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Interactive Digital Media Art Survey

Interactive Digital Media Art Survey

Check out Oya Rieger and Madeleine Casad's blog on our NEH Interactive Digital Media Art Survey: Key Findings and Observations! It is a fantastic overview of the Rose Goldsen for New Media Art's NEH preservation project. 


The following excerpt is copied from DSPS PressDigital Scholarship and Preservation Services: 

Interactive Digital Media Art Survey: Key Findings and Observations

In February of 2013, Cornell University Library in collaboration with the Society for the Humanities began a two-year project funded by the National Endowment of the Humanities (NEH) to preserve access to complex born-digital new media art objects. The project aims to develop a technical framework and associated tools to facilitate enduring access to interactive digital media art with a focus on artworks stored on hard drive, CD-ROM, and DVD-ROM. The ultimate goal is to create a preservation and access practice for complex digital assets that is based on a thorough and practical understanding of the characteristics of digital objects and requirements from the perspectives of collection curators and users alike. Digital content that is not used is prone to neglect and oversight. Reliable access mechanisms are essential to the ongoing usability of digital assets. However, no archival best practices yet exist for accessing and preserving complex born-digital materials.  Given our emphasis on use and usability and our recognition that we must develop a framework that addresses the needs of future as well as current media art researchers, we developed a survey targeting researcher, artists, and curators to expand our understanding of user profiles and use cases. The purpose of this article is to summarize our key findings of the survey.

About the Project

Despite its “new” label, new media art has a rich 40-year history, making loss of cultural history an imminent risk. Experiencing a media artwork requires machines that are themselves vulnerable to technological obsolescence. This is especially true of digital art, which requires hardware and software support and is often stored in fragile formats. Although the NEH-funded project uses the Library’s Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media Art as a testbed, our ultimate goal is to create generalizable new media preservation and access practices that are applicable for different media environments and institutional types.

Named after the late Professor Rose Goldsen of Cornell University, a pioneering critic of the commercialization of mass media, the Goldsen Archive was founded in 2002 by Professor Timothy Murray (Director, Society for the Humanities, Cornell University) to house international art work produced on portable or web-based digital media. The archive has grown to achieve global recognition as a prominent collection of multimedia artworks that reflect aesthetic developments in cinema, video, installation, photography, and sound. We estimate that about 70 percent of CD-ROM artworks in the Goldsen collection already cannot be accessed without a specialized computer terminal that runs obsolete software and operating systems. Because of the fragility of storage media like optical discs, physical damage is also a serious danger for the Goldsen’s artworks on CD-ROM and DVD-ROM, many of which are irreplaceable. Even migrating the information files to another storage medium is not enough to preserve their most important cultural content. Interactive digital assets are far more complex to preserve and manage than single, uniform digital media files. A single interactive work can comprise an entire range of digital objects, including files in different types and formats, applications to coordinate the files, and operating systems to run the applications. If any part of this complex system fails, the entire asset can become unreadable.


For the Survey Results and Key Conclusions, please visit


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