Coral Salomón

Registration Open: NDSR Art Capstone – Preserving Media Art & Digital Art Information

NDSR Art Capstone: Preserving Media Art & Digital Art Information
Friday, June 29, 2018, 9:30am-5:00pm
Kislak Center (6th floor), Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center
University of Pennsylvania

This symposium will provide a platform for the NDSR Art residents to discuss their experiences developing preservation and access strategies for GLAM assets, as well as offer perspectives from new media curators, time-based media artists, conservators, and preservationists.

To signal the end of the 2017-2018 National Digital Stewardship Residency for Art Information (NDSR Art), the NDSR Art cohort is hosting a one-day capstone event to discuss their year-long projects and offer new perspectives on preserving media art and digital art information. The capstone will examine the residents’ work at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the University of Pennsylvania Fisher Fine Arts Library, the Yale Center for British Art, and the Minneapolis Institute of Art. Their efforts aspire to contribute to the larger conversation surrounding arts-related preservation issues and to identify strategies to preserve unique digital assets and documentation. The event will expand the discussion and offer perspectives from practitioners in the field, including new media curators, time-based media artists, conservators, and preservationists.




Time Section
9:30am-10:00am Registration
Coffee and light breakfast
10:00am-10:15am Welcome and Introduction
Kimberly Eke
Assoc. University Librarian for Teaching, Research & Learning Services, University of Pennsylvania
Kristen Regina
Arcadia Director of the Library and Archives, Philadelphia Museum of Art
10:20am-11:15am NDSR Art Hosts Panel Discussion
Frances Lloyd-Baynes
Content Database Specialist, Minneapolis Institute of Art
Margaret Huang [ppt] [Marge_Capstone]
Digital Archivist, Philadelphia Museum of Art
Hannah Bennett
Director of Fisher Fine Arts & Museum Libraries, University of Pennsylvania
Rachel Chatalbash
Senior Archivist, Yale Center for British Art
11:20am-12:20pm Lesson Learned and Moving Forward: Creating Stewardship Strategies for Digital GLAM Assets from Scratch
Erin Barsan
NDSR Art Resident, Minneapolis Institute of Art
Elise Tanner
NDSR Art Resident, Philadelphia Museum of Art
Coral Salomón
NDSR Art Resident, University of Pennsylvania
Cate Peebles
NDSR Art Resident, Yale Center for British Art
12:30pm-1:30pm Lunch Break
1:40-2:30pm Practices of Care: Artists Discuss the Practical and Philosophical Considerations of Time-Based Media Works
Lionel Cruet
Contemporary audiovisual and geopolitical artist
Matthew Suib
Moving image artist
Nadia Hironaka
Video installation artist
2:40-3:30pm Advancing New Strategies in the Preservation and Conservation of Time-Based Media Art
Flaminia Fortunato
Andrew W. Mellon Fellow in Media Conservation, Museum of Modern Art
Dave Rice
Archivist and technologist, CUNY TV; author of “Sustained Consistent Video Presentation” PERICLES report commissioned by Tate Research
3:30-4:00pm Coffee break
4:00-4:50pm Long Live the GIF: Reflections on the Curation, Acquisition, and Preservation of Web-based Art and Culture
Jason Eppink
Curator of Digital Media, Museum of the Moving Image
Lorena Ramírez-López
Time-based media consultant, Small Data Industries
4:50pm-5:00pm Closing Remarks
NDSR Art Residents
5:10pm-7:00pm Reception


The mission of the National Digital Stewardship Residency (NDSR) is to build a dedicated community of professionals who will advance our nation’s capabilities in managing, preserving, and providing access to  the digital record of human achievement. NDSR Art adapts and expands the NDSR model by addressing issues of digital preservation and stewardship in relation to the arts, with a particular focus on new media and arts information.

NDSR Art Capstone: Preserving Media Art & Digital Art Information is sponsored by the National Digital Stewardship Residency for Art Information (NDSR Art) and Penn Libraries.

Back from ARLIS/NA 2018!

Time is flying by and we’re already past our halfway mark into the residency! I am writing this blog post after coming back from the 46th Annual Conference of the Art Libraries Society of North America (ARLIS/NA) in New York City.

During ARLIS/NA, I presented in the following sessions:

Presenting with the fellow residents

In the first session, I presented with the NDSR Art cohort on the progress we’ve made in our residencies. We have very different projects and it was interesting to see the progress the others residents have made at their institutions. We all stressed how collaboration has been crucial to our projects and how developing soft skills, like communication, has been a big part of the residencies. We all agreed that NDSR Art has already helped us grow as professionals.

