How do you conserve time-based media? Museums invest in research to keep up with new technologies

The Art Newspaper | Jillian Steinhauer

It is a truism that digital technology has changed nearly everything about our society, from how we pay bills to how our brains are wired. Art is no exception, and two exhibitions in the US are taking stock of the shifting aesthetic currents that accompany technological changes. At the Institute of Contemporary Art Boston, Art in the Age of the Internet: 1989 to Today (until 20 May) examines the internet’s effect on art, while I Was Raised on the Internet at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (23 June-14 October) focuses on mostly post-millennium art. Both exhibitions show artists as early adopters of new technologies, whose work takes on new forms as they experiment. This raises a fundamental question that many institutions are still struggling to answer: how can museums keep up with this new technology? One way is through time-based media art conservation, a field that has existed for decades but is now seeing a surge in interest, funding and formalisation.

“There are only a few places in the world that provide graduate-level training specifically for this area,” says Hannelore Roemich, the conservation science professor at New York University’s (NYU) Institute of Fine Arts (IFA) conservation centre. Roemich is leading the launch this autumn of the centre’s concentration in time-based media conservation. The new graduate programme, which will take two students a year, is the first of its kind in the US. The IFA is also offering standalone workshops for professionals already working in the field and will host the symposium It’s About Time! Building a New Discipline: Time-Based Media Art Conservation (20-22 May). “The idea is to create a network of universities or institutions that are interested in learning from the design of our curriculum and finding their own way with their own resources,” Roemich says…read more

Image: Rachel Maclean: It’s What’s Inside That Counts (2016)