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Archiving Digital Artwork For Museum Purchase?

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the just-put-something-on-youtube dept.

Data Storage 266

An anonymous reader writes "I am an artist working with 3d software to create animations and digital prints. For now my work just gets put on screening DVDs and BluRays and the original .mov and 3d files get backed up. But museums and big art collectors do want to purchase these animations. However as we all know archival DVDs are not really archival. So I want to ask the Slashdot readers, what can I give to the museum when they acquire my digital work for their collection so that it can last and be seen long after I am dead? No other artist or institution I know of have come up with any real solution to this issue yet, so I thought Slashdot readers may have an idea. These editions can be sold for a large amount of money, so it doesn't have to be a cheap solution."

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Yes. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29582511)

Arr Me Matey! All yer arts are belongs to us!

Re:Yes. (2, Interesting)

SwordsmanLuke (1083699) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582909)

Parent is joking, but honestly, the internet is the single best system of data archival we've ever implemented. It's distributed and automatically updates useful data (for some value of "useful") to the latest formats. I'd be willing to bet that in twenty years we'll still be able to find digital versions of, say, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy in whatever the leading formats of the time will be. Of course, they'll probably be pirated, but the point stands.

The internet is for archiving.

Blended solution? (4, Insightful)

t00le (136364) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582515)

I would provide backups in tape, cd, dvd, usb flash, sd card, external hd and anything else that can hold the work. Hopefully they will keep adding other backup technologies, but once you're dead who cares. Right? :)

Re:Blended solution? (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582625)

Tape is the way to go if longevity is the main concern.

There is a reason Unix uses tar.

Re:Blended solution? (1)

NoYob (1630681) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582641)

I see what you're getting at.

Right. He fakes his death, his artwork then becomes worth a fortune, he lives as a very rich guy under another name. Brilliant!

And if he becomes too famous, well, he can do what Elvis did and live in obscurity, occasionally appearing to keep his fans interested.

Re:Blended solution? (5, Funny)

yo_tuco (795102) | more than 4 years ago | (#29583271)

"...but once you're dead who cares. Right? :)"

Are you kidding? That's when his work becomes its most valuable. He'll be rich!

Re:Blended solution? (5, Informative)

C0vardeAn0nim0 (232451) | more than 4 years ago | (#29583449)

none of those are proved to last centuries.

tape might be a durable medium, but is still requires a compatible drive. even if you supply the drive, the bus/port/connector might not be available in the future, also electronics degrade over time (specially the ones that store firmware in flash memory and/or contain capacitors). so even if you sell your work with: a) computer; b) operating system and software; c) drive; d) tapes. there's no guarantee.

the same is true for all of the media mentioned by parent.

only solution guaranteed to last centuries ?


yes, your heard me. ink and paper. well stored it can last thousands of years. you have to print your files as a very compact, machine readable data matrix [] , store it along with human readable books explaining the technology neccessary to read the print-outs, including schematics, source code, etc. no need to mention that the file formats and software need to be open source, or you need a license to the code.

this way future generations will have everything neccessary to put toghether a hardware/software combination capable of reading the data matrices, convert the bits to files and display the result.

this could be an art project on itself, since you can embed paterns and colors on the data matrices. check wikipedia page for "QR codes" to see examples of data matrices with embeded art. very cool stuff.

Re:Blended solution? (1)

Trigun (685027) | more than 4 years ago | (#29583601)

Print it out on paper, in a binary file.

Then print out every wikipedia article that deals with file formats that you think are relevant.

REPLY TO SENDER !! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29582521)

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bothemeson (1416261) | more than 4 years ago | (#29583435)

Someone, please, mod this up!

Proven track record (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29582523)

Go for the storage solution with a proven track record: clay tablets!

Re:Proven track record (1)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582603)

Go for the storage solution with a proven track record: clay tablets!

You laugh... but honestly, I think a barebones ROM chip actually would work pretty reasonably well for what he's trying to do.

Nothing stores ones and zeros better than raw conductors.

Don't worry about it. (4, Insightful)

Matt Perry (793115) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582529)

Don't worry about it. Give it to them on a DVD. It'll then be up to the museum to take care of the art the same way they take care of the other art they have. I don't think it's realistic to expect to be able to read a DVD 100, 50, or even 30 years from now. I'm sure that the museum will move the data to an appropriate storage medium as technology advances.

Re:Don't worry about it. (2, Insightful)

fredjh (1602699) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582601)

Moreover, if you don't try to prevent copying, they should upgrade it to their newest technologies as time goes by.

I don't expect the video tape I bought 25 years ago to be useful forever, but I should be able to copy it to DVD... then BluRay.

I should be, anyway.

Re:Don't worry about it. (0, Troll)

The Cisco Kid (31490) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582917)

I think that was the entire point. He either wanted to make sure that the museum *couldnt* copy it, or wanted to prohibit them from doing so. My response would be 'goodluckwiththat'

Re:Don't worry about it. (1)

infalliable (1239578) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582923)

They should do that, but history tells us that they probably won't.

