Digital conservation

Developing strategies and tools for the creation and preservation of digital artefacts for museums and galleries

An emergent property of i-DAT’s research has been the development of strategies and tools for the creation and preservation of digital artefacts for museums and galleries. This research has developed through projects such as TIWWA and has led to further collaborations with the Tate.

Tate St Ives Naum Gabo Exhibition

Interactive Projection of a virtual Bronze Spheric Theme for Tate St Ives Naum Gabo Exhibition co-produced with i-DAT and Tate Digital.
The original work c.1960, was digitised by i-DAT in 2019-20 and exhibited in the Tate St Ives Gallery. 
“This projected model allows Gabo’s Bronze Spheric Theme to revolve in space as the artist originally intended. As you step into the corner of the gallery, motion sensors follow your movement and direct the digital model to rotate."
Further information can be found on the i-DAT webpages
Interactive Projection of a virtual Bronze Spheric Theme for Tate St Ives Naum Gabo Exhibition co-produced with i-DAT and Tate Digital

Donald Rodney collaborations

Professor Mike Phillips has worked with Tate to conserve several works of the artist Donald Rodney (1961-1998). His collaborations with Rodney dates back to the design and construction of Visceral Canker (1990), Psalms, and Donald Rodney Autoicon. The Tate has now acquired Visceral Canker and Psalms and Autoicon sits in its archive.
Visceral Canker was a kinetic assemblage of peristaltic pumps and heraldic shields of Queen Elisabeth I and slave trader John Hawkins. Phillips has worked with the Tate conservators to rebuild some of the perished electronics and contributed to the discussion around the most appropriate ways to conserve these hybrid electronic works to the gold standard.
These discussions are further complicated by the acquisition of Psalms, the Autonomous Wheelchair constructed by Guido Bugmann, in the School of Computing, for Donald Rodney’s “Nine Night in Eldorado” at the South London Gallery, 1997. 
Psalms is a modified electric wheelchair augmented with a sensory system and a neural network running of a laptop. This bricolage of technologies tracks a figure of 8 within a gallery, stopping and avoiding visitors that may cross its path. At the core of the work is this autonomous behaviour driven by the neural network and its navigation of its environment. The pathos and power of the work cannot be broken down to the sum of its electronic parts. Its conservation is as much in the code as it is in its material construct.
And conserving the physicality and code of Donald Rodney Autoicon (2000) is even more ethereal. Phillips collaborated with Rodney leading up to his death and then developed the digital work with a group of friends and artists (his partner Diane Symons, Eddie Chambers, Richard Hylton, Virginia Nimarkoh, and Keith Piper). Using software written by Adrian Ward and produced by Geoff Cox and Mike Phillips, Autoicon is a dynamic internet work and CD-ROM that simulates both the physical presence and elements of the creative personality of the artist Donald Rodney who died from sickle-cell anaemia.
“It’s as though he’s alert to the current debate in the House of Commons chamber. We briefly discuss love, pain and flowers and when I ask him about the internet, he amusingly replies, “Excuse me?” Even with its Y2K interface, Autoicon is a technological wonder. It doesn’t just imagine black people in the future, it preserves them so that they arrive there safely and in their own image.”
Kadish Morris (2020). ‘Union jack swastikas and space-age braids: Thirteen Ways of Looking – review’, The Guardian, 28 October 2020 (Accessed: 16 January 2021).