[ISEA2010] Paper: Gaby Wijers & Rony Vissers – Obsolete Equipment: the Preservation of Playback and Display Equipment for Audiovisual Arts


Media art is an invaluable and extremely fragile part of our modern cultural heritage. Media artworks (e. g. video art, interactive art, net art, computer art, media installation, media performances…) distinguish themselves from more conventional artworks by the use of electronic media for artistic expression. These works are encoded and usually stored on a physical storage device such as digital or analogue videotape, optical discs, and hard disks… and they require playback and display equipment to be viewed. The use of the rapidly ageing media technology for the recording, storage, playback and display of the media artworks affects their stability. The most obvious problem for their preservation is the obsolescence of physical storage and display formats. If the storage format becomes obsolete, one risks not being able to view the work anymore. If the display equipment becomes obsolete, the translation into new display devices (e. g. from a CRT monitor to a flat screen monitor) might change the meaning of the artwork. These are two of the most appealing challenges regarding the preservation of media art. The technology and associated knowledge are in many cases still available today but are rapidly becoming obsolete. If we don’t act quickly both will disappear and we risk losing a part of our modern cultural heritage.

  • Gaby Wijers (NL) is coordinator of collection, preservation and related research at the Netherlands Media Art Institute (NIMk), coordinated the project Preservation of Video Art in the Netherlands 2001-2003, participated in projects as 404 object not found, Inside Installation and GAMA.
  • Rony Vissers (NL) coordinates since January 2009 PACKED vzw. Platform for the Archiving and Preservation of Audiovisual Arts, a collaboration between argos – centre for arts and media (Brussels), eDAVID (expertise centre for digital archiving), SMAK (Ghent), MuHKA (Antwerp) and MDD (Deurle).

Full text (PDF) p.  149-151