The NDSR Art crew

Discussing “fugitive” digital platforms

My second session focused on the “fugitive” digital platforms portion of my project. This means that I am exploring attitudes and strategies in libraries towards acquiring, cataloging, and preserving digital platforms for art such as apps, web-based projects, audio and video compositions, relational databases, and even video games. Digital content that is at risk because it is ephemeral.

I presented on the outcomes of the interviews I’ve conducted with the bibliographers, catalogers and acquisitions personnel at Penn and with creators of digital art platforms. The slide below contains some of the challenges to acquiring these types of platforms as identified by the library team:

I also discussed some of my initial findings based on the interviews with creators of digital art platforms.

I had made the assumption that all the content creators would look at preservation in a positive light. However, some of the interviewees, such as Kenneth Goldsmith, creator of ubuweb, stated that he intentionally had no preservation plan for his database. He stressed, “When it’s gone, it’s gone. If you love something, download it. The web is ephemeral.” Even though this was not the overwhelming attitude, it was still an important point.

App-based content has presented some of the most interesting findings.

The two interviewees that created app-based content were early adopters and created native apps during the early 2010s. According to the creator of DailyArt Pro during that time, “everyone was creating apps” and it was seen as a way to “reach people in their pockets,” extending the democratic mission of the internet.

Eight years later though, a certain disillusionment has crept into the app-creators’ world. According to the creator for Art Swipe, “I liked the idea of creating an app… but have realized how limiting that is because Apple [via the Apple Store] has so many rules. In many ways it is not the ideal place for such a project. My experience has been frustrating. While I feel I infiltrated the platform, the reach is limited.”

After talking with the creators of app-based works, I realized that there are many barriers to entry that I didn’t foresee at the beginning. Creators are at the mercy of an app store with changing algorithms that controls discovery. The frustrations presented by the content creators reminded me of the net-neutrality debate. App stores present a model of what a gate-keeping, revenue-oriented model around content looks like. This reality is especially frustrating for creators making free educational content that want more people to access their work. If they could go back, the two interviewees stated they would have created web apps. Even though it’s a small sample population, they are not alone in this sentiment.


The reception towards both of my presentations was very positive. It also proved to be beneficial to discuss my project midway through.

I had initially split my fugitive digital platform research into four themes: creator’s intent, access, discovery, and preservation. However, while talking with my fellow panelists, I realized that legitimacy is another important theme. Content found freely online and via our phone is still regarded with suspicion in library land. “Put it on a libguide” is a regular reply when discussing the inclusion of this content in our catalogs. Is acquisition only meant for material with a price tag? Does quality content only count when it’s found through a paywall? So far, that seems to be the attitude. As a fellow panelist mentioned to me, it is a hardened perspective on what a library is supposed to be.

Laying the NDSR Art Groundwork at The Fisher Fine Arts Library

The semester is winding down here at Penn and students are gathered at Fisher studying for their finals. Even though my desk is in the basement, I like to sit among the students and do my research from the alcoves in the first floor.

During the past 4.5 months, I’ve been busy adjusting to life in Philadelphia and setting the groundwork for my NDSR Art project, where I tackle issues pertaining to the preservation of digital artwork and art information. My project has three components:

  • Creating guidelines for a web archiving program focused on the arts.
  • Providing repository recommendations for born-digital artworks and art resources produced at Penn.
  • Writing a white paper on the acquisition and preservation of content published on apps, YouTube, podcasts, and other fugitive digital platforms.

Getting Started: Project Management Tools and Processes

The trickiest part of these past few months has been juggling the demands of the project’s different components.

I started using Trello as my project management tool, but it wasn’t a right fit. I ultimately settled on MeisterTask. I find it a lot more user-friendly than Trello and the dashboard is slicker. Another huge plus is that it allows me to track how much time I spend on each task. This feature is very useful. Sometimes when I’m writing or reading, I might meander and wonder where the day went. By tracking how much time I spend on each task, I can assess whether I’ve made good use of my day.

I use Mendeley as my bibliography and citations tool. It allows easy organization and lets me share documents with the rest of the cohort. I’ve also been using Excel spreadsheets to create inventory lists and keep track of who I interact with here at Penn.

Finding and setting up these tools has taken a little bit of time. However, to balance the three components effectively, it’s been really important to set a functional workflow. I might have to re-evaluate the use of these tools as time goes on, but for now I am happy with the set-up.

My Day-to-Day: Listening is Key

My typical day involves a lot of listening and typing.

I’ve been interviewing professors in the fine arts department, curators, museum library directors, artists, and others to discover what the digital preservation needs are at Penn. I’ve also been talking with fellow librarians and digital archivists at Penn Libraries to avoid cloistering my work. Colleagues at other institutions have generously offered advice and discussed best practices in relation to my project.

