[iDC] shelf life

Richard Rinehart rinehart at berkeley.edu
Mon Nov 19 23:54:21 UTC 2007

>On the specifics of preservation:  when it comes to code-based art, 
>which most interests me, I think that emulation, as Richard 
>suggests, is the way to go.  But this is a matter that goes beyond 
>preservation of art.  I don't know of any open source projects which 
>are exploring emulation for the sake of preserving computer 
>materials but there must be some out there.

What about MAME, the video-game emulator? I agree there are not many 
such projects out there, but this might be one example.

Emulation is a great idea (see 
http://www.clir.org/pubs/reports/rothenberg/contents.html), but it is 
also not a silver bullet solution. We have tried emulation on a few 
case study art works and the results are mixed. Of course, emulation 
is only a partial strategy when dealing with works (or more general 
cultural artifacts) that include a physical component or that 
directly involve the Internet, environment, or social behaviors. One 
still needs an over-arching form of documentation (like a musical 
score) that guides one in the future to re-create/re-perform the 
work, some components of which may be emulated (if one is lucky).

>This kind of technology holds out a great deal of hope that code and 
>computer materials generally can be disengaged from specific 
>generations of hardware.

I so agree that it's crucial to disambiguate hardware from 
software/physical from logical, in order to preserve digital content.

Richard Rinehart
Digital Media Director & Adjunct Curator
Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive
University of California, Berkeley
2625 Durant Ave.
Berkeley, CA, 94720-2250

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