Archiving Australian Media Arts: Towards a Method and a National Collection


Session Title:

  • Summit on New Media Art Archiving: Papers

Presentation Title:

  • Archiving Australian Media Arts: Towards a Method and a National Collection



  • Australian media artworks from the 1990s are at risk digital artefacts. This funded ARC Linkage Project “Archiving Australian Media Arts: Towards a Method and a National Collection” (LP180100307) aims to develop a best practice preservation method and Standards Document to facilitate the adoption of techniques and knowledge by end users within the wider GLAM sector. The project aims to deliver social and cultural benefits by making collections accessible, building workforce capacity and a community of practice in the specialised field of born digital preservation, thereby reducing the risk of loss of digital cultural heritage.

    The project is focused around the archives of several community-based organisations which were pioneers of the media arts scene in Australia: dLux Media Arts, Experimenta Media Arts, the Australian Network for Art and Technology (ANAT), and Griffith Artworks. Taken together, the archives of ANAT, Experimenta, and dLux constitute an invaluable and extremely rich record. A distributed national collection of media arts archives is crystallising with cultural institutions recently accepting stewardship of these archives. The dLux archive is with the Art Gallery of NSW (AGNSW), Experimenta’s will go to the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI), and the ANAT archive is at the State Library of South Australia (SLSA).

    SLSA has long collected the papers of important South Australians, and holds the archive of the seminal Polish-Australian artist, Stanislaus Ostoja-Kotkowski. Griffith University Art Museum is custodian of Queensland’s second largest public art collection, which includes a collection of 1990s CD-ROM art.
    As well as seeking to develop a best practice method for stabilising the artworks from selected case studies in the archives of the three media arts organisations and related institutional collections that we partner with, the project is also collating information about the distributed national collection to address a local knowledge gap, building a more comprehensive picture of the distributed national media arts collection. The dataset will provide the information needed to inform future collecting, and to develop a realistic budget for imaging at scale, for subsequent funding bids.