Preserving Digital Works of Art: A Challenge for Museums

What is the value of our cultural heritage created in the early days of digital technology, in digital form? If you look at the resources society allocates to the preservation of digital art, you might think: Not much. It is true that the digital age began with digital art. And recently, NFT art has revolutionised the market with record prices, stunning and upsetting those who had been considering themselves experts. But all this does not mean that the public recognises the value of digital cultural assets. At the very least, too little is being done to prevent its loss: Preserving, restoring and archiving digital art professionally, as we naturally do with analogue cultural assets – only a handful of people are even capable of performing those tasks. And for many works that are created and made accessible in the digital space today, strategies for restoration and archiving are completely lacking. Here, art has similar problems as science and administration: the analogue is durable, the digital – still – fragile.

Margit Rosen heads the Department Wissen – Collections, Archives & Research at the ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe. In this episode of Digitalgespräch, the expert explains the challenges for museums that hold digital collections and are responsible for them. She describes movements in the art scene, describes debates, discourse spaces and actors and shows how urgently society needs to become aware of the transience of its digital culture. With hosts Petra Gehring and Marlene Görger Rosen discusses the concrete questions arising in the process, how relevant the incursion of blockchain technology into the art and museum scene is in this context – and to what extent social media are also art media.

Episode 38 of Digitalgespräch, feat. Margit Rosen of ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe, 27 June 2023
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The podcast is in German. At the moment there is no English version or transcript available.