[-empyre-] Video Behind: On the history

Carolyn Tennant carolyn.tennant at gmail.com
Sun Sep 13 02:43:14 AEST 2015

“The longevity has been a surprise.”

Thank goodness for the Beer Cooler, Sherry, and for the (relatively) stable
environmental conditions you’ve provided for those tapes. Tim mentions that
the ETC tapes “all still run on standard tape players.” While the ½”
open-reel and UMatic tapes are more hardy than later formats (Ugh, 8mm?
digi-8? Run!!), I’m sure you’d agree the playback success you’ve had has
much to do with their previous steward. This surprise is a gift to both the
current archivists and future audiences. A few years ago I worked with an
intern, a High Roads Fellow from Cornell actually, and we were discussing
the issues around video preservation.  She mentioned to me something really
revealing: “I thought I could just Google anything and find it on Youtube.”
The expectation is there. We don’t necessarily think we need to preserve
everything, but then who are we to judge what makes the cut, whether or not
it’s our work, or even if it is another’s archive? These are some of the
dilemmas that we discussed earlier this summer at the Archiving the Arts
symposium—when archiving one’s own work there is drive to edit, as well,
thus creating a new work.

Renate asks “how much do we preserve, how much space do we have, who will
record our history if we do not?”  A friend of mine who I was visiting
recently jumped on the computer to show me a commercial that featured her
grandfather’s Tire shop in Phoenix. Curious who had posted the video, we
looked into “DaddySinister “ and discovered that he/she had uploaded a lot
of early episodes of Soul Train to Youtube, and in the process, had taken
the effort to post-- as separate files-- local commercials, station tags,
etc. DaddySinister reminded me how important the “Palimpsest,” as Sherry
calls it, is to the archive. Do we stop the migration process at the end of
the work we’re digitizing, or let the rest of the tape run? Of course
Renate’s question of space is a serious one and not lost on me, as we
attempt to negotiate the long-term management of digital assets within a
University Library system. These newly migrated, massive files quickly eat
up space even though, in comparison to the storage needs of other Schools
within the University, it’s quite small.
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