Electronic Media Group

AIC Annual Meeting 2000, Philadelphia

Sunday & Monday, June 11-12, 2000
9:00 - 6:00

H o m e  |  P r o g r a m  |  L i n k s & R e s o u r c e s

Related items of interest:

Abstracts from past EMG and EMSIG Meetings

Imaging Zapgruder: Film Conservation Issues in the Digital Age
Joseph Barabe, Director of Scientific Imaging, McCrone Associates Inc., Westmont, IL
and
Alan Lewis, Audiovisual Preservation Expert, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, MD

The Zapgruder film of President John F. Kennedy's assassination is an important historical document and artifact; it is also represents an interesting and challenging object of conservation. The conservation effort is guided by several not easily reconcilable goals: on the one hand, the visual information should be as accessible as possible to researchers and students; on the other hand, the integrity of the object and its information must not be compromised. Of course, the film must not be damaged or destroyed as a result of the conservation efforts.

This presentation will focus on film conservation issues both from technical and philosophical points of view, with specific reference to the Zapgruder film. The film's history and current condition, the recent imaging project and plans for the future will be discussed. Difficulties in visual information translation from the analog film world to a digital motion medium will also be addressed. RETURN TO SCHEDULE

Tremendous Potential Meets Practical Problems: Saving Conservation Documentation Over Time
Howard Besser
UCLA School of Education & Information

The ability to save conservation documentation over time offers tremendous capabilities, not just for Conservators, but for Art Historians, Museum Educators, and even for the scientific community. But external technical problems, as well as social and organizational issues within the conservation community, have thusfar inhibited the likelihood of long-term preservation and use of electronicly stored documentation.

In this talk, Dr Besser will cover both the potential and the impediments to saving conservation documentation over long periods of time. He will discuss issues of migration and emulation. He will talk about what we can learn from other fields about the importance of standardization in examination, treatment, and condition reports. He will discuss recent emerging strategies for saving other types of digital information (such as regularly exercising files). And he will discuss abandoned projects designed to fully integrate digital imaging into the conservation documentation process.RETURN TO SCHEDULE

Digital File Migration
Harrison Eiteljorg
Director, Archaeological Data Archive Project, Center for the Study of Architecture, Bryn Mawr College

Preserving digital data is a more important and more complex problem than was realized in the early days of computing in the humanities. Many people were quite surprised to find how fragile digital data could be. Although the problem has now been widely recognized and discussed, it remains a serious and difficult one. Two different kinds of solutions have been offered - data migration and emulation of old software and/or hardware - each having advantages and disadvantages. It seems likely that each will find its place in the preservation tool set.

As a technological optimist, I believe that the tools will work. The bigger problem is raising awareness. Few scholars have both recognized the problem and moved to solve it for their own data, and, as we wait, more and more data are threatened. I believe the technical issues can and will be solved, but I think the solutions will come more quickly and more surely if there are many digital files of many kinds being preserved - in various ways - so that good, competitive testing occurs. Therefore, it is incumbent on those of us who understand the problem to do more to raise the awareness of our colleagues; actively seek data to archive; thoroughly test the processes; and let our colleagues know what we learn. We will preserve digital files. We will do it better and sooner if we start working harder today.
RETURN TO SCHEDULE.

Factors Associated with the Degradation and Failure of Magnetic Tape
Jennifer Hodgeman
Conservator, National Library of Australia, Canberra, Australia
and
Ian Gilmour
Manager, Research and Technical Services, ScreenSound Australia, Canberra, Australia

Magnetic tapes have been collected by sound archives for the last sixty years. The traditional sound carrier is 1/4 inch analogue reel-to-reel tape, but since the 1990's 4mm digital audio cassette (DAT) tapes have been utilized as well. This study contrasts the stability of these two formats. Several different manufacturers? tapes, with applied signal, were artificially aged at 80% RH and 60 C. Spectroscopic, physical, chemical, optical and electrochemical analysis was done on the tapes before and after aging. Not all tests were conclusive, but it was possible to characterize binders, visualize changes in surface morphology, detect lubricant loss and quantify degradation of the sound signal. This study highlighted the difficulty of modeling and detecting aging changes, but reinforced the synergetic role of the different tape components in causing tape failure. RETURN TO SCHEDULE

Video Art: Origins, Practice, and Preservation
Mona Jimenez
Materia Media: Visual Artist and Media Arts Consultant, Brooklyn, NY
Affiliated with BAVC (Bay Area Video Coalition) San Francisco, CA

When artists first picked up video tools in the late 1960's, no one could have predicted the artworks that would be create; the community that would develop (to support its production and exhibition); and the immense challenges that would present themselves as the works aged. Both the development of video art and the larger context of media arts practice will be discussed. While increasing an artist's own the means of production, artists have, historically, relied upon a network of and service organizations centers, e.g., BAVC, IMAP, ETC, offering lowcost equipment access, alternative exhibition venues, distribution services, and (more recently) advice on preservation.

