Time-Based Media and Digital Art Working Group
Beginning with the March 2010 symposium "Collaborations in
Conserving Time-Based Art,"
the Time-Based Media and Digital Art Working Group was
formed to develop pan-institutional protocols,
with input from and relevance for peer institutions and practitioners nationally and internationally, for the acquisition, installation, and long-term
care of time-based and digital art.
The development of this site offers a means of disseminating the Working Group's findings
to other organizations and within the broader community of practice. Input from and collaboration between technical experts,
media technicians, conservators, and curators is crucial to finding significant solutions of mutual benefit.
The TBMA Working Group is supported by Level I and Level II Grand Challenges
Grants from the Consortium for Understanding the American Experience and the
Consortium for World Cultures, and a Collections Care and Preservation Fund
The Smithsonian's Role
Smithsonian holdings of time-based media art are approaching nearly 200 pieces,
including works by Doug Aitken
, Paul Sharits
, Nam June Paik
, and Lincoln Schatz
The greater Washington area is home to a variety of ongoing projects in the area of the
digital humanities, from the study of the physical properties of storage
materials such as DVDs, CD ROMs, and video tape at the Library of Congress, to the
anthropological effort to preserve historic recordings of Native American Voices
at the National History Museum.
Understanding the increasingly important place
that time-based art occupies within the Smithsonian's collections and acknowledging the wealth of
local expertise, the TBMA Working Group recognizes the
potential of using the interdisciplinary framework of the Smithsonian to
research and develop the resources necessary to address the technical and
intellectual questions inherent in the acquisition, installation, and long-term
care of time-based art.
Collections and Preservation Strategies at the Smithsonian
The Smithsonian has employed a Digital Asset Management System (DAMS), which provides
tools, processes, and workflows for the ingest, storage, and preservation of the
Smithsonian’s digital assets, in conjunction with The Museum System (TMS),
a collection management system used to catalog and manage the Smithsonian’s collections.
Read a presentation by DAMS Branch Manager Isabel Meyer.
The creation of object and media records in the
DAMS and TMS offer a way of cataloging and maintaining time-based media art
while also presenting the challenge of capturing the specificities of individual
artworks within standardized rubrics. With such varied formats and delivery
mechanisms, the Smithsonian strives to find a balance between case-by-case
specificities and general practices for acquiring and caring for time-based
media art. Each museum is working to build their practices for the preservation of the works in their collections.
A diagram of the National Portrait Gallery’s Archival Process depicts the documentation and housing of the structural
and collections information of an archived artwork (artist interviews,
metadata, codec software, codec information, and exhibition information, among
See the Case Studies for more information on the strategies of each Museum.