Today is the first official Digital Archives Day. All day, archivists and conservators working in digital archives of all kinds will be sharing their work under the #DigitalArchivesDay hashtag, and blogging at dayofdigitalarchives.blogspot.com
I wanted to take a moment today to briefly talk about an innovation in digital imaging and computing that has become a frustation to many artists that have been experimenting with the web since the early years: Anti-aliasing. Put simply, anti-aliasing is a method of image processing that uses interpolation, to construct "new data points within the range of a discrete set of known data points." This is a function of digital signal processing that has many many important applications, from helping typefaces look good on screen, to making images not look odd when scaled down. The use of anti-aliasing that we are talking about here though, is quite specific: the display of resized digital images and video in web browsers. To illustrate how anti-aliasing has affected an era of web content, we will look at Cory Arcangel's "Data Diaries."
Data Diaries on Turbulence.org
In 2002, when Arcangel created "Data Diaries," if one were set the size of an image or video embedded in a web page larger than it's actual size, the browser would use nearest neighbor interpolation to display the image. In other words – if one were to embed a 50 x 50 px image or video as 100 x 100 px, each pixel would appear to double in size. This default form of nearest neighbor interpolation was exploited to aesthetic ends by many early net artists, including Cory. When Cory made Data Diaries, he rendered the original videos at the dimension of 50 x 25 px - so tiny! He embedded these videos at dimensions of 500 x 266 px ...
We've recently had some additions to the Rhizome team - I'd like to introduce you to Rhizome's newest intern: Thor Shannon. Thor is an undergraduate student studying art history at NYU. Over the course of the next few months, he will be helping to catalog the ArtBase - a process of improving the quality of our metadata, deepening the level of description, and making records more accurate and searchable. This significant work is not easy, and we are so glad to have Thor helping us out. Welcome, Thor!
The ArtBase team has been hard at work with some very exciting projects involving the restoration of classic pieces of net art – some of which have been inaccessible for years. We will be releasing more details on the progress of ...
Today I am pleased to announce the publication of a paper that documents the past, present, and future preservation practices of Rhizome's archive, the ArtBase. This paper is the synthesis of years of research conducted by Rhizome and other leaders of digital preservation, in and outside of art institutions. What follows is an attempt to summarize a few key points. The paper in its entirety is available here: Sustainable Preservation Practices and the Rhizome ArtBase
"…if nobody sees a museum piece, what’s the point of having it or keeping it? Museums exist for a social purpose, for us humans."
Bruce Sterling, keynote address at “Preserving the Immaterial: A Conference on Variable Media,” Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 2001.
JODI – Globalmove.us
What happens when an institution acquires a digital work of art? How does one preserve and ensure the longevity of an art object that is inextricably tied to infrastructure built and controlled by neither artist nor institution? How can a work that exists in a social space, or makes use of real-time external data sources, be documented? These questions have long plagued collectors, conservators, and collecting institutions, as well as artists themselves. At Rhizome we face these challenges daily in our effort to preserve and ensure access to a multi generational practice and legacy of work produced by the communities we are built upon. The first line of Rhizome's mission statement reads: "Rhizome is dedicated to the creation, presentation, preservation, and critique of emerging artistic practices that engage technology." Of these tenets, one that perhaps occupies the least public awareness, yet constitutes a significant portion of our labors ispreservation. It is at the core of Rhizome's mission of support.
Since it's inception in 1999, the ArtBase has undergone numerous stages of evolution. What began as a simple place for sharing links has grown into a comprehensive archive adherent to international archival standards, containing over 2,500 works. Parallel to the archive's evolution, we have witnessed the aging of these works, some dating to 1994. From broken links to obsolete plugins, we have seen it all. Slowly but surely we are migrating works to host on our servers so that we may provide stable URLs, understand the digital objects that a work is composed of, and create stable versions of works that will remain unharmed by technological innovation. We are on a deep level working to ensure true longevity for these works, that 30 years from now they will be accessible and functional. Rhizome is 100% committed to providing permanent, free, public access to this collection and its cultural context...
Nicholas Felton spends much of his time thinking about data, charts and our daily routines. He is the author of several Personal Annual Reports that collate countless measurements into a rich assortment of graphs and maps reflecting the year’s activities. He is the co-founder of Daytum.com, a site for counting and communicating daily data, and a member of the product design team at Facebook. His work has been profiled in publications including the Wall Street Journal, Wired and Creative Review.
In situations such as this, it behooves a web based archive of internet art to promote access to the original, and if necesary and feasible/justifiable, a modified access copy that follows the preservation wishes of the artist. Documentation is an increasingly alluring strategy, and used in tandem with bit-level preservation of the original provides a much more future proof solution for large collections. We will be looking at this strategy and others at Thursday's event. Hope you can join us: http://newmuseum.org/events/584
Client side emulation is not practical when the main goal is broad access (for everyone - not just the savvy) to a web based archive. That being said, there is a solid argument to provide an access copy as well as the original bitstreams.
We should post our g+ conversation.