Online Resources

In recent years a number of national and international organizations and consortia have undertaken major research initiatives, conferences and projects relating to new challenges and practices in moving image media exhibition, acquisition and preservation. The following is not a comprehensive list of these initiatives, but a selection of some of the important resources and reference materials that are currently available online.

The American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC): Electronic Media Group

The Electronic Media Group, formed in 1998, is a subsidiary of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC), a professional membership organization for conservators. Its goals are the preservation of electronic art, electronic-based cultural materials and tools of creation, and providing a means for conservators and related professionals to develop and maintain knowledge of relevant new media and emerging technologies.

Archiving the Avant-Garde: Documenting and Preserving Digital/Variable Media Art

This consortium project develops ways to catalog and preserve digital and Internet art, performance, installation, conceptual, and other variable media art collections, in order to provide current and future generations with the opportunity to learn from and be inspired by the works and ensure the perpetuation and accuracy of art historical records. Consortium members include the University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, with the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Cleveland Performance Art Festival and Archive, Franklin Furnace Archive, and

The Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA)

AMIA is a nonprofit professional membership association for individuals and institutions concerned with the preservation of moving images. AMIA fosters cooperation among those concerned with the acquisition, preservation, exhibition and use of moving image materials. In addition to publication and education programs, AMIA holds an annual conference, develops and promotes standards, offers a listserv, honors archivists and archival organizations, administers scholarships and fellowships, and designs and implements national moving image preservation policies and plans. AMIA's online resource includes storage standards and guidelines for film and videotape, including Q&As on video formats, preservation, and videotape preservation fact sheets.

Association of Recorded Sound Collections (ARSC)

Founded in 1966, the Association for Recorded Sound Collections (ARSC) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to research, study, publication, and information exchange surrounding all aspects of recordings and recorded sound.

AV Matters in Media Arts

AV Matters in Media Arts is a moderated discussion list about audiovisual media (i.e. audio tape, video tape, DVD). Established by Jim Lindner of the magnetic media restoration facility Vidipax in 1999, the discussions address topics such as identifying new trends in media types and how to care for older media. To subscribe to the list, email

Bay Area Video Coalition (BAVC)

The Bay Area Video Coalition (BAVC) has established the only professionally equipped nonprofit preservation center in the nation. BAVC offers cleaning and transferring of archival material to current video formats for universities, museums, nonprofit institutions and artists. PLAYBACK: Preserving Analog Video is BAVC's interactive DVD that invites users to view the technical practices of video preservation and experience the complex decision-making process artists, conservators, and video engineers engage in to reconstruct video artwork. Video Preservation Resources, the online component to the DVD, features a bibliography, glossary, scholarly essays, event archives, and links relating to video preservation.

Conservation OnLine (CoOL)

This resource, prepared by the Preservation Committee of The Association of Moving Image Archivists, offers guidance to custodians of archival video collections of any size. The discussion uses non-technical language to focus on fundamental issues concerning the long-term care and handling of videotape. Conservation DistList is CoOL's discussion group, which is intended for professionals involved with the conservation of museum, archive, or library materials. To sign on to DistList, send the following message to subscribe consdist YourFirstName YourLastName.

Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR)

CLIR is an independent nonprofit organization that works to expand access to information, however recorded and preserved, as a public good. The CLIR Web site includes publications relating to media collections, such as "Strategies and Tools for the Digital Library" and "Directory of Information Sources on Scientific Research Related to the Preservation of Sound Recordings, Still and Moving Images and Magnetic Tape." "Magnetic Tape Storage and Handling" is a useful guide for libraries, collections, and archives.

CRUMB: Curatorial Resource for Upstart Media Bliss

CRUMB (Curatorial Resource for Upstart Media Bliss), a project of the University of Sunderland in the United Kingdom, responds to the idea that the Internet, telematics, and interactive media are changing the ways curators work, and examines how new media art is presented, commissioned, collected, and critiqued. The site aims to help independent and institutional curators, producers, technicians, and commissioners, and includes extensive interviews with curators, a new-media-curating discussion list, documentation of seminars, bibliographies, links, etc. (An interview with CRUMB founders Sarah Cook and Beryl Graham appears in this Resource Guide.)

The Daniel Langlois Foundation for Art, Science, and Technology

The Daniel Langlois Foundation's purpose is to further artistic and scientific knowledge by fostering the meeting of art and science in the field of technologies. The Foundation, based in Montreal, seeks to nurture a critical awareness of technology's implications for human beings and their natural and cultural environments and to promote the exploration of aesthetics suited to evolving human environments. The Centre for Research and Documentation (CR+D) seeks to document history, artworks and practices associated with electronic and digital media arts and to make this information available to researchers in an innovative manner through data communications.

