as a method of preservation. I think this avenue is particularly exciting because it offers not just an opportunity to better preserve the work for future generations, but also to encourage the development of new art both now and in the future by making these works available for use and reinterpretation by other artists. The potential ability of cultural institutions to facilitate this dynamic opens up possibilities to connect libraries, archives, and museums to communities of artists and fans in a richer and more collaborative way. Looking forward to exploring all this more during the course!