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Archiving Digital Artwork For Museum Purchase? 266

Posted by timothy
from the just-put-something-on-youtube dept.
An anonymous reader writes "I am an artist working with 3d software to create animations and digital prints. For now my work just gets put on screening DVDs and BluRays and the original .mov and 3d files get backed up. But museums and big art collectors do want to purchase these animations. However as we all know archival DVDs are not really archival. So I want to ask the Slashdot readers, what can I give to the museum when they acquire my digital work for their collection so that it can last and be seen long after I am dead? No other artist or institution I know of have come up with any real solution to this issue yet, so I thought Slashdot readers may have an idea. These editions can be sold for a large amount of money, so it doesn't have to be a cheap solution."
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Archiving Digital Artwork For Museum Purchase?

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  • Blended solution? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by t00le (136364) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @01:14PM (#29582515)

    I would provide backups in tape, cd, dvd, usb flash, sd card, external hd and anything else that can hold the work. Hopefully they will keep adding other backup technologies, but once you're dead who cares. Right? :)

    • by yo_tuco (795102) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @02:01PM (#29583271)

      "...but once you're dead who cares. Right? :)"

      Are you kidding? That's when his work becomes its most valuable. He'll be rich!

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Rich? Well... at least his cost of living will go down.

    • Re:Blended solution? (Score:5, Informative)

      by C0vardeAn0nim0 (232451) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @02:16PM (#29583449) Journal

      none of those are proved to last centuries.

      tape might be a durable medium, but is still requires a compatible drive. even if you supply the drive, the bus/port/connector might not be available in the future, also electronics degrade over time (specially the ones that store firmware in flash memory and/or contain capacitors). so even if you sell your work with: a) computer; b) operating system and software; c) drive; d) tapes. there's no guarantee.

      the same is true for all of the media mentioned by parent.

      only solution guaranteed to last centuries ?

      *** PAPER AND INK ***

      yes, your heard me. ink and paper. well stored it can last thousands of years. you have to print your files as a very compact, machine readable data matrix [wikipedia.org], store it along with human readable books explaining the technology neccessary to read the print-outs, including schematics, source code, etc. no need to mention that the file formats and software need to be open source, or you need a license to the code.

      this way future generations will have everything neccessary to put toghether a hardware/software combination capable of reading the data matrices, convert the bits to files and display the result.

      this could be an art project on itself, since you can embed paterns and colors on the data matrices. check wikipedia page for "QR codes" to see examples of data matrices with embeded art. very cool stuff.

      • In the case of a 3d model, would it not be easier to 'print' the model - use a 3D prototyper to create a physical version of the file. If anyone wants to manipulate it in future, they can scan it back in (the technology to do this already exists too). Other materials can be printed too. Rather than try to solve the 'how do we read this file format in the future' problem, sidestep it entirely by providing what you're trying to get across in human-readable form. It may be worth providing printouts of the bina

  • by Matt Perry (793115) <perry,matt54&yahoo,com> on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @01:15PM (#29582529)

    Don't worry about it. Give it to them on a DVD. It'll then be up to the museum to take care of the art the same way they take care of the other art they have. I don't think it's realistic to expect to be able to read a DVD 100, 50, or even 30 years from now. I'm sure that the museum will move the data to an appropriate storage medium as technology advances.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by fredjh (1602699)

      Moreover, if you don't try to prevent copying, they should upgrade it to their newest technologies as time goes by.

      I don't expect the video tape I bought 25 years ago to be useful forever, but I should be able to copy it to DVD... then BluRay.

      I should be, anyway.

      • They should do that, but history tells us that they probably won't.

        • by Darinbob (1142669)
          Because a museum may only have one person who is sometimes in charge of making sure the artwork is maintained, meanwhile having thousands or more pieces to worry about, many of them in the basement. Otherwise you get the Hollywood effect; someone shoves the film in a box, and a few decades later someone looks in the box and realizes things have deteriorated too far. Or the NASA effect when they realize they don't have the right equipment handy to even read back the tapes.

