Digital Media Art in the Upper Rhine Valley.
Conservation – Restoration – Sustainability
Jussi Parikka

Machinic Conservation, and Carving out The Datum

There seems to be a fundamental dissonance in trying to fit together "conservation" and "dynamics" – dynamics being one of the characteristics of digital media environments. From an aesthetic category concerning updatability to a technical characteristic of our computing machines as "time-critical" and processual, the dynamics at the centre of technical media is a fundamental problem to the mindset of conservation. Of course the heritage industries have been trained to deal with "time" in the form of erosion and maintenance of objects, but such things that are fundamentally processes seem to present a new issue. Hence, no wonder that we are forced to think more about conservation through using – and reusing, remixing, reappropriation of cultural heritage. Cultural heritage becomes a form of popular culture. This talk focuses on the methodology of media archaeology as one way to address the question of digital art conservation, and more widely, what "memory" means in digital culture. Media archaeology has itself a close relation to art practices and institutions since the 1990s, but it can also offer clues of how to think the socio-technical question of the archive and artistic methods in tinkering with the digital becoming an archive. One key notion in this is "medium-specificity" as one crucial requirement to understand the materiality of the media at hand. Hence, besides talking through the media archaeological method and its relevance for digital art preservation, the talk aims to address some recent art projects that relate media archaeology with computer forensics, and point towards the question of the machine as the archive.


Jussi Parikka is Reader in Media & Design at Winchester School of Art (University of Southampton) and Adjunct Professor in Digital Culture Theory (University of Turku, Finland). His writings have addressed accidents and the dark sides of network culture (Digital Contagions, 2007 and the co-edited volume The Spam Book, 2009), biopolitics of media culture (Insect Media, 2010 and the co-edited special issue of Fibreculture "Unnatural Ecologies", 2011 as well as the edited online book Medianatures : Materiality of Information Technology and Electronic Waste) and media archaeology (the co-edited volume Media Archaeology, 2011 and the forthcoming book What is Media Archaeology?, 2012).
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