DEVELOPING STRATEGIES FOR THE CONSERVATION OF INSTALLATIONS INCORPORATING TIME-BASED MEDIA WITH REFERENCE TO GARY HILL'S BETWEEN CINEMA AND A HARD PLACE
2 RECOGNIZING COMPLEXITY AND IDENTIFYING RISK
When thinking about a complex installation, it is useful to break it down into smaller parts, listing all the components from the laser disc players to the less tangible details of the space, without losing sight of how the components connect. Using this list, the conservator can assess the role of each element in realizing the installation as a whole. The conservator can then anticipate the factors most likely to prevent each component from fulfilling its role. The value of some elements might be functional, the value of others might be aesthetic or sculptural, or perhaps a mixture of the two. Essentially this process involves identifying where the dangers or risks lie that might result in not being able to display the work correctly in the future. This assessment should provide a realistic outline for the development of a conservation plan. Conservators prepare conservation plans as a matter of course: if presented with an object made of felt, we are concerned about moths; if presented with steel, we worry about rust. With these installations, conservators need to expand their vocabularies of risk to include mechanical breakdown and obsolescence of parts or whole technologies, or perhaps the lack of documentation to guide light levels or the choice or construction of a space in order to install the work. (For a detailed study of risk assessment in conservation, see Ashley-Smith 1999).