Danish Video Art Data Bank: Immaterial Variable Media Art / Video Art Preservation: Studies and suggestions

This study, conducted by The Danish Video Art Data Bank, concentrates on the preservation of videotapes as well as addressing other forms of immaterial variable media artworks. The site includes preservation recommendations and strategies, case studies, and links to other resources.

Database of Virtual Art

The Database of Virtual Art documents the rapidly evolving field of digital installation art. This research-oriented overview of immersive, interactive, telematic, and genetic art has been developed in cooperation with established media artists, researchers and institutions. The Web-based, cost-free instrument allows users to post material themselves, including video documentation, technical data, interfaces, and displays.

Dead Media Project

Created by students of the Vancouver Film School - Multimedia, the Dead Media Project is a virtual library dedicated to cataloguing obsolete media.

Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC)

The Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC) was established in 2001 to foster joint action to address the urgent challenges of securing the preservation of digital resources in the United Kingdom, and to work with others internationally to secure our global digital memory and knowledge base.

DOCAM: Documentation and Conservation of Media Arts Heritage

DOCAM is a multidisciplinary research project initiated by the Daniel Langlois Foundation to examine the increasingly challenging issue of media art conservation. Over the project's five-year mandate, numerous case studies will be conducted that focus on documentary collections and conserving works of art featuring technological content. These studies will contribute to the development of tools and methods to better assure the preservation of the fragile media arts heritage. The DOCAM research alliance is comprised of some 20 organizations.

Electronic Art in Public Space

This Norwegian resource focuses on the presentation and installation of electronic media artworks in public venues, primarily in Norway. It contains articles, representative works, and technical resources relating to installation and exhibition.

Electronic Resource Preservation and Access Network (ERPANET)

This European consortium publishes information, best practices and skills development in the area of digital preservation of cultural heritage and scientific objects. ERPANET brings together museums, libraries and archives with members of the software and entertainment industries.

FACT: Moving Image Touring & Exhibition Service (MITES)

The Moving Image Touring and Exhibition Service (MITES) is a national exhibition technology resource for artists and exhibitors in the UK. This resource is based at FACT (Foundation for Art & Creative Technology) in Liverpool, an organization for the commissioning and presentation of film, video, and new media art forms. The Website includes a section called "Equipment and Resources," which identifies and defines equipment used for exhibiting media art.

Independent Media Arts Preservation (IMAP)

IMAP is a nonprofit service, education, and advocacy organization committed to the preservation of non-commercial electronic media. IMAP's core constituents include institutions, organizations, and individuals whose diverse media collections are underserved by existing preservation efforts. IMAP provides archivists, artists, conservators, curators, distributors, librarians, media makers, producers, registrars, scholars, and other professionals with accessible solutions to document and preserve media collections. Imap-L is an online discussion list sponsored by IMAP. To subscribe, send a message

The International Network for the Conservation of Contemporary Art (INCCA)

The International Network for the Conservation of Contemporary Art (INCCA), founded in 1999, is a network for the conservation community, including conservators, curators, scientists, registrars, archivists, art historians, and researchers. Members of INNCA share the Database for Artists' Archives, which allows them access to each other's unpublished information. The Web site provides information for professionals and for visitors with a general interest in the conservation and documentation of modern and contemporary art, including links to major projects relating to preserving media art and installation.

Inside Installations: Preservation and Presentation of Installation Art

Inside Installations is a research project on the preservation and presentation of installation art coordinated by the Netherlands Institute for Cultural Heritage (ICN) and co-organized by Tate, England; Restaurierungzentrum Dusseldorf, Germany; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Spain; Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, Belgium, and Foundation for the Conservation of Contemporary Art, The Netherlands. Based on 30 case studies of complex installation works in the collections of participating museums, the project investigates preservation strategies, artists' participation, documentation, archiving, theory and semantics, knowledge management, and information exchange. A case study of Bruce Nauman's installation Mapping the Studio ll with color shift, flip, flop, & flip/flop (Fat Chance John Cage), from 2001, is featured on the Tate's Web site.

InterPARES Project: International Research on Permanent Authentic Records in Electronic Systems

InterPARES is an international research endeavor aimed at developing the theoretical and methodological knowledge essential to the long-term preservation of authentic records created and/or maintained in digital form.