          Best bet, paper tape. No wait, p
    • Exactly. Let them worry about preservation.

      Don't most museums have at least one archivist anyways?

    • by Trepidity (597)

      There's an odd aura in the art world around original tangible artifacts, though. If the solution is to just have the museum copy it occasionally, it might reduce the perceived value of the work, as compared to a digital work that's permanently embodied in some device, such that 100 years from now someone can say, "ah yeah, there's the animation of so-and-so, still on the original [device]". Otherwise anyone who has a copy of it has a copy as good as the museum or rich collector, and we can't have that, now

  • by nweaver (113078) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @01:16PM (#29582559) Homepage

    The problem: a digital archive MUST be a live archive.

    Every X years (with X being a reasonably low number, probably 3-5 is good for safety), everything in the archive must be both copied AND transcoded, with both the original and transcoded version saved.

    The original requirement is obvious, and keeps data degredation from having an effect, but transcoding: opening it up in the latest software version and saving it in the software's most up to date format, is also necessary, lest the source material become unusable, like a wire recorder is today.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      lest the source material become unusable, like a wire recorder is today.

      Why would a wire recorder be unusable? (I had a friend who had one in high school) It's a lot easier to repair a wire recorder than a CD or DVD player. (Simple vacuum tubes, capacitors and resistors) When the wire breaks, you can just tie it back together. Try that with a broken DVD.

  • by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @01:17PM (#29582571) Journal

    Whoever tagged this story "digitalartisnotfineart" needs a cluebat. I'd like to hear a good argument for that -- ideally one that's not a rehash of the "video games are not art" debate.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Microlith (54737)

      It's the unilateral opinion that anything that isn't physical, or can be easily copied, is suddenly lacking of all artistic merit and value.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by 4D6963 (933028)

        Digital art can't be easily copied? That's a pretty novel claim! :D

    • by Abreu (173023) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @01:40PM (#29582949)

      That's nothing... I had to restrain myself from taggin it "getarealjob" ;^)

    • by Maximum Prophet (716608) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @02:36PM (#29583743)
      It's the same reason that when an art museum pays N million dollars for a piece, then years later finds out it was a forgery, the museum doesn't just say, "Oh, well, it was good enough".

      Art is not about beauty or aesthetics. Original art has warmth, depth and soul, similar to the way monster cables appeal to audiophiles. (Not that a *real* audiophile would be caught dead with anything as pedestrian as a monster cable, but I digress)

      If you can't see the warmth, taste the depth, or perceive the soul of a piece of fine art, well, you are just a philistine and should just stay the f*** out of the museum.

      Anyway people put mystical value on things all the time. The original Declaration of Independence or Constitution aren't really any more useful than the copies, and weren't even originally archived, but we still keep them better protected than most people's bank accounts.
  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @01:17PM (#29582573) Journal

    No other artist or institution I know of have come up with any real solution to this issue yet ...

    I don't know if we'll ever have what you're thinking of as everything we've designed has a finite shelf life. There might even be some fundamental law about entropy increasing in a closed system that could prove you'll never be 100% okay.

    But instead what I would offer them is a plan as a solution, not a type of media. Offer to deliver it on whatever they are most comfortable handling. You could deliver a DVD or Solid State Storage device such as an SD card or USB stick and suggest they store that offsite in a vault or something fireproof [everythingfurniture.com] while you give them additional copies to retain and use locally that they can put on a networked RAID. Then at the end of the proposed shelf life, routine maintenance is performed on the stored media in the vault to bring it up to date while the local copies are still good. If they maintain this sort of redundancy and check the status of the media, they should be okay. They might even hire someone like Iron Mountain or another storage solution to maintain their backups.

    Expensive? Very. Your other option is to do the same on your end and (don't promise this or tell them to rely on you) hopefully your kids will continue with it to persist your life's work.

    • by JSBiff (87824)

      Parent is absolutely correct. People, apparently even people who work with digital for a living, seem to miss one of the most important inherent attributes of digital technology: as long as the original copy has not become corrupt, it is possible to create *perfect* copies. This means that the most important part of preserving any digital work, is to *copy* it to another medium, before the previous medium/copy becomes unreadable.

