Cleaning Techniques Used in Videotape Restoration: A Preliminary Study: Mary Baker and Sarah Stauderman

Technological Challenges in the Museum: Installation and Maintenance of the Multi-Media Work of Tony Oursler at the Williams College Museum of Art: Monica DiLisio Berry

Photography Conservation Training Via Videoconference: A Project Report: Irene Brückle and Paul Messier

The Development of a Paint Cross Section Database: Bradford Epley

Using Radio Telemetry For Light, UV, Temperature and Humidity Monitoring: Martin Hancock

Working Digitally: A Photographer in the 90's: Stephen Johnson, Stephen Johnson Photography

Digital Techniques for Image Recovery Applied to Gelatin Glass Plate Negatives: Jill Koelling

Image Permanence and Care of Digitally-Produced Prints: Mark McCormick-Goodhart and Henry Wilhelm

Planning for and Costs of Digital Imaging Projects: Steven Puglia

Conservation Lessons Learned from the National Digital Library, Library of Congress; Preservation Implications of Large Digitization Projects: Ann Seibert, Mary Wootton, Alan Haley, Yasmeen Khan and Andrew Robb

Light Levels Used in Modern Flatbed Scanners: Timothy Vitale

Electronic Media Group
Inaugural Meeting,

St. Louis

Friday, June 11, 1999
8:30 - 5:30

H o m e  |  A b s t r a c t s  |  L i n k s & R e s o u r c e s

Related items of interest:

Abstracts from past EMSIG Meetings

EMG's Digital Discussion Group
Agenda for 1999

Mary T. Baker PhD., Polymer Chemist, Smithsonian Center for Materials Research and Education and Sarah D. Stauderman, Conservator, VidiPax

Cleaning Techniques Used in Videotape Restoration: A Preliminary Study

One of the most important steps in videotape restoration is cleaning. Conservation ethics demand that the least intrusive and reversible treatments be applied to original artifacts to return them temporarily or permanently to a restored state. Concerned about the efficacy and ethics of cleaning with polyester-based tissues, VidiPax™ worked with the Smithsonian Center for Materials Research and Education (SCMRE) to determine the result of cleaning on original videotapes. 3/4 U-matic tapes supplied by the Smithsonian Institution were cleaned using the VidiPax™ technique and then examined using a Fourier Transform Infra-Red Spectrometer (FTIR) at SCMRE. Mary T. Baker, Ph.D., of SCMRE pioneered the application of this analytical technique. The results of this project indicate that the VidiPax™ cleaning method using tissues is a non-invasive technique which does not alter the chemical make-up of the polyurethane binder. This talk described the FTIR as an analytical tool, the results of the trial run, and implications for cleaning techniques generally used in the videotape restoration community.

Monica DiLisio Berry, Associate Conservator, Williamstown Art Conservation Center

Technological Challenges in the Museum: Installation and Maintenance of the Multi-Media Work of Tony Oursler at the Williams College Museum of Art

This paper discussed the exhibition Introjection: Tony Oursler Mid-career Survey, 1976-1999. The exhibition originates at the Williams College Museum of Art in Williamstown, Massachusetts, and includes a collaboration with the newly opened Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art and the computer animation firm Kleiser-Walczak in North Adams. The show will travel to three other venues through 2001. Over the last twenty years, Oursler has incorporated single channel video, performance, video projection, sculpture, drawing, painting, and most recently CD-ROM into his multi-media installations which combine humor and technological wonder with cultural commentary. Issues regarding loans, equipment, installation, maintenance, and security within the museum were addressed.

Irene Brückle, Assistant Professor, Paper Conservation, Art Conservation Program, State University College at Buffalo and Paul Messier, Conservator, Boston Art Conservation

Photography Conservation Training Via Videoconference: A Project Report

As is true for other areas of conservation education, the training of photograph conservators balances several areas of theoretical learning with various practical exercises and hands-on experiences. These latter skills, which include photograph identification and examination are usually integrated into an academic teaching schedule that allots extensive direct contact times between educators and students. While this format of conservation education is certainly not to be dismissed lightly, the current project considers the possibilities of using long-distance learning-long tried and proven useful in other education disciplines-via an interactive video conference system. During the past academic year (1998/99), students at the Art Conservation Department at Buffalo State College communicated with Paul Messier, photograph conservator in private practice in Boston and department consultant, for a number of video sessions. We assessed the limitations and possibilities of this form of teaching and considered its future uses. The talk also examined the practical realities of video conferencing including equipment options and striking a balance between image quality and cost.