ISEA: Inter-Society for the Electronic Arts

Founded in the Netherlands in 1990, the Inter-Society for the Electronic Arts (ISEA) is an international nonprofit organization fostering interdisciplinary academic discourse and exchange among culturally diverse organizations and individuals working with art, science and emerging technologies. ISEA publishes a newsletter; hosts an online archive and exchange environment; and oversees the International Symposium on Electronic Art, a regular gathering of the international art, science, and technology community.

LabGuy's World

This website tracks the history of video tape recorders before Betamax and VHS. LabGuy's World features a virtual museum of extinct video recorders and video cameras, a catalog of extinct video equipment and related documentation, and information on key pioneers in VTR history.

Ludwig Boltzmann Institute Media.Art.Research

The Ludwig Boltzmann Institute Media.Art.Research in Linz, Austria, conducts research to develop strategies and standards to document, describe, and conserve digital artworks and works of media art. In June 2006, experts convened for a workshop entitled "Survival and Maintenance of Media-Based Art: An Overview of Existing and Developing Strategies of Documentation, Archiving, and Conservation."

M-Cult: Server for New Media Culture is an online information and communication resource for new media culture, published by the m-cult Center for New Media Culture in Helsinki, Finland. It aims to promote the cooperation of communities, organizations, and individuals working with new media and to help users to navigate the vast field of digital culture.

Media Art Net

Media Art Net, a German collaborative project, surveys historic and current positions and contexts of media art by exploring thematic concepts. This extensive Web resource includes sections on: Aesthetics of the Digital; Sound and Image; Cyborg Bodies; Photo/Byte; Generative Tools; Art and Cinematography; Mapping and Text; the Public Sphere; and an Overview of Media Art.

media_art_net Dortmund

media_art_net Dortmund is an interdisciplinary platform for the production, presentation, and preservation of media/new media art. One of its aims is to establish interdisciplinary infrastructures to foster the development of strategies, methods and facilities for the documentation and preservation of media/new media art. Media_art_net Dortmund projects include 404 Object Not Found: What remains of media art?, an international congress to address questions of the production, presentation and preservation of media art.

Matters in Media Arts: Collaborating Towards the Care of Time-based Media Works of Art

Curators, conservators, registrars, and media technical managers from New Art Trust, Tate, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York have formed a consortium to establish best practice guidelines for care of time-based media works of art, including video, slide, film, audio, and computer-based installations. This project aims to raise awareness of the requirements of these works and to provide a practical response to the need for international agreement among museums. Phase one of the project focuses on the management of loans of time-based media works and includes the development of guidelines for budgeting, installation, documentation, and loan agreements.

The National Television and Video Preservation Foundation (NTVPF)

The National Television and Video Preservation Foundation is an independent, non-profit organization created to fulfill a long-standing need by raising private funds and providing grants to support preservation and access projects at institutions with television and video collections throughout the United States.

Netherlands Media Art Institute: Montevideo/Time Based Arts

The Netherlands Media Art Institute supports media art in three core areas: presentation, research, and conservation. The Institute publishes an online newsletter, Monitoring Media Art Preservation. Its project Preservation of Video Art, a two-year-long research initiative in cooperation with museums and organizations throughout Europe, led to the publication of the book Sustainability of Video Art. In 2005, the Institute held a conference in Amsterdam on the conservation and documentation of media art. The conference was conceived with the project OASIS, or Open Archiving System with Internet Sharing, which seeks to preserve media art by developing an archiving platform linking the media art databases of several institutes and collections.

New Media Encyclopedia

The New Media Encyclopedia is a trilingual (English-French-German) online catalogue. For this project, the Centre Georges Pompidou, the Museum Ludwig, the Centre pour l'Image Contemporaine, and the Fonds national d'art contemporain have pooled information on their respective holdings in order to provide the international public with a reference work bringing together four major European collections.

The Platform for the Archiving and preservation of Artistic Creations on Electronic and Digital Bearers

.Packed is an initiative by the Flemish museums Smak and Muhka, together with argos centre for audiovisual arts. This preservation platform is targeted towards the exchange and compilation of expertise and information on preservation and archiving, collection building, and the public disclosure of audiovisual creations, as well as discussions on the development of short-term policy preparation.

Refresh!: First International Conference on the Histories of Media Art, Science and Technology

The Media Art History Project attempts a history of audiovisual media, from the laterna magica to the panorama, phantasmagoria, film, and virtual art. The Refresh! Conference, held in 2005 at the Banff New Media Institute in Canada, focused on historiography, methodology, and the role of media art institutions. The second conference, re:place 2007, will take place in Berlin. Artbase is an online platform for the global new media art community, supporting the creation, presentation, discussion, and preservation of contemporary art that uses new technologies in significant ways. ArtBase is the organization's online archive of new media art including some 1,600 projects. For preservation purposes, an ArtBase Artist Questionnaire was created in conjunction with the Guggenheim Museum's Variable Media Initiative. The questionnaire gathers information necessary for guiding future preservation measures, including documentation, migration, emulation, and reinterpretation. A detailed report on the preservation of Rhizome's ArtBase is included on the site.

