Blog 2018/19

  • Webinar: ‘Getting Started with Disk Imaging’

    Tuesday July 02nd, 2019 admin

    NDSR Art Webinar: Getting Started with Disk Imaging
    Tues, Jul 9, 2019
    12:30-1:30 PM EDT
    Registration is free and open to all.

    This webinar, featuring Ben Fino-Radin, founder and lead conservator of Small Data Industries, introduces the concept of Disk Imaging, focusing on the why, when, how and the long-term. The presentation will address the questions: Why make disk images? Should I use checksums? When should I do one versus the other? Or when to do both? Following this, Ben will demonstrate the intake and technical process for creating a disk image using FTK Imager software. The discussion will then focus on the ‘What next?’ by discussing the best options for the long-term storage and stability of this preserved data.

    A recording of the webinar will also be made available on the ARLIS/NA Learning Portal.

    Ben Fino-Radin is the founder of Small Data Industries, a lab whose mission is to support and empower people to safeguard the permanence and integrity of the world’s artistic record. Before founding Small Data Industries, Ben served as Associate Media Conservator at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), where in addition to the conservation of digital art, he managed the design and development of the institution’s digital repository. Prior to this, Ben led preservation initiatives at Rhizome as their Digital Conservator. He holds a MSLIS and MFA in Digital Art from Pratt Institute, and has served as an adjunct at NYU’s Moving Image Archiving and Preservation program.

  • UPDATE – Upcoming Webinar: Oral History Strategies and Stewardship

    Friday May 31st, 2019 admin

    *This webinar has been rescheduled from its original time on Wednesday, June 12th and will now take place on Thursday, June 20th. See registration information below.

    NDSR Art Webinar: Oral History Strategies and Stewardship
    Thu, June 20, 2019
    1:00 PM – 2:00 PM EDT
    Registration is free and open to all.

    A recording of the webinar will also be made available on the ARLIS/NA Learning Portal.

    The Academy Oral History Projects (OHP) department produces, collects, preserves, and makes accessible video and audio recordings of filmmaker voices from across decades and from around the world. As part of that mission, OHP is using cutting edge workflows and tools to ensure this growing collection will facilitate scholarly research and fan engagement. In this presentation, OHP Sr. Manager Teague Schneiter and Sr. Archivist Brendan Coates will discuss the possibilities and challenges of: oral history as a documentation method to augment existing archival collections; strategies for oral history-specific digital preservation and ethical stewardship; born digital preservation workflows for geographically-distributed video production teams; and integrated preservation and access workflows as facilitated by the Academy’s DAM/MAM/CMS systems.

    Brendan Coates is the Sr. Archivist of the Oral History Projects Department at The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. After receiving his MSI from the University of Michigan School of Information, he spent four years running the audiovisual preservation program for the University of California, Santa Barbara’s Special Research Collections, supervising the digitization of a variety of formats, from “wax” cylinders to beta tapes. He also specializes in workflow and quality control automation using free and open-source software.

    Teague Schneiter is the founder and Sr. Manager of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Oral History Projects department as well as its recording initiative, the Academy Visual History Program. She has a BA in Film & Digital Media from the University of California, Santa Cruz and a Masters in Preservation and Presentation of the Moving Image from the University of Amsterdam. Teague came to the Academy in 2012 with over 10 years of moving image research, curatorial, and audiovisual collection management experience, working with oral history and other cultural heritage materials in Australia, the Netherlands, and US and Canada, including with human rights video advocacy organization WITNESS and indigenous media organization IsumaTV. Since November 2016, Teague has proudly served as one of the Directors of the Board for the Association of Moving Image Archivists and is active in the Oral History Association. She is also the founder of a best practices group with the craft Guilds and film organizations recording oral histories, called the Moving Image Craft Documentation Alliance (MICD).

    Moderator: Jean Moylan, NDSR-Art Resident, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum


  • “When time-based media art in private collections no longer functions, who is responsible for conservation?”

    Wednesday May 29th, 2019 Rachel Ward

    The Small Data Industries lab — Ben Fino-Radin, Erin Barsan, Nick Kaplan and I — recently returned from the American Institute of Conservation (AIC) conference. The work I presented represents the “new” stream of my NDSR Art project, Something Old, Something New. My talk, within the Election Media Group (EMG) section, was entitled Conservators in the Wild: Collaboration with art studios, galleries and collectors. It calls attention to the conservation needs of time-based media art (TBMA) that exists outside the walls of institutions (that is, in “the wild”), in the contemporary art market — much of which is still being negotiated and standardized. In other words, the art world is often referred to as “the Wild West” (a phrase which also came up many times in the session).

