Sabancı University is introducing a new research project titled ‘Technological Arts Preservation’ led by Sakıp Sabancı Museum’s archive and research space, digitalSSM. The project will begin with a panel on ‘Conservation of Software-based art,’ followed by a conference on ‘Preservation of Net Art’ on 15 November 2019. The events will continue with the workshop titled ‘Time-based Media Conservation’ on 16 November 2019.

Artwork collections gradually branch out to include works produced using technologies including video, sound, image, code, virtual or augmented reality, kinetic, digital or physical hybridity. These artworks are also dependent on software and hardware technologies regarding their representation. Considering the rapid changes in technology, the question as to how these arworks will be conserved for the future emerges as a challenging issue for all instutitions shouldering the resposibility of preserving cultural legacy.

The project, which was made possible through the collaboration of scholars, new media and digital art conservators, software engineers, researchers, art world professionals and information managers from institutions including Berlin University of the Arts, Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe (ZKM), Rhizome, Sabancı University, Sakıp Sabancı Museum and Tate at foremost will revolve around questions below:

•    How and why should we preserve technological artworks?
•    How should we define and classify technological artworks?
•    What is the role of software in the preservation of technological artworks?
•    Recently, numerous artworks using technology are faced with the danger of disappearing as the software system, hardware and network infrastructure they employ become outdated. What measures should we take to maintain their endurance?
•    Would updating technological artworks per se rapid developments in their related fields affect their originality and historicity?
•    How could we maintain the preservation of artworks created through web-based technologies?
•    How would web archives operate as a tool for both representing and preserving technological artworks?
•    Which responsibilities should artists, curators and collection managers take to maintain the preservation of technological artworks?
•    Which methods do contemporary museums apply to preserve and include technological artworks in their collections?
•    Which strategies should we develop to maintain the accessibility of technological artworks in the future?
Project team:

Selçuk Artut (Faculty Member, Visual Art and Visual Communication Design – Sabancı University)
Cemal Yılmaz (Faculty Member, Computer Science & Engineering – Sabancı University)
Osman Serhat Karaman (Digital Preservation Specialist, Sabancı University Sakıp Sabancı Museum)


© Sabancı University Sakıp Sabancı Museum


Selçuk Artut, Osman Serhat Karaman, Cemal Yılmaz (eds.)

Sabancı University Sakıp Sabancı Museum


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Unless otherwise indicated, all texts © by the individual authors and their copyright holders. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form by any electronic or mechanical means (including photocopying, recording, or information storage and retrieval) without permission in writing from SSM.

It is with an increasing tendency that works of art produced with the help of technology (such as video, sound, image, code, virtual reality, augmented reality, kinetic, digital and physical hybridities), or that require technology to work (such as hardware or software) are being included into various art collections. How these artworks would be carried into the future considering the rapidly advancing technology becomes a conundrum for all cultural institutions responsible for conserving cultural heritage. As a response to these needs, The Technological Arts Preservation Project has come into existence with the cooperation of Sakıp Sabancı Museum and Sabancı University. The project was initiated on May 23, 2019 when Osman Serhat Karaman, Sakıp Sabancı Museum digitalSSM Archive and Research Space Manager, invited Selçuk Artut, faculty member of Sabancı University Visual Arts and Visual Communication Design Program to give a speech on the issue.

The Technological Arts Preservation Project aims at cooperation and information-sharing between professionals from various disciplines and areas of expertise. Scholars, media theorists, researchers, digital art conservators, curators and artists, software engineers, and computer scientists from significant institutions such as INA (Institut national de l'audiovisuel), Rhizome, Tate Modern, ZKM have contributed to the research project that gained international status. Within the scope of the project between November 15, 2019 and November 20, 2020, nine conferences and a workshop have been conducted on the preservation of software-based art, preservation of virtual reality, media archaeology, net art and web archiving. Our aim in organizing these conferences and workshops was to contribute to international research in carrying both digital art and digital culture into the future, to discuss the results of new research, and to develop new and interdisciplinary modes of cooperation. We have reached a total number of 2000 participants through these events we have organized within the scope of the project, continuing our efforts online due to the pandemic, beginning from May 2020. We would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to Digilogue for their invaluable partnership in realizing the events that took place as part of the project.

Presently, technological arts preservation is a common issue. Many problems such as erased digital photos, unrepairable, broken backup units, or records that would fall into oblivion due to discontinued media players now constitute a significant part of our daily lives. However, in terms of artworks, it is of vital importance that the matter should be handled with an interdisciplinary point of view within the context of preservation of cultural values. The book you have in front of you was prepared with great care and in awareness of the aforementioned responsibilities. Bringing together esteemed scholars, leading figures in arts and culture, artists as well as scientists, all expert names in their respective fields, this study includes comprehensive texts approaching the issue from different points of view. Consisting of three sections, the first part of the publication includes in-depth essays, the second part brings together content created based on the events we have conducted, and lastly, the third part chronicles answers of the artists to a questionnaire on the preservation of their work. We hope that this book will constitute a well-rounded source for those who have a sensibility for the very cultural values that make us human and how they may be carried into the future; we sincerely hope it will light the way for similar studies in the future.