Interpreting the past has long been the province of historians, but reinterpreting it has recently become a concern of conservators. This most powerful, and most controversial, of preservation strategies can demand techniques not found in the traditional conservation lab, from 3d scanning to DNA computing. Several international conferences from Mexico City to Amsterdam recently spotlighted Still Water’s ongoing research into reinterpretation as a means of prolonging or resuscitating the past.
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In the digital art preservation field, we are in the middle of a crisis between contents versus containers. This is a crisis of substance, material substance opposing to conceptual/intentional substance of the artwork. What do we want? That all resources be directed towards to the preservation and storage of the original devices? Or, that each time it is exhibited, the artwork be constantly updated and adapted to new versions of hardware and software ? In other words, should we preserve the material (hardware/software) or the intent?
Last December Curator Laura Barrecca and Conservator Alessandra Barbuto invited Jon Ippolito to speak on cultural preservation at Rome’s Museum of the Art of the 21st century (MAXXI), a dramatic building by famed architect Zaha Hadid that opened in June.
The permaculture philosophy of dynamic preservation turns out to have ancient roots in Sicily. Last December Joline Blais surveyed a Permaculture site near Caccamo founded by noted Australian sustainability gurus Julia and Charles Yelton, as well as a reconstructed citrus garden originally cultivated by the ancient Greeks of Agrigento.
It almost seems like cheating for Italians to declare Castelbuono an ecovillage. In this medieval town in the mountains of northern Sicily, the houses are already made of heat-exchanging stone and residents already walk everywhere through winding cobblestone streets. A donkey picks up recyclables and food compost headed for local farmers.
Still Water Senior Researcher John Bell presents the third-generation Variable Media Questionnaire at the 2010 International Symposium on Electronic Art.
Anthropologist James Leach presents the Cross-Cultural Partnership as an example of a social “prototype” at “Prototyping Cultures: Social Experimentation, Do-It-Yourself Science and Beta-Knowledge.”
The Cross-Cultural Partnership, a legal template for encouraging ethical collaborations across cultural divides, was the brainchild of Leach, Wendy Seltzer, and othe members of the Connected Knowledge working group organized by Still Water. Leach’s talk at this two-day conference organised by the Spanish National Research Council in Madrid from 4-5 November 2010 is entitled “Prototypes of Engagement: Trust, Transaction, and Digital Partnership.”