    Over the past 10 months, I’ve immersed myself in these contemporary art spaces — as a contrast to my background in cultural anthropology, ethnographic objects and Indigenous rock art conservation[1]. Although the art world has “practices, rituals and customs” that are unfamiliar to me, the methods are the same: observation and interviews in the field. These are often the only tools an anthropologist has in exploring new cultures in order to create primary source material. Whereas my previous fieldwork was conducted in literal fields and escarpments — here, I was “on the ground” in the contemporary media art world and my interviews were with emerging media artists, gallery owners, and private collectors. These interconnected spaces are what I will refer to as the “ecosystem of contemporary time-based media art”.

    Within this ecosystem, I am focusing on the path of a TBMA piece from artist studio to gallery to private collection and looking for the problems it faces at each stop along its trajectory. My work also examines obstacles in the path’s interstitial spaces and the broader ecosystem that grows over many years in terms of obsolescence in private collections, reiterations in gallery spaces and new editions from the artist. As time passes, the spaces between these move farther apart — galleries close and artists retire — while complexities, particularly to the private collector, grow.

    The Journey and Interstitial Spaces of TBMA
     Animation by Rachel Ward

    This leads to the question: when time-based media art in private collections no longer functions, who is responsible for conservation — the artist, gallery, installation team or private conservation practice (that is, if a collector is even aware of such services)? Within museums, established protocols and processes are in place — but where should one turn without this system of defined support? Artists often pass their work directly from studio, to gallery to private hands. Yet these important, complex media pieces are stricken with the same inherent dilemmas as those safeguarded within institutions: obsolescence, demands for migration, repair and preservation.

    The Path of TBMA Obsolescence
    Animation by Rachel Ward

    To unravel this theme at AIC, I quoted segments from my interviews with stakeholders that operate in mixed spaces in this “ecosystem” — for instance, when an artist’s work enters the gallery — when the collector reaches back out to them if a piece isn’t working — and instances of reiteration for new shows in galleries or museums. Overall, I attempted to include a broad spectrum of viewpoints to construct a more comprehensive view of this ecosystem, from established and emerging artists, to small and investment collectors, to the most serious, professionally managed private collections.

    In my interviews with media artists, I realized concerns often stem from their old pieces in private collections that require repair. In these regards, they expressed the need for outside assistance, as well as creating comprehensive archives, documentation and bespoke storage systems based on their medium (e.g., apps, VR, installations). For the galleries, their needs mainly focused on a simple and easy way for them to safeguard their artists’ work, storage that would be synced with the artists’ studios for new versions and updates, and best methods for documenting and conferring artists’ parameters (for iteration, installation and repair) upon sale. Lastly, in my interviews with private collectors, it was apparent they desired a change in the viewpoint that once they buy a piece, they are the sole party responsible — or at the very least, basic instructions. According to one collection manager, “they never even told us to use a write-blocker!”. Finally, they want trust that if something goes wrong, there will be a defined system of support.

    A “Healthy” TBMA Ecosystem
    Animation by Rachel Ward

    In looking forward to collaboratively develop recommendations, I recognized that many of these issues are professionally addressed and standardized in museums, with on-staff AV teams and conservators. But when these problems arise “in the wild”, new strategies must be conceived, often on the fly (as one gallery director put it), to address these urgent and, what could be very expensive, concerns. It seems that needs which occur outside the walls of institutions could be provided as a service, such as an ongoing monthly support model. For current and future collectors of TBM art, there needs to be assurance there is a system of support that will safeguard their investment. If this comes in the form of a service, such as a monthly fee, it needs to be simple and affordable.

    It seems time-based media conservators in private practice could provide this support at every entry point along the TBMA path, directly to artists, galleries and private collections. Here, the most prudent and inexpensive solutions would rest in preventative conservation rather than salvage repair. In doing so, it could preemptively safeguard the legacy of artists — and by protecting works in private spaces, it may make TBMA more collectible, in turn, allowing artists to sustainably continue working in this medium for years to come. Importantly, these defined spaces of need may open up new roles and career opportunities for emerging media conservators, in our collective goal to preserve our global artistic legacy — from small art pieces “in the wild” to priceless artworks in institutions.

