Creativity in Conservation

Up to now, most of our readings in most of our courses (or at least my courses) have been about preserving data, or objects, things qua things – the corners might be scuffed or we might not know the letter-writer or who the data represents, but the thing is what it is and that’s all that it is. But now we’re really getting into what a thing is, preserving meaning and intent. We’re getting to the art part of this course. We’ve touched on it a little already, asking ‘how do you solve a problem like a Flavin (with carcinogenic lamps)?’ We’ve talked about emulation versus preservation. But we haven’t talked about what 8-bit art will mean to audiences in 50 or 100 years, when nostalgia is a lesser factor. Yes, we’ve got the Atari and it’s still running, but now we need the rest of the arcade and the drinks, and a carefully curated collection of small objects to line up along the bottom of the screen to denote who’s playing next.Безопасные SEO эксперименты

A couple of years ago I worked on a production of Ordinary Days, which takes place in contemporary (or contemporary to premiere date) New York. Several significant scenes make either direct or indirect references to 9/11, and how it impacted everyday life. There was a talkback after one of the performances, and the Associate Producer talked about the production process: how the production team had discussed how delicate a touch to handle the subject matter with, how obvious some of the visual references might be, who might be too young to remember, and how the play might have to change over time. In turn, audience members talked about how effective the imagery was for them, including one woman who had been in New York that day. Whereas I lived in Phoenix at the time, and knew only one or two people directly affected. Until that talkback, I’d actually thought one of the 9/11 references was implying that a character had died in a housefire. Very, very different interpretations of the same materials.

Ask me about the time a friend and I were the only people laughing in the audience for a production of Chekhov’s Three Sisters.

To me, performances, video games, even works of fiction, really exemplify the FRBR model. There is the work, the keystone idea, the motivating image in the original creator’s head. This is expressed or manifests physically in whatever manner is possible given limitations such as physical ability, monetary funds, etc. It is then viewed by the audience that the producers have managed to draw in, and interpreted through the filter of their own views and experiences. The finalized work as it lives in each person’s head – creator, performer, viewer – is the item level, just as valid and important as the physical evidence of the expressions.

I have to admit, I’m not much more of a gamer than Allison — I’m mostly a gamer-by-proxy, I guess you’d say. I’d primarily watch my friends play, especially since there were never enough controllers for all of us — I’m familiar with the games discussed this week, but mostly on a social level, like the casual GTA players in the DeVane & Squire article. But I can appreciate the community aspect of it, and how important that is, how it has its own culture. And that’s what I’m here for – cultural heritage. Tetris has evolved as far from the black and white version I first played, with the Soviet background images and no special effects, as Korobeiniki has evolved from its roots as a folk song.

And we want these new works to last just as long, and to be just as transformable. Forward-thinking, adaptive preservation is the key to not only keeping the works accessible, but the heart behind them. Performative arts have been documenting these aspects for centuries – whether it be in religious cases as such as Dance Heritage Coalition’s Buddhist monks, or through more rigid formal notation, such as that used for ballet. Finding ways to apply it to alternate digital media forms is up to us.

Art & the Ephemeral

Hello! I’m Sarah Mackowski; I’m a part-time student, working on the Curation of Digital Assets track in the MLS program. I work full-time at a research library in DC, where I assist with both acquisitions and inter-library loan. When I’m not doing that, I’m often doing work in the theatre — my undergraduate degrees were in art history and theatre technology, and for the first six or so years after graduating, I made my way primarily in the theatre industry, with library work as a part-time job. I have some stage management experience, but the work I enjoy the most has always been lighting work.

I was very excited to take this course because, as Brittany said, it’s the only arts-specific course, and I’d really like to find a way to bring my theatre work and my library/archives work together. Of all the parts of theatre, lighting is one of the ones most closely tied with digital (also sound, projections, and automation), and one of the least studied in archival terms, as far as I have been able to determine. It’s very subjective, and relies heavily on proprietary technology that is not metadata-export-friendly, but does occasionally have some lovely emulators. And, of course, aside from the archiving questions, there are the restaging questions — restaging in a completely different theatre, with different equipment (possibly, if enough time has passed, different brands of different quality and different interfaces).

I was glad to see several references throughout Rinehart and Ippolito’s book to theatre, and the similarity of the issues involved, even if they painted theatre with a slightly wider brush. Much of what they were saying was extremely familiar to me, even with non-theatre examples. I was delighted when at one point my brain went straight to Dan Flavin, and not two pages later, there was a section focused on his work. I found it particularly ironic (and I’m sure the writers did too) that Flavin’s luminous colors were reprinted in a dark greyscale. There is really nothing like seeing a Flavin in person.

I was surprised, however, that for all their talk of copyright, they never directly addressed the concept of remixing as tranformative works, a case that is a specifically allowed exception to copyright law, and most definitely covers works such as The Grey Album. I volunteer with the Organization for Transformative Works, who puts out the journal Transformative Works and Cultures that we will be reading from later in the semester. I was very surprised to see the transformative aspect of remixing and sampling not addressed directly.

I can’t wait to really dig into this course. Everything about it seems to be right up my alley, and I’ve already been able to connect with a lot of what’s going on in it a lot better than some of the more theoretical courses I’ve been taking.