      The only other issue, as another poster mentioned, is making sure that the data

      • by Mr Z (6791)

        The only other issue, as another poster mentioned, is making sure that the data is in a format that current software knows how to read/decode, so you must also give them the right to transcode or otherwise export the work to other digital formats. (For example, transforming 3D model, texture, animation, and scene data from one format to another

        This is where open formats and implementations, or at least openly documented formats and reference implementations, can come in handy. If you can back up reference

      • by Joe Decker (3806)

        As long as you give the museum the right to make backup copies and export/transform, there's NOTHING else you have to do to make sure the work will be preserved for the generations - at that point, it is the responsibility of the curators to preserve it.

        Not quite. I agree with the latter, but you're wrong, I believe, about the first part of your statement.

        Poster has already stated that, to some extent, it's clear the museum in question does not at present have that much of a clue about how they're dealing with this. On the other hand, digital media will, I expect, become a larger part of that museum's ownership over the next couple decades, if the museum is going to survive, it will, probably, eventually, get a clue. Picking a decently archival medium, d

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by mlts (1038732) *

      Don't forget error correction and recovery. Undetected bitrot for long term archiving is not a good thing. Just having CRCs and/or cryptographic signatures will just tell you that something got corrupted, but won't help fix it.

      On the DVD front, something like DVDDisaster and a MD5 signature utility should help there. For data files in general, something that does .PAR records, or an archive format (WinRAR, StuffIt Deluxe) that supports built in recovery records. Of course archive formats suffer the issu

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Mr Z (6791)

        MD5s won't help except to detect corruption, as you say in your first sentence. I imagine having duplicate copies of the DVD, recorded identically would be a cheap, low-tech alternative. Even if some blocks on one copy get destroyed, chances are those same blocks are good on another. With enough parallel copies, you can be sure to find a good version of each block on at least one.

        While DVDs might only last a decade, it's not like they'll entirely go *poof* on day 3653. They'll begin degrading, but each

        • by mlts (1038732) *

          Very good idea, that should be assumed.

          One idea may to be divide the file into archive segments, all with a CRC. Then you know which file parts on damaged DVD "A" are recoverable, and which are on damaged DVD "B". Then combine those, plus recovery info, and there is a high chance of recovering the complete package.

          I like multiple backup levels, such as keeping them on a RAID device, tapes, archival DVDs, and in the cloud. This way, should some means of backup fail (cloud provider declares bankruptcy), yo

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        I don't think any one form of digital storage will be adequately durable. Caring for these digital files will be an ongoing effort, not a once-and-done distribution of media.

        I would store the digital archives in multiple locations (at least 3). Each location should have a disk farm with ZFS, so bit rot could be detected and fixed. Periodically (cron job, whatever) copy each file to a different volume, check for errors against the parent and parent's offsite siblings, then erase parent file. Tape back
  • by HouseOfMisterE (659953) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @01:17PM (#29582575)

    Hey, it worked for Jean Luc Picard when he was trapped in the 19th Century!

  • A link (Score:3, Insightful)

    by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland.yahoo@com> on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @01:17PM (#29582577) Homepage Journal

    to a site on the internet?

    Setting aside how lame this is, the Museum already has a program for maintaining acquired works. Part of that maintenance could just be backing up the works.
    This way it's always on a recent medium.

    The point of a museum is to have a place to share unique works with the public.

    Now digital work can be downloaded and as such doesn't really need a museum.

    • Now digital work can be downloaded and as such doesn't really need a museum.

      Not a fan of curators, are you?

  • WORM Flash (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Hatta (162192) * on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @01:18PM (#29582609) Journal

    Apparently Sandisk has some Write Once [sandisk.com] SD cards. Dunno about pricing and availability though.