    [1] Although, I am now renegotiating these established canons of anthropological research to that of digital anthropology, media archaeology, artist archives and time-based media art (TBMA)

  • METRO + NDSR Art Panel Recording on ARLIS Learning Portal

    Thursday May 09th, 2019 Jean Moylan

    A recording of the panel discussion “Safeguarding + Activating Digital Video Information in Cultural Institutions” is now available on the ARLIS/NA Learning Portal:

    Safeguarding and Activating Digital Video Information in Cultural Institutions

    This event was co-organized by NDSR Art and the Metropolitan New York Library Council (METRO).

  • Registration Open: NDSR Art Capstone

    Monday May 06th, 2019 Cristina Fontanez Rodriguez

    The Art of Digital Stewardship: Content, Context, and Structure
    NDSR Art Capstone Event at MICA
    Friday, June 28th, 2019, 9:30am – 5:30pm
    Maryland Institute College of Art
    Fred Lazarus IV Center, 1st Floor Auditorium (L115)
    131 West North Avenue, Baltimore, MD

    We are happy to announce that we have opened registration for the 2018-2019 NDSR Art Capstone event, The Art of Digital Stewardship: Content, Context, and Structure.

    During this symposium, NDSR Art residents from MICA’s Decker Library, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, and Small Data Industries will present possible solutions for the acquisition, preservation, and access of digital art and art information, from preserving born-digital documentation of the museum experience to working with at-risk artists’ archives. This event will also present an opportunity for attendees with different backgrounds to participate in discussions surrounding appraisal of digital media for GLAM institutions, development of artists’ archives, and DIY strategies for digital preservation.

    Additionally, this one-day symposium will bring together digital archivists, digital curators, librarians, and artists to talk about digital art stewardship. Our guest speakers include Caroline Gil Rodríguez, Ayodamola Tanimowo Okunseinde (ayo), Jazmyn Castro, and Bárbara Calderón. Check out our speakers page to learn more about them.

    This event is free and open the public. However, we are offering the option to purchase a prepaid lunch catered by Dooby’s (we do encourage folks to bring lunch or choose the prepaid option as lunch options around the area are limited). More details here.

    Want to participate? Propose a lightning talk! 

    Please get in touch with Cristina Fontánez at if you have any questions.

  • Call for Lightning Talk Proposals – The Art of Digital Stewardship

    Monday April 22nd, 2019 admin

    The call for lightning talk proposals is open for the 2019 NDSR Art Capstone event hosted by MICA. This CFP is open to artists, students, educators, content creators, curators, archivists, librarians, etc so please feel free to share with folks outside of the information profession.

    More info on the event and CFP below.

    The Art of Digital Stewardship: Content, Context, and Structure
    NDSR Art Capstone Event at Maryland Institute College of Art
    Fred Lazarus IV Center, 1st Floor Auditorium (L115)
    131 West North Avenue, Baltimore, MD
    June 28, 2019, 9:30am

    Visit for more information.

    The National Digital Stewardship Residency for Art Information (NDSR Art) capstone event, The Art of Digital Stewardship, is accepting proposals for lightning talks from the community. Lightning talk sessions will present a contribution, project, or theme related to the use of technology in art, digital preservation, digital archives, digital curation, or any topic related to the intersection of art and art information, particularly as it relates to digital media. This call for proposals is open to artists, students, educators, content creators, curators, archivists, and/or librarians.

    The deadline to submit your proposal is May 15, 2019.

    Submission link:

    Read more about the event below:

    As the culminating event for the National Digital Stewardship Residency for Art Information and the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) will host The Art of Digital Stewardship: Content, Context, and Structure. During this symposium, NDSR Art residents from MICA’s Decker Library, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago and Small Data Industries will present possible solutions for the acquisition, preservation, and access of digital art and art information, from preserving born-digital documentation of the museum experience to working with at-risk artists’ archives.

    In addition, this one-day symposium will bring together digital archivists, digital curators, librarians, content creators, and artists to discuss digital art stewardship and focus on questions such as:

    How are we conceptualizing the artistic process as information/ or as a record? How can we support artists’ engagement with the archival record? And, conversely, how can we support artists’ archival impulses?

    The Art of Digital Stewardship: Content, Context, and Structure is sponsored by the Maryland Institute College of Art and the National Digital Stewardship Residency for Art Information.

