Research Paper – Proposed Research

Digital to Physical – Built to Last?

image  ‘Sequence’

Will functioning digital art be part of our future cultural heritage?An examination of built in obsolescence in digital art contrasting two installations, one physical ‘Still Standing’ by Antony Gormley and the other a purely digital artwork ‘Sequence’ by Alex May and Anna Dumitriu.

Terence M Quinn


The proliferation of new digital technologies employed by artists raises increasingly pressing questions related to preserving their work for our cultural heritage. Will only physical art survive intact over time? Can purely digital artworks continue to operate in the distant future and thus provide a digitally functioning legacy for generations to come? Is it possible to conserve digital artworks for the long term? Is this matter being adequately addressed by artists themselves, by those who collect their work, and by art institutions?
This research paper examines these questions and contrasts two contemporary installations, one physical ‘Still Standing’ by Antony Gormley and the other a purely digital artwork ‘Sequence’ by Alex May and Anna Dumitriu.
The conclusions reached are worrying for those concerned with the legacy of purely digital art practice. This paper argues the need to provide future generations with working examples of contemporary digital art. If artists care, it is observed that they are not doing much about it, perhaps because they don’t know how. Curators, government bodies, museums and institutions involved with this issue are aware of the urgent need for it to be addressed but for present practitioners it is a matter of too little, too late.


Interviews – Carried Out

David Byers Brown, MA Oxon, Course Leader Computer Animation, Digital Visual effects, Architectural Visualisation, University of Kent, Personal Interview Notes Spring 2016
Prof Paul Coldwell, Professor of Fine Art, Researcher and Artist, Chelsea College of Arts,
AudioFile on WordPress Blog 27 July 2016

Interviews – Agreed

Alex May, Agreed, 22 August 2016, Brighton, Re ‘Sequence’,
Bridgette Mongeon (by her invitation), a Texas based sculptor and author

Interviews – To be Requested

Prof Stephen Farthing, Professor of Drawing, Rootstein Hopkins University Chair of Drawing (personal mentor, Chelsea College of arts)
Prof Fred Deakin, UAL Chair of Interactive Digital Art, Central Saint Martins
Richard Colson MA, Artist and Subject Leader Computational Design, Ravensbourne and 2015 Lumen Prize Judge

Jocelyn Cumin, Course Leader MA Conservation, UAL Camberwell
V&A Curator, to be identified
Pip Laurenson, Head of Collection Care Research at Tate

Books – Obtained

Anthony Gormley ‘On Sculpture’, Thames & Hudson Ltd, 2015, ISBN 978-0-500-09395-5
3D Technology in Fine Art and Craft, Focal Press, Taylor & Francis Ltd, Bridgette Mongeon, 2016, ISBN 391-3-685-6-7222,
The Fundamentals of Digital Art, Ava Academia, Richard Colson, Jan 2007, ISBN 391145153687
Digital Art Conservation: Preservation of Digital Art: Theory and Practice, Ambra |V, Vienna 2013, ZK||| Centre for Art and Media Karlsruhe, ISBN 978-3-99043-538-0 (An Academic Study sponsored by the EU)
Theorising Digital Cultural Heritage: A Critical Discourse, Fiona Camaron and Sarah Kenderdine, The MIT Press, 2007, ISBN 978-0-262-51411-8
Preserving Our Heritage: Perspectives from Antiquity to the Digital Age, selections of papers and commentary by Michelle Valerie Colonna, Neal-Schumuman, Chicago 2015, ISBN 978-1-55570-937-2
Preparing the Workforce for Digital Curation, Committee On Future Career Opportunities And Educational Requirements for Digital Curation, The National Academies Press 2015, National Research Council, Washington USA
Preserving Complex Digital Objects, Janet Delve and David Anderson, Facet Publishing UK 2014, ISBN: 978-1-85604-958-0
Time and Bits: Managing Digital Continuity,Margaret MacLean and Ben H.Davis, Getty Publications, 31 Mar 2006, ISBN 978-0892365838
From Dust to Digital: Ten Years of the Endangered Archives Programme, Maja Kominko, Open Book Publishers, 16 Feb 2015, ISBN: 978-1783740628
Curation: The Power of Selection in a World of Excess, Michael Bhaskar, Little Brown Book Group, June 2016, ISBN 9780349412504

Books to Review

Copper and Bronze in Art: Corrosion, Colorants, Conservation, Getty Trust Publications, David A.Scott, 2002, ISBN 9780892366385
Digital Visual Culture: Theory and Practice, University of Chicago Press April 2009, Anna Bentkowska-Kafel, ISBN: 9781841502489
Museums of Tomorrow – an Internet Discussion (Issues in Cultural Theory), Centre for Art and Visual Culture, UMBC/Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, 2016, ISBN 1890761079
New Roles for New Times: Digital Curation for Preservation, Tyler Watson and Katherine Skinner, Association of Research Libraries, March 2011, ISBN 9781594078620
Digital Curation: A How-to-do-it Manual, Ross Harvey, Facet Publishing 2010, The Facet Preservation Collection, ISBN 9781856047333
Digital Curation in the Digital Humanities: Preserving and Promoting Archival and Special Collections, D R Harvey and Gillian Oliver, Neal Schumen Publishers, New Zealand, April 2016, ISBN 978-0838913857
Digital Preservation and Metadata: History, Theory , Practice, Susan Lazinger, Englewood, Colorado: Libraries Unlimited 2001, ISBN 1 56308 777 4


