Home ANNUAL SUMMITS 2006 Summit Case Studies: Models for methodology in the preservation of time-based media works using the case study approach

Case Studies: Models for methodology in the preservation of time-based media works using the case study approach


Day 1, Group 1

Richard Gagnier, Montréal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA), chair of the DOCAM Conservation & Preservation Committee, Montréal

The term ‘time-based media’ encompasses works of art that deploy their effects within a certain notion of mobility or changes that occur in the work as the viewer experiences it. This term generally refers to film, video, and any other source of moving images. The domain is finding an immense territory of exploration with today’s widely used digital concepts and manipulations...
Richard Gagnier © DOCAM 2006


... Still, analog supports, such as slides, can also be included in this denomination, as well as sound recording supports, whether analog or digital. Conservation efforts related to these types of technology must focus on examining the nature of the original work and evaluating the capacity to maintain it in its original format, taking into account the integrity of the object and the historical nature of the technology. However, original works are never played or used during the presentation, becoming instead the preservation copy (assuming their format is stable enough). Other considerations include the technology of the presentation copy and its justification for use, if its technology is more recent. This evaluation must take into account the extent to which the technology is visible in the presentation. Thus, the equipment involved must likewise be taken into account in terms of its role in the integrity of the work and its historical significance as new and more advanced equipment becomes available. Equipment is strongly linked to the market economy and may rapidly become obsolete, complicating the issues surrounding a work of art whose identity and significance is associated with its equipment. These issues are often difficult to distinguish from one another on a theoretical level, as they are an intrinsic component of the work’s overall effect. This will depend on the art practice, as some aspects are more prominent than others. Yet artists often succeed in pushing the boundaries of how a specific technology is used, with the resulting effects extending far beyond the obvious and prescribed usage. Developing a conservation approach for the case studies allows these issues to be defined, the variations from one work to another to be compared, and a much more holistic conservation model to be developed that is at once idiosyncratic and structured enough to allow guidelines and current knowledge on the relative stability of these various technological methods to be established.



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Stan Douglas, Nutka, 1996.