Jon Ippolito

Digital Arts Writing Award

Lectures & Symposia

Jon Ippolito Presentation “Only You Can Prevent the End of History” at PNEK/Norwegian Video Art Archive

June 15, 2015
Digital & Media Art

2015 Digital Arts Writing Awards recipient Jon Ippolito will give a presentation “Only You Can Prevent the End of History,” at PNEK / Norwegian Video Art Archive, Oslo, June 17, 2015, information at or

From the PNEK website:

How will our increasingly digital civilization persist beyond our lifetimes? Audio and videotapes demagnetize; CDs delaminate; Internet art links to websites that no longer exist; Amiga software doesn’t run on iMacs. In Re-collection, Richard Rinehart and Jon Ippolito argue that the vulnerability of new media art illustrates a larger crisis for social memory. They describe a variable media approach to rescuing new media, distributed across producers and consumers who can choose appropriate strategies for each endangered work. New media art poses novel preservation and conservation dilemmas. Given the ephemerality of their mediums, software art, installation art, and interactive games may be heading to obsolescence and oblivion. Rinehart and Ippolito, both museum professionals, examine the preservation of new media art from both practical and theoretical perspectives, offering concrete examples that range from Nam June Paik to Danger Mouse. They investigate three threats to twenty-first-century creativity: technology, because much new media art depends on rapidly changing software or hardware; institutions, which may rely on preservation methods developed for older mediums; and law, which complicates access with intellectual property constraints such as copyright and licensing. Technology, institutions, and law, however, can be enlisted as allies rather than enemies of ephemeral artifacts and their preservation. The variable media approach that Rinehart and Ippolito propose asks to what extent works to be preserved might be medium-independent, translatable into new mediums when their original formats are obsolete.

– I really have a problem with the alternative idea that “this is video art” and “that is net art,” or even “this is time-based media.” I can’t stand that term, and I’m happy to take some tomatoes in the face on your website for saying that. The notion of “time-based art” is problematic in a number of ways. Generally speaking, it is used by organizations that were based in traditional forms, have been inching along the bending limb of video art, and assume that at the end of that limb is something a lot like video art but maybe a bit more “out there.” So they just call that whole limb “time-based media.” The problem is not the term – the problem is what the term makes you think.

(Jon Ippolito interview on Smithsonian, 2013)

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