Interviewing stakeholders has been one of my favorite parts of the residency. Everyone has brought a little bit of their personalities and outlook into the project. Digital art and art resource creators at Penn are for the most part curious and eager to learn about what preservation of their content might look like. Furthermore, content creators really want the library to archive their websites, so it’s great to have this type of buy-in from the get-go.

While conducting interviews, I found it interesting that the definition of the word “archive” has defused. Like “curation” and “archeology”, words adopted into popular parlance because they lend an air of expertise and romance, “archive” has become an amorphous word with different meanings to different people. I found it really important to understand what each interviewee meant when speaking about his or her archive.

In regards to digital content, there is an assumption among some of the stakeholders that uploading content on the web is a preservation strategy. These conversations were a good way of introducing concepts like web archiving and gaining allies for a robust fine arts web archiving program.

Regardless of the multiple meanings the interviewees might have for the word “archive,” it is commendable that they have been tackling digital challenges on their own. Professors, gallery directors, and other stakeholders all explained the different ways they’ve taken charge of safeguarding the cultural output they manage. There is a sense of urgency and eagerness in regards to preservation, and that has been a great energy to harness while beginning this project.

Next Steps

I am currently finishing the environmental scan on digital repository needs. In the next couple of months, I’m looking forward to laying out the groundwork for the web archiving program and reaching out to publishers to see if/how they would make app-based publications available to libraries.

The digital era is forcing all of us to interrogate archival traditions, but I am looking forward to helping Fisher safeguard this material. As a cultural artifact, art makes a strong statement of our humanity and as this content becomes increasingly digital, libraries play a strategic role as stewards for today’s communities and future generations.

Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico, and the Responsibility to Act in Times of Crisis

When Access to Information Translates to the Urgent Need to Act in the Face of a Humanitarian Crisis

As part of my NDSR Art residency at the University of Pennsylvania, I am working to develop guidelines to protect this nation’s achievements for the historical record. Part of what drives my dedication to this profession is the belief that by preserving and providing access to knowledge we can learn about and understand others. And through that understanding, foster tolerance and empathy. This professional tenet, the belief that access to information can enact meaningful change, is the reason I am sharing the following information.

Last week, Puerto Rico, my home, was hit by Hurricane Maria. The category 4 hurricane bisected the island from the southeast to the northwest, and was the fifth-strongest hurricane to ever hit the US. It devastated our electric grid, caused major flooding, provoked a dam failure, destroyed our roads, and prompted an island-wide telecommunication meltdown.

Worse than the hurricane, however, has been the lack of response.

The hurricane hit more than a week ago. Aid has not yet been distributed across the island. In Mayagüez, an area still affected by the shortage of telephone service, dialysis patients lack the electricity needed for treatment. The electric generators in the island’s hospitals are running out of diesel. The few locations offering essential services are being overwhelmed. People do not have access to insulin and other critical medical supplies.

Meanwhile, the lack of electricity means people cannot take out the cash needed to buy food. Water is in short supply. People living in small towns like Las Marías lack potable water and are running out of food because they are trapped in their communities, due to the obliteration of the roads. These situations keep on replaying across the island.

People are dying.

The hurricane claimed at least 10 lives on the island, but the ineffective response is killing more.

The news coverage has been slow to pick up the dire circumstances on the ground. Meanwhile, the federal government has lacked the urgency to take decisive action.

I have been asked to recommend places to donate, but the extent of the crisis demands legislative action to ensure long-term recovery.

Reach out to your representatives and ask them what they are doing to help Puerto Rico.

Tell them to:

  • Put a stop to the bureaucracy that is preventing food and other emergency supplies on the ports from being distributed across the island.
  • Make sure that the currently waived Jones Act is repealed. This law has hindered the economic growth on the island even during the best of times and its restrictions will be draconian as Puerto Ricans work to recover from the devastation.
  • Urge FEMA to deploy additional rescue and relief resources, as well as provide cell towers to allow the communication of residents and relief workers.
  • Pass bankruptcy relief legislation and negotiate public debt relief immediately. People’s lives must be the government’s priority while the island recuperates from this humanitarian crisis.

We are US citizens who have served in every major war, who contribute to the progress of this country, and when Hurricane Irma hit the Caribbean, we rose to the challenge of helping our neighbors in need. But, above all we are human beings that deserve better. The current situation is critical and the response to this crisis has been slow and inhumane.

If we don’t try to do everything in our power to help Puerto Rico, we will have contributed to a national catastrophe. The historical record will show that the US failed.

Text “Resist” at 50409 and copy/paste the list above. It only takes 5 minutes. You can also call your representative at 202.224.3121.