Re:Don't worry about it. (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 4 years ago | (#29583451)

Because a museum may only have one person who is sometimes in charge of making sure the artwork is maintained, meanwhile having thousands or more pieces to worry about, many of them in the basement. Otherwise you get the Hollywood effect; someone shoves the film in a box, and a few decades later someone looks in the box and realizes things have deteriorated too far. Or the NASA effect when they realize they don't have the right equipment handy to even read back the tapes.

Best bet, paper tape. No wait, plasticized paper tape. And a printed copy of a the paper tape encoding used, as well as a printed copy of the specs of the file format you are using. Then hundreds of years from now, someone may be able to recreate things. Definitely impractical if you've got many megabytes of data, plus you may need even more storage required just for a viewing application.

Next best maybe, is figure out how to do long term archival of film, then film the animation and archive that.

One huge snag, is that archival for art is more than just a secure copy for the future. That archive will need to be reused many times in the future, not just once. Ie, what can survive being reused for one month of viewing every 10 to 20 years? A single CD would be worn out in time, a DVD player would break, etc.

Holographic cube storage (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29582533)

How about some of that fancy holographic cube storage I've been hearing about?

At least if it fails it'll be pretty to look at!

ones and zeros (1)

Jhon (241832) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582555)

All written on vellum.

Digital archives must be live... (4, Insightful)

nweaver (113078) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582559)

The problem: a digital archive MUST be a live archive.

Every X years (with X being a reasonably low number, probably 3-5 is good for safety), everything in the archive must be both copied AND transcoded, with both the original and transcoded version saved.

The original requirement is obvious, and keeps data degredation from having an effect, but transcoding: opening it up in the latest software version and saving it in the software's most up to date format, is also necessary, lest the source material become unusable, like a wire recorder is today.

Re:Digital archives must be live... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29582985)

Transcoding of formats like .gif and .jpg have not been required since their inception, and I doubt that they ever will be.

Re:Digital archives must be live... (2, Interesting)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 4 years ago | (#29583505)

lest the source material become unusable, like a wire recorder is today.

Why would a wire recorder be unusable? (I had a friend who had one in high school) It's a lot easier to repair a wire recorder than a CD or DVD player. (Simple vacuum tubes, capacitors and resistors) When the wire breaks, you can just tie it back together. Try that with a broken DVD.

digitalartisnotfineart? (3, Insightful)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582571)

Whoever tagged this story "digitalartisnotfineart" needs a cluebat. I'd like to hear a good argument for that -- ideally one that's not a rehash of the "video games are not art" debate.

Re:digitalartisnotfineart? (2, Insightful)

Microlith (54737) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582711)

It's the unilateral opinion that anything that isn't physical, or can be easily copied, is suddenly lacking of all artistic merit and value.

Re:digitalartisnotfineart? (1)

tftp (111690) | more than 4 years ago | (#29583069)

It's the unilateral opinion that anything that isn't physical, or can be easily copied, is suddenly lacking of all artistic merit and value

Poor Mozart...

Re:digitalartisnotfineart? (0)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 4 years ago | (#29583231)

Or Shakespeare, for that matter.

I think it has more to do with two things:

It can be easily copied, thus, it's implied that you could've copied large parts from elsewhere;

And it's "too easy" in general. It's really a pathetic "getoffmylawn" argument, and it's a bit like the people who still use C/C++ and Assembly telling me I'm not a Real Programmer because I use Ruby. There are good arguments that can be made that low-level languages are currently more efficient, and are likely to stay more efficient. But the fact that I use something higher level doesn't imply I'm stupid or lazy.

In other words, it's like a hand-painting animator resenting Photoshop, or someone who hand-crafts each frame in Photoshop complaining about 3D animation.

Ultimately, the inevitable result is that the "old way" most likely lives on, but becomes less popular. Video didn't kill all the radio stars, just most of them. Pixar didn't kill Dreamworks, and neither of them are likely to kill anime.

I think all this teaches us is that proponents of "fine" art are just that much more arrogant, pretentious, and slower to adapt.

Re:digitalartisnotfineart? (1, Funny)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 4 years ago | (#29583073)

Digital art can't be easily copied? That's a pretty novel claim! :D

Re:digitalartisnotfineart? (2, Funny)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 4 years ago | (#29583129)

Oh wait crap, understood your post the wrong way around :-(

Re:digitalartisnotfineart? (5, Funny)

Abreu (173023) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582949)

That's nothing... I had to restrain myself from taggin it "getarealjob" ;^)

Offer Them a Backup Plan, Not a Single Media (3, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582573)

No other artist or institution I know of have come up with any real solution to this issue yet ...

I don't know if we'll ever have what you're thinking of as everything we've designed has a finite shelf life. There might even be some fundamental law about entropy increasing in a closed system that could prove you'll never be 100% okay.