    For more information, please contact Cristina Fontánez Rodríguez,

  • Save the Date | The Art of Digital Stewardship: Content, Context, and Structure

    Friday April 05th, 2019 Cristina Fontanez Rodriguez

    The Art of Digital Stewardship: Content, Context, and Structure
    NDSR Art Capstone Event at MICA
    Friday, June 28th, 2019, 9:30am – 5:30pm
    Maryland Institute College of Art
    Fred Lazarus IV Center, 1st Floor Auditorium (L115)
    131 West North Avenue, Baltimore, MD

    As the culminating event for the National Digital Stewardship Residency for Art Information (NDSR Art), the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) will host The Art of Digital Stewardship: Content, Context, and Structure. During this symposium, NDSR Art residents from MICA’s Decker Library, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, and Small Data Industries will present possible solutions for the acquisition, preservation, and access of digital art and art information, from preserving born-digital documentation of the museum experience to working with at-risk artists’ archives.

    Additionally, this one-day symposium will bring together digital archivists, digital curators, librarians, content creators, and artists to discuss digital art stewardship and focus on questions such as:

    How are we conceptualizing the artistic process as information or as a record? How can we support artists’ engagement with the archival record? And, conversely, how can we support artists’ archival impulses?

    The Art of Digital Stewardship: Content, Context, and Structure is sponsored by the Maryland Institute College of Art and the National Digital Stewardship Residency for Art Information.

    This event is free and open to the public. Registration and program details will be made available soon. For more information, please visit the event’s page or contact Cristina Fontánez at

  • NDSR Art Visits NYC

    Friday February 22nd, 2019 Jean Moylan

    The NDSR Art Cohort (2018-19) Visits NYC

    by Jean Moylan and Rachel Ward


    Last month, we — Jean Moylan and Rachel Ward — hosted the NDSR Art (2018-19) cohort in New York City for a 3-day site visit consisting of tours, presentations, and events. Our objective was to develop a holistic itinerary that reflected both our NDSR Art Projects (Rachel is focusing on the media art ecosystem and conservation, while Jean is exploring digital preservation systems for A/V media). As such, we developed the theme of the “life cycle” of time-based media art by physically and pedagogically tracing the path of the piece from its creation in the artist’s studio, to conservation, acquisition and, ultimately, to preservation and storage in the collecting institution. Here is a look at what we put together:


    Day 1: Guggenheim Offices


    Tali Han, Manager of Library and Archives, and Jillian Suarez, Associate Librarian, at the Guggenheim Reading Room


    Jean: On the first day of the visit, Rachel and I met the rest of our NDSR Art cohort at the Guggenheim offices for a tour of the archives and afternoon of staff-led presentations. We started in the reading room, where my project supervisor Tali Han – joined by Joey Cabrera and Jillian Suarez of the Library & Archives department – gave us an overview of the Guggenheim Museum’s history, tracing from its inception as the Museum of Non-Objective Painting in 1939 to the design and construction of its current, permanent building. Describing various items she’d pulled from the archives, Tali pointed out photographs of Peggy Guggenheim with her much-adored dogs and a shot of the Museum’s first librarians, Barbara Butler and Georgine Oeri. Some other highlights included a set of Ed Ruscha’s artist books and selections from Guggenheim founding director Hilla Rebay’s personal library, featuring zany titles such as, “The Power of Faith Healing: Psychic and the Divine” and, “The Voice of the Logos: The Way to Victorious Living.”


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    Jean: In the afternoon session, we heard a presentation on the Panza Collection Initiative (PCI) led by Susan Wamsley (Digital Asset Manager), Cristina Linclau (Manager of Exhibitions and Collections Information), Kristen Tivey (Project Archives Assistant), and Tali. The PCI team formed in 2010 when the Guggenheim received a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to preserve a collection of Minimalist, Post-Minimalist, and Conceptual artworks that the Museum had acquired from Italian collector Giuseppe Panza di Biuomo in the early 1990’s. With this context in mind, we viewed excerpts from the artist interview and advisory committee meeting videos that had been digitized as part of the project, and we learned about the range of other materials (in various formats) that are associated with the Panza Collection. During a hands-on workshop that followed the screening, the cohort and presenters worked together to think through some of the more challenging considerations that have emerged from figuring out how to cohesively represent information about these assets across the Museum’s three main asset management, digital repository and collections information tools (MediaBeacon, ArchivesSpace, and TMS). We used printouts as stand-ins for the collection’s different content categories and placed each example in what we agreed to be its appropriate location, choosing between combinations of TMS, the Museum’s DAM, and its archival repository. While we reached no definitive conclusions (of course), we appreciated the dynamic nature of this exercise and the novel spaces it generated for thoughtful discussions surrounding the integration of digital information systems, a topic I’ve grappled with in the context of my own project.