    • by Megane (129182)
      "Write once" only means it can't be re-written. That doesn't mean that it will never degrade. For instance, PROM memory chips, programmed by burning tiny fuses on the chip, can over time "un-burn" some of their fuses. (I think this is from the old "tin whisker" problem.)
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Hatta (162192) *

        If you checked the link, you'll see that Sandisk advertises them as good for 100 years. Of course, they haven't been around for 100 years yet, so who knows what the longevity actually is.

  • Simple (Score:5, Insightful)

    by truthsearch (249536) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @01:19PM (#29582629) Homepage Journal

    Chisel binary onto stone slabs. 4000 years from now it'll be displayed in a history museum.

    • Bar codes? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by JSBiff (87824)

      Maybe instead of chiselling 1's and 0's onto the slab, he could use something like bar-code encoding when he chisels. That way, to 'read' the data, all one has to do is fill the depressions with some suitable bright-colored paint or pigmentation, then use a laser to scan it.

      • by Hadlock (143607)

        Some sort of obsidian? create a barcode? There's a vetran's war memorial in... DC? The surface is polished, but the words are "rough hewn" or sandblasted 0.5-1mm deep, "in" to the rock, giving you a lighter image. The image dissapears when it rains, though. DUnno how long polished rock retains it's polished look.

        • by JSBiff (87824)

          "DUnno how long polished rock retains it's polished look."

          I suppose that depends upon how the rock is treated/stored. Store it outside in the weather, and I bet it starts to become pretty beat up inside of 100 years (go to any graveyard for good examples). Store it in a nice stone box, in a drive cave or stone temple in the desert or other relatively dry place, and I bet it lasts many thousands of years.

    • Chisel binary onto stone slabs. 4000 years from now it'll be displayed in a history museum.

      Come on now, this is Slashdot! Laser etch a slab of titanium man!

      Maybe even use a product like Cermark, which bonds to metal and turns black, when exposed to a laser. Apparently the military uses it, it's supposed to be good stuff!
      -Taylor

    • by mythosaz (572040)

      He's going to have to etch his barcodes into cut diamonds. Those are going to outlast pretty much everything.

  • Make a high-res print out on a big sheet of paper. Museums are pretty good at handling those...
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Jeremy Erwin (2054)

      The Library of Congress has an archive of early films printed frame by frame onto paper, because at the time of deposition, still photographs were copyrightable while motion pictures were not.

    • Archival quality printing is also not cheap, but at least it's a fairly solved problem.

      Personally I don't think you can do much better than printing it for an option that doesn't involve frequent migration - density isn't great, but I'm confident there'll still be optical scan devices at least for historical works, so if you print out all your bits in an OCR-friendly font, it won't be TOO much work for someone else to read them (if they really want to!) You should also include in the same format the source

  • by bezenek (958723) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @01:25PM (#29582731) Journal
    The problem of having the data in a single location is probably more of an issue than the type of media because of fire or other physical damage rather than the issue of lifetime.

    If you decide to back up the data on writable DVD, you have a lifetime of 2-10 years. With flash, (e.g., a thumb drive,) the general advertised time is 10 years. Even if there is a medium which guarantees a longer period, you still have the problem of multiple secure sites.

    You can solve both problems at once by going with an on-line data warehouse who will guarantee data integrity and mirrors data to multiple locations. This leaves the issue of media life to them, and solves the multiple-location issue.

    Cheers!

    -Todd
    • by J4 (449)

      Yeah, but shit still happens. You need to use _multiple_ storage clouds :)

  • I like to read about the protection and restoration of art. It seems that all art decays, and no matter what one does to it, at some point it will require a restoration. For instance, I have read the varnish put over painting is made to come off easily and leave the painting in tact for restoration. A painting left in the basement, never touch, will eventually decay to nothing.

    So it with digital media. The nice thing with digital media are the copies are exact, with no generational loss. Therefore my

  • by DoctorWho (36742) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @01:28PM (#29582785)
    You might want to take a look at some of the Museum initiatives working on digital / media arts preservation. Here's a few...

