Monthly Archives: October 2018

Upcoming Event: Creating Community Through Digital Futures

On Thursday, November 1st The Art Institute of Chicago presents “Creating Community Through Digital Futures” a showcase and unconference about digital preservation.


Registration is required. For further details and to join the wait list see the event page.


Creating Community Through Digital Futures
Thu, November 1, 2018
9:30 AM – 3:00 PM CDT

The Art Institute of Chicago
159 E. Monroe
Nichols Board of Trustees Suite, Modern Wing
Chicago, IL 60603


Event Agenda

9:30-10:00am: Registration

10:00-11:00am: Project Showcase, Vol. 1

  • “Creating the Studs Terkel Radio Archive website” – Allison Schein Holmes (WFMT & Studs Terkel Radio Archive)
  • “An Introduction to Curating Community Digital Collections” – Vicki Tobias(WiLS/Recollection Wisconsin) & Stacey Erdman (Beloit College)
  • “Permanent public access of Illinois state documents” – Andrew H. Bullen (Illinois State Library)

11:00-11:20am: Networking Break

11:20am-12pm: Lightning Talks

  • “Getting to Level 1: Planning a Basic Preservation Program ” – Greer Martin (Illinois Insitute of Technology)
  • “Reaching Back: How Do We Give to a Community That Doesn’t Know Us?” – Kyle Henke (Depaul University)
  • “Digital Phoenix: Using 3D Modeling to Recreate Lost Historic Houses” – Emily-Paige Taylor (Loyola University)
  • “Nancy Buchanan and Barry Dolins at Media Burn Archive” – Dan Erdman (Media Burn)
  • “DIY Within Community: You Don’t Have to be a Hero to Save the Day!”- Laurie Lee Moses (Columbia College Chicago, Center for Black Music Research)

12:00-1:00pm: Lunch (on your own)
A list of nearby options will be available at the event

1:00-2:00pm: Project Showcase, Vol. 2

  • “Digital Dancing: An Online Archive from the Ground Up” – Jenai Cutcher and Daina Coffe (Chicago Dance History Project)
  • “Acquiring Born-Digital Archives: Strategies for Implementing Scalable Digital Forensics Applications and Practices” – Kelsey O’Connell (Northwestern University)
  • “CollectiveAccess 101” – Mel Leverich (Leather Archives & Museum), Brian Belak (Chicago Film Archives), Margaret Fraser and Jeremy Bucher (National Hellenic Museum)

2:00-3:00pm: Collaborative Clinic
Topics include:

  • Education & Training
  • Web-based Access Systems
  • AV Preservation
  • Metadata


Digital Audiovisual Materials at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

The reading room at the Guggenheim’s downtown offices.

I’ve spent the past two months working on my NDSR Art project at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, where I’m helping to streamline the organization’s preservation and access infrastructures for digital audiovisual materials.

During this initial phase of my year-long residency, I’ve mostly worked out of the Guggenheim’s offices in the Financial District rather than at the Museum itself. Between the skyscraper views, peaceful reading room, and office Lavazza machine with its unlimited provision of cappuccinos, I’ve truly enjoyed the time I’ve spent here. Most of all, being surrounded by the people who make the museum function on a daily basis has given me a richer understanding of the museum’s inner workings and organizational structure, something that’s proven crucial to the progress of my project thus far.

A view of the Oculus from the Guggenheim’s downtown office.

And while I don’t make it uptown very often to visit the Guggenheim’s iconic Frank Lloyd Wright-designed building, I have been able to walk around the museum on Thursdays when the museum is closed to the public, and I recently caught a glimpse of the upcoming exhibition Hilma af Klint: Paintings for the Future as it was being installed around the ramps of the Rotunda.

Exhibition changeover in the Guggenheim Rotunda.

First Steps: Focusing on Newly-Generated Digital Media

Screen Shot 2018-10-06 at 1.07.52 AM

The overarching goal of my project is to improve the way digital audiovisual assets – including both born-digital and digitized materials – are stored, described, preserved, and provided access to at the Guggenheim on an institution-wide level.

As I begin working towards that goal, I’ve limited my focus during the first phase of my project to the existing systems, procedures and workflows behind newly-generated media, an umbrella term that encompasses all of the exhibition, performance, and programming-related videos produced by the museum.

There are two main departments responsible for creating this kind of audiovisual content at the Guggenheim: Digital Media and Theater & Production Services.

Theater & Production Services: Event Recordings

The Guggenheim’s Peter B. Lewis Theater, part of Frank Lloyd Wright’s original architectural design.

The Theater & Production Services is tasked with recording all of the events staged at the Guggenheim’s New Media and Peter B. Lewis Theaters (shown above), which includes live musical and dance performances, lectures and symposia. Intended as straight-forward event recordings, these videos require minimal production and little to no editing. But with around 77 events to document every year, the Theater department keeps a busy schedule, and amasses a large amount of footage in the process.