The discussion will begin with examples of early video (1968 - 1985) and then trace the artists' impulses, influences and strategies, building an understanding of the complex issues these works present. Many works were never intended to exist within an institutional or gallery structure, opposing the notion of art as object and, particularly, art as commodity object. Some works can be considered more formalist, with an emphasis on the image, or unique characteristics of the medium -- the signal, immediate playback, its time-based quality. Prior to our era of off-the-shelf equipment, collaborations with inventors and engineers were common, producing unique devices or "instruments" for production and viewing. Some works are site specific, ephemeral and/or performative, "completed" by the intervention of the viewer. While there is an ever increasing number of works held by major institutions, many significant works exist only in artist spaces and with the artists themselves. We will view a sampling of artists' works, both installations and single channel works, touching on the relationship of early works to more recent works and to new media generally.

The media arts community has been dedicated to saving artists' works and documenting video history from multiple perspectives. Leadership has come from such organizations as the Bay Area Video Coalition (BAVC) (organized "TechArcheology: A Symposia on Video Installation Preservation," talked about in the AIC General Session), Media Alliance, Independent Media Arts Preservation (IMAP), and the Experimental Television Center. We will ask audience members to join in to discuss how we can strengthen ties between the media art and conservation communities, including BAVC's proposal to develop video training materials for "video" art conservation. A bibliography of art historical and practical resources on electronic media will be distributed.

BIOGRAPHY: Mona Jimenez is a visual artist and media arts consultant. In her media arts practice, she assists non-profits with their Internet, multimedia and video projects, through teaching, curating, and program development. Since 1993, she has been an advocate and organizer for the preservation of collections of video art, community television and other independent media. Her consultancies have included coordinating video preservation activities for Media Alliance; co-editing the Magnetic Media Preservation Sourcebook; assisting WNET/Thirteen to establish their first Tape Archive; organizing TechArcheology: A Symposium on Video Installation Preservation; and co-organizing the 1998 conference Video History: Making Connections, a project of the Experimental Television Center . From 1997-99, she served on the Committee on U.S. National Moving Image Preservation Plans, set up by the Association of Moving Image Archivists at the request of the Library of Congress. She was a driving force behind the new consortium Independent Media Arts Preservation (IMAP), and is currently working with the Experimental Television Center on information design for a web-based Video History Archive. In 1996, she received an Artist Fellowship recipient from the New York Foundation for the Arts, in the first year of the new category of Computer Art. RETURN TO SCHEDULE

Identification of Iris and other Digital Print Formats
Martin Jurgens
Queen's University, Kingston, ON

To the private collector, archivist, curator, conservator, or conservation scientist, the identification of an object of interest is always the first step in an examination. When confronted with a technology that is growing and changing as rapidly as digital printing, it is easy to lose track of the many processes and variables in each process. For this reason, it is practical to sort the printing processes and materials into generic groups, which can not only serve as an orientation for determining the precise nature of an individual print, but which might also describe fundamental trends that will be valid beyond the inevitable outdating of this guide to digital printing. As digital prints can often appear similar both among themselves and to various conventionally made prints, it is becoming harder and harder to distinguish between the processes of contemporary printmaking.

The identification guide as presented in this talk attempts the distinction of IRIS prints from a) other ink jet processes, and b) other digital and analog printing processes. It necessitates only non-destructive, purely visual examination procedures: the naked eye and an instrument of magnification. It functions on two levels: examination of the physical and circumstantial characteristics of the print (format, material, color, surface, laminate structure, date, condition, provenance) and of its specific image characteristics (resolution, print uniformity, dot size and shape, ink colors). Variables can be so great, however, that the best result of an identification exercise is sometimes only a general classification. The guide is part of a larger examination of the preservation of materials used in ink jet prints.RETURN TO SCHEDULE

Analog to Digital: the Current Debate on the Migration of Video to Digital
Jim Lindner
President Vidipax, NYC

