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Preservation 101


NEWS: Online Resource Guide - IMAP partners with EAI to bring you the Online Resource Guide for Exhibiting, Collecting & Preserving Media Art VIEW SITE

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(French translation)


MEDIA PRESERVATION: INTRODUCTION

No medium, whether it’s marble or magnetic tape, lasts forever. But electronic media–video, audio, and digital works–are especially vulnerable. Magnetic tape, which is used in both audio and video recording, was never intended as an archival storage medium. It deteriorates rapidly without proper care. Digital media–technologies so recent they’re often called "new media"–are inherently intangible, posing a unique set of challenges. But a clear preservation strategy, which includes cataloging, cleaning, remastering, and good storage conditions can delay the natural deterioration of electronic media caused by exposure to moisture, heat, and dirt. It can also limit the likelihood of damage from mishandling, as well as from worst-case scenarios such as fire or flooding. If properly preserved, video, audio, and digital media can actually outlast the equipment used to create them.

Obsolescence is built into all electronic media. Tape formats and recording equipment are constantly being upgraded, as are computer hardware and software. As Bruce Sterling wrote in Dead Media Manifesto: "It's a rather rare phenomenon for an established medium to die. They usually expand wildly in their early days and then shrink back to some protective niche as they are challenged by later and more highly evolved competitors . . . but some media do, in fact, perish." In the 1960s, eight-track audiotape was so popular that car stereos routinely came equipped with eight-track tape decks; by the 1980s the once-ubiquitous format had all but disappeared. In the 1970s, before VHS became the standard format, home videos were recorded on cassette formats like Cartivision and V-Cord, now classified as extinct by preservationists. Digital information that was stored on computers in now-defunct programming languages like FORTRAN II can never be retrieved.

If the preservation needs of an electronic media collection are ignored, artists and organizations risk losing an irreplaceable legacy. IMAP recognizes that electronic media collections–particularly independent work that exists outside of large, established institutions–are a vital part of our cultural heritage. To guarantee the survival of these collections, independent artists and organizations must establish preservation guidelines. But artists, art centers, dance and theater companies, libraries, university departments, and similar small organizations generally lack the support and resources required to ensure the longevity of their collections. IMAP was founded in 1999 to help these individuals and organizations acquire the necessary tools to design and implement preservation programs tailored to their specific needs.

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OVERVIEW BY MEDIUM

Preserving an electronic media collection requires a basic understanding of the origins of each medium and its specific preservation challenges.

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FILM

The first movie camera, the Kinetoscope, was invented in the laboratory of Thomas Edison in 1893. Within two years, the Lumiére Brothers began screening films for a paying public in France. Before the turn of the twentieth century, there was no standard film format, and film widths ranged from 35mm to 54mm to 60mm. Edison may have chosen the 35mm width simply by cuttting the film then commonly used for still pictures (70mm) in half. Movies had become big business by the early 1900s, and in 1909, after intensifying patent struggles, filmmakers adopted 35mm film as the industry standard.

The popularity of commercial movies led to the introduction of portable hand-crank cameras for amateur use. The French company Pathé offered the first model, which used 9.5 mm film, in 1922. (The 9.5mm format fell into disuse in the 1950s). A year later, Kodak introduced a 16mm camera, a format that is still popular today. In addition to 35mm, 16mm, and 9.5 mm, independent archives also commonly include regular 8mm and Super 8 film.

Film is subject to natural deterioration, which is hastened by exposure to heat and humidity. The nature of the deterioration depends on the base of the film stock. Prior to 1951, 35mm film was often made of nitrate, which can spontaneously combust. Acetate-based film is susceptible to "vinegar syndrome"–a process that occurs when moisture in the air interacts with the acetate, producing a vinegary odor. Over time, the film begins to warp and shrink, and the emulsion pulls off. (Polyester-backed film stocks such as Super 8, and 16mm and 35mm produced after 1980, are immune to vinegar syndrome). Proper storage can guarantee film’s longevity.

(For further information go to: Information Resources>Internet Resources>Medium Specific Links> Film)

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AUDIO

The origins of magnetic audio recording date back to 1893, when the Danish electrician Valdemar Poulsen invented a device that stored magnetic impulses on a wire that crudely reproduced sound. (An American scientist named Oberlin Smith had explored similar ideas twenty years earlier with no results). In 1928, the German scientist Fritz Pfluemer patented a process for applying magnetic powder to plastic or paper backing, inventing audiotape as we know it. The Germans continued to develop the new technology through the early 1940s, but after World War II, the United States and Britain assumed German patent rights. In 1947, the American company 3M introduced the first high-quality magnetic tape. Singer Bing Crosby championed the new technology, switching networks when NBC refused to tape-record his radio show.

