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Re: <nettime> Goodbye Classic ?
Sean Cubitt on Wed, 7 Nov 2007 17:47:32 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> Goodbye Classic ?

hi david

good to hear from you ;)

this is the kind of problem that existts all over the digital: we mock
the planned obsolescence of Detroit c. 1960 but live by it month by
month (and its worse in mobileland).

It isn't only software (but what happened to all those hypercard

I recycled my legacy mac when i moved to australia last year. With
it went my last floppy drive and my last zip-drive. Bye bye all the
art that came on them. Shoot, I even still have a couple of discs of
textworks made for the green screen Amstrad . . .

Emulators help but pose other problems: you can build a vurtual
computer inside a new machine, but things like colour gamuts, response
times and refresh rates are all changed. Old code simply runs too
fast: see Vivian Sobchack's essay on nostalgia for quicktime in
Millenium Film Journal. Or check jon ippolito's site for his account
of technical issues emulaing Graham Weinbren's Erl King. Funnily
enough i'm en route to berlin where the re:Place conference has a
key strand dealing with the problems, technical and aesthetic, of
archiving digital art. Archivists talk about centuries and longer
? their profession is about preserving Dead Sea Scrolls. Its clear
already that not everything can be saved, not for the kinds of
timescales an archivist has to think about. And each medium that comes
along seems more fragile than the last: paper last better than film
lasts better than magnetic lasts bettter than optical (where are the
laserdisc players of yesteryear?)

The questions include: 

which artworks are worth preserving (all the porblems of canon-formation)

which operating systems are worth preserving

which software apps are worth prserving?

which hardware is worth preserving?

 . . . and at what cost, ie how much is it worth diverting from
contemporary production in order to archive the (relatively) immediate
past? because in many situations, that's the choice. Or we bite the
bullet - which is i think what i/o/d have done with the Stalker - and
declare that one medium=specific quality of digital media is their
ephemerality. Or we use old media - print and cine - to document work
that will not necessarily survive - because *we* don't know what the
future will be interested in

The berkeley 'how much information project' reckons global information
production in exabytes per annum. Which sporting event telecast is
destined for oblivion? The vast majority.

no answers, but some devilish questions . . .


Sean Cubitt
scubitt {AT} unimelb.edu.au
Media and Communications Program
Faculty of Arts
Room 127 John Medley East
The University of Melbourne
Parkville VIC 3010

Tel: + 61 3 8344 3667
Fax:+ 61 3 8344 5494
M: 0448 304 004
Skype: seancubitt
Web: www.mediacomm.unimelb.edu.au

Editor-in-Chief Leonardo Book Series

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