There are many different ways to convert the raging river of analog video information into digital information. These migration schemes approach the task from different perspectives; most compressing and loose information in the process. This presentation will discuss some of the challenges associated with preserving analog video information in digital formats and discuss why some of the decisions will effect the quality of the content for all time.RETURN TO SCHEDULE

Paradigm Shift: The Relationship Between Bandwidth and Conservation of A/V Materials
Jim Lindner
President Vidipax, NYC

Physical media has always had an intimate relationship with the content that has been stored on it. Vast quantities of important content has been lost due to the loss or destruction of media. From fire to obsolete audio visual formats, a multitude of different disasters have shown us how fragile media is - even when stored under the best of conditions.
Is there another way? Is it possible to conceive of a system whereby content could exist and not be associated with a specific unit of media or media type? This presentation will explore some potential ways that such a system could be envisioned, and some of the advantages of such a scenario.RETURN TO SCHEDULE

Digital Frontiers: Collecting in a Digital Age
Therese Mulligan
Curator of Photography, George Eastman House, Rochester, NY

This paper addresses issues concerning the institutional collecting of digital-based imagery from the perspective of photography and printmaking. Beyond issues of stability and longevity, it will provide a historical view of how new technologies have long inscribed an aesthetic, cultural, and technological trajectory for media of multiple reproduction. An analogous sensibility impacts this media today, and its inextricable ties to the emerging digital arts. Finally, this paper will discuss how institutions build, preserve, and present their collections with an eye to a digital future, all the while creating interpretive bridges to the past.

BIOGRAPHY: Therese Mulligan is the Curator of Photography at George Eastman House-International Museum of Photography and Film in Rochester, NY. She has organized numerous exhibitions, including accompanying publications, on 19th and 20th century photography, including Mexicanidad: Tina Modotti and Edward Weston, The Mia Album: Julia Margaret Cameron and Her Circle, Telling Stories: The Narrative in Contemporary American Photography, and Digital Frontiers: Photography's Future at Nash Editions. Most recently, she completed editing a comprehensive 750-page guide to the photography collection at the Eastman House that was published in the fall of 1999 in celebration of the Museum's 50th anniversary. Mulligan received her M.A. in art history from Michigan State University, and is a Ph.D. candidate in the history of photography at the University of New Mexico.RETURN TO SCHEDULE

The Importance of Developing Administrative and Structural Metadata Standards for a Common File Storage Architecture
Merrilee Proffitt
Digital Library Development Specialist, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley <mproffit@library.berkeley.edu>

The library community has a history of developing standards to enhance the discovery and sharing of print materials. This leadership role continues today as libraries participate in creating "best practices and standards" for digital collections and content issues. Perhaps the most important outcome of our current project, "Making of America II," is to open a new dialogue on best practices and standards that are required if the digital library is to meet traditional collection, preservation, and access objectives. A significant question is: How do we create integrated digital library services that operate across multiple, distributed repositories?

We must go beyond the discovery of a digital object (in a search) and address how the database element is handled once it is found. We need to develop standards for creating and encoding digital representations of archival objects (for example, a digitized photograph or a digital representation of a book, diary or report). Some form of format standardization will be required, if tools are to be developed that work with a variety of digitized archival objects that may be distributed across several repositories. Issues of migrating a given file format through time give way to those of file format standardization and generic formats. In the library community these issues can be resolved, it is not clear that other professions can, or would, want to standardize their "archival objects." RETURN TO SCHEDULE

Sharing the experience: The Building of a Successful Online/Onsite Exhibit
Scott Sayre Ed.D
Director of Media and Technology, Interactive Media Group, The Minneapolis Institute of Arts
and
Joan Gorman
Senior Paintings Conservator, Uppermidwest Conservation Association, Minneapolis, MN

In September of 1999 the Minneapolis Institute of Arts opened a eight week exhibit allowing the public to observe the process of restoring a 350 year old painting. Unique to this exhibit was not only the visitor's onsite access to the physical restoration of this 12' by 7' masterwork, but the fact that the public could view the "real time" progress of the project on the web. Conceived as a on-site/online project from the beginning, this was the first project of its type to be composed of collaborators from different departments and organizations within the museum. The resulting program became one of the museums most popular web projects to date. This panel will focus on the various challenges and opportunities posed by this project from four different perspectives.

