Ars Electronica holds one of the world’s largest archives of digital media art covering the last 30 years. It consists of documentations of the Ars Electronica Festival since 1979, the archive of Prix Ars Electronica with submissions of artists since 1987, as well as documentation of projects of the Ars Electronica Futurelab and of exhibitions in the Ars Electronica Center and worldwide. Beside thousands of video- and audio recordings, numerous photographs, negatives, and slides are stored, as well as an extensive collection of print material including publications, posters, folders, and press material.
Ars Electronica Archive goes public! After a period of intensive collecting and researching data and resources, digitization of physical media and complex migrations of databases and file conversions, the Ars Electronica Archive is back online, more extensive than ever before.
The Prix Ars Electronica Showcase is a collection where all the artist submissions for the Prix since 1987 can be searched and viewed. The winning projects are documented with extensive information and audiovisual media, which can be seen and heard. All other submissions are displayed with the basic metadata in list form.
The Pic Archive contains an extensive collection of pictures of Festival, Prix, Center, Futurelab and Export. The pictures from 2011 are identical to the Ars Electronica Flickr account. Older pictures are from a now obsolete version of a custom-made image filing system that has been migrated to the new structure.
The Print Archive of Ars Electronica covers all publications since 1979 in the fields of Cyber Arts/Prix, Festival and special publications and as well as the audiovisual supplements, museum brochures and updates and special publications. All text and articles are searchable and readable. The festival catalogs are since 2000 in the original layout as PDFs, for the preceding years, only the OCR text information was presevered but they are also readable. CyberArts catalogs are complete PDFs, catalogs before 2005 were physically digitised, as there were no longer the print data.
A PROFILE OF MEDIA AND DIGITAL ART
Due to the ongoing events of Ars Electronica the archive grows continuously. Therefore it offers not only a representative cross-section of the broad field of media & digital art; it is also a historical catalog of the data storage media and formats that in many cases significantly determine the appearance of the works preserved on them. Scholarly articles on computer graphics, computer animation, computer & digital music, interactive art, netbased art, software, virtual reality applications, media performance, bio art and robotics explicitly document the aesthetic strategies used in these fields as well as, implicitly, the technical conditions on which they are based.
However, the Ars Electronica Archive is not only of interest from a scholarly-historical perspective, but it also represents an urgent task in view of the brief “half-life” of the data storage media it contains. The video collection includes a multiplicity of formats, the availability of which is progressively diminishing amidst the ongoing proliferation of technological alternatives. The same applies to the programming languages in which art projects are developed and their various storage media—from diskettes to CDs, to websites and their addresses.
Due to our understanding of a living archive we are making the contents of the Ars Electronica Archive available to the public. After several digitization projects and migrations of older data logs, also all the entries for the Prix Ars Electronica submitted online in every year are being transferred to the archive automated. Accordingly a server-based digital archive has been developed, that is based on a complex database structure with metadata. At the present moment it consists of 116.000 entries with a storage volume of 60 terabytes. The progressive publication in the form of a web-archive is scheduled for autumn 2012, as well as various modes of mediation through visualizations and installations.
After several digitization projects and migrations of older data logs, also all the entries for the Prix Ars Electronica submitted online in every year are being transferred to the archive automated. Digital photographs are archived directly and, via an interface, made public on social media sites. The archive has thus been brought to life! It no longer just conserves glimpses of bygone days; it’s constantly being updated with new material. It’s a direct repository of all currently published photos including their metadata, and thereby makes them (re)searchable. The ongoing input of current visual material with no lag time makes it possible to conserve important information that might otherwise be lost.