[iDC] [IDC} Shelf Life

Simon Biggs s.biggs at eca.ac.uk
Sat Nov 17 16:38:36 UTC 2007

On 17/11/07 15:00, "Myron Turner" <mturner at cc.umanitoba.ca> wrote:

> On the matter of "shelf-life" I tend to agree with Patrick, that artists
> bear a good deal of responsibility for the longevity new media work.
> They may have new challenges, but they have to understand and take
> responsibility for the material conditions or their work. I do think
> there is a bit of a 'technological culture gap', however. I don't think
> many of us who were using computers 10 and 15 years ago quite understood
> the rapidity with which the technologies would advance. I have an
> installation, for instance, which had its hey-day 10 years ago and now
> sits created, taking up studio space, and which wholly depends upon a
> pre-tower pc and a particular generation of video card. I cherish that
> flat little pc and its ancient motherboard, because I know even if I
> could find the video card, it would never work in a contemporary pc.
Is there no way for you to upgrade the work? I recently did this for one of
my old works. It consisted of a custom gestural interface driving an ancient
Mac (circa 1989) which in turn drove two synched laser disc players. Once I
found a player, so I could get the video off the discs and into Quicktime,
it took me about half a day to re-engineer the entire work to function with
a generic computer and a video camera as the interface. Much simpler! In the
process the only thing I have kept from the original is the digital video
sequences. The interface has gone, replaced with a camera, I have
re-programmed it in a different language and cross-platformed it. It will
even work on the web (although it is too big to make it worthwhile)! Is it
still the same piece? I think so.

I will have to re-engineer it all again in ten years. Will I want to?
Depends if I have a good reason. I revived that work because after all those
years somebody wanted to exhibit it again. It is going to be shown again
next year as well. I think that is quite nice, really, and worth the effort.
I've done the same with some other old works and am now in a position where
nearly all the interactive works I have made since 1983 are running on
contemporary systems.

I am curious as to why your piece could never work on a contemporary PC. Is
it not compliant with basic computing principles? These have not really
changed much over the decades.



Simon Biggs
simon at littlepig.org.uk
AIM/Skype: simonbiggsuk

Research Professor in Art, Edinburgh College of Art
s.biggs at eca.ac.uk

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