“Obsolete Equipment: The Preservation of Playback and Display Equipment for Audiovisual Arts” presented by Wijers and Vissers


Session Title:

  • Still Accessible? Rethinking the Preservation of Media Art

Presentation Title:

  • Obsolete Equipment: The Preservation of Playback and Display Equipment for Audiovisual Arts




  • Media art is an invaluable and extremely fragile part of our modern cultural heritage. Media artworks (e. g. video art, interactive art, net art, computer art, media installation, media performances…) distinguish themselves from more conventional artworks by the use of electronic media for artistic expression. These works are encoded and usually stored on a physical storage device such as digital or analogue videotape, optical discs, and hard disks… and they require playback and display equipment to be viewed. The use of the rapidly aging media technology for the recording, storage, playback and display of the media artworks affects their stability. The most obvious problem for their preservation is the obsolescence of physical storage and display formats. If the storage format becomes obsolete, one risks not being able to view the work anymore. If the display equipment becomes obsolete, the translation into new display devices (e. g. from a CRT monitor to a flat screen monitor) might change the meaning of the artwork. These are two of the most appealing challenges regarding the preservation of media art. The technology and associated knowledge are in many cases still available today but are rapidly becoming obsolete. If we don’t act quickly both will disappear and we risk losing a part of our modern cultural heritage.

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