| In The Lab

Preserving the Future’s Past

The Conservation of Time-Based Media Art


About The Film

Artists will continue to reach for new media and push the boundaries of technology. Conservators will continue to keep pace, to protect and preserve the future’s past.

In today’s digital age, artists rely more than ever on technology to create new visual experiences. But what happens when the hardware and technology used to create and display this art becomes obsolete? What will remain of today’s digital artistic culture?

Preserving the Future’s Past surveys new art conservation strategies, emerging in response to that very question. From technological obsolescence to data storage, it explores the conceptual and technical challenges faced in creating and preserving time-based media art, from the perspective of both the artist and the conservator.

Directed, produced and edited by Gabriela Tama, the documentary addresses the following questions: What is time-based media art? What special conservation measures do time-based media works require? Why is care of time-based media work particularly challenging? What new knowledge and skills should future media conservators possess? How will new scholarship in time-based media art conservation help the field grow and expand?

Film Stills

Meet The Filmmaker

Gabriela Tama graduated magna cum laude from New York University in May 2017 with a B.A. in journalism and cinema studies, and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. Her thesis film, Preserving the Future’s Past: The Conservation of Time-Based Media, was supported by a grant from the Dean’s Undergraduate Research Fund (DURF). Tama received the Marlene Sanders Journalism Award for outstanding undergraduate journalism at New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute.

Following a summer internship in 2016, Tama has worked part time as a content writer for Bloomberg Media at Bloomberg L.P. Previously, she worked as a production assistant to two documentary filmmakers, Helen Whitney and Catherine Tambini. Tama studied classical ballet for 15 years and completed her training in the Cecchetti Method in 2013. She is a certified Pilates instructor. 

Meet The Characters

Gabriel Barcia-Colombo is a New York City-based interactive mixed media artist and member of the faculty of the TISCH School of the Arts, New York University. His work includes video sculptures, 3D scans, immersive performances and large-scale video projections.

Costanza Perrone Da Zara is an in-house textile conservator at New York University’s Villa La Pietra in Florence, Italy.

Joanna Phillips is the Senior Conservator of Time-Based Media at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. At the Guggenheim, she founded the lab for time-based media conservation.

Glenn Wharton is Associate Professor in Museum Studies at New York University. Previously, he served as Media Conservator at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, where he established the time-based media conservation lab for video, performance, and software-based collections.

Ben Fino-Radin is a media archaeologist, archivist and conservator of born-digital and computer based works of contemporary art. He is the founder of Small Data Industries.

Dr. Hannelore Roemich is the Chairman of the Conservation Centerand Professor of Conservation Science at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. She is the Director of the Time-Based Media Curriculum Development Program at the Institute.

Watch The Film

Preserving the Future's Past: The Conservation of Time-Based Media Art
Copyright © 2017 by Gabriela Tama