[ISEA2023] Paper: Madeline Smith, David Cirella, Ethan Gates & Claire Fox — Preserving a Hardware-Dependent Digital Artwork: Investigating Disk Imaging and Emulation Strategies


Third Summit on New Media Art Archiving

Keywords: Emulation, disk imaging, software preservation, hardware preservation, animation, media arts preservation, EaaSI

This paper summarizes the efforts and findings of a collaborative case study undertaken by a team of digital preservation and conservation staff to preserve legacy Apple hardware included as part of an accessioned artwork Yale University Art Gallery. Intended to test the capabilities of the EaaSI (Emulation-as-a-Service Infrastructure) framework for assessment and exhibition of digital art, a number of specific technical and logistic hurdles in pursuing emulation raised challenges for long-term preservation workflows involving unique hardware.

  • David Cirella (he/him) is a Digital Preservation Librarian at Yale University Library. In this role he works with stakeholders from around the institution towards the long-term preservation of their digital content. His areas of interest include digital forensics, programming, and information retrieval. He currently serves on the Documentation and Training Committee of the BitCurator Consortium.
  • Claire Fox (she/her) is a Digital Preservation Librarian at Yale University Library, where she oversees the administration, support, and expansion of Yale’s instance of the Emulation-as-a-Service Infrastructure (EaaSI) program of work, with an aim to provide broader access to legacy born-digital collections at Yale. She is a member of the Software Preservation Network’s Coordinating Committee and Metadata Working Group, and holds an MA from New York University in Moving Image Archiving and Preservation.
  • Ethan Gates (he/him) is a Software Preservation Analyst at Yale University Library and User Support Lead for the EaaSI (Emulation-as-a-Service Infrastructure) program of work. He is responsible for troubleshooting and documenting the EaaSI platform, as well as providing training and community support to the U.S.-based EaaSI Network and digital preservation field at large on topics of emulation and software preservation. He wrote the entry on “Emulation” in The Handbook of Archival Practice (Rowman & Littlefield, 2021) and is a member of the Software Preservation Network’s Community Engagement Collaborative, the BitCurator Consortium’s Membership Committee, and the Association of Moving Image Archivists’ Open Source Committee.
  • Madeline “made” Smith (they/them) is the David Booth Fellow in Media Conservation at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). They have worked with media collections at the Center for Constitutional Rights, ArteEast, and Ballet Tech, all in New York; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Smithsonian American Art Museum, in Washington, D.C.; the Yale University Art Gallery, in New Haven, CT; and with media artists’ personal collections. made holds a B.A. in American Studies and English from the University of Virginia (2015), and an M.A. in Moving Image Archiving and Preservation from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts (2020). Their master’s thesis was on the history of the Matters in Media Art web resource and the stewardship of time-based media in art museum collections.