Special online discussion celebrates publication of Re-collection

Re-collectionThe July discussion on the Yasmin email list focuses on MIT Press’s publication last month of Re-Collection: Art, New Media, and Social Memory by Richard Rinehart and Jon Ippolito, which has been called the first academic book on new media preservation. Re-collection examines the challenge posed by new media to our long-term social memory, examining in depth such topics as amateur and professional emulation, crowdsourced preservation, and DNA storage.

The discussion so far has covered diverse approaches to preserving software art and other new media artifacts. Contributors have included computer pioneers like Frieder Nake, A. Michael Noll, Paul Brown, and Liliane Lijn on preserving their work from the 1960s.

Rhizome’s Dragan Espenschied raised fascinating examples of more contemporary “proliferative preservation” practices, from My Little Pony aficionados to animated-GIF creators. While few of these vernacular products of Internet culture have received attention from professional curators or conservators, many have adapted to the changing mediascape of the Internet for decades.

Espenschied offers a historical parallel to the surprising staying power of seemingly worthless digital artifacts:

Once Henry Zemel pointed out to me that many old texts carved into clay tables has survived, while many texts chiseled into stones of buildings are lost. The usefulness of the carrier material was too high. A building would have been deconstructed and the included texts destroyed or torn apart to build something else out of the stone materials, once a building’s purpose wouldn’t make sense anymore. But clay tables that are written in some ancient alphabet that is unreadable: there is no sense in destroying them, they are already trash.

Yasmin is a network of artists, scientists, engineers, theoreticians and institutions promoting collaboration in art, science and technology. You can subscribe to the Yasmin list here. You can also read the archive as a blog.

The book Re-collection is available in hardcover or in ebook versions from MIT or Amazon.

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