For this week’s practicum, I will be presenting on two online collections/exhibitions. The Library of Congress’s collection uses digitized materials to build an online collection on the history of the universe and Rhizome uses emulation strategy to preserve computer games.
Founded by Mark Tribe, Rhizome is a not-for-profit arts organization based in New York City. The Rhizome website displays various art and culture’s engagements with digital technologies through commission works, exhibitions, digital preservation, and software development.
The Theresa Duncan CD-ROMs is an online exhibition created by Rhizome and the New Museum. The exhibition tells the story of preserving old computer games through new technologies. This project is also featured in the Rhizome x Google Arts & Culture, a collection that aims to preserve born-digital art and culture through web archiving and digital preservation. (The Theresa Duncan CD-ROMs: Putting interactive classics online with Emulation as a Service) In the 1990s, Theresa Duncan and a team of collaborators created a highly acclaimed adventure-story computer game trilogy consisting of Chop Suey, Smarty, and Zero Zero. They were noted for having a relatable child’s perspective, and were notable in guiding young girls into dealing with various life issues. Theresa Duncan envisioned these computer games to be a presentation of children’s wild imaginations, therefore, they paid great attention in creating and developing beautiful and vibrant artwork for the game’s interfaces and backgrounds, complete with a soothing soundtrack.
These games were played on CD-ROMs, which modern software no longer supports. In order to restore these games and allow them to play on modern operating systems, Rhizome collaborated with the University of Freiburg in Germany to create a system called Emulation as a Service (EaaS). This software allows the Theresa Duncan CD-ROMs to be played again on modern computers’ web browsers. This technology allows the digital art in the trilogy to be accessed again by a newer generation and ensures the digital preservation of not only Teresa Duncan’s work, but potentially thousands of other titles that are rare to access on their original mediums.
Finding Our Place in the Cosmos: From Galileo to Sagan and Beyond is a digital collection from the Library of Congress. This collection explores the universe and the work of American astronomer Carl Sagan by highlighting manuscripts, rare books, newspaper articles, audio, and movie posters collected in the Library. The online collection includes three main sections: the history of the understanding of the Cosmos, Life on Other Worlds, and Cal Sagan’s own personal collection. One thing I found interesting is a depiction of the Martians stemming from 1898. The online collection highlights different sources in each of the sections, serving as a general overview instead of a comprehensive exhibition of the Cosmos, inviting the audience to explore more of a vast number of digitized items related to the universe.
Why is the digital preservation of Theresa Duncan CD-ROMs just as important as preserving documentations that are deemed historically significant? Should the digitized contents like video/computer games from the 90s be accessible to the public, free of charge, the same way that digitized images in a collection are open to the public?
Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on Wednesday!