But instead what I would offer them is a plan as a solution, not a type of media. Offer to deliver it on whatever they are most comfortable handling. You could deliver a DVD or Solid State Storage device such as an SD card or USB stick and suggest they store that offsite in a vault or something fireproof [] while you give them additional copies to retain and use locally that they can put on a networked RAID. Then at the end of the proposed shelf life, routine maintenance is performed on the stored media in the vault to bring it up to date while the local copies are still good. If they maintain this sort of redundancy and check the status of the media, they should be okay. They might even hire someone like Iron Mountain or another storage solution to maintain their backups.

Expensive? Very. Your other option is to do the same on your end and (don't promise this or tell them to rely on you) hopefully your kids will continue with it to persist your life's work.

Re:Offer Them a Backup Plan, Not a Single Media (1)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582765)

Parent is absolutely correct. People, apparently even people who work with digital for a living, seem to miss one of the most important inherent attributes of digital technology: as long as the original copy has not become corrupt, it is possible to create *perfect* copies. This means that the most important part of preserving any digital work, is to *copy* it to another medium, before the previous medium/copy becomes unreadable.

The only other issue, as another poster mentioned, is making sure that the data is in a format that current software knows how to read/decode, so you must also give them the right to transcode or otherwise export the work to other digital formats. (For example, transforming 3D model, texture, animation, and scene data from one format to another

As long as you give the museum the right to make backup copies and export/transform, there's NOTHING else you have to do to make sure the work will be preserved for the generations - at that point, it is the responsibility of the curators to preserve it.

We're not talking about an oil-on-canvas, or some sort of plaster fresco here, we're talking about digital. With digital, the storage medium is not inherently important (if it were, then you'd have to sell them your hard drive).

Re:Offer Them a Backup Plan, Not a Single Media (2, Informative)

mlts (1038732) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582929)

Don't forget error correction and recovery. Undetected bitrot for long term archiving is not a good thing. Just having CRCs and/or cryptographic signatures will just tell you that something got corrupted, but won't help fix it.

On the DVD front, something like DVDDisaster and a MD5 signature utility should help there. For data files in general, something that does .PAR records, or an archive format (WinRAR, StuffIt Deluxe) that supports built in recovery records. Of course archive formats suffer the issue of making sure the archiving program is still around in the future.

A toothpick and an android head... (3, Funny)

HouseOfMisterE (659953) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582575)

Hey, it worked for Jean Luc Picard when he was trapped in the 19th Century!

Re:A toothpick and an android head... (1)

momerath2003 (606823) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582837)

It was an iron filing [] , you insensitive clod.

A link (2, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582577)

to a site on the internet?

Setting aside how lame this is, the Museum already has a program for maintaining acquired works. Part of that maintenance could just be backing up the works.
This way it's always on a recent medium.

The point of a museum is to have a place to share unique works with the public.

Now digital work can be downloaded and as such doesn't really need a museum.

Re:A link (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 4 years ago | (#29583217)

Now digital work can be downloaded and as such doesn't really need a museum.

Not a fan of curators, are you?

WORM Flash (4, Interesting)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582609)

Apparently Sandisk has some Write Once [] SD cards. Dunno about pricing and availability though.

Simple (4, Insightful)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582629)

Chisel binary onto stone slabs. 4000 years from now it'll be displayed in a history museum.

Bar codes? (2, Insightful)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582821)

Maybe instead of chiselling 1's and 0's onto the slab, he could use something like bar-code encoding when he chisels. That way, to 'read' the data, all one has to do is fill the depressions with some suitable bright-colored paint or pigmentation, then use a laser to scan it.

Re:Bar codes? (1)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582951)

Some sort of obsidian? create a barcode? There's a vetran's war memorial in... DC? The surface is polished, but the words are "rough hewn" or sandblasted 0.5-1mm deep, "in" to the rock, giving you a lighter image. The image dissapears when it rains, though. DUnno how long polished rock retains it's polished look.

Re:Bar codes? (1)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 4 years ago | (#29583159)

"DUnno how long polished rock retains it's polished look."

I suppose that depends upon how the rock is treated/stored. Store it outside in the weather, and I bet it starts to become pretty beat up inside of 100 years (go to any graveyard for good examples). Store it in a nice stone box, in a drive cave or stone temple in the desert or other relatively dry place, and I bet it lasts many thousands of years.

Re:Bar codes? (1)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 4 years ago | (#29583321)

That's true; but the quality of the stone is a major factor too. Concrete wears away in 80 years, marble seems to do ok for 500+ years. How long has that rose granite egyptian obselisk stood outside in st peters square?

Re:Simple (1)

prograde (1425683) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582987)

I have to say, I don't really get this "new art" thing.

Re:Simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29583137)

exactly, i was going to post a similar topic,,,

i do think there is a market for Write Once upon stone,,micro/nano machines may help....this imho is a huge digital dilemma, for now i tell everyone,,,that takes a digital photo
if you like it, print it out, being able to archive semi easily upon stone would be great.

Print it. (1)

localman57 (1340533) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582661)

Make a high-res print out on a big sheet of paper. Museums are pretty good at handling those...

Re:Print it. (2, Interesting)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 4 years ago | (#29583293)

The Library of Congress has an archive of early films printed frame by frame onto paper, because at the time of deposition, still photographs were copyrightable while motion pictures were not.