Society of American Archivists (SAA)

Founded in 1936, the Society of American Archivists (SAA) is North America's oldest and largest national archival professional association. SAA's publications include the AMIA Compendium of Moving Image Cataloging Practice, which offers solutions to cataloging problems unique to moving images, and The Film Preservation Guide: The Basics for Archives, Libraries, and Museums, which covers practices for identifying, handling, copying, making available, and storing motion pictures under conditions that protect the original material.

TechArchaeology: A Symposium on Installation Art Preservation

TechArchaeology was a conference held at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) in January 2000. Twenty-five curators, conservators, and artists gathered with the objective to advance the development of conservation practices for technology-based installation art. The conference was conceived by Mona Jimenez and Paul Messier, funded by The Getty Grant Program, and organized by Bay Area Video Coalition (BAVC). The Journal of the American Institute for Conservation devoted its Fall/Winter 2001 issue to TechArcheology's dialog and case studies.

Texas Commission on the Arts Videotape Identification and Assessment Guide

This online guide was created by the Texas Commission on the Arts to assist custodians of video materials with the care and preservation of these materials. The guide includes detailed descriptions of different video formats, instructions for condition assessment, and an evaluation of the factors that can affect the materials' longevity. The 55-page Videotape Identification and Assessment Guide is available for download as a pdf.

Training for Audiovisual Preservation in Europe (TAPE)

TAPE (Training for Audiovisual Preservation in Europe), funded under the Culture 2000 program of the EU, is a project for raising awareness and training through meetings, research, publications, and workshops. TAPE focuses on audiovisual collections held outside the major national institutions with specific responsibilities for audiovisual heritage and providing continued access to audiovisual materials and the application of new technologies for opening up collections that provide living documentation of the world of the 20th century.


DigiArts is one of UNESCO's major initiatives aimed at the development of interdisciplinary activities in research, creativity and communication in the field of media arts. Media Art International is part of the DigiArts portal project of UNESCO, providing documentation on media arts and information on artists working in the field, with a special focus on countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, as well as the Arab Nations.

United States National Archives: Special Media Preservation Laboratory

The Special Media Preservation Laboratory at the United States National Archives is responsible for reformatting and duplicating records created in textual and nontextual formats. This includes duplicating motion picture film, still photos, microfilm, and sound and video recordings; microfilming paper records; reformatting audio and video recordings in obsolete formats that cannot be used on currently-available playback equipment; and generating digital images of records. Some records are available online.

V2_ : Institute for Unstable Media

Capturing Unstable Media

V2_ is an interdisciplinary center for art and media technology in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. The archive team of V2_Organisation conducted research on the documentation aspects of the preservation of electronic art for a project called Capturing Unstable Media. They studied five organizations involved in documenting and preserving electronic art, and conducted detailed case studies of projects developed at V2_Lab. Extensive notes on this project's findings are available online. The Capturing Unstable Media Conceptual Model (CMCM) is offered as a model for describing objects and their documentation. (A summary of this project is available in this Resource Guide.)

Variable Media Network

The Variable Media Network proposes a new preservation strategy that emerged from the Guggenheim Museum's efforts to preserve its collection of conceptual, minimalist, and video art. Supported by the Daniel Langlois Foundation, the variable media paradigm encourages artists to define their work independently from medium so that the work can be translated once its current medium is obsolete. The Web site includes case studies of artworks that have been preserved, as well as transcripts from Variable Media Network's 2001 conference "Preserving the Immaterial" and the 2004 symposium "Echoes of Art: Preservation as an Emulation Strategy." A downloadable PDF publication on the Variable Media Approach is also available online.

Video History Project

The Experimental Television Center's Video History Project is an ongoing research initiative that documents video art and community television as it evolved in rural and urban New York State, and across the U.S. Begun in 1994, the Project has several initiatives including research, conferences, and the website. The Web site offers comprehensive resources on people, groups, tools, collections and publications related to video and its history and preservation.

VidiPax: Magnetic Tape Preservation The Web site of VidiPax, a magnetic media preservation facility, offers a video format guide, an audio format guide, and a virtual museum showcasing old wire recorders, reel-to-reel audio decks, and video recorders. The basics of magnetic tape preservation are explained with sections devoted to tape composition, problems with magnetic tape, storage, reformatting, and restoration.