[-empyre-] Games, histories and preservation

Julian Oliver julian at selectparks.net
Wed Mar 19 01:51:21 EST 2008

..on or around Tue, Mar 18, 2008 at 10:32:13AM +1100, Sean Cubitt said:
> Eg (2) the variable media network <http://variablemedia.net/> experiments.
> Weinbren¹s Erl King emulated : the colour gamuts are no longer the same. The
> touchscreen response times are much faster. Refresh rate is different as is
> apparent screen resolution and actual luminance. Etc etc

hehe, this is becoming an increasingly large and interesting problem.

i remember seeing the Australia Council throw large swathes of cash at
CDROM based art in the mid-to-late 90's, most of which was made using
the proprietary Macromedia Director. 

nowadays there are very few Director-based projects made more than a few
years ago that function properly on modern hardware. this is due to
Director's internal time structure being (it seems to me) metered on the
basis of CPU clock-cycles, not system time.  this means any animation
will play too fast and any event management implicating timed events
will be grossly out-of-sync. 

similarly, the methods artists typically used to work around memory
allocation troubles have long since stopped being relevant, rendering
their mission-critical workarounds a glitch on machines with faster,
larger physical memory. 

the real problem, of course, isn't here, so much as the fact so much
work made 10 years ago is still being presented without any awareness as
to how it /should/ run. if only they'd taken a video.. 

all said, some of the outcomes are too hilarious and beautiful to be
tragic.. as though PC's have had enough as mere supports and have
themselves become artists, remixing an entire chapter of software-art
while keeping the original a secret.

it's usually at this point people pipe up and claim that emulation can
solve all problems. however, even if you can successfully emulate the
hardware there is still the problem of aquiring the operating system and
dependent software which will need to have been preserved at the point
of exhibition. if the work is network-dependent, you need to emulate
network conditions, and so on. 

moreso, what is emulated and what isn't comes down to a popularity
contest: Apple's recent and sad move to Intel inadvertently threatens
the future exhibitability of a huge amount of artwork made for the Power
PC archicture, for instance. 

it's strange to think that the future of digital art made on and for a
particular platform is at the hands of the projects listed on this
web-page, some of which are relatively inactive due to low community


i wonder which great museum has the foresight to fund them as part of
their preservation strategy?

in the meantime video-art on tape chugs along, relatively unscathed,
happily platform-hopping through the hardware and format wars. no doubt
this will contribute to an idea that video-art is far more worth
throwing money at than screen-based interactive work, giving it
something of a renaissance in the coming years.


julian oliver
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> On 17/3/08 12:34 PM, "Jason Nelson" <heliopod at yahoo.com> wrote:
> > As for preservation. I've always found game emulators
> > http://www.emulator-zone.com/
> >   
> > as the ultimate form of preservation (for any digital work).
> >   
> >  
> >   
> > Why are game emulators the ultimate for of digital preservation?
> >   
> >  
> >   
> > The games from the 70s, 80s and 90s, as designed, are no longer playable
> > (unless you own old consoles and by chance they are still working). And so
> > there is that classic, change of hardware format problem. There has been some
> > porting now of the games to stand alone devices or compilations for newer
> > console systems. But really the bulk of these games should have been lost to
> > the changing technologies.
> >   
> >  
> >   
> > Instead, decentralized users, from around the globe, both individually and in
> > groups starting creating emulators for old games, for a surprisingly wide
> > range of console systems. They were not doing this under the umbrella of a
> > company or institution, they were amateur coders who simply loved the games.
> > There were also lots of copies of the games out there,
> >   
> > usually without working consoles.
> >   
> >  
> >   
> > And now these games are preserved, not in the back room of a state run
> > library. But on
> >   
> > the hard drives of thousands and thousand of individuals.
> >   
> >  
> >   
> > So it would seem that game preservationists have a lot to learn from 15 year
> > olds and
> >   
> > bit torrent enthusiasts.
> >   
> >  
> >   
> > cheers, Jason Nelson
> > 
> >   
> > 
> > Be a better friend, newshound, and know-it-all with Yahoo! Mobile.  Try it
> > now. 
> > <http://us.rd.yahoo.com/evt=51733/*http://mobile.yahoo.com/;_ylt=Ahu06i62sR8HD
> > tDypao8Wcj9tAcJ >
> > 
> > _______________________________________________
> > empyre forum
> > empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> > http://www.subtle.net/empyre
> Prof Sean Cubitt
> scubitt at unimelb.edu.au
> Director, Media and Communications Program
> Faculty of Arts
> Room 127 John Medley East
> The University of Melbourne
> Parkville VIC 3010
> Australia
> Tel: + 61 3 8344 3667
> Fax:+ 61 3 8344 5494
> M: 0448 304 004
> Skype: seancubitt
> http://www.culture-communication.unimelb.edu.au/media-communications/
> http://homepage.mac.com/waikatoscreen/seanc/
> http://seancubitt.blogspot.com/
> http://del.icio.us/seancubitt
> Editor-in-Chief Leonardo Book Series
> http://leonardo.info

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