Digital preservation – Rafaël Rozendaal

More and more I hear people talking on the subject of the preservation of internet art. It is a new medium and no one knows what exactly will happen. Will we still browse the web in 15 years? Will information be injected straight into our mind without any screens?

Art works should last a long time. I love seeing old art, and I think it’s not until an artist dies that we get the big picture of their work.

Many media came before the internet. Lots of those media were lost, and some were saved. Paintings, sculptures, books, celluloid, vinyl, tapes, they can all rot and wither. The internet is different. It is a universal, decentralized, universal library, controlled by no one.

When a file exists on the internet, it gets copied. If it is an interesting file, many copies are made. The data is no longer connected to any single physical medium, it exists on many locations at the same time. Old lost music and movies resurface as torrents. These torrent files exists on many machines and media at the same time. Those same movies might have deteriorated on celluloid. I think the internet is the safest place for data.

Operating systems, programs and protocols change all the time. The survival of software is both by emulation and translation. If you look at old video games, they have always survived. They are kept alive by communities of enthusiasts. Passionate geeks re-code old software for new platforms.

The context might change, but we will always be able to revisit old software in some form.
Transferring software to new platform is peanuts compared to preserving traditional art.
Sharks deteriorate in formaldehyde.

If something is interesting, it will survive. As long as someone cares, a copy will exist.