Bradford Epley, Post-Graduate Intern, Hamilton Kerr Institute, University of Cambridge

The Development of a Paint Cross Section Database

Over the past 20 years the Hamilton Kerr Institute at Cambridge University has accumulated a collection of 4500 paint cross section samples generated through the treatment of paintings. A database project was designed to improve the access to these samples and facilitate their utilization as a study tool for both students of the Institute as well as other researchers. The database contains images of each cross section sample. However, as database searches based on the content of images are of a complexity beyond normal database development, a detailed verbal description of each sample is required. While the verbal conventions used to describe the subject matter of a painting may be generally understood, it is with considerably more difficulty that words have been used to systematically describe the appearance of paint as a material. Therefore, one of the main focuses of the project was to begin to develop a standardized set of notations for describing paint cross sections. The presentation focused on how problems of standardised terminology were addressed in a specific database. Additionally, the project was placed within the general context of the need for standardized terminology to effectively disseminate technical information throughout the profession and take full advantage of the opportunities presented by electronic media.

Martin Hancock PhD., Technical Director, Hanwell Instruments. LTD.

Using Radio Telemetry For Light, UV, Temperature and Humidity Monitoring

Whereas previously the monitoring of the environment in museums and archives has been undertaken using a variety of individual analog devices, the advent of analog/digital conversion technology and the increased use of personal computers has allowed for the development of remote telemetry monitoring systems. Such systems facilitate the gathering of real-time data from dozens or hundreds of individual sensors, all with alarms activated, so that out of specification conditions can be comprehended immediately by engineering, security or conservation staff.

Temperature has always been easy to measure and advances in humidity sensors have made long term humidity measurements reliable. Light (Lux) levels are simple to measure and cumulative light measure allows the understanding of the true effects of visible light and UV exposure on a sensitive object. UV measurement is often focussed on the percentage of radiant energy (mW/l, milliwatts per lumen visible light) from a lamp or skylight, which is useful for fixed lighting arrangements, but knowing the absolute amount of UV energy (mW/M2 , milliwatts per meter squared) falling on a delicate object gives an accurate measure of potential damage. Knowing the amount of visible light and UV radiation prior to mounting an object is central to building the case for limiting exposure of an object.

Jill Koelling, Head Digital Imaging Laboratory, Gerald R. Ford Conservation Center, Nebraska State Historical Society

Digital Techniques for Image Recovery Applied to Gelatin Glass Plate Negatives

Digital imaging is hardly a new topic in the archive, museum, and library field. The speed at which this technology has been incorporated into our culture rivals that of photography itself. For the past several years, many institutions have started impressive scanning projects or have plans to do so in the near future. Therefore, this session was not designed to rehash the technical aspects of digital image creation. Rather, it highlighted the unexpected and often unrealized benefits of this amazing technology.

Digital technology allows damaged negatives to be electronically recovered. A common malady found in photographic collections are negatives turned bright yellow due to mercury iodide intensification. These negatives are very difficult to print in the darkroom, because the yellowed areas on the negative are virtually transparent. Many institutions gave up on these plates years ago, forgetting about them or in some cases disposing of them completely. Digital imaging offers a new solution. The scanner can record the subtle differences between tonal values in the affected areas of the image enabling information retrieval.

This same technology makes it possible to capture information in deep shadow areas of glass plate negatives, for example, and pull out details that are virtually impossible to reproduce using traditional darkroom means. 19th century glass plates hold many more shades of gray than any modern photographic paper, making it impossible to reproduce with the fidelity of materials available. Today's scanners have the ability to see that information and make it available in a digital file. Using this technology, one can open the door of a settlement dwelling from the 19th Century and explore its construction, and even its interior. Recovering information from gelatin glass plates heretofore not retrievable for researchers is now possible and affordable.

Steven Puglia, Preservation and Imaging Specialist, National Archives and Records Administration

Planning for and Costs of Digital Imaging Projects

This presentation focused on issues relating to the costs for digital imaging projects, including the various costs for projects, such as scanning, indexing, quality control, etc., and the costs to maintain digital data after the scanning is completed. The intent was to provide practical information that will facilitate the planning of digital conversion/access projects. Information about the National Archives' Electronic Access Project was also presented.

