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Friday, May 30 • 9:30am - 10:00am
(Electronic Media Session) Unstable Archives

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The concept of “Unstable Archives” makes reference to archival collections assembled by artistic materials in electronic and digital media.

The notion of “Unstable Archives” suggests two types of instability. The first one is with regard to their material instability, that is, the short life span and obsolescence of “carriers” or storage devices, formats, as well as playback equipment and hardware. While the second type of instability, makes reference to their “accidental” ontology, conceptualisation and use, and by this I mean, their continuous fluctuation in the context. That is, their move from the archive to the museum, and vice versa.

This paper will introduce several examples of Unstable Archives. Each case attempts at discussing main topics with regard to the preservation of Audio-visual and Digital Heritage. The presentation is structured in four themes: General concerns in the caring of “Unstable Archives”, Digitalization, Digital Preservation, and Accessibility.

On the first section, I will discuss some general problems faced by the responsible of AV archives. Generally speaking, small and non-collecting cultural institutions share the same concerns, that is, they all face with the lack of enough funding, time and resources to manage their documentary collections. In most cases, there is a shortage of qualified staff, little knowledge in providing long-term access to, as well as a lack of reliable strategies for preserving technology-related documents. Often, mixed media archives have not been stored correctly nor do they have adequate management, conservation, and disaster plans. More importantly, the variety of media types and formats are becoming obsolete and inaccessible.
The second part will address the issues with regard to digitalisation. The emphasis will be placed on projects that were not well planned and how the “digitalisation fever” has lead to unsustainable choices. On the third section, I will present a basic introduction about digital preservation and the general guidelines for managing and preserving digital objects. Finally, the last part of the presentation will focus on the topic of accessibility. I will highlight the characteristics of a sustainable and robust platform to disseminate and preserve audio-visual materials.

Given the lack of professionalisation in the field of AV and Digital preservation in Mexico, it is urgent to highlight the challenges, and to address possible sustainable practices aimed at ensuring the preservation of these materials. Due to the increasingly number of archival collections that hold electronic and digital materials, institutions must develop strong, interoperable and sustainable strategies, tools and models aimed at preserving our technology-related documentary heritage.

avatar for Jo Ana Morfin

Jo Ana Morfin

TBM Conservator, Memórica. México haz Memoria
Jo Ana holds a degree in Cultural Heritage Restoration from the National School of Conservation (ENCRyM) in Mexico City. In 2008 she obtained her Master’s degree in Curating from Sunderland University in U.K. She is currently doing her PhD at Bristol University in U.K. Her research... Read More →

Friday May 30, 2014 9:30am - 10:00am PDT
Seacliff C-D