For the second year the Canadian DOCAM Research Alliance in cooperation with the Daniel Langlois Foundation for Art Science and Technology organised an international summit on the documentation and conservation of technology-based works of art.

For online available video presentations visit http://www.docam.ca/en/?p=56

A short report by Marie-Catherine Cyr

On October 26 and 27 2006, the second annual Documentation and Conservation of the Media Arts Heritage International Summit (DOCAM) was held in Montreal .

This year, many distinguished guests joined DOCAM's committee chairs and members to discuss current issues surrounding the documentation and conservation of technology-based artworks.

The October 26 public conference day was a great success with many students and interested individuals attending the talks. The day began with presentations by each committee chair describing the progress made on the issues researched during the past year. This was a chance for all attendees to be introduced to the current case studies and to understand the structure and true interdisciplinary nature of the project.

Mona Jimenez (Tisch School for the Arts, Moving Image Archiving and Preservation, New York University) and Hans-Dieter Huber (State Academy of Fine Arts Stuttgart, Conservation of New Media and Digital Information) presented the challenges they now face in creating university courses and programs to train future generations of museologists, curators and conservators. The rise of a new kind of museum professional, which can be referred to as the technologist , led them to re-examine the academic curricula and to re-assess their graduates' position within the employment market. Matthew Biederman, himself a technologist and video performance artist, offered us a refreshing look at the other side of the job: how a technologist approaches preservation issues. In his collaboration with creators of new works or of new incarnations of previous projects, the question of limits was brought forward. When it comes to future technologies, how far in advance should we plan for their eventual obsolescence?

Pip Laurenson, Chief Conservator of time-based media art at the Tate Modern, took us inside the museum. She presented the institution's perspective toward the preservation of time-based media installations, from their acquisition to their maintenance, emphasizing the importance of detailed documentation at each step along the way.

We were also very fortunate to have Vera Frenkel, internationally renowned and well respected Canadian artist, present the keynote address. Amazingly witty, generous and always captivating, Ms. Frenkel discussed her major works, elaborating on her creative processes and on the way her pieces were received by the public. She treated the audience to anecdotes and personal stories which enlivened her presentation.

The second day of the Summit was set aside for DOCAM members and working groups. Members and alliance representatives were invited to present their research results to the committees and guests. All participants contributed to a day-long round table and discussed issues surrounding pedagogical approaches, the conservation and documentation of technology-based artworks and the cataloguing and terminology associated with such works. This formula allowed for a good exchange of ideas to take place in an open and convivial environment. A general consensus was rapidly achieved; all agreed that there is a pressing need for communication, collaboration and sharing of knowledge between disciplines, institutions and individuals in order to provide a future for technology-based works of art. As Hans-Dieter Huber proclaimed, "let's welcome new students to the School of Futurology"!

Marie-Catherine Cyr
Art Conservation graduate student, Queen's University and Research Assistant, Documentation sub-committee, DOCAM