    Day 2: The Whitney and METRO

    Rachel: Following an immersive tour of the private Guggenheim Offices and Archives, we spent the following morning at the Whitney Museum of American Art. The panel, graciously organized by Farris Wahbeh (Director of Research Resources) (also my ARLIS/NA mentor), provided a unique behind-the-scenes opportunity — a comprehensive overview of their new Media Preservation Initiative (MPI), a Mellon grant-funded project to implement a holistic preservation framework for the time-based media art works in the Museum’s permanent collection. Small Data Industries, my NDSR host, was hired to consult at the ground-level of this project (detailed by Farris and Ben later that day at METRO). The Whitney presentation included Farris as well as the MPI team: David Neary (Project Manager), Savannah Campbell (Preservation Specialist, Video and Digital), Christopher Bernu (Project Manager), and Brian Block (Research Fellow, Collections Information and Data). They demonstrated the process of implementing this epic, multi-year project through smaller-phased initiatives that systematically liaise the Curatorial, Conservation, Library and Archive Departments. Following this exclusive, erudite opportunity, Farris led us through the Conservation and Media Labs to introduce us to Christine Frohnert (Media Conservator) and Richard Bloes (Senior Technician). They walked us through their media art conservation and preparation process as they acquired new pieces for their current exhibition, Programmed, a momentous journey through the history of media art — an extraordinary, multi-year feat (particularly for the media conservators!).


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    Jean: After visiting the Whitney, the cohort made their way over to the far West side of Manhattan to attend “Safeguarding and Activating Digital Video Information,” a panel I co-organized with the Metropolitan New York Library Council (METRO). This being my first experience organizing a public-facing panel discussion, I was equal parts excited and terrified for it to begin, but in the end extremely grateful to have Ben Fino-Radin, Farris Wahbeh, Amye McCarther, and Dave Rice as participants. Even though I’d reviewed the presenter’s abstracts in advance, I was pleasantly surprised at how varied and dynamic the discussion turned out to be. Topics ranged from preservation micro-services at CUNY-TV to born-digital video at the New Museum. Ben and Farris provided yet another perspective in their presentation on the Whitney’s Media Preservation Initiative, in which they talked about the RFP process and the Whitney’s collaboration with Small Data Industries.


    Day 3: Small Data Industries

    Rachel: On the final day of the Enrichment Session, we traveled to Industry City in Brooklyn to fuse the new physical and digital spaces we learned about on the trip. We designed the day’s experience to trace Cory Arcangel’s work from his studio —> to conservation lab (Small Data Industries) —> to museum acquisition (Christine and Richard’s demonstration) —> to installation (the Whitney’s Programmed exhibition —> to its ultimate home in digital storage (the theme of the Guggenheim, Whitney MPI and METRO presentations). In Cory’s studio, his assistants gave us a behind-the-scenes tour of his current works-in-progress and his older pieces that continue to inspire and shape the historical trajectory of contemporary media art. They also shared the storage system, custom-built by Small Data Industries, that facilitates geographic redundancy and disaster recovery — with the useful byproduct of real-time, remote collaboration among the studio’s distributed team.

    Small Data Industries and Cory Arcangel’s Studio (Industry City, Brooklyn)


    Visiting his studio granted us access to the “making” of the piece before we walked downstairs to the Small Data Industries lab. There, we introduced the other members of our team: our Operations Manager, Erin Barson (NDSR Art 2017-18), and Nick Kaplan (Winterthur/Delaware Program in Art Conservation) who is spending his third-year internship with us. Nick showed us Cory’s pieces that he is working on, from his early video-game work (currently at the Whitney) to ones that are being maintained and services for private collections. He also demonstrated some unique equipment, such as a UV drawer that erases data and the custom archival housing the team is designing for Cory’s works. We wrapped up the day in Camp David by discussing the manifestations and intersections of everything we had learned and seen and the things that we still hope to learn and see during the second-half our residencies.


