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Wednesday, May 15 • 5:00pm - 5:30pm
(Electronic Media) A Race Against Time: Preserving iOS App-Based Artworks

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The complexity of software-based art continues to challenge media conservators in their quest for best preservation practices. An ever growing body of literature on case studies has been written and published underlining how often multiple and concurrent preservation strategies are needed in order to ensure the perpetuation and unfolding of these works in the future. In the last few years, institutions have started collecting iOS mobile applications. Multi-faceted in their platform dependencies and distribution systems, App-based software preservation is intrinsically linked to the the breakneck pace with which mobile phone technologies and related software are released, adopted, and rendered obsolete. This process is further heightened by the reliance on the authoring and delivery restrictions enforced by Apple which limits the control the creators have over the availability and sustainability of their iOS App-based artworks. How can the preservation challenges of these artworks add to our understanding of software based art? Which strategies, tools, and workflows can be applied to mitigate risks associated to iOS App-based Art obsolescence? This talk will seek to unravel these questions through the use of two case studies. In 2016, Composition for Marimba (2016) by Mungo Thomson was acquired by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). This work consists of a mobile phone mounted on a tripod which acts as a set piece and audio-visual display device. A iOS mobile app displays a random sequence of images of playing cards which are linked to audio files playing marimba tones and then sent to wireless speakers in the space. In 2017, WYD RN (2017) by Martine Syms was acquired by the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). The work is an Augmented Reality iOS downloadable App which acts through a randomized facial recognition mechanism on a set of twelve archival pigment prints on found posters that were installed in the exhibition space. As part of the installation Incense, Sweater & Ice (2017) this work was downloadable for visitors during the show and was conceived as a bridge between the posters and the videos installed as means to create a conversation between these elements. Drawing from these two recent acquisitions, this presentation aims to share the findings of a yearlong joint research project between Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and the Museum of Modern Art New York (MoMA) media conservation departments. The authors will investigate common and often complementary challenges and concerns encountered throughout these acquisitions with a specific focus on: 1] Tools and methods to faithfully document the behavior of a iOS App, 2] Available tools for condition checking iOS Apps pre and post acquisition, 3] Strategies for the stabilization of the original source code, including software and programs used to achieve this, 4] Overall consideration of annual maintenance and preservation costs. This presentation will additionally highlight how a cross-departmental approach at each institution and the collaboration with the artists and studios will inform the decision making process for the preservation of these two artworks.

avatar for Joseph G Heinen Jr.

Joseph G Heinen Jr.

Digital Preservation Manager, Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Joey Heinen is a digital preservation and time-based media specialist, currently serving as Digital Preservation Manager in the Collection Information and Digital Assets Department and head of the Time Based Media Committee at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. In this role he... Read More →
avatar for Flaminia Fortunato

Flaminia Fortunato

Andrew W. Mellon Fellow in Media Conservation, Museum of Modern Art in New York
Flaminia Fortunato is currently a Andrew W. Mellon Fellow in Media Conservation at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. As part of the Media Conservation team at the museum she is involved in day to day acquisition, documentation, installation and conservation of the media collection... Read More →

avatar for Morgan Kessler

Morgan Kessler

Media Collections Manager, Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Morgan Kessler has been working with museums and artists as an Audio Visual Specialist since 2008. She joined LACMA in 2012 as a Time-Based Media Technician in the Gallery Media department. In her current role as Media Collections Manager, she is charged with the care of the museum’s... Read More →

Wednesday May 15, 2019 5:00pm - 5:30pm EDT
Passamaquoddy/Brothertown Rooms Sky Convention Center, Mohegan Sun
  Specialty Session, Electronic Media
  • Track Electronic Media
  • Ticketed Included in Main Registration
  • Authors in Publication Order Flaminia Fortunato, Joey Heinen, Morgan Kessler
  • Abstract ID 18875
  • Tags iOS App-based Art,preservation challenges,decision-making process