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From Context to Content: On the Preservation of Net-based Art

Since the advent of the practice in the mid Nineties of the Twentieth Century, net-based art has proved to be a challenge for art conservators. The first, obvious problem is related to the disappearance of artworks from the public platform of the Internet. The second, obvious set of problems – which net-based art shares with any other form of media art – is related to the technological obsolescence of hardwares and softwares. Although these topics are raised and briefly discussed here, most of the following essay is focused on a third, not so obvious, set of problems: the ones related to the fast, unpredictable, unavoidable evolution of the context in which net-based art is created and delivered, namely the Internet as a technological, but also a social, infrastructure. A complex, ever-evolving system of computers, protocols and cables, accessible from an increasing number of devices and interfaces, by an increasing number of people belonging to different cultures and communities and governed by a complex, constantly updated set of regulations, habits, conventions and interests. How can art manifest in such a context? How can it be preserved for future audiences, beyond documentation and beyond the obvious conservation of its “material”, digital manifestation? “From Context to Content: On the Preservation of Net-based Art” is an attempt to address these questions.

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01 Jul 2020
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