Breathing Life into the Living Dead
Can internet art be made to last in a sustainable way? It is no surprise that artists are keen to use and respond to new material in their practices. With every new invention, throughout the years, museum conservators tried to follow and adapted their working methods to the new challenges. Similarly, with the rise of digital and internet artworks conservators try to think of solutions to preserve the collected artworks. While this works well in some cases, in many cases changes to the artwork happen as most hardware and software follow the design of planned-obsolescence. As a consequence endless migration and emulation projects are set up to prolong the functioning of the artworks. It makes sense to use upgraded technology to keep an artwork going. Yet this enduring rat race becomes questionable when thinking about the environmental impact of digitals. In this presentation I will discuss the oxymoron ‘digital sustainability’. While acknowledging the inherent contradiction, by showing different examples I will argue that digital sustainability may be less about technical solutions, and more about rethinking conservation in favour of the aesthetics of memory.