Audiotape has been the mainstay of both the radio and recording industries. It has also been widely used by independent musicians and composers to document performances, by educators to record lectures, by anthropologists to gather oral histories, and by artists who use sound as their medium. The most common audiotape formats are 1/4-inch open reel, audiocassette, and digital audiotape (DAT). Like all magnetic media, magnetic audiotape suffers from natural deterioration. An audiotape’s lifespan depends on the quality of the original tape stock, the quality of the recording itself, and handling and storage conditions. In addition, 1/4-inch audiotape manufactured between the 1940s and 1960s could have paper rather than polyester backing, which puts it at additional risk for deterioration.

(For further information go to: Information Resources>Internet Resources>Medium Specific Links> Audio)

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VIDEO

Magnetic videotape was developed in the 1950s for use in broadcast television, which at the time relied entirely on live transmissions. The American radio industry had already embraced magnetic audiotape in the late 1940s and the three television networks were eager for a technology that would allow them to record live programs for rebroadcast across multiple time zones. The first commercially available videotape–a 2-inch, open-reel format called Quadruplex–was introduced at a broadcasters’ convention in Chicago in 1956. One year later, all three networks were recording their nightly news shows for delayed broadcast.

Sony introduced the first portable video camera, the Portapak, in 1964. The Korean artist Nam June Paik bought an early model in Tokyo and, art history legend has it, picked up his camera at a cargo boat in New York, hailed a taxi, and started shooting footage of a papal procession along Fifth Avenue. That night he screened the tape for friends at Cafe A Go Go and video art was born. However accurate, this story illustrates the attraction the new medium, which produced instantaneous results, held for artists.

Commercial television and visual art were far from the only applications of early video technology. Choreographers, musicians, performance artists, and theater companies began taping their performances. Documentary makers were drawn to video because it was more affordable than film and the equipment was more portable. In 1975, when Sony introduced a 1/2-inch videocassette format called Betamax to consumers, video was widely available to the general public for the first time, revolutionizing the industry. (Though hugely popular when it was first released, Betamax eventually lost market share to VHS, the most successful analog home videotape format.)

Since the introduction of videotape, over 65 formats–analog and digital–have been introduced, including 2-inch quad, 1-inch, 1/2-inch open reel, 3/4-inch, 8mm, Hi-8mm, Betacam, VHS, and DV. Some of the formats are now obsolete, due in part to the discontinuation of the machines that produced them. As new recording technologies and tape formats gain popularity, manufacturers typically stop producing and servicing older equipment. Finding machines to play outdated formats is one challenging aspect of the preservation process, but the most important part of preserving magnetic media is caring for the tape itself.

Videotape is composed of a strip of polyester film with a layer of magnetic particles–adhered to the film with a binder–that record magnetic signals. The binder creates a smooth surface, allowing tape to run easily through equipment. Like film, videotape is subject to natural deterioration, which is hastened by exposure to heat and humidity.

The most vulnerable part of videotape is the binder. In the late 1960s, the durability and low cost of polyester urethane made it the most popular binder. Unfortunately, polyester urethane absorbs moisture from the atmosphere, altering its molecular structure in a process called hydrolysis. High temperatures and high relative humidity accelerate this chemical reaction, resulting in "sticky shed syndrome," which is characterized by softer-than-normal binder coatings and gummy residues on tape surfaces.

A number of other conditions may damage videotape, including: exposure to liquid or dry debris; stretching, creasing, or breakage due to playback on poorly maintained equipment; uneven tension when rewinding; demagnetizing; inadvertent erasure or rerecording; and natural disasters such as fire or flooding.

(For further information go to: Information Resources>Internet Resources>Medium Specific Links> Video)

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DIGITAL MEDIA

The first programmable digital computer was developed by the United States military during World War II to aid in ballistic calculations, but the war was over by the time the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC) was finally unveiled in 1946. It weighed 30 tons, covered 1,800 square feet, and solved in 20 seconds an equation that would have taken a mathematician more than 40 hours to complete. By the 1960s, mainframe computers were commonplace in corporations and universities, but it wasn’t until the advent of personal computers in the 1980s that the technology reached a consumer audience. Before that, artists interested in digital technologies could only experiment at large research institutions such as Bell Labs or Xerox Park. Just as the Sony Portapak camera spawned video art, affordable and easy-to-use personal computers generated a new electronic medium for artists. Digital technology also revolutionized information management, as libraries and universities supplemented paper archives with computer files and databases and arts organizations began to create and maintain electronic archives.