    Conserving the work of Cory Arcangel at the Small Data Industries lab


    (Photo Credits: Rachel Ward)

  • Review Article: “Ways of Curating” (Feb 2019)

    Friday February 08th, 2019 Rachel Ward

    If you are interested, my review of Hans Ulrich Obrist’s “Ways of Curating” multimedia site is now published on the ARLIS/NA website:

    Review: Ways of Curating (Feb 2019)

    Rachel M. Ward
    National Digital Stewardship Resident (NDSR Art) at Small Data Industries
    Ph.D. Candidate in Interactive Arts & Technology

    “Ways of Curating” is a website that serves as a digital, interactive mirror to Hans Ulrich Obrist’s 2014 book of the same title. It was created in partnership with Google Arts & Culture to identify and coalesce a thoughtful selection of his projects from a prolific career curating over 200 art exhibitions. With immersive interaction, whimsical animations, and an artistic, design-focused layout, this site reimagines the often habitual and conformative formats of traditional online portfolios and art catalogs … Read More

    Images from “Ways of Curating”

  • Small Data Industries in 2018

    Saturday December 22nd, 2018 Rachel Ward

    If you’d like to see what we’ve been up to at Small Data Industries — my host for my 2018-19 NDSR Art Residency — please reminisce with us in our 2018 in Review. Some highlights include working inside Louise Bourgeois’ archive, a collaboration with The Current Museum, a long-term project with the Whitney Museum of American Art and our in-lab conservation of Cory Arcangel’s legendary video game pieces (one of which is on view right now at the Whitney’s Programmed exhibit):


    We had the honor of working with thousands of Louise Bourgeois’ sound, video, and film recordings in her archive — preserved in the townhouse where she spent the later decades of her life.


    Here I am testing out a work at The Current Museum: an experimental media art acquisition event. We process all of the pieces acquired at these quarterly salons, held at the founder’s loft in SoHo.


    We are thrilled to be working with the Whitney Museum of American Art on a long-term project establishing their very first digital preservation/access system. Image from the Whitney’s Programmed exhibition, currently on view.


    Cory Arcangel was one of our first clients and there’s been no shortage of new and exciting projects with him. Right now, our lab is filled with many of his famous “Mario Brothers” modification pieces — artworks that are coded and played on vintage Nintendo game cartridges and consoles.

  • Cristina and Molly go to iPRES in Boston

    Wednesday November 07th, 2018 Molly Szymanski

    Image result for ipres 2018 conference


    We had the opportunity to attend iPRES 2018 in Boston last month thanks to the Portico funded Sponsored Registration for Underrepresented Students and First-time Attendees. Throughout the four days at Harvard University and MIT, there was the chance to meet a great group of digital preservation professionals for all over the world and participate in all-day workshops, panels, and discussions.

    Check out the conference website for all the details, but here are some of our highlights:


    Cristina’s Highlights: Attending in-depth workshops and gathering new insights and connects into her NDSR residency project.

    As part of our Portico sponsorship, we were able to take two workshops during the first day of the conference. I decided to take a workshop titled: Digital Curation Workflows Based on Open-Source Software. While this workshop touched on open source tools, what stood out to me was the conversation surrounding the sharing of workflows among institutions. Interestingly, the discussion around sharing may have taken the most time out of our breakout groups. Mainly, participants cited common insecurities with sharing their work: concerns about it being seen as “correct” by their peers or being embarrassed about current state of collections. Another issue to take into consideration is how to communicate when workflows are aspirational or incomplete. As a new professional, I completely related. However, people citing these insecurities were not all new professionals but more so folks accomplished in their field. Apparently, we are all human.

    This discussion was very interesting to me as one of the reasons I chose MICA’s project when applying to NDSR Art was that they emphasized not only wanting to create a new model for the collection, preservation, and, access to visual arts thesis, but also wanting to share this new model. How, why, and with whom documentation is shared needs to be evaluated. Furthermore, how do you tackle concerns from staff that feel they’re giving away their work without receiving credit? I have managed other projects in which I’ve developed workflows that I view as public. I’ve often shared these workflows with colleagues at other institutions when asked, but I’m now realizing that I’ve failed to be proactive in my sharing. Sharing requires intention and requires time. When developing workflows to make students’ art discoverable and accessible at MICA, I need to think about strategies that make our workflows and documentation discoverable and accessible as well.

    Also, Molly learned a few phrases in Spanish!

    Molly’s Highlights: Meeting professionals working on similar projects at different institutions and seeing Cristina’s lightning talk.

