New York University’s Fales Library & Special Collections is pleased to announce the acquisition of the archives of Triple Canopy, the widely admired New York art and literary journal, published almost exclusively on-line since 2007.

New York University’s Fales Library & Special Collections is pleased to announce the acquisition of the archives of Triple Canopy, the widely admired New York art and literary journal, published almost exclusively on-line since 2007.

The archive will preserve the history and legacy of the magazine and all future projects and publications, as documented through its extensive collection of drafts of prose, poetry, and artworks; print publications and editions; videos of discussions and performances; website analytics; correspondence; and (mostly digital) reams of administrative and financial records that evidence the work of sustaining an ambitious and unconventional endeavor.

Fales Library will make the archive available for research and exhibition, and will collaborate with Triple Canopy to develop open-source tools and improved standards for archiving the work of organizations whose activities range from digital artworks to books to emails to exhibitions. A schedule of related public discussions and software releases will be announced during the coming year.

“Downtown New York artists were excellent at adapting and, in turn, influencing commercial technologies through creative practice,” said Marvin J. Taylor, director of Fales Library & Special Collections. “Triple Canopy’s roots lie in the work of downtown artists who were engaged in both the production of culture and the criticism of cultural production. Triple Canopy has pushed the boundaries of what can be done with digital technology more than any other organization working at the junction of contemporary art and cultural expression. The partnership between Fales and Triple Canopy urges both organizations to rethink what archiving looks like in the digital world. We know how to handle born-digital business files. Working together, we will be creating new ways of preserving born-digital artistic production.”

The acquisition of Triple Canopy’s archive is particularly significant because of the dynamic and potentially ephemeral nature of the magazine’s work, and also because of its relative youth. Historically, organizations and individuals have donated their records to (or had them acquired by) archives after decades of work, and often after their operations have ceased or their lives have ended.

The partnership between Triple Canopy and Fales Library is a recognition that, in a digital environment, retroactive archiving risks an unacceptable (and ultimately insurmountable) loss of information; and archiving in general requires expensive equipment, technical expertise, and an abundance of time, none of which are likely to be available to small organizations and individuals.

Sarah Resnick, a Triple Canopy senior editor and alumna of NYU’s Moving Image Archive and Preservation Program, initiated this partnership, of which she says: “The Web has always been at the core of Triple Canopy’s activities, as both a medium for publication and a tool for examination. The question of how we read and engage with text and visual media online, and of how to exploit the Web’s inherent dynamism to enhance these experiences, has always been a kind of lodestar for us. Yet the medium is unstable, unreliable, and, by any measure, not built to last. Browsers update, links rot, and standards evolve—often at a rapid pace. Although we long ago recognized the necessity of actively archiving our work, the challenge has always been in the implementation. How might we capture not merely the contents of an online project but the experience of engaging with it, all the while upholding the relationship between the website and our ‘offline’ endeavors? These are questions with few easy answers—and they certainly are not ours alone. In our partnership with Fales, whose expertise and resources far exceed our own, we hope to serve as a test case as we begin to address these questions; we hope to develop tools and practices to be shared, discussed, adopted, and improved by a larger community of artists and writers working with born-digital media.”

The partnership between Fales Library and Triple Canopy was facilitated by the generous and essential work of Triple Canopy’s outside counsel, Foley & Lardner. The firm devised a means of addressing the “rolling” acquisition of the archive and the status of intellectual property rights as the magazine continues to publish work by artists and writers. Triple Canopy is particularly grateful to board member Selig Sacks, Robert Weisbein, and Raquel Aragon for their efforts on the magazine’s behalf.

 

 


About Fales Library and Special Collections:
The Fales Library, comprising nearly 358,000 volumes and over 10,000 linear feet of archive and manuscript materials, houses the Fales Collection of rare books and manuscripts in English and American literature, the Downtown Collection, the Marion Nestle Food Studies Collection and the general special collections of the NYU Libraries. The Fales Collection was given to NYU in 1957 by DeCoursey Fales in memory of his father, Haliburton Fales. It is especially strong in English literature from the middle of the 18th century to the present, documenting developments in the novel. The Downtown Collection, founded in 1993, documents the downtown New York art, performance, and literary scenes from 1975 to the present and is extremely rich in archival holdings, including extensive film and video. The goal of the Downtown Collection is to comprehensively collect the full range of artistic practices and output of the Downtown scene, regardless of format. This research collection, built on a documentary strategy, supports the research of students and scholars who are interested in the intersection of the contemporary arts with other forms of cultural and artistic expression.

About Triple Canopy

Since the debut of its online magazine in 2008, Triple Canopy has presented the work of more than 650 visual and performing artists, writers, and scholars. Triple Canopy has addressed the conditions of life in the digital age by examining and mindfully employing digital media as well as by developing publishing systems that intelligently incorporate networked forms of production and circulation. At the same time, the magazine has mined the history of new-media publications and reflected on the inevitable obsolescence of all such endeavors—now matter how they manage media so as to keep up with evolving Web standards and the proliferation of reading and viewing devices. For more information, please write to contact@canopycanopycanopy.com.

The NYU Division of Libraries holds over 4 million volumes and comprises five libraries in Manhattan and one each in Brooklyn, Abu Dhabi and Shanghai,. Its flagship, the Elmer Holmes Bobst Library on Washington Square, receives 2.6 million visits annually. Around the world the Libraries offers access to more than 1.2 million electronic journals, books, and databases. For more information about the NYU Libraries, please visit http://library.nyu.edu