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    Collecting and Conserving Software-based Art (Outside the Institution)

    Electronic Visualisation and the Arts (EVA 2015)

    London, UK, 7 - 9 July 2015


    Tom Ensom



    Software-based art (i.e. that in which software is the primary medium) presents considerable challenges for artists, collectors, and conservators, who are hoping to preserve artworks in the long-term. It is essential then that these parties consider the implications of technological change, and take action where appropriate. However as with artistic practise itself, software-based artworks vary considerably in their components and behaviour, and typically require a bespoke approach to conservation which can be both time consuming and expensive. There has up until recently been little consideration of the role of the private collections in the context of software-based art, with collections of such works being a relative rarity. Despite this lack of representation, the medium presents great opportunities for the democratisation (via open, internet distribution) of collecting, an activity which has traditionally been something of a rarefied hobby. Drawing on research into the preservation of complex digital objects, I discuss some of the major challenges for those collecting and conserving software-based art, and outline some approaches to these challenges achievable without the resources of a major institution.


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