Digital Media: Outward-Looking Videos

The Digital Media department is responsible for creating the art, programming and exhibition-oriented videos published on the Guggenheim’s website, Youtube channel, and other social media platforms. With most running under 15 minutes, the videos are relatively short, but they nevertheless require a higher scale of production and post-production work than the event recordings generated by the Theater department, sometimes involving multi-camera set-ups and multiple film shoots, and almost always resulting in many hours-worth of high-resolution raw video footage.

So What’s the Problem? 

Based on the interviews I’ve conducted with producers, videographers and editors at these departments over the past few weeks, I’ve learned that internal access to newly-generated video content is only really provided to those commissioning departments who specifically request it.

While the Guggenheim does have a digital asset management system that’s technically capable of supporting video storage, its implementation has yet to be thoroughly evaluated. In its absence, storage and descriptive practices have become siloed, and there is no method in place for internal staff to discover the digital video materials held by different departments.

Once a video has been published online or otherwise fulfilled its immediate purpose, it becomes virtually invisible to the rest of the organization. More often than not, it ends up sitting on someone’s hard drive with little to no identifying information attached.

And while in this scenario content creators are clearly left holding the bag, so to speak, with huge amounts of footage they have neither the room to store nor the approval to delete, it’s the museum itself that ultimately has to fund this system. Unlike video production, which has an upfront cost that’s already built into a department’s budget, the exact cost incurred when processing and maintaining digital video storage is currently unknown.

Next Steps

As I continue gathering information on the future storage solution that I will ultimately recommend to the Guggenheim stakeholders at the end of this project, I am also working to quantify the cost involved in producing and storing one hour of digital video. My hope is that this figure can serve both as a reference for content creators as they plan for the production of their video projects, and as a motivator for the higher-ups at the museum to invest in a more robust preservation infrastructure. I plan on buttressing this quantitative data with a set of ‘user stories’ that exemplify how different departments interact with and reuse video materials.

With any luck, I’ll be able to share some of these user stories with you in my next post!

Collaborating with Faculty and Staff to Archive Born Digital Art Theses

I’m Cristina and I’m the resident at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), located in Bolton Hill, Baltimore. My project here at Decker Library is focused on developing a new model for the acquisition preservation, and access to art and design thesis work at MICA. The library has been collecting born-digital thesis work since 2015 and there is a workflow in place that essentially consists of a student uploading their PDF thesis via our learning management system, back it up to two servers, and ingest to CONTENTdm for access via Digital Decker. The workflow itself is similar to what other libraries do, however, we’re looking to rethink it because this approach is based on the premise that the PDF that the students are submitting is their thesis when it’s actually just part of it. In other words, the art that the students produce as their culminating project is not preserved and what is archived is a textual explanation of it. When students do submit visual media, they do so in CDs. This media is labeled as supplemental.

So, in many ways, this project is about changing attitudes and this includes working closely with the graduate studies office and recent MFA grads (who also happen to work at MICA). For me to make recommendations on how we should collect, preserve and provide access to these materials, I’ll have to figure out what is valuable to students and faculty. For example, do they see the textual component of the thesis project as supplemental? Or do they see it as carrying the same weight as a video installation a student has produced?

I’ve been invited to several graduate studies faculty meetings where I’ll get a better sense of what students are expected to produce, what faculty believes to be a representation of this product, and how these ideas vary by program. Staff at the graduate studies office is very interested in this collaboration and has similar questions so we’re working on a survey together to send prior our meeting with program directors. We’ll need to ask questions about the integration of theses work into the curriculum and the value that they place on the written portion of the theses versus the value that they place on the visual aspect of theses work. I’m also interested to see what other components theses projects include (i.e. presentations, shows, artists books, videos, photographs, or a combination of some of these). So far it’s been very interesting to see the potential impact that this initiative may have on how students and faculty view the theses work and how eager the graduate studies office has been to create a working group for this project. Of course, I’m also looking forward to delving more into students’ work and seeing what kind of technologies they incorporate into their practice.

Digital Archiving at the Art Institute of Chicago

Greetings from the Art Institute of Chicago, one of the 4 host sites for the 2018-2019 NDSR-Art Residency. Spearheaded by the Ryerson & Burnham Libraries (pictured above), the museum is working to create policies, procedures, and workflows for born-digital institutional assets, moving away from the traditional analog-only process. And that’s where my residency work is focused; particularly the time-based, interactive media that encompasses the visitor experience at the museum.

My first two months have been largely spent on information gathering and relationship-building. On the information side, I have spent time researching best practices for born-digital institutional archives, reviewing current archival policies at the museum, identifying which media-types practically fall-under the “visitor experience”, and getting introductory training on the digital repository system (Preservica). On the relationship building side, I have met with more than 20 staff members in a variety of departments to hear about their work, media formats they use, file storage practices, and generate investment in the digital archival process. I also worked to create awareness by presenting to different audiences within the museum – at department and other monthly meetings.

I’ve also been working hard to plan a 2-day site visit for the NDSR resident and program staff at the end of October. The first day will include site visits and training, while the second day will be a public event – ‘Creating Community Through Digital Futures’ – featuring 10+ presenters and a collaborative clinic. I’m looking forward to continue outreach for the event, welcoming the NDSR group to Chicago, and continuing work on my project over the coming months.