ZKM | Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe (DE)
Morgane Stricot is Senior Conservator for digital art at ZKM, Zentrum für Kunst und Medien, Karlsruhe, Germany. She is also a PhD candidate at PAMAL (Preservation & Art – Media Archaeology Lab) and has studied the preservation of complex digital objects during her MA in Conservation of Media and Digital Art at Ecole Supérieure d’Art d’Avignon, France, and in her fellowship at the Still Water Lab in the New Media Department of the University of Maine, USA. Her PhD research focuses on the methods and limits of media archaeology as a preservation theory. She won the Leonardo award at The Emerging Researchers’ Symposium, Media Art Histories ReCreate, in 2015.
Piracy and folk preservation in digital art conservation
ZKM promotes the conservation of its digital artworks in their historical technological environment because we believe in the non-neutrality of technology and code as a form of expression. We know for a fact that this decision is putting our cross-disciplinary team in difficult situations sometimes but this also gives the public a chance to see concrete form of past media in action with their related cultural, economic and political implications. To maintain old projects alive, ZKM based its preservation strategy on the basic principle “lots of copies keep stuff safe” (LOCKSS, Stanford University Libraries). Unfortunately, as you can guess, copies and proliferation are not in the philosophy of software companies’ business strategy. Through different research projects, ZKM is addressing the controversial issues of cracking abandoned or unsupported proprietary software or hacking API to guarantee access to its digital art collection, with the help of folk preservationists. Kari Kraus from the university of Maryland pointed out that “historically we know that piracy has helped guarantee the survival of important works of literature and art”. ZKM decided to be one of the first museums to open its gates to pirates and folk preservation to keep stuff alive. Launching a communication hub by the end of this year, ZKM’s goal is to bridge folk resources and museum’s research together for the sake of digital art preservation. Who else, if not a museum, can open the debate on digital decay due to copy protection and other aggressive business models in software industry? This could benefit to so many other institutions struggling with third-party dependency of digital contents.