Accessing Digital Art: Emulation and Preservation of Complex Digital Art Objects

Notes: View the community notes Google doc for this session.

Session Type: Project Update

Session Description
We will provide an overview of the strategies and desired outcomes of PAFDAO: Preservation and Access Frameworks for Digital Art Objects, a two-year Research and Development, NEH-funded project. We will describe technical challenges in general as well as those that are idiosyncratic to the content at hand, and outline strategies we employ to address them. The talk will focus primarily on technical components of the project: disc imaging, the metadata framework and the organization of the PAFDAO deposit to the Cornell University Library Archival Repository (CULAR). The requirements specific to this project for imaging, metadata and organization of deposit are more complex than typical digital preservation projects due to these works’ interdependencies with emulation environments and concerns over fidelity of experience in an emulated environment.

We will share our processes and encourage discussion with participants concerning digital preservation of complex media.

Project Background:

In February 2013, the Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media Art, part of Cornell University Library’s Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, received a $300,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to develop PAFDAO: preservation and access frameworks for complex digital media art objects:

PAFDAO’s test collection includes more than 300 interactive born-digital artworks created for CD-ROM, DVD-ROM, and web distribution, many of which date back to the early 1990s. Though vitally important to understanding the development of media art and aesthetics over the past two decades, these materials are at serious risk of degradation and are unreadable without obsolete computers and software.

Our goal is to create a scalable preservation workflow to ensure the best feasible access to these materials for decades to come, and also contribute to the development of coherent best practices in the area of preserving complex media collections.

Session Leaders
Jason Kovari, Cornell University
Dianne Dietrich, Cornell University
Michelle A. Paolillo, Cornell University

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