Old school solution (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29582669)

It may sound silly but going back to safety film, 35mm or better, is one of the most stable ways to go and the odds are strong that they'll still be able to transfer it to other mediums in a 100 years or more. I know a number of museums with major film and clip collections. They just need to be stored in climate controlled conditions. Modern unscreened films should last a 100 years or more. It's temperature and light exposure that is going to tend to degrade the film stock.

Linus Torvalds' solution (1)

Martin.Ward (169484) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582687)

"Only wimps use tape backup: _real_ men just upload their important stuff on ftp, and let the rest of the world mirror it ;)" - Linus Torvalds

The problem of single-location is more important. (4, Insightful)

bezenek (958723) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582731)

The problem of having the data in a single location is probably more of an issue than the type of media because of fire or other physical damage rather than the issue of lifetime.

If you decide to back up the data on writable DVD, you have a lifetime of 2-10 years. With flash, (e.g., a thumb drive,) the general advertised time is 10 years. Even if there is a medium which guarantees a longer period, you still have the problem of multiple secure sites.

You can solve both problems at once by going with an on-line data warehouse who will guarantee data integrity and mirrors data to multiple locations. This leaves the issue of media life to them, and solves the multiple-location issue.



Re:The problem of single-location is more importan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29582813)

Good idea...if those services (which are still losing money) survive.

The probability of "offline" (Internet-based) backup storage surviving, say, 100 years is asymptotic to 0%!

You're not thinking BIG enough!

Re:The problem of single-location is more importan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29583369) [] is free and has multiple location backup. Of course, you have to be happy with them sharing it with the world indefinitely -but that just provides more backup.

all art decays (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582755)

I like to read about the protection and restoration of art. It seems that all art decays, and no matter what one does to it, at some point it will require a restoration. For instance, I have read the varnish put over painting is made to come off easily and leave the painting in tact for restoration. A painting left in the basement, never touch, will eventually decay to nothing.

So it with digital media. The nice thing with digital media are the copies are exact, with no generational loss. Therefore my suggestion would be a working copy and a backup. Backups are rotated to insure reliability. Working copies are kept until a new copy is made from a backup, in the same way we do in commercial environments.

There is no media that will last 100 years unchanged, and few media that will last 20 without care. Just because it is digital does not change the laws of thermodynamics.

Re:all art decays (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29583167)

There is no media that will last 100 years unchanged, and few media that will last 20 without care. Just because it is digital does not change the laws of thermodynamics.

I collect incunabula. The youngest in my collection is 500 years old. So for non-digital media your comment is wrong.

inb4 too old

Re:all art decays (1)

AndersOSU (873247) | more than 4 years ago | (#29583383)

has the page yellowed, the ink faded? Are there any tears, stains, or holes? As anything been added to the page?

If so your media has changed.

Re:all art decays (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29583513)

My usb stick has lost the cap and starts to yellow. The data on it is fine. What is your point?

Media Arts Preservation resources (5, Informative)

DoctorWho (36742) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582785)

You might want to take a look at some of the Museum initiatives working on digital / media arts preservation. Here's a few...

"The Variable Media Network proposes an unconventional new preservation strategy that has emerged from the Guggenheim's efforts to preserve its world-renowned collection of conceptual, minimalist and video art and that is supported by the Daniel Langlois Foundation for Art, Science, and Technology. The aim of this affiliation is to help build a network of organizations that will develop the tools, methods and standards needed to implement this strategy." []

"Matters in Media Art is a multi-phase project designed to provide guidelines for care of time-based media works of art (e.g., video, film, audio and computer based installations). The project was created in 2003 by a consortium of curators, conservators, registrars and media technical managers from New Art Trust, MoMA, SFMOMA and Tate. The consortium launched its first phase, on loaning time-based media works, in 2004, and its second phase, on acquiring time-based media works, in 2007." [] []

"From March to December 2003, the archive team of V2_Organisation (a center for culture and technology in Rotterdam, the Netherlands) has conducted research on the documentation aspects of the preservation of electronic art activities -- or Capturing Unstable Media --, an approach between archiving and preservation." []

"DOCAM's main objective is to develop new methodologies and tools to address the issues of preserving and documenting digital, technological and electronic works of art." []

"Inside Installations: Preservation and Presentation of Installation Art is a three-year research project (2004-2007) into the care and administration of an art form that is challenging prevailing views of conservation." []

Choose a different artistic medium (4, Interesting)

DirkGently (32794) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582797)

Two things.

I'm probably headed towards flamebait, but I think it's rather presumptuous and egotistical to assume that anyone is going to want to see your work fifty years from now. That's not your decision. As the other posters say, give the buyer one, maybe three, copies of your digital files on a convenient & prolific media like DVD-R and then let them decide if it's really worth preserving for the next century.

Second, do master ice sculptors require buyers to have refrigerated viewing galleries? If you're concerned about the longevity of your work, pick a less ephemeral medium.

