Digital Media Art in the Upper Rhine Valley.
Conservation – Restoration – Sustainability
Francisco Ruiz de Infante and Jérôme Thomas

Conservation, infidelity and shifts within an art school

We crossed several lines of activity at ESADS regarding the digital art conservation project. At first it was an analytical seminar, but little by little students' resistance to the notion of conservation in a place of creation led us to consider more practically what this highly polysemic term meant, as well as to understand the consequences of each possible meaning when attributed to an artwork in the making. Very quickly we found ourselves in fairly distant territory, albeit facing surprisingly similar problems of «perpetuity»: digital arts, time-based arts and performing arts. Following the two questions «Does changing the ingredients of an artwork betray its concept?» and «At what point?», myriad new interrogations nourished our dialogues and actions. Notions of interpretation, translation, appropriation, reprise, reincarnation, remake, version, evolution, transposition, citation, reworking, instrumentalization and adaptation have agitated and completed the notions of conservation, sustainability, documentation and partition from our initial discussions. And so, little by little, the complex idea of «fidelity» (or «infidelity») found its place. All these shifts (to be handled with care) have allowed us to include the problems of conservation in the process of designing and making an artwork, as well as understanding it as an act of responsibility that should not be delegated.



Francisco Ruiz de Infante seamlessly juggles between high technology and spontaneous craft, reconstructing the process of memory as it feeds the present—with sporadic bursts of information full of errors, or like an endless loop of streaming images. He has exhibited audio-visual installations in numerous international institutions, including Reina Sofía (Madrid), Guggenheim-Bilbao, Kunst-halle (Bonn), Musée d'Art Moderne (Paris), SITE Santa Fe (USA), Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam), ZKM (Karlsruhe) and EFT (Buenos Aires). Currently he is preparing a complex personal exhibition («Canopée») at the Museo del Oro in Bogota, and is collaborating in the choreography project «labOfilm» by Olga Mesa. His video works include the feature film "Les Loups" (1995), "Les Choses Simples" (awarded at the Montréal Festival du Nouveau Cinéma 1993) and the series «Écosystèmes / BlueSky» (2007-11). He is the coordinator of the research group Arts Hors Format at ESAD in Strasbourg and co-director of «Centre des Rives» (rural laboratory for contemporary and documentary art) located in the Haute-Marne department of France.

Jérôme Thomas' work is spread out among (sound) installations, sculptures, videos and films, where it is necessary to draw a line of demarcation through all these different spaces in order to determine their nature. Above and beyond their differences, whether they be narratives, objects or drawings, all of Thomas' works explore a point of tension, where things or beings fall, shatter, break and disperse. He has exhibited his work internationally, at Nasher Museum of Art in Durham (USA), Nabi Arts Center of Seoul (South Korea), espace CCF in Hanoi (Vietnam), Museum of Fine Arts in Novossibirsk (Russia), Cinémathèque Française in Paris (France), Festival de Cannes' Quinzaine des réalisateurs (France), Grand Palais in Paris (France), FRAC Champagne-Ardenne (France), etc. Currently, he is writing a screenplay for a feature film and finishing a DVD catalogue for five films published by Césaré, Centre national de création musicale. He is also co-director of the video workshop at ESAD in Strasbourg and director of a film production and post-production company in Nancy.

The project is supported by:
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