    "The Variable Media Network proposes an unconventional new preservation strategy that has emerged from the Guggenheim's efforts to preserve its world-renowned collection of conceptual, minimalist and video art and that is supported by the Daniel Langlois Foundation for Art, Science, and Technology. The aim of this affiliation is to help build a network of organizations that will develop the tools, methods and standards needed to implement this strategy."
    http://variablemedia.net/ [variablemedia.net]

    "Matters in Media Art is a multi-phase project designed to provide guidelines for care of time-based media works of art (e.g., video, film, audio and computer based installations). The project was created in 2003 by a consortium of curators, conservators, registrars and media technical managers from New Art Trust, MoMA, SFMOMA and Tate. The consortium launched its first phase, on loaning time-based media works, in 2004, and its second phase, on acquiring time-based media works, in 2007."
    http://moma.org/explore/collection/conservation/media_art [moma.org]
    http://www.tate.org.uk/research/tateresearch/majorprojects/mediamatters/ [tate.org.uk]

    "From March to December 2003, the archive team of V2_Organisation (a center for culture and technology in Rotterdam, the Netherlands) has conducted research on the documentation aspects of the preservation of electronic art activities -- or Capturing Unstable Media --, an approach between archiving and preservation."
    http://capturing.projects.v2.nl/ [v2.nl]

    "DOCAM's main objective is to develop new methodologies and tools to address the issues of preserving and documenting digital, technological and electronic works of art."
    http://www.docam.ca/en/?cat=17 [docam.ca]

    "Inside Installations: Preservation and Presentation of Installation Art is a three-year research project (2004-2007) into the care and administration of an art form that is challenging prevailing views of conservation."
    http://www.inside-installations.org/home/index.php [inside-installations.org]

  • by DirkGently (32794) <dirk AT lemongecko DOT org> on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @01:29PM (#29582797) Homepage

    Two things.

    I'm probably headed towards flamebait, but I think it's rather presumptuous and egotistical to assume that anyone is going to want to see your work fifty years from now. That's not your decision. As the other posters say, give the buyer one, maybe three, copies of your digital files on a convenient & prolific media like DVD-R and then let them decide if it's really worth preserving for the next century.

    Second, do master ice sculptors require buyers to have refrigerated viewing galleries? If you're concerned about the longevity of your work, pick a less ephemeral medium.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by eln (21727)
      Precisely. The great artworks in history have not been preserved because they were done with things that last a long time...paintings fade, are easily destroyed, and are usually quite flammable. Countless works of art have been destroyed forever over the centuries. The ones that are still around are only still around because people over many generations felt they were important or beautiful enough to go through the trouble of preserving them. Just give your stuff to the museum, and if they feel it's imp
  • Give them a CD, let them worry about archiving it since they are the owners. If you aren't happy with this arrangment (you don't trust them to archive it to your satisfaction), then don't sell it to them. Keep it and archive it yourself (suggestions to store multiple copies at seperate locations and periodically copy it to new media and attempt to update it to current versions are good).

    If you sell it you don't own it anymore and they can do whatever they want. If they want to hire you as an archive cons

  • Old Disney animation cells sell for big bucks. What about using archival grade printing, perhaps on an archival plastic media, and make hard copies. These might have the additional, collector's advantage of being able to be broken-up as well as being non-digital and thus harder to reproduce.
  • by spun (1352) <(moc.oohay) (ta) (yranoituloverevol)> on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @01:33PM (#29582851) Journal

    We have trolls in the tags now? How cute. Here's a clue for you, every new art form is not considered fine art by crusty old timers. Then the old timers DIE and times move on and presto! It's fine art. It isn't about the medium in the first place. If I spatter paint on a canvas, it isn't going to be fine art. When Jackson Pollock did it, it was. My 3d models look nice, but they are a craft, not fine art. The guys who designed, oh say, Wall-E? Fine artists by any stretch of the imagination. Get it? It isn't the media, it is the artistic quality that determines whether something is fine art or not.