Digital media would not exist without computers, but a second, related technology had a major impact on electronic media in the late twentieth century: the Internet. In 1962, the Rand Corporation conceived ARPANET, a decentralized telecommunications network designed to enable communication after a nuclear attack. ARPENET eventually evolved into the Internet, which became a tool for scientists and scholars. The audiovisual interface known as the World Wide Web was developed in 1989 at CERN, Switzerland’s Particle Physics laboratory, to help scientists share data more efficiently. When web-browsing software such as Netscape was introduced to consumers in the mid-1990s, anyone with a phone line and a personal computer could access the Internet. Suddenly, art and information created on a home computer could be distributed from one as well.

Because they are intangible, digital media works are sometimes mistakenly considered immune to deterioration. But as preservation expert Jeff Rothenberg jokes: "Digital media last forever or five years–whichever comes first." The complexity of digital media preservation is fourfold. First, data resides on a physical support–a floppy disk, CD-ROM, or hard-drive, for example–and this physical container or support naturally deteriorates. Second, the data itself may decay. Third, most software is proprietary and has no long-term technical support. Finally, hardware obsolescence makes a great deal of digital media inaccessible.

(For further information go to: Information Resources>Internet Resources>Medium Specific Links> Digital Media)

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COLLECTION EVALUATION: CATALOGING AND REHOUSING

Archives sometimes accumulate with little strategic planning, and organizations may become repositories of electronic media by default rather than by design. As the former director of one alternative arts center put it: "Our archive started because the artists never picked up their tapes." The first step in preserving any electronic media archive is cataloging–creating a record of, at the most basic level, who authored a work and when. Other cataloging questions address format, number of copies of a work, how and when a work was acquired, its value, and who owns the copyright.

Catalogers of magnetic media often find themselves in a Catch-22: they can only determine an unlabeled tape’s contents by playing it, but playing it could lead to irreparable damage. For this reason, catalogers should first rely on the information on a work’s storage box or reel, even if it is incomplete. Once an item has undergone preservation work and a viewing copy has been made, the cataloging record can be updated. More and more digital media today contain metadata–imbedded information about a file’s creation and content–which can also assist in the cataloging process.

Although creating a computer-based collections inventory is an excellent idea, establishing an individual system leads to unnecessary work. IMAP has developed a standards-based template (available in Filemaker Pro or Microsoft Access) for Macintosh and PC, as well as an online training tutorial. IMAP’s standards-based catalog offers compatibility with other similar catalogs, which could ultimately provide access to the records to a wider audience of scholars, students, artists, curators, and others.

During the cataloging stage, electronic media must be housed in a stable environment. This may require temporary rehousing to ensure that the material is protected while preservation priorities are being established. A stable environment is defined by a clean, dust-free space away from major electrical conduits (which will demagnetize tapes). It may be appropriate to catalog material as it is being shelved. In other instances, it may be more prudent to rehouse material first.

(For further information go to: Information Resources>Internet Resources>Cataloging)

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CONDITION ASSESSMENT

Once an electronic media archive has been cataloged, the condition of individual items must be assessed to determine what material, if any, requires reformatting. Physical examination alone may not identify every problem–tape demagnetization cannot be detected by the naked eye, for example. The following five inspection steps may be used to determine if an item is at risk and needs to be reformatted.

Examine the container. If a box, reel, or cassette is visibly damaged, contents have likely suffered as well. Stains that suggest liquid contamination may mean accelerated decay or that the tape is stuck together. Some containers show signs of fungus, which can grow on magnetic tape in high humidity. This situation can be hazardous and routine inspection should cease until the scope of a fungal outbreak is understood.

Check for odor. If a tape or film smells musty, it may be contaminated by a fungus. Scents that can be described as "waxy," "astringent," or "like dirty socks" all indicate the chemical decay of magnetic tape. "Vinegar syndrome" may be detected by placing small pieces of treated paper called acid detection strips inside a container. The strips change color to indicate the level of acidity and thus the severity of degradation. Acid detection strips can detect vinegar syndrome even before there is a noticeable odor.