Re:Choose a different artistic medium (2, Insightful)

eln (21727) | more than 4 years ago | (#29583197)

Precisely. The great artworks in history have not been preserved because they were done with things that last a long time...paintings fade, are easily destroyed, and are usually quite flammable. Countless works of art have been destroyed forever over the centuries. The ones that are still around are only still around because people over many generations felt they were important or beautiful enough to go through the trouble of preserving them. Just give your stuff to the museum, and if they feel it's important to preserve it for posterity, they'll find a way. If they don't, it will probably get thrown out anyway no matter how durable the medium is.

The Story Summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29582807)

reads suspiciously as someone interested in pirating [] .

Yours In Baikonur,
Philboyd Studge

There are only two choices (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29582819)

Either you make art in the moment, in which case you whisper the feeling of their shapes into a river, or you make art to last, as you seeks, for which you clearly need a dimensionally distributed space-time multiplexor. Everything else is inconsistent.

They bought it... (1)

John.P.Jones (601028) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582827)

Give them a CD, let them worry about archiving it since they are the owners. If you aren't happy with this arrangment (you don't trust them to archive it to your satisfaction), then don't sell it to them. Keep it and archive it yourself (suggestions to store multiple copies at seperate locations and periodically copy it to new media and attempt to update it to current versions are good).

If you sell it you don't own it anymore and they can do whatever they want. If they want to hire you as an archive consultant then handle that transaction separately from the art sale.

Hard Copy (1)

MountainLogic (92466) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582831)

Old Disney animation cells sell for big bucks. What about using archival grade printing, perhaps on an archival plastic media, and make hard copies. These might have the additional, collector's advantage of being able to be broken-up as well as being non-digital and thus harder to reproduce.

Tagged 'digitalartisnotfineart' (2, Insightful)

spun (1352) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582851)

We have trolls in the tags now? How cute. Here's a clue for you, every new art form is not considered fine art by crusty old timers. Then the old timers DIE and times move on and presto! It's fine art. It isn't about the medium in the first place. If I spatter paint on a canvas, it isn't going to be fine art. When Jackson Pollock did it, it was. My 3d models look nice, but they are a craft, not fine art. The guys who designed, oh say, Wall-E? Fine artists by any stretch of the imagination. Get it? It isn't the media, it is the artistic quality that determines whether something is fine art or not.

Whoever added that tag, the only connection you've got to art are the lead paint chips you ate as a child.

Re:Tagged 'digitalartisnotfineart' (1)

jittles (1613415) | more than 4 years ago | (#29583265)

Whoever added that tag, the only connection you've got to art are the lead paint chips you ate as a child.

mmmmm lead paint chips :)~

This isn't your problem. (2, Insightful)

Vrtigo1 (1303147) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582857)

While I agree with others that an online mirror at a remote location or copying the data to whatever the current preferred medium is every 3-5 years are good ideas, I think you're reading too much into this. Once you've delivered the information to them, it's their job to safeguard it. Any institution that already has digital media in their collection probably already has an existing plan in place to ensure the safety of that data. I think a better approach would be to choose a good, economical archival-grade medium to deliver the information and let them decide how they want to handle it from there. If you're really worried about it, provide recommendations, but don't force a particular solution on them.

Half life (1)

kcdoodle (754976) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582865)

Data on a DVD/CD doesn't all crap out at once. In normal usage, scratches cause some data loss. However for long term storage significant loss would happen when the plastic reflective surface itself degrades. Still, when properly stored, a DVD/CD should last 30 years. To increase the odds of your data lasting, and to spend the least amount of cash, simply make multiple copies of your most precious data. That way, hopefully, each DVD/CD will retain SOME data and it can all be pieced back together from the multiple copies. The more precious the data, the more copies you should make. I think 5 copies stored in a climate controlled safe should last at least 100 years, if not, longer.

Re:Half life (1)

infalliable (1239578) | more than 4 years ago | (#29583479)

Physically storing the data isn't really the biggest problem. Magnetic Tapes are good for a very long time, as are other magnetic storage options. The issue is that the tape formats tend to not last that long. What happens when you make the tape in the format of the day, in the "best" codec of the day, and that becomes obsolete within 10 years? 50 years down the road, nobody will be able to read it since the machines to do so will not exist.

The only way to do it would be to constantly monitor the data and keep the format up to date, backed up, etc. If you're not proactive, you can't garauntee long term storage. For museums, this tends to not happen. They put stuff in storage, and forget about it. They can have hundreds of thousands of items in their collections, so they don't have the resources to adequately monitor things. They do a pretty good job, but it is not uncommon for you to see a story about something valuable "found" in a museum vault.

No single physical solution. (1)

Lordplatypus (731338) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582869)

I personally do not believe that there is any single physical solution that will guarantee that your data will last. Even if the was some perfect medium, external forces would have the potential to destroy it. You can reduce the odds of this loss by mitigating risk by using multiple and possibly different formats.

The real answer though would be an active service. A multi-sited, data storage service that actively protects your data is the only real way of making sure your data lasts. There are many professional services out there that will host your data, but finding one that your confident will last the next hundred years is going to be near impossible.