    Whoever added that tag, the only connection you've got to art are the lead paint chips you ate as a child.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      (Fine) Art is anything you can get away with. - Andy Warhol
  • While I agree with others that an online mirror at a remote location or copying the data to whatever the current preferred medium is every 3-5 years are good ideas, I think you're reading too much into this. Once you've delivered the information to them, it's their job to safeguard it. Any institution that already has digital media in their collection probably already has an existing plan in place to ensure the safety of that data. I think a better approach would be to choose a good, economical archival
  • Data on a DVD/CD doesn't all crap out at once. In normal usage, scratches cause some data loss. However for long term storage significant loss would happen when the plastic reflective surface itself degrades. Still, when properly stored, a DVD/CD should last 30 years. To increase the odds of your data lasting, and to spend the least amount of cash, simply make multiple copies of your most precious data. That way, hopefully, each DVD/CD will retain SOME data and it can all be pieced back together from the mu
    • Physically storing the data isn't really the biggest problem. Magnetic Tapes are good for a very long time, as are other magnetic storage options. The issue is that the tape formats tend to not last that long. What happens when you make the tape in the format of the day, in the "best" codec of the day, and that becomes obsolete within 10 years? 50 years down the road, nobody will be able to read it since the machines to do so will not exist.

      The only way to do it would be to constantly monitor the data a

      • by cdrguru (88047)

        Codec? Any compression implies decompression and recompression. No, you want uncompressed original source material.

  • Why God Why (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Verdatum (1257828) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @01:36PM (#29582891)
    This is like the 20th Ask Slashdot bitching about the nonpermanence of DVDs and requesting an alternative. If slashdot hasn't answered the question before, it isn't going to answer it now.
  • The simple answer is there is no archival way of storing it. While the digital media may last for ages, the readers probably won't. This is the biggest issue with digital media.

    Just look at things like the (remaining) Apollo tapes. The electronic media that exists works fine, but the machines to read them do not.

    • by loftwyr (36717)
      And in 100 years, any format that the artwork is in will be obsolete and lost. The only thing that might work is a self contained machine that is fixable using simple tools that includes not only the digital art but the software necessary to view the art. If the hardware can't be fixed using simple tools, it will eventually die leaving a useless paperweight that was once worth a lot of money.
  • Aw geeze - again!? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Animaether (411575) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @01:36PM (#29582905) Journal

    Honestly, Slashdot editors, can we put a moritarium on these "whrrr what medium do I choose to back my stuff up on so that it will still be readable N year from now???" stories?
    We just HAD one of these less than two weeks ago!
    http://ask.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=09/09/29/1646251 [slashdot.org]

    The top comment there?

    Holy crap we're approaching the need for an Ask Slashdot FAQ. I feel old.

    - Zlurg; http://linux.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1371703&cid=29449669 [slashdot.org]

    Slashdot askers: could you please, please, just browse back a month or two to see this discussion dealt with over, and over, and over?

    No. Your mentioning that this is for a *museum* doesn't change anything - all of those discussions are from people who want to achieve immortality through archived proof that they once lived and want their great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandchildren to see the bodyshots they took off of their great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandmother.
    No. Your mentioning that this doesn't have to be cheap doesn't change anything either - all of those discussions will have replies varying in cost, right on up to suggesting you etch the data into a platinum carrier.

    I'll summarize the replies from all of those discussions for you here.. by the time I'm done, they'll probably all appear as replies in -this- 'story' again as well.

    A. Back up to any media, make duplicates, refresh these duplicates onto whatever media is now-current and reliable enough that it doesn't die the very next morning, keep the old ones around. This ensures that you always have overlapping technologies so that you -can- transfer the data just fine, and that the data will live on until somebody gets sick and tired of doing this. Note that the burden with this falls onto the museum - in both time and cost - but thankfully they can then do so for entire collections, and not just your stuff.

    B. Drop it on a filesharing network, invoke the "once it's on the internet" claim.. although good luck finding, say, Fearless (1993 movie, not the Jet Li thing) which -was- easily found at least 5 years ago (I should know, I grabbed it to check out the plane crash; didn't care for the rest of the movie). So, scratch that.

