Back To Schedule
Friday, May 17 • 4:00pm - 4:30pm
(Electronic Media) Conservators In “the Wild”: Collaboration With Art Studios, Galleries and Collectors

Log in to save this to your schedule, view media, leave feedback and see who's attending!

When time-based media art (TBMA) in private collections no longer functions, who is responsible for conservation — the artist, gallery, installation team or private conservation practice (that is, if a collector is even aware of such services)? Restoration needs that exist in “the wild" (i.e., outside the walls of the institution) present emerging and meaningful opportunities for conservators. Within museums, established protocols and processes are in place — but where should one turn without this system of defined support? Contemporary TBM artists often pass their work directly from studio, to gallery to private hands. Yet these important, complex media pieces encounter similar problems as those safeguarded within institutions: obsolescence, demands for migration, repair and preservation. For TBMA in private collections, specialized restoration needs are inevitable — yet the responsibility for maintenance has largely been shouldered by the artist that created the work or the installation team (commonly local A/V technicians). In other words, collectors are left to turn to the artist (who would rather be creating work than repairing it) or the guesswork of an A/V company that generally specializes in high-end home theater systems. The challenges associated with the long-term maintenance and functionality of these pieces is a persistently evolving issue — one that requires continuous surveillance and upkeep. This research explores the "life cycle" and associated conservation challenges of TBMA by tracing its path from its conception in the studio, its physical installation in the gallery and, lastly, to its final resting place in the private collection. Using a mixed methodology that transects observational fieldwork, semi-structured interviews, media analysis and in-situ digital and physical conservation, this research surveys the evolving needs of TBMA from the perspective of the artist, gallery, collector and conservator. Specifically, it draws attention to potential conservation opportunities for addressing problems, needs and gaps of TBMA in “the wild”. For where these fissures exist, it offers conservators the opportunity to steward impactful pieces that are demonstrative of social, technological and conceptual transformations in our contemporary art ecosystem.

avatar for Rachel M. Ward

Rachel M. Ward

Research Associate and PhD Candidate, Small Data Industries
Rachel M. Ward is a researcher, artist, filmmaker and Ph.D. candidate focusing on digital ethnography, time-based media art (TBMA), artist archives, gender and technology. She is currently working as a Research Associate at Small Data Industries, a time-based media art conservation... Read More →

  Specialty Session, Electronic Media
  • Track Electronic Media
  • Ticketed Included in Main Registration
  • Authors in Publication Order Rachel M. Ward
  • Abstract ID 18760
  • Tags time-based media art,conservation,private collections,art galleries,artists,art studios,media conservation,conservators,private practice,digital art,digital-born art,media art,software art,TBM,TBMA