New media art constitutes a significant vein of contemporary artistic production, with many artists creating culturally significant artworks that critically investigate the meanings and uses of technology in the contemporary moment. Yet countless such works have been lost from
the cultural record, with even more rapidly becoming inaccessible. For the past several decades, advances in technology have radically altered daily life, with the computer especially persisting as a deep and active force in the cultural imaginary. Artists respond to this present technological landscape through experimentation, play, and critical inquiry, creating artworks that push the boundaries of hardware and software, and forge connections across the digital and the analog. These works exist at the bleeding edge and often have a short lifespan. The preservation of more 'standard' digital objects is already a difficult undertaking, complicated especially by the rapid rate of obsolescence of hardware and software programs (Hedstrom,1997); these preservation concerns are only exacerbated where highly unique and complex objects such as technologybased artworks are concerned.

These artworks help to elucidate how societies around the globe think about and interact with technologies, and thus constitute a significant component of contemporary cultural heritage. Just as art historians today look back to artworks of previous times to better understand these earlier eras, so too will today's new media artworks speak for the present moment. Cultural heritage institutions, museums in particular, are typically responsible for preserving these materials, and have increasingly begun to collect new media artworks; however, many challenges persist in the collection of these works. As Graham (2014) points out, the collecting of new media forces institutions to redefine many core categories, including not only questions of what is collected, but also “the modes or ways of working for those involved in the collecting process”. The work of curators, conservators, and even the audience, must change with the collection of new media art.

While there exists a growing body of literature devoted to the preservation of new media artworks in institutional collections, a great many such artworks remain uncollected, and thus without the benefit of the resources and preservation know-how afforded to artworks within
major collections. While it is not in the purview of collecting institutions to actively preserve all or even most new media artworks, it is in the interest of cultural heritage at large to better understand the preservation challenges and strategies of new media artworks in the custody of artists. To date, nearly all of the research has been driven by concerns over artworks in institutional collections, and consists largely of case studies detailing how particular artworks have been preserved. The area of new media art preservation continues to develop, driven by the pursuit for more systematic and scalable approaches, but these efforts must be supported by empirical research that looks beyond individual cases and seeks to describe the overarching themes, concerns, and concepts—nor can this broader research program focus only on the institutional perspective at the expense of preservation issues experienced by artists.

I want to address this lack of research by posing the following questions: How do new media artists conceive of the preservation of their artworks? Do preservation concerns arise in the process of creation? How do preservation challenges manifest in the ongoing maintenance of an artwork? The answers to these questions have serious implications for both institutional and artist-driven preservation of new media works. An increased body of knowledge of artists' concerns, conceptions, and practices in the preservation of their own artworks should serve to inform institutional strategies and approaches. Dialog between artist and institution is already a key component of many existing preservation approaches, and so the empirical research of this study may prove yet another venue for this kind of discourse. We must also be able to recognize where institutional and artists' perspectives diverge on the issue of preservation. While institutions are prone to think in terms of rendering a particular object durable over time, artists may intentionally allow works to deteriorate, or employ creative strategies actively dismantling previous works to fuel the creation of new works. A deeper understanding of how to preserve new media artworks will make it easier for a wider range of institutions to collect and maintain new media works in their holdings—or to develop alternative strategies for collecting and documenting significant new media artwork that do not necessarily involve the custodial transfer of an object (or set of objects) from artist to institution.

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