    C. If graphics: turn them into archival quality negatives. If audio: slap 'm on a phonographic record. Yes, they will degrade, but they will degrade 'gracefully' and even if some future generation has no idea what the heck to do with an SD card, figuring out negatives (or positives if you will) and records is rather simple.

  • is the price you pay for digital storage. As of now there is no 'archival grade' way of digitally storing something. If you are storing digital data, you have to go through the rigmarole that we all do. Redundant backups, offsite storage, periodic and consistent data integrity checks and disaster recovery testing.
  • Um....tape??? (Score:5, Informative)

    by lxt (724570) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @01:41PM (#29582965) Journal
    The fact that you haven't thought of tape makes me question how well you know the industry you're in, or how well-connected you actually are. Why can't you put your video files onto DigiBeta or similar? Tape stores well, and with a format like DigiBeta you're pretty much guaranteed compatability for at least 50 years+ (since there's so much TV back catalogue stored on tape, and there will always be a need by broadcasters to get to that content). I don't want to come off as rude, but it just sound like you don't really know much about video production and archival, despite the fact you've chosen to produce video installations and artwork. You're not the first person in the world to do this kind of thing - there are established proceedures for dealing with and archiving video installation work. This still doesn't entirely solve your problem of storing your raw data, but since you specifically talk about .mov files I'm perplexed that you haven't already thought of tape. I suspect you're going to get a lot of answers here that are wildly impractical for a gallery or go well beyond your means - but the fact is this: if a museum or gallery is looking to purchase your work, they should already have a curator who knows the medium. If they don't have a curator who can discuss with you the formats he/she would like the work in, the gallery probably needs to rethink what it's doing in the business!
  • It's simple (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    So I want to ask the Slashdot readers, what can I give to the museum when they acquire my digital work for their collection so that it can last and be seen long after I am dead?

    1. Give them a bunch of DVDs
    2. Die immediately
  • Frame by frame image captures into JPEG (or TGA if you aren't hurting for storage) and then save the audio track in raw wav file.

    At least I think that will be the most compatible in 100 years.

  • Etch the 1s and 0s into a steel plate. Then seal it in one of those food vacuum seal bags. Then put that bag in another bag.

    That should do it. It'll last forever, and can be manually recovered easily.

    Side note:
    This was on the bottom of the page: " There's nothing like a girl with a plunging neckline to keep a man on his toes. "

  • Your local arts and crafts store should have acid-free DVDs specifically for things like this (and storing digital scrapbooks of that trip to Arizona with the grandkids.)

  • by Tim99 (984437) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @02:04PM (#29583313)
    Most of the technological solutions that are currently offered, do as you say, have limited lifetimes. Our company makes museum collection management software, so we have thought about this.
    In the 1980s, I was involved in an interesting project that required that a large quantity health and safety data that we were generating, be kept in a digital format for 70 years (a reasonable lifetime for a person who was then an adult). Our supplier, IBM, suggested that we used WORM discs (a predecessor of CD-R). They had a large data capacity and were 'guaranteed to last a lifetime'. A few years later we were told that a 'lifetime' was 5-20 years, so we should move the data from our WORM library. We were then installing new computers that did not provide native support for WORM drives, so we moved the data to a server and transferred it to the new media of CD-Rs - A few years after that CD-Rs were also found to have very limited lives.

    We found that keeping multiple back-ups on tape; and on different geographically separate servers was the only convenient way of storing this data so that we could retrieve it. So, it became standard policy to replace the servers every few years with newer models and transfer the data (and metadata, with codec documentation) across to the new machines, and to forget about removable media back-ups.

    If you want to make artworks available for a couple of hundred years, there is a technology that we know is OK - Putting images on high quality acid-free paper using permanent pigments (not dyes). Alternatively, you could consider using a coded representation of the data on some permanent medium, with an 'easy' way of constructing a playback device, also encoded on the media cf. the Voyager Golden Record http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voyager_Golden_Record [wikipedia.org]

    You may not want to use gold, because someone will probably steal it - So, alternatively, consider a large piece of stone and a chisel...
  • Digital information isn't books and pictures, and there's no reason it should be stored like it is.