I did a quick search of the Internet and did not find any projects that allow artists to store their data for these purposes. Maybe this is an opportunity to create something more than art. =)

A ttriedd and true method (1)

McIanAvelli (802214) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582883)

Punch Cards

Why God Why (3, Insightful)

Verdatum (1257828) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582891)

This is like the 20th Ask Slashdot bitching about the nonpermanence of DVDs and requesting an alternative. If slashdot hasn't answered the question before, it isn't going to answer it now.

Simple answer (1)

infalliable (1239578) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582897)

The simple answer is there is no archival way of storing it. While the digital media may last for ages, the readers probably won't. This is the biggest issue with digital media.

Just look at things like the (remaining) Apollo tapes. The electronic media that exists works fine, but the machines to read them do not.

Re:Simple answer (1)

loftwyr (36717) | more than 4 years ago | (#29583319)

And in 100 years, any format that the artwork is in will be obsolete and lost. The only thing that might work is a self contained machine that is fixable using simple tools that includes not only the digital art but the software necessary to view the art. If the hardware can't be fixed using simple tools, it will eventually die leaving a useless paperweight that was once worth a lot of money.

Aw geeze - again!? (4, Informative)

Animaether (411575) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582905)

Honestly, Slashdot editors, can we put a moritarium on these "whrrr what medium do I choose to back my stuff up on so that it will still be readable N year from now???" stories?
We just HAD one of these less than two weeks ago! []

The top comment there?

Holy crap we're approaching the need for an Ask Slashdot FAQ. I feel old.

- Zlurg; []

Slashdot askers: could you please, please, just browse back a month or two to see this discussion dealt with over, and over, and over?

No. Your mentioning that this is for a *museum* doesn't change anything - all of those discussions are from people who want to achieve immortality through archived proof that they once lived and want their great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandchildren to see the bodyshots they took off of their great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandmother.
No. Your mentioning that this doesn't have to be cheap doesn't change anything either - all of those discussions will have replies varying in cost, right on up to suggesting you etch the data into a platinum carrier.

I'll summarize the replies from all of those discussions for you here.. by the time I'm done, they'll probably all appear as replies in -this- 'story' again as well.

A. Back up to any media, make duplicates, refresh these duplicates onto whatever media is now-current and reliable enough that it doesn't die the very next morning, keep the old ones around. This ensures that you always have overlapping technologies so that you -can- transfer the data just fine, and that the data will live on until somebody gets sick and tired of doing this. Note that the burden with this falls onto the museum - in both time and cost - but thankfully they can then do so for entire collections, and not just your stuff.

B. Drop it on a filesharing network, invoke the "once it's on the internet" claim.. although good luck finding, say, Fearless (1993 movie, not the Jet Li thing) which -was- easily found at least 5 years ago (I should know, I grabbed it to check out the plane crash; didn't care for the rest of the movie). So, scratch that.

C. If graphics: turn them into archival quality negatives. If audio: slap 'm on a phonographic record. Yes, they will degrade, but they will degrade 'gracefully' and even if some future generation has no idea what the heck to do with an SD card, figuring out negatives (or positives if you will) and records is rather simple.

Re:Aw geeze - again!? (3, Insightful)

Verdatum (1257828) | more than 4 years ago | (#29583029)

Agreed. Tagged article with "stopaskingthis".

Re:Aw geeze - again!? (1)

EvanED (569694) | more than 4 years ago | (#29583345)

I also like the sentence "No other artist or institution I know of have come up with any real solution to this issue yet, so I thought Slashdot readers may have an idea."

Eternal vigilance (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582907)

is the price you pay for digital storage. As of now there is no 'archival grade' way of digitally storing something. If you are storing digital data, you have to go through the rigmarole that we all do. Redundant backups, offsite storage, periodic and consistent data integrity checks and disaster recovery testing.

A problem best solved by the institutions? (2, Insightful)

AlphaBit (1244464) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582921)

Museums are going to have to deal with this more and more. It doesn't seem feasible to have to support each artists solution to archiving. They don't make painters provide a climate controlled storage environment to ensure the longevity of a painting.
Fortunately, the nature of digital art makes a solution easy if the museums cooperate. They could simply backup each others archives. This way a copy of any piece of digital art is stored at every major museum in the world. Loss of data would be a sign that much worse things were happening in the world.
Of course, encryption would probably be used to protect exclusive showing rights. Oh well.

Um....tape??? (4, Informative)

lxt (724570) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582965)

The fact that you haven't thought of tape makes me question how well you know the industry you're in, or how well-connected you actually are. Why can't you put your video files onto DigiBeta or similar? Tape stores well, and with a format like DigiBeta you're pretty much guaranteed compatability for at least 50 years+ (since there's so much TV back catalogue stored on tape, and there will always be a need by broadcasters to get to that content). I don't want to come off as rude, but it just sound like you don't really know much about video production and archival, despite the fact you've chosen to produce video installations and artwork. You're not the first person in the world to do this kind of thing - there are established proceedures for dealing with and archiving video installation work. This still doesn't entirely solve your problem of storing your raw data, but since you specifically talk about .mov files I'm perplexed that you haven't already thought of tape. I suspect you're going to get a lot of answers here that are wildly impractical for a gallery or go well beyond your means - but the fact is this: if a museum or gallery is looking to purchase your work, they should already have a curator who knows the medium. If they don't have a curator who can discuss with you the formats he/she would like the work in, the gallery probably needs to rethink what it's doing in the business!

