Home ANNUAL SUMMITS 2010 Summit Virtualizing Agent Ruby: Collecting Web Art

Virtualizing Agent Ruby: Collecting Web Art

© DOCAM 2010

Day 2, Session 6

Jill Sterrett (SFMOMA, San Francisco)
Mark Hellar (Hellar Studios LLC, San Francisco)


The artful preservation of web-based works of art — such as Agent Ruby (1999-2002) by Lynn Hershman Leeson — is the subject of this presentation. Hershman Leeson is a pioneer of media and conceptual art and Agent Ruby features an artificially-intelligent software agent, an avatar that communicates with visitors through natural language processing. This concept of an open learning environment and conversational structure mirrors an important step towards more participatory work...


... While preservation methods draw on existing models for process-based works, keeping web art calls for refreshed forms of documentation, new museum skills sets and a specific technical infrastructure. This research is part of Matters in Media Art and is supported by the New Art Trust.


Jill Sterrett is Director of Collections & Conservation at SFMOMA, where she has worked since 1990. Jill has also worked at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Library of Congress, Philadelphia Museum of Art, and National Library of Australia. She is interested in how collecting and preserving contemporary art calls into question fundamental assumptions underlying traditions of fine art stewardship and she is committed to the vital collaborations between artists, curators, technical experts, registrars, and conservators that underpin contemporary art conservation practice. Jill has published and taught on the subject of museums, conservation and contemporary art, including as a Fulbright scholar in Portugal.


Mark Hellar is a consultant on technology initiatives at a number of cultural institutions throughout the Bay Area and beyond, and the owner of Hellar Studios LLC. Before opening his own studio in 2009, Mark has worked as a systems architect at the Tides Foundation, academic technology manager at the San Francisco Art Institute, and as a digital-media specialist at the Bay Area Video Coalition. Mark specializes in creative yet practical digital-media and web-based solutions to the technologically demanding problems faced by multimedia artists and digital-culture makers whose work requires innovative infrastructures for archiving, documentation, and exhibition.



• Agent Ruby: http://agentruby.sfmoma.org/