This presentation will consist of a overview demonstration of website by the Institute's Director of Media and Technology, Scott Sayre. Sayre will also discuss some of the logistical challenges in planning, implementing and sustaining a "real time" project. Specific topics to be addressed will include project team coordination, pre-production strategies, and promotional tactics. Joan Gorman, Senior Paintings Conservator at Uppermidwest Conservation Association, one of the two conducting the on-site conservation treatment, will share her experiences working in public and under the surveillance of a worldwide web audience. Sections of the website as well as video shot during the exhibit will be used throughout the panel to enliven the audience's understanding of the on-site and online exhibit. The conclusion will summarize the potential short and long term effects such dynamic exhibitions can have on an entire institution. The Web site of this project can be accessed at: <www.artsmia.org/restoration-online>.RETURN TO SCHEDULE

Documentation Database Design and Implementation
Anna Stenstrom
Senior Conservator, Goldsmith Conservation Laboratory
and
Marc Reeves
Head Goldsmith Conservation Laboratory, New York Public Library

Discussion of the specification and recording process for artifact treatment; examination of basic web-forms used; reporting structures; discussion of equipment configuration and use of various data formats. Presenters will also discuss the design of a new rail lighting system which integrates new digital documentation system (BetterLight back and digital video production/Scandles daylight fluorescent lighting) with existing electronic flash used for standard 35mm/4x5 documentation.
Case Study: Image Services at the National Library of New Zealand Mark Strange, Conservator of Photographs, National Library of New Zealand, Wellington, NZ

The Image Services department at the National Library of New Zealand was established to support the Library's preservation needs. The goal was to diminish handling of photographs, drawings, prints, cartography, cartoons and ephemera. Input devices were located in the storage areas where materials could be scanned within their unique storage conditions. Digital copies can be dispensed to patrons and the cataloged images are served, online, to patrons. The Library's image quality criteria will be outlined and an examples of the online access will be presented.

The new department makes the Library more autonomous from the external photographic service bureau which had risks, due to transport across town and handling in an uncontrolled environment. Production of over 90% of user copies for public requests is now wholly performed by Image Services which produces a greater variety of image products. The other goal is to provide a means for New Zealanders to have online access to the hundreds of thousands of original photographic negatives which the Library was unable to print due to the cost. It was clear that a staged approach was necessary. The first stage involved delivery of digital user copies for clients, in place of the photographic copies. The second was to catalog, describe and mount the images on the server, after more digital experience was gained. It was found that creating cataloguing information of each image (to the Library's standard) takes four times longer than scanning the image. The talk will conclude with a short explanation of how the scanner, camera, printers, server image management software and systems integration software were selected to match our needs.RETURN TO SCHEDULE

Case Study: Image Services at the National Library of New Zealand
Mark Strange
Conservator of Photographs, National Library of New Zealand, Wellington, NZ

The Image Services department at the National Library of New Zealand was established to support the Library's preservation needs. The goal was to diminish handling of photographs, drawings, prints, cartography, cartoons and ephemera. Input devices were located in the storage areas where materials could be scanned within their unique storage conditions. Digital copies can be dispensed to patrons and the cataloged images are served, online, to patrons. The Library's image quality criteria will be outlined and an examples of the online access will be presented.

The new department makes the Library more autonomous from the external photographic service bureau which had risks, due to transport across town and handling in an uncontrolled environment. Production of over 90% of user copies for public requests is now wholly performed by Image Services which produces a greater variety of image products. The other goal is to provide a means for New Zealanders to have online access to the hundreds of thousands of original photographic negatives which the Library was unable to print due to the cost.

It was clear that a staged approach was necessary. The first stage involved delivery of digital user copies for clients, in place of the photographic copies. The second was to catalog, describe and mount the images on the server, after more digital experience was gained. It was found that creating cataloguing information of each image (to the Library's standard) takes four times longer than scanning the image. The talk will conclude with a short explanation of how the scanner, camera, printers, server image management software and systems integration software were selected to match our
needs. RETURN TO SCHEDULE

Recent Findings on the Fading of Digital Print Media
Henry Wilhelm
Wilhelm Imaging Research, Inc. Grinnell, IW
and
Mark McCormick-Goodhart, Old Town Editions, Alexandria, VA.

Digital printing technology is evolving more swiftly that could be imagined. Inks, papers and print dot-patterns change, and largely seem to improve, in less than six-month cycles. Some newer inkjet systems have become water stable and new (OEM) inks from the printer manufacturer are showing greater light-fading stability. The most recent light fading and dark storage results will be discussed. Methods and rational of light and dark fading well be reviewed and questions answered.

RETURN TO SCHEDULE