Examine the surface and the edges. White powder or crystalline residue on the edge of a tape or film, or black or brown flakes of oxide inside a container all reveal that degradation has begun. A gummy residue visible on the surface of a videotape is probably an early sign of binder breakdown, or "sticky shed syndrome." Damage caused by improper tension during winding often appears as wavy or scalloped edges, and tape may also be creased or broken due to mishandling. Dust, dirt, or other foreign deposits may indicate surface contamination, and discoloration may indicate areas where magnetic pigment material has separated from the backing.

Identify the format. Polyester film can be distinguished from acetate film by holding the roll up to a light. Polyester film appears opaque; acetate looks translucent. Polyester will not rip, but acetate breaks off easily.

(For further information go to: Information Resources>Internet Resources>Format Guides)

Play the tape. Playback may detect several common problems, including noise, color shift, distortion, and timing flaws. If a tape does not move through the transport as a result of "sticky shed" and clogs the heads of the machine, it is deteriorating and must be reformatted. Be careful: attempts to play back a severely damaged tape before it has been restored places both the tape and the playback machinery at risk.

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PRESERVATION PRIORITIES

Once an electronic media collection has been cataloged and the condition of its contents has been assessed, it is time to prioritize which material should be restored first. The highest restoration priorities are unique copies. If only one copy of a work exists, there is no recourse if it is lost or damaged. Other high priorities are works older than 15 years, if the content is valuable. Obviously, deteriorating or damaged material should also be given precedence.

A work’s format can also help determine if it is a preservation priority. As a rule of thumb, three videotape formats require immediate attention: 1/2-inch open-reel videotape (most date from 1965 to 1975); 3/4-inch U-matic videocassettes (1973 to 1983); and original VHS tapes that are older than ten years with valuable content. Obsolete formats, such as 2-inch Quad video reels (1956 to 1981), also warrant immediate attention.

Audiotape formats that deserve high priority include: paper- and acetate-based 1/4-inch reels (from the 1940s and ’50s); any recordings made between 1977 and 1983 on Ampex 1/4-inch audiotape; and unique audiocassettes made before 1990. For film, in addition to deteriorating and damaged stock, color-faded prints are a priority. For digital media, preservation is urgent if the software or hardware required to run a piece are threatened with obsolescence, or if the optical medium on which it is stored–CD-R, CD-ROM, or DVD–has begun to deteriorate.

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PRESERVATION: CLEANING AND REFORMATTING

Preservation of electronic media entails cleaning and/or migration to another format, also known as "reformatting." There is currently no consensus among professionals on either the best cleaning practices or the best format for creating master copies of tapes, films, or digital media. Organizations and individuals need to make informed decisions about which approach best suits their needs.

(For further information go to: Information Resources>Internet Resources>Treatment and Information Resources>Services>Treatment)

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CLEANING

Cleaning magnetic tape is a difficult process best undertaken by trained specialists. This may mean outsourcing restoration to a professional facility or training staff to perform the work in-house. A variety of methods may be used to clean magnetic tapes depending on their condition, such as scraping with a blade, wiping, vacuuming, and baking.

Although there is much debate about the advantages and disadvantages of various cleaning methods, one thing is certain: trying to apply a single solution across the board can spell disaster for electronic media. A creased tape would be severely damaged by a cleaning machine that scrapes its surface with a razor, for example.

(For further information go to: Information Resources>Internet Resources>Treatment and Information Resources>Services>Treatment)

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REFORMATTING

Electronic media may be remastered when existing copies suffer from physical or chemical degradation or their original recording formats have become obsolete. Financial, technical, and administrative factors all influence the decision to create a new copy in an archival format.

If the budget allows, the ideal approach is to create a master copy in both an analog and a digital format. Digital is the dominant format in the industry right now, but it is relatively new and there is still no standard digital format. Nonetheless, as video and audio technologies continue to move toward digital platforms, analog video and audio formats may become less available. Creating two masters and storing them separately and safely minimizes the risks to preserved material.

(For further information go to: Information Resources>Internet Resources>Storage and Information Resources>Services>Storage)

Many experts currently recommend transferring videotape to an uncompressed digital format such as D-2 as well as an analog format like Betacam SP. (D-2 is beyond the budget of many organizations and individuals, so some collections are being remastered onto digital Betacam). Betacam SP is so widely used in the broadcast industry that it is unlikely to be discontinued, which means that repair services and replacement equipment are likely to be available in the future. Audio preservation experts also call for two masters: a reel-to-reel analog tape and a digital copy. Film masters are preserved in a film format, but viewing copies may be transferred to videotape for easier access.

