Conservation and restoration of a new media art piece.
Artist Paul Ramirez Jonashis piece in 2003.
The piece itself is described as a computer generated video signal on three identical monitors depicting the countdown to the next sunrise for 90 cities around the world, modeled after arrival and departure displays from airports and train stations.
To generate this signal he utilized electronics available at the time. Some of these needed some restoration as they no longer worked. We also needed to address the fact that after a decade it was found to be more fragile than desired.
I borrowed a page from current electronic engineering and IT in general and proposed recreating these utilizing easily replaceable and up-gradable parts. While choosing parts and methods that are more robust than the original I posited that the only way to guarantee very long longevity is to allow the conservators of the future an easy way to replace components with components available at that time, while keeping the piece intact.
So we designed a new system, employed current coding and electronics' best practices, and custom fabricated some elements.
We worked closely with the Media Conservation Lab at The Guggenheim Museum in order to guarantee the fidelity of the restoration work.
This whole process had the fortunate side effect of letting us easily create a more contemporary version of the piece, updating the formatting of the video so that it closely resembles current airport and train departure screens.