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Toward the end of the 2009/2010 academic year, I was approached by a lecturer from my university asking if I would be interested in helping with a project working with the Tate museum. These would be programming projects for media artworks. Programming languages required will be C/C++ and Java.
As artwork evolves from traditional mediums such as paper and print to digital arts, the maintenance work associated with the upkeep and conservation of the artwork is very different. The Tate already has a wide and varied bank of experts with the knowledge required to maintain paintings and more traditional artworks. However, as these digital artworks become more and more common, galleries such as The Tate will be required to maintain them.
The physical system, such as computers, cameras and projectors, will eventually wear out and fail. While they will be serviceable for a duration of time after the creation of the art, eventually the physical system will become so out of date that it is no longer maintainable. Clearly, the gallery does not want to loose the artwork (and of course it's financial investment).
When a digital art is purchased, the gallery buys documentation detailing how the physical system works. This documentation should allow the gallery to employ engineers to recreate the physical system from the documentation.
In order to make sure that it is possible to re-create the physical system, I am required to develop a protocol which allows the gallery to review the documentation supplied by the artist, and conclude if the documentation is of high enough quality and detail to recreate the physical layer.
Another important aspect would be to explore the possibility of emulating the older system on a newer one. Such an example of this would be looking at the compatibility of software written for Windows 95 on a new Windows 7 computer; or the possibility of emulating Windows XP program with Wine on a Linux machine.
The Tin Hat
Shortly after I conducted some preliminary investigations into this project I reported back to detailing what I had achieved. Somewhere along the line it was decided that my preliminary investivation results were good enough for that they wanted, and so become the solution. Ah well. Another one down :(