There are currently three methods of protecting digital works when the hardware or software they use are threatened with obsolescence: migration, emulation, and encapsulation. Migration, also known as "refreshing," simply means copying digital files onto newer, more stable digital media. This approach may sound simple, but it does have disadvantages. Repeated migration runs the risk of losing or corrupting data. Unfortunately, because digital technology is developing so rapidly, it is impossible to predict how frequently migration will be necessary. Also, because of the proprietary nature of most commercial software, migration of digital data may raise intellectual property issues. Although at this point migration remains the most cost-effective and widely practiced method of preserving digital media, some experts favor the strategy known as emulation.

Emulation involves creating software that will mimic, or emulate, the behavior of an earlier computer. This approach avoids the need for continuing conversion of digital records, but emulators must be created for every software/hardware configuration, which makes it far more expensive than migration. Although it is increasingly favored by experts in the preservation field–and some emulators have been created as funded research projects–emulation’s cost is prohibitive for most independent media arts organizations.

Another preservation strategy for digital media, called encapsulation, groups a digital object with all other entities that are necessary to provide access to that object. In encapsulation, physical or logical structures called "containers" or "wrappers" provide information about the relationships between all data and software application components. Encapsulation aims to overcome the issue of obsolete file formats by including details on how to interpret the original information. While encapsulation has some strong proponents–including the preservation expert Jeff Rothenberg–questions remain as to its practical implementation. Various projects, such as the Universal Preservation Format (UPF), have been undertaken to explore encapsulation, but it is still a developing strategy that may not be practical for independent media for some time.

(For further information go to: Information Resources>Internet Resources>Treatment and Information Resources>Services>Treatment)

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STORAGE

Proper storage can extend the natural lifespan of electronic media considerably. Optimal conditions vary by medium, but cool temperatures and low humidity are key factors across the board. The best long-term storage conditions for audio or videotape call for temperatures between 50 and 60º F, with 25 to 35% relative humidity. Magnetic media should never be stored at temperatures below 46º F (which will cause the lubrication to separate from the binder) or near magnetic sources such as motors, transformers, electrical fixtures, loudspeakers, or vacuum cleaners, which may demagnetize them.

Tapes should be stored upright, on either their spines or edges, in plastic polypropylene cases. Magnetic media should not be stored in cardboard, which is not an archival material and is especially vulnerable to water and fire damage. (For the same reason, no paper should be stored inside the plastic cases.) Tapes should be wound to the end and then rewound back to the beginning before they are stored. It may take several tries before achieving a good, flat tape pack. Storing tape in a cued wind leaves it exposed to possible hydrolysis.

Film should be stored in a colder environment than magnetic media. Color film should be stored at the coldest possible temperature to reduce fading–0º F is preferred, but if that is not realistic, temperatures up to 30º F with 25 to 35% relative humidity will suffice. Black-and-white film can be stored at 25 to 50º F, also with 25 to 35% relative humidity. Like tape, film is best stored in plastic containers with no paper, which increases the acid level in the environment and can accelerate vinegar syndrome.

In terms of digital media, storage simply refers to saving digital files, usually on magnetic tape or optical devices such as CD-ROMs or DVDs. As previously discussed, the physical components of these formats are subject to natural deterioration and raise concerns about storage conditions, handling, and exposure to dirt and dust. Optical digital media, such as CD-Rs, CD-ROMs, and DVDs, can be stored at higher temperatures and relative humidity than other electronic media–62 to 68º F and 33 to 45% relative humidity–but cooler temperatures (as low as 50º F) and a relative humidity range of 20 to 50% will ensure longevity for the physical media itself. Optical media should not be stored in plastic sleeves, which can stick to the disc. Discs should be stored in jewel cases or, preferably, in the same type of inert plastic containers used to store magnetic media and film.

If a collection numbers in the hundreds, an organization may choose to store material in a professional off-site storage facility. If ongoing access is necessary, however, or if off-site storage is simply not in the budget, constructing a designated storage room is a good alternative. In-house storage rooms should be clean and dark, although basement levels, which tend to be humid, should be avoided. Metal shelving is recommended, and cases should be stored with adequate airflow (rather than packed tightly together) and kept away from heat sources, sprinklers, and water pipes. As already stated, motors, speakers, and TV monitors, as well as magnetic items like cabinet latches, can all negatively affect magnetic media and should not be stored in the same facility as audio or videotape.

(For further information go to: Information Resources>Internet Resources>Storage and Information Resources>Services>Storage)

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DISASTER PLANNING

In-house storage of electronic media collections does include certain risks. While catastrophe is far less likely to cause damage than natural deterioration, if disaster does strike–whether in the form of burst pipes or plaster dust from construction–it can render an archive unusable. Several safety measures can be taken to minimize potential damage from fire, flooding, earthquake, or construction.

