[-empyre-] Taxonomedia (a short introduction)

vhofman at taxonomedia.net vhofman at taxonomedia.net
Wed Sep 15 01:14:51 EST 2010

Hello everyone,

I would like to thank Timothy Murray and Renate Ferro for their   
invitation to participate in this stimulating discussion about  
?Archiving New Media Art: Ephemerality and/or Sustainability?.

As Timothy has said in the introduction, in 2007 I co-founded with  
Consuelo Rozo the independent research group Taxonomedia focusing on  
media arts conservation, documentation and archiving. In the following  
lines I would like to briefly share with you some of our experiences  
and how our work evolved while facing the challenge of preserving art  
based on unstable media.

Taxonomedia was born with the aim of analysing the state-of-the-art in  
media arts conservation, particularly considering a future analysis of  
the Latin American case. A preliminary initiative in this context was  
to investigate, compile, translate and analyse different approaches on  
this field, which later were published in our blog  
http://taxonomedia.net. Therefore, we have included complex projects  
like DOCAM, or the Erl King artwork emulation (The Variable Media  
Project), among other initiatives. Besides, we have also investigated  
small archives like the ?el Archivo de la Cátedra? which collects the  
audiovisual production of some students from Buenos Aires University  
or proposals like ?Retronformática. El pasado del futuro? a small  
exhibition focusing on the history of computing machines, organized by  
the Universidad Politécnica de Barcelona placed at the hall of a  
shopping-mall of the city.

It is important to underline at this point the heterogeneous,  
resourceless and DIY way that drives us to maintain and enrich the  
content of our blog. This space during Taxonomedia?s infancy was meant  
to be just a complementary activity to our principle goal: Conserve!  
However, time showed us that this space was the most important project  
that we were carrying on. First of all, the blog allows us to do  
something that most of the archivists and conservators do not have  
time to do, although they find it extremely useful: spread and  
maintain a living space to search and share information. Actually,  
this was one of the main discussions during the recent meeting in  
Buenos Aires and it is closely connected with the spirit of the two  
main activities that we have organised in the mentioned city, and the  
respective follow-up publication (2009).

Second, it was more feasible for us to spread information or manage  
activities and/or events, than to build an archive. Nevertheless, we  
made an attempt with the archiving project ?Arqueología Digital?,  
which by all means is not an in-depth contribution to the media arts  
conservation and archiving problem, neither a proposal adapted for  
low-budget institutions as it was our initial intention. It was just  
an ephemeral project with limited scope, which however we may retake  
it in the future and improve it by following a different approach. The  
project is not available online anymore but you can find limited  
documentation about it at: http://taxonomedia.net/arqueologia At the  
beginning I found the outcome of this project disappointing. A recent  
and ?fresh? look at it made me think that digital archaeology could be  
an opportunity to revise, modify or even defy our initial statements.  
Indeed this could be a more fascinating challenge from our initial  
inspiration that led us to create this project.

Finally, this process has generated new questions and made explicit  
others that were hidden within the first ones. The main topics of the  
first meeting in Buenos Aires: ?What to preserve and How to preserve  
it?? were kind of momentarily overshadowed by ?Why to preserve it??  
Our current objective is to link the discussion about the ephemerality  
of media arts and its conservation, archiving and accessibility, with  
the context of the digital heritage which forms part of the knowledge  
and information society.  In my case, I find that this perspective may  
help me to include a better analysis of the Argentinean?s case,  
connecting the media arts archiving to other important aspects of  
digital life memories.

In all respects, I am aware that this topic is generating contracting  
viewpoints, exactly because of the ephemeral nature contained within  
media arts projects. But at the same time, I find an emergent goal to  
take into account the vast media arts production that in most of the  
cases is either lacking the means or structure to apply conservation  
policies, strategies, resources, or the interest to develop an  
adequate conservation framework.

I am really happy to participate in this discussion and I am looking  
foward to read the perspectives of the experts involved.

Kind regards,

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