Reflections on From Clay to the Cloud: The Internet Archive and our Digital Legacy, April 29,2016, Caitlin, report on the exhibition Jan 23-Mar 20 2016, at the Laband, Internet Archive Blog, WordPress. Curator: Carolyn Peter, director and curator of the Laban Art Gallery at Loyola Marymount University.
Crafting our Digital Futures, part of V&A Digital Design Weekend 2015, ISBN 978-0-957-0-9576868-4-7, Sequence Alex May & Anna Dumitriu
Digital Media in the Upper Rhine Valley: Conservation-Restoration-Sustainability, Open Space 2014: Exhibition, Lecture & Talk (The starting point for the digital art conservation project was the insight that the conservation of digital artworks is fundamentally threatened as a result of the rapid obsolescence of digital technology, and that adequate theoretical as well as practical standards have yet to be developed and introduced at an institutional level).
Techarcheology: A Symposium on Installation Art Preservation, Steve Seid, Experimental TV Centre, MAIN, NAMAC, Issue Winter 2000, CA(2000)
Media Art Histories Conference 2015, Montreal Nov 2015,
Sunken Cities: Egypt’s Lost Worlds, British Museum, Thames and Hudson June 2016, ISBN 978-0-500-98175-7


What Do Artists Do All Day? Antony Gormley, BBC4 1 July 2014,

Academic Articles

Cesare Brandi, Theory of Restoration: Conservation of Contemporary Art, Francesca Valentini, PhD, University “Roma Tre”, Rome, Italy (concerning the relationship between Cesare Brandi’s *Theory of Restoration and the Problem of restoring objects of contemporary art),
Conservation and Documentation of New Media Art: The debate between the Italian Theory and International Strategies, a paper by Laura Barreca,
ZKM, Digital Art Conservation, Three-Year Project (2010-2012), EU program INTERRED IV Oberrhein. See proceedings Artech10 Table of Contents (of Papers)
Assembling Traces, or the Conservation of Net Art, Annett Dekker, NECSUS 3(1):171-193, DOI: 10.5117/NECSUS2014.1.DEKK, European Journal of Media Studies, Amsterdam University Press, June 2014
Conservation Strategies for Modern and Contemporary Art: Recent Developments in the Netherlands,…Contemporary_Art 2005, Elizabeth Nijhoff Asser
Developing Strategies for the Conservation of Installations Incorporating Time-Based Media with reference to Gary Hill’s Between Cinema and a Hard Place, Pip Laurenson, JAIC 40 (2001):259-266
The Media Art Notation System: Documenting and Preserving Digital/Media Art, Richard Rinehart, Leonardo Vol 40: Issue 2: Pages 181-187 (Issue publication date: April 2007)

Web Articles

Cherishing the Legacy, Art Cart: Saving the Legacy, RCAC’s study, Above Ground: Information on Artists III, Special Focus New York City Ageing Artists, 95% of artists have not archived their work, 2015/6
Art360, current research project by DACS Foundation,
The Betamax vs VHS Format War, Dave Own,, last updated 2008-01-08
Best Practices for Conservation of Media Art from an Artist’s Perspective, Raphael-Lorenzo-Hemmer,, Sept 28 2015
The Most In-Depth Mega Man Legacy Collection Interview You’ll Read Today: We discuss the philosophy and tech behind the anthology with Capcom and Digital Eclipse, Jeremy Parish 8/21/2015
Virtual Heritage – Wikipedia,, 22 June 2016 (Definition and 3D reconstruction of Dudley Castle in England as it was in 1550)
The V&A’s Computer Art Collections, acquired collections of Computer Arts Society and Patric Prince archive form the basis of the UK’s emerging national collection of computer art,, 22 June 2016
Digital meets Heritage,, 22 June 2016
How EGI is supporting Digital Cultural Heritage,, Steve Brewer, 2012, European Grid Infrastructure and Technical Resources for the Preservation of Digital Heritage
Digital Preservation Coalition 2016, DPA2014: DPC Awards for safeguarding the digital Legacy- Finalists, University of Glasgow, also see 2016 Awards,
How do we Protect our Digital Legacy after Death? Clive Coleman, Legal correspondent, BBC news, online resources such as Twitter, Facebook etc. (Who owns the data? Not you! Story of Becky’s mother, Louise who could not get access after her daughter’s (age 19) death).
Preserving Progress for Future Generations, Feb/Mar 2015, Research Information
Cultural Heritage, Wikipedia, definitions and list of worldwide organisations, 22 June 2016
ADA – Archive of Digital Art (Former Database of Virtual Art), a site for recording/archiving your work,, Elizabeth Nesheim, initiated 2013 (one of initiators is Christiane Paul)
Journal on Computing and Cultural Heritage (JOCCH), abstract of areas covered

2 thoughts on “Research Paper – Proposed Research

  1. Pingback: Digital to Physical – Made to Last: Research Paper additional References | terencemquinn91

  2. Pingback: Unit 1 Assessment | terencemquinn91

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