Ann Seibert, Mary Wootton, Alan Haley, Yasmeen Khan and Andrew Robb, Conservator Liaisons to the National Digital Library of the Library of Congress

Conservation Lessons Learned from the National Digital Library, Library of Congress; Preservation Implications of Large Digitization Projects

The National Digital Library Program is a largely privately funded program within the Library of Congress with a goal to digitize5 million primary source items and make them available to the public within a five year period. Thus far, the primary audience for the program has been the K-12 community of users. Heretofore, this user group has not been actively served by the Library, but they are high users of these materials on the Internet. The major concept which shapes the NDL program is that once users experience primary source materials in digitized form, they will be stimulated to go and search out the books that will tell them more about what they learned on the Library's Internet site. In reality, the response from life-long learners, researchers and the media has been impressive as well.

Access has evolved as the primary goal of digitization, although digitization as a tool for preservation, continues to be explored. Currently digitization as an emerging preservation strategy for materials that must be reformatted to be preserved, such as magnetic media is being undertaken by the Library.

Collections have been selected for conversion based on their intrinsic, historic and visual interest, However collection use, size, security and ease of handling by readers are also selection criteria. Collections representing the many formats held by the Library, currently are in production: autograph manuscripts, photographs, sound recording, moving film and microfilm. There are posters and prints and drawings and cartoons, sheet music and images of three-dimensional objects. Staff of the Conservation Division has been involved since the program began, to explore where digitization might serve the goals of preservation and to specify care of the Library's collections during all stages of the conversion process. It has been the task of Conservation to ensure that materials are physically prepared properly before the scanning and handled carefully to minimize the risks to original artifacts.

The aims of the National Digital Library Program and of the Preservation Directorate were not considered antithetical or competitive. We developed a relationship that combines the expertise and knowledge that we had to offer each other. Early experiences with American Memory, the precursor to the National Digital Library program, were the palimpsest for the way the work would progress. It has been a successful collaboration and one which continues to grow and change just as the technology continues to change.

This presentation explored the ways in which this relationship between the conversion operations and conservation were formed. Conservation has been actively involved in training NDL program and vendor staff and providing guidance for the handling of materials. In order to do accomplish test tasks, we have had to learn the basics of the digital technology. We examined how conservation needs and requirements were integrated into the specifications for contracts, evaluation of equipment and processes, and work flow of the National Digital Library. And finally we looked at what the future may hold for such relationships as we continue to evolve with new technologies and new approaches in preservation.

Timothy Vitale, Paper and Photograph Conservator & Preservation Consultant, Preservation Associates Oakland, CA; and Intermuseum Conservation Assoc., Oberlin , OH

Light Levels Used in Modern Flatbed Scanners

It has been said that scanning is equivalent to exposing an object to a day's, or a year's worth of sunlight. This was shown to be not factual, and is impossible. Typical scanning exposures for today's flatbed scanners range from 0.0000009 to 0.0000386 Mlx-hrs (million lux hours). A day on a museum wall, at 15 lux, is about 0.000600 Mlx-hrs; a years worth of sunlight ranges from 115 to 290 Mlx-hrs. Most sensitive works of art on paper have a predicted usable life of 4.5 to 10 Mlx-hrs. Seven different flatbed scanners were evaluated on the floor of the Seybold Publishing 98 seminar in San Francisco, 1998, with the help of several manufacturers representatives. The data was gathered at 1 second intervals using a time-based light measurement instrument consisting of an Extech light sensor connected to a notebook computer equipped with a Pico (UK company) analog to digital converter and Picolog software.

Mark McCormick-Goodhart, Old Town Editions, Inc., Alexandra, VA and Henry Wilhelm, Wilhelm Imaging Research, In.c, Grinnell, IA

Image Permanence and Care of Digitally-Produced Prints

An overview of digital printmaking technologies with discussion of the roles of inks and media in the permanence of images, primary modes of deterioration, and strategies for long-term preservation.

Stephen Johnson, Stephen Johnson Photography

Working Digitally: A Photographer in the 90's

Johnson's digital photography methodology will be discussed. The talk focused on qualitative and quantitative comparison between film-based and digital photography from the perspective of the photographer. Starting in 1989, Johnson has explored computers as new photographic and design tools. At present, he is finishing work on a major new endeavor, the digital national parks project With A New Eye, using digital sensors to make his photographs rather than film.

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