    One of the reasons I wanted to attend iPRES was the chance to connect with a wide-variety of people from different types of institutions, but all working on or around digital preservation. It’s a unique conference that brings together a diverse, relatively small, but focused group. My NDSR project is centered on preserving interactive apps, web content, and other in-gallery media; all formats in the relatively nascent stages of having consensus on best practices and standards for archiving. This means that talking to people currently experimenting with these media types tends to be great sources of insight and guidance. The team at Rhizome and Web Recorder are shaping the the next iteration of models for web-archiving, so it was great to attend their half day workshop and walk away with ideas to test out on my institution’s newly retired website(s) following a recent redesign project. I got an impromptu email-archiving tutorial from one of the developers at Preservica during a group discussion, and connected with Smithsonian archivists about sharing policy and workflow examples. I also got to be part of a collaborative edit-a-thon for COPTR (Community Owned digital Preservation Tool Registry) with one of my project mentors at Digital POWRR and folks from the Digital Preservation Coalition.

    I also had the good fortune to attend and support Cristina during her lightning talk on Tuesday. During her session, she shared an overview and update on her residency project which is focused on preservation and access to non-traditional art and design theses work. Her talk and topic added a missing piece not represented in the other conference presentations that I think many attendees were grateful to learn about; I know there were a number of audience members eager to follow her project and the outcomes she develops. Here’s a photo of Cristina in action:


  • Digital Audiovisual Materials at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

    Tuesday October 09th, 2018 Jean Moylan

    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

    Friday October 05th, 2018 Cristina Fontanez Rodriguez

    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

    Thursday October 04th, 2018 Molly Szymanski

    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.

  • A Tour of the Whitney Museum’s Conservation Lab

    Friday September 14th, 2018 Rachel Ward

    My NDSR position at Small Data Industries began in July 2018 (blog post about our lab to follow!) and on my third day, I met with my ARLIS mentor Farris Wahbeh for our initial NDSR/ARLIS mentor meeting. Farris is head of Research Resources at the Whitney Museum of American Art, a dynamic and progressive position that oversees the museum’s archives, reference, periodicals, documentation, records management, and special collections. In other words, he works to unify all of museum’s resources, from printed artworks to digital records.




    After our introduction, Farris led me on a fascinating behind-the-scenes tour of the museum, including the archives, library, conservation labs and the newly-built study center (a space where external researchers can physically interact with art in the collection) — all of which boast beautiful views of the city.




    The conservation spaces are particularly innovative and inspiring — the labs meld together in an open floor-plan that fluidly and catalytically promotes trans-departmental conversations and collaboration. In other words, I observed oil paintings from the 1920’s alongside contemporary art and technical-mechanical pieces. In terms of the museum itself, Farris expounded upon the Whitney’s exceptional architecture — each side of its exterior mimics the defining features of the neighborhood below. (There is an impressive — and interactive — article about the museum’s architecture here).




    Most significantly, upon entering Conservation, it was by fortuitous coincidence that we stumbled upon Richard Bloes, Senior Technician and Reinhard Bek, New Media Conservator fine-tuning a time-based media piece titled Searcher, 1966 by James L. Seawright — a 6-foot metal framework with plastic and electronic parts that senses and reacts to environmental light. We also explored the media conservation lab (the only room that has a door and lacks the floor-to-ceiling windows!). This is where digital art pieces are processed and archived upon acquisition.




    I was truly stunned by the beautiful design of the museum and by the holistic, fluid boundaries — both physical and intellectual — between the labs and departments (what Farris’ amalgamate role directly advocates). Following the tour, Farris and I went to Fig and Olive to chat more about my project, my recent move to Brooklyn and my analogous PhD research. I am very appreciative to Farris for graciously offering to mentor me through my year with NDSR Art and for facilitating my relationship with the local ARLIS network. For our next meeting, Small Data very much looks forward to welcoming him to our lab in Industry City, Brooklyn!

  • Slides Available- NDSR Art Immersion Week Keynote: Digital Transformation and Cultural Heritage

    Monday August 06th, 2018 admin

    Slides from Douglas Hegley’s July 20, 2018 NDSR Art Immersion Week keynote are available: Digital Transformation & Cultural Heritage, a provocation in four parts.

    Digital Transformation and Cultural Heritage
    Keynote Lecture by Douglas Hegley
    Friday, July 20, 2018 // 4pm
    Perelman Auditorium, Philadelphia Museum of Art


NDSR Art is presented by
Philadelphia Museum of Art