    Rather than files full of "archive media", which incurs regular conversion charges and risks both media degridation and "missing one" in the conversion resulting in it being unreadable: I recommend institutions work with live storage.

    Setup a SAN, keep the data there, keep a live replica at another location. Backup the SAN on schedule.

    As failures of storage media occur, they are detected (because the system is

  • Load it into the buffer and do a continuous CRC check until someone coms around to rematerialize it.
  • they exist- they play video of dead people right over the grave...

    they've had the same problem, and been around a while....

  • ... It'll be seeded for decades.

  • Contact the Rosetta foundation [rosettaproject.org], and use his physical format to give your data a lifespan of ten millenia.
  • by JustOK (667959)

    There will probably always be new media, so just set up the program to review and take action every few years as warranted.

  • Archive your work in glass, stone or fired clay tablets. Its the only thing that even somewhat reliably lasts for thousands of years. If you can get a data density of 1 byte / cm^3 a 4 gig data file will only take up a block of stacked tablets a little over 16 meters cubed. I am pretty sure you could get slightly better data density though.

  • If it's a digital print, then print it. Museums have years of experience keeping paintings and printings in pristine condition longer after the artist is dead. If it's an animation move it to film. Once again Hollywood has many years under their belt in keeping old movies around long after everyone associated with the movie is dead. Museums do not keep the paint cans, brushes, sculpture plates and the tools artists use. They keep the product. Don't worry about the tools, just get it to the end medium and th
  • Take a look at http://www.millenniata.com/ [millenniata.com] -- their tagline is "Write once, read forever." It's a group out of BYU, which is tied to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who have the largest collection of genealogical records in the world. They've been storing everything on microfiche in a massive vault, and would really like to switch to digital media but for the archival problems you mention. Millenniata grew out of research into making stable DVDs--they guess that their DVDs are stable enough

  • This Topic (Score:5, Funny)

    by techsoldaten (309296) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @03:03PM (#29584085) Journal
    This topic comes up every couple years or so. There is a good thread about archival media [slashdot.org] that is still surprisingly relevant today. My original response to the question is available here [slashdot.org]. "For my clients, I always suggest the use of stone and / or clay tablets for all mission critical data archive projects, regardless of size or scope. Bablyonian and Greek models of data retention from as far back as 4,500 years ago are (in many cases) superior to the models we commonly use today, with much of the physical media having survived electrical storms, tornadoes, floods, fires, and wars on every scale imaginable with a data corruption rate of zero and without the benefit of a climate controlled room, dedicated security staff, or even a closet for media storage. Imagine the elegance of a 84'3/4 STROM (Stone Tablet Read Only Memory) machine hooked up to your Slackware Archive server for performing restorations, and the ST Binary Writer you have networked to your backup systems and kept physically over by the quarry... nice! The TCO for slab is far less than that of tape archives, considering you can store the media in a pile of mud and hose it down when you are ready for a restoration." M
  • How about just letting it be known that there is only a finite amount of time for people to enjoy it in its original form. The things future art lovers think worth saving will be passed on generation to generation as legend and as such will change in each retelling, giving them a life of their own.
  • One sided with a good laser-printer on white paper. Best in OCR-B. Should last several centuries if handled carefully. Include interpretation instructions.

    Yes, this sounds strange, but currently the only other viable solution for realy long-term backup is to copy to a new set of redundant media every 5 years or so keep the data on redundant servers with also regular checks and updates.

    One technology that can do this is MOD, but its market share was never good and has dropped dramatically enough that long-te

  • Disclaimer, I work for a large contemporary art museum in New Media. We deal with this stuff all of the time and it's something I have an interest in (obviously). The answer for you is there is no tried and true method for archiving digital media. Every arts institution struggles with this, especially when it relates to computational or internet enabled or social media works of art. There are various opinions on what it even *means* to archive some of this stuff and there are varying degrees of opinions

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