The most valuable material in an archive should be duplicated and stored in a separate location, preferably off site. Duplicate storage reduces the chance of losing everything in one fell swoop. On site, valuable material should be stored as far from the floor and the ceiling as possible.

Mops, gloves, buckets, aprons, and plastic sheeting to cover shelves and divert falling water should be kept on hand in case of a flood. Tapes contaminated by water or fire-suppressant chemicals require immediate attention and should be treated by professionals while still wet–letting wet material dry on site can deform tape and leave corrosive residue. Wet tapes should be kept cool at all times to slow decay.

After an earthquake or construction work, tapes may be covered with dry debris like plaster dust and they should be isolated to prevent further contamination. Tapes should be kept dry at all times to prevent moisture from chemically activating corrosive elements in the dust. Use extreme caution when moving wet or dry material from a disaster area. Changing a tape’s orientation can cause further damage and also spread contaminants. If possible, tapes should be protected from shock and insulated against sudden changes in temperature during a move.

Time is a crucial factor in successful recovery after a disaster. Emergency phone numbers, including insurance contacts and a professional recovery service, should be clearly posted near on-site storage facilities. If disaster does strike, review inventory records to determine if alternate copies exist. Contact the insurance company to determine what costs are covered, establish a budget for any remaining costs, and allocate staff to oversee the recovery process. IMAP strongly recommends contacting preservation experts as soon as possible to assess damages.

(For further information go to: Information Resources>Internet Resources>Disaster Planning and Response)

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PRESERVATION ORGANIZATIONS

To groups or individuals just starting out, preserving an electronic media collection can seem overwhelming. Fortunately, many experts are available to help–from nonprofit membership affiliations such as The Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA), Independent Media Arts Preservation (IMAP), American Institute for Conservation (AIC), Electronic Media Group, and Bay Area Video Coalition (BAVC), to government-sponsored organizations like the National Center for Film and Video Preservation at the American Film Institute. International consortiums like Video Art Denmark explore ways to maintain the integrity of the artist’s intent during archiving, while Little Film, a project of the commercial film-to-tape transfer service Brodsky & Treadway, offers information more suitable to the preservation of home movies. Cataloging information and templates can be accessed through initiatives like IMAP as well as the Library of Congress. From addressing the digital preservation needs of the United Kingdom (Digital Preservation Coalition) to the documentation and preservation of video art and community television (Electronic Arts Intermix, Experimental Television Center), the wide range of professional associations documented here can also lead to further resources.

Assistance can come in the form of fact sheets on video preservation (AMIA) and guidelines for storing magnetic media (National Archives and Records Administration). Some web sites offer cataloging templates (IMAP) or bibliographies (CoOl) for further research. Many of these national and international organizations have experienced preservation consultants who can assist in condition assessment, collection management, and staff training. If an organization cannot provide the information or service you need, it can usually refer you to one that can.

Many organizations publish sourcebooks to help artists and organizations get a handle on their preservation needs. BAVC produced a DVD called PLAYBACK: A Preservation Primer for Video, which discusses the causes of videotape deterioration, recommendations for effective methods of storage and cleaning, and other conservation issues that apply to electronic art. Another example is Permanence Through Change: The Variable Media Approach, a collaboration between the Guggenheim Museum and the Daniel Langlois Foundation that discusses preservation strategies for ephemeral works such as electronic art.


Organizations like IMAP are invested in the future of magnetic media and committed to ensuring continued access to these works. This web site contains information on almost all aspects of preservation and conservation in the section titled Information Resournces.

(For further information go to: Information Resources>Preservation Organizations)

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EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS

The field of electronic media preservation is very young. In the 1970s and ’80s, educational opportunities amounted to short courses or stand-alone workshops. As recently as 1995, the title of an article in a prominent film journal posed the question "Is Film Archiving A Profession?," pointing out the dearth of university-level courses or accreditation programs in the field. Today, more educational opportunities exist. In 1996, the George Eastman House launched a certificate program at the L. Jeffrey Selznick School of Film Preservation. In 1998, UCLA established a graduate-degree program in Moving Image Archive Studies, which includes courses in both film and, as of 2002, magnetic media preservation studies. In 2003, New York University initiated a graduate program in Moving Image Archiving and Preservation to provide training for professionals who manage preservation-level collections of film, video, new media, and other types of digital work.

(For further information go to: Information Resources>Educational Programs)

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