Re:Um....tape??? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29583517)

Not just DigiBeta, but there's also D2, 1" and other archival tape formats that will last and be readable for years. Of course, with all of these you're still in a digital format and need the proper hardware and software to decode. The U.S. Archives has been working for ages to try and find a method to store the millions of photgraphic prints and negatives both for posterity and cataloguing, without success.

It comes down to this (in my opinion) - any media that will last indefinitely into the future must be tangible. A medium for digital media does not fit in here. The medium is tangible, but the media is not. Therefore, your only solution is to take your video art and have it printed to 35mm (or larger) film. Of course, film also degrades. Modern film, however, should fare far better than some of the Technicolor films of yore.

In 200 years, if the digital files can't be read, someone can shine a light through the frames and figure out what's going on there. It may be degraded in quality, they may play it back at the wrong frame rate, but something will be there.

It's simple (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29582967)

So I want to ask the Slashdot readers, what can I give to the museum when they acquire my digital work for their collection so that it can last and be seen long after I am dead?

  1. Give them a bunch of DVDs
  2. Die immediately

IMO most non-properity video archive is... (1)

vertinox (846076) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582981)

Frame by frame image captures into JPEG (or TGA if you aren't hurting for storage) and then save the audio track in raw wav file.

At least I think that will be the most compatible in 100 years.

Steel plates (1)

Deth_Master (598324) | more than 4 years ago | (#29582991)

Etch the 1s and 0s into a steel plate. Then seal it in one of those food vacuum seal bags. Then put that bag in another bag.

That should do it. It'll last forever, and can be manually recovered easily.

Side note:
This was on the bottom of the page: " There's nothing like a girl with a plunging neckline to keep a man on his toes. "

Digital Intermediate/Digital Master (1)

endikos (195750) | more than 4 years ago | (#29583015)

Have a look at the Digital Intermediate process. To quote the wikipedia article [] regarding the process: "The digital master, created during the Digital Intermediate process, is recorded to very stable yellow-cyan-magenta (YCM) separations on black-and-white film with an expected 100-year or longer life." So essentially you are creating a very high resolution analog copy of your digital master. This way, if the digital media craps out, you have a long-life analog way of recreating it. This is a way some Hollywood studios are approaching the problem.

use archival-grade DVD media (1)

fljmayer (985663) | more than 4 years ago | (#29583019)

There are special DVD media to be had that are meant for archiving, and they do seem to last quite bit longer than normal media. I don't remember the brand name, but I recall that the Taiyo Yuden media have about the same durability. Taiyo Yuden media are not available in stores, but places like sell them.

duh (1)

inerlogic (695302) | more than 4 years ago | (#29583031)

digital -> film transfer

35mm or 16mm film will last at least two hundred years in a controlled environment....
and museums already know how to handle film media....

Tape (1)

Pf0tzenpfritz (1402005) | more than 4 years ago | (#29583057)

For serious archiving there's just one reliable option: magnetic tape. A state-of-the art device will store some hundered Gigs per medium and cost up to about 1.000 â/$ used ones are available in all price ranges. You will probably need to extract samples from your long time archives for your customers as there are different standards of tape drives, if you're not only going to sell DVD or blue ray media and leave the archiving problem to them. Any institution collecting digital arts will have to find a way to cope with long-time storage anyway. The arguments for magnetic tape are obvious: - there are so many important data on standard tape (QIC/DDS) that these devices will definitely be available for the next few decades - the life time of magnetic tapes is usually 25 years - tape drives are usually connected via SCSI or USB, both standards are not likely to be abandonded in the way standards for "customer grade" hardware are and you'll always get external adapters for them - if you stick to one of the newer and more popular tape systems, museums or arts collections that are maintaining their own archives are likely to compatible - magnetic tapes are quite reliable. Optical media are not

Paperback! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29583077)

Use paperback. It allows you to print out the data on standard paper (which any museum or library will be very familiar with archiving safely.)

In the event that something happens to their original, the paper can be scanned back in with any TWAIN interface supporting scanner.

It's even released under the GPL.

You just have to use the right DVDs. (1)

Shag (3737) | more than 4 years ago | (#29583091)

Your local arts and crafts store should have acid-free DVDs specifically for things like this (and storing digital scrapbooks of that trip to Arizona with the grandkids.)

Or just (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29583117)

use real archival media like the etched in stone stuff at

All about show (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29583297)

Well I fail to see how this is your problem really but at a certain point art sales is about presentation, so:

1) Get a pair of usb hard drives or some kind of solid state devices, depending on storage requirements.
2) Get a a pair of small, attractive fireproof cases and cut out some foam inserts for your storage.
3) Profit!


