Capturing Unstable Media and archival interoperability

On using the CMCM for interoperability or exchange between archives, written for Capturing Unstable Media (2003).


In Deliverable 1.2, recommendations for a strategy of capturing unstable media have been outlined. These recommendations – and the concept of capturing unstable media in its entirety – take into account that the field of electronic media art is a large, international and distributed domain with many individual and institutional participants, each of them with a different policy and approach towards research and development, presentation, archiving and preservation. They also take into account that electronic art is essentially process-based – activities in this field are typically of a dynamic nature with less focus on a fixed and unchanged end result.

The consequence of this fact is that data, information and knowledge about the specific activities in the field of electronic art is also not centralized at one point, but distributed internationally throughout the information systems and collections of many parties. In order to get a complete overview of, for example, an art project or a research trajectory, in most cases it would be necessary to consult the information systems of various institutions. For preservation-related activities, this is also very much the case. Necessary information related to various incarnations or manifestations of a project (e.g. several versions of installations in a variety of exhibitions throughout the years, or several research trajectories at different organizations) is often institutionally and geographically dispersed. For the proper preservation or capturing of a variable or unstable art project, taking into account the information at and the approaches of a variety of parties is paramount. Formulated otherwise, it is impossible to capture a project in its entirety without combining the distributed knowledge about this project.

This situation is implicitly tackled in the innovative preservation strategy as presented by the Variable Media Network, whose data model is designed to include information about exhibited artworks from a variety of institutional sources. The recommendations by the Capturing Unstable Media research project explicitly deal with this problem; the Capturing Unstable Media Conceptual Model (CMCM) as described in Deliverable 1.2 is especially designed as a tool that can be used to facilitate archival interoperability and easier exchange of information.

Download the complete text: 2_1_interop.pdf

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