The media may be durable, but... (2, Insightful)

Tim99 (984437) | more than 4 years ago | (#29583313)

Most of the technological solutions that are currently offered, do as you say, have limited lifetimes. Our company makes museum collection management software, so we have thought about this.
In the 1980s, I was involved in an interesting project that required that a large quantity health and safety data that we were generating, be kept in a digital format for 70 years (a reasonable lifetime for a person who was then an adult). Our supplier, IBM, suggested that we used WORM discs (a predecessor of CD-R). They had a large data capacity and were 'guaranteed to last a lifetime'. A few years later we were told that a 'lifetime' was 5-20 years, so we should move the data from our WORM library. We were then installing new computers that did not provide native support for WORM drives, so we moved the data to a server and transferred it to the new media of CD-Rs - A few years after that CD-Rs were also found to have very limited lives.

We found that keeping multiple back-ups on tape; and on different geographically separate servers was the only convenient way of storing this data so that we could retrieve it. So, it became standard policy to replace the servers every few years with newer models and transfer the data (and metadata, with codec documentation) across to the new machines, and to forget about removable media back-ups.

If you want to make artworks available for a couple of hundred years, there is a technology that we know is OK - Putting images on high quality acid-free paper using permanent pigments (not dyes). Alternatively, you could consider using a coded representation of the data on some permanent medium, with an 'easy' way of constructing a playback device, also encoded on the media cf. the Voyager Golden Record []

You may not want to use gold, because someone will probably steal it - So, alternatively, consider a large piece of stone and a chisel...

dedicated viewer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29583355)

The only way to remove the digital artwork from the digital format cycle would be to build a dedicated viewer. a simple computer with enough storage for the artwork hard wired to a screen or projector. that way you could control the viewing experience as well. And you would be creating a physical item for the museum to care for and maintain, a process that they are used to and good at. An interesting project would be to develop a standard box that could be used by different artists, perhaps with a tab that is snapped off after the artwork is loaded, locking the artwork just like the little tab on a VHS or audio tape. of course you still rely on the museum for power, but i think it is fair to expect them to find an adaptor to plug in the artwork.

I don't like the premise (1)

JerryLove (1158461) | more than 4 years ago | (#29583387)

Digital information isn't books and pictures, and there's no reason it should be stored like it is.

Rather than files full of "archive media", which incurs regular conversion charges and risks both media degridation and "missing one" in the conversion resulting in it being unreadable: I recommend institutions work with live storage.

Setup a SAN, keep the data there, keep a live replica at another location. Backup the SAN on schedule.

As failures of storage media occur, they are detected (because the system is live, not dead stored disks) and can be replaced. Migration becomes "two SANs" not "thousands of tapes, flash drives, DVDs, and BlueRays".

Other than that: I can only suggest "give them three identical disks", so that partial failures of a disk can be recovered by comparing it to the other disks.

Continuous CRC Check (1)

Havokmon (89874) | more than 4 years ago | (#29583397)

Load it into the buffer and do a continuous CRC check until someone coms around to rematerialize it.

First thing: license it appropriately (1)

Mathinker (909784) | more than 4 years ago | (#29583441)

If you make sure that you have licensed the work properly to the museum, then, as previous posters have observed, you can leave it in their hands as to how they will preserve your digital artwork for posterity.

If you mess up the licensing, they could easily be stuck in a situation where they aren't sure if it is legal for them to do the required copying and format transformations.

Someone like Creative Commons should think about this problem. Unfortunately, everyone has their own spin on how this should be accomplished. I suppose the CC guys would just say, use a CC license, for example, when this artist seems to be more interested in giving a particular organization (and no one else) the right to preserve his works until they enter the public domain. AFAIK, no one has invented an "archival" or "preservation" license like this artist needs.

put it onto p2p (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 4 years ago | (#29583475)

it will live forever in multiple copies all over the internet

the digitalartisnotfineart tag is of course an ignorant troll, but digital art IS different from other forms of art in that it can effortlessly be made into 1 billion copies, with no difference between any copy. of course this is also true of music and books, etc., but enjoying them in analog formats is still a possibility, and some might argue about aesthetic superiority in that difference (i wouldn't though)

of course immortality via internet puts a crimp in your thinking about people buying and selling your digital art, but you are excused for making this error, as the entire world is only beginning to grapple with the economics of effortless infinite digital works and its implications on the economics of art

look into digital headstones-like from cemetaries (1)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 4 years ago | (#29583493)

they exist- they play video of dead people right over the grave...

they've had the same problem, and been around a while....

Get them pressed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29583573)

If money is no issue, you could get some professionally pressed with a company like Disc Makers. Of course I'm not sure how long that would last either, but it's got to be a decent amount longer than recordable dye-based solutions...

Give them a link to a torrent (1)

debrain (29228) | more than 4 years ago | (#29583587)

... It'll be seeded for decades.

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