Saturday, March 22, 2008

Lost Souvenirs

First things first: If you came here yesterday looking for a post because LB was as regular as the tax man, sorry. I got busy goofing off and it's harder to displace from goofing off than from reconciling bank statements, filing, shredding, downsizing, etc. to blog.

Photo was taken while on a wander with my buddy SuRu yesterday in downtown Austin. We went to AMOA where they have a show "Twenty to Watch" which supposedly touts upcoming local artists.

SuRu was encouraging me to pursue my reflection photos as art. This entry was up on my computer, blank except for the title: "Lost Souvenirs" and when I saw this seedy souvenir shop on Congress that just keeps on keeping on, I had to get a photo to illustrate the entry. (Which I hoped to finish someday.)

As I sort through old stuff and ponder the demise of paper with my two readers (thanks FFP and Deb), I got the idea to title an entry "Lost Souvenirs." To talk about how our words and pictures from 2008 may not get preserved. First, we are getting more and more loath to save things. Second, so many things take a digital form. Third, some things just aren't as collectible any longer. Tickets to even the most expensive events are generic and ugly with bar codes for hand-held readers.

Things are getting tossed into the trash or recycling as soon as they show up these days unless they really cry out for keeping. I may find a 1994 copy of The New Yorker. But I'm much less likely to find one from 2006. Paper ephemera we might have once kept for months or years are dismissed to the paper sack for recycling post haste.

We take a lot of pictures these days. But print few. When SuRu was encouraging me to present my reflection pictures as an art form, I said "But I'm not making prints."

"Because of the cost?"

"No, because it would be more stuff. I'm going to present them as a WEB page."

However, how permanent is a WEB page under the aegis of some possibly itinerant WEB host? And if you leave the bits on your own computer or backed up on CDs or something, how permanent is that? Will there come a time when reading JPEGs will be hard because there is a newer, better format? Worse for words that are committed to MS long before the software will go beyond the format it is in?

As I promised a day or two ago, I located some stories about preserving the digital stuff. This one is about efforts at the Smithsonian. Here's a quote from it:

The problem of preserving digital archives is complex. Not only do computer hardware and software quickly become obsolete, but the durability of storage media is also limited. ''We know about paper disintegrating, but the digital world is so much more evanescent,'' Dr. Billington said.
This one talks about preserving digital works of art:

''It's certainly been a problem since the first time we decided to keep something,'' said Richard Rinehart, director of digital media at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive of the University of California. ''That's what museums do: they are society's memory banks. Digital art is different because it essentially can disappear.''

''I like to joke that digital art can last forever or for five years, whichever comes first,'' he added.

Life is fleeting. More so today than ever. I think that's why blogging suits me.


deb said...

I do agree with SuRu. You should work on a digital photograph portfolio. In your spare time!

Face it, it would be rewarding to see some of your 'Reflections' printed, matted and framed on a gallery wall in Austin.

You really do deserve the recognition and your photographs warrant it as well.

Linda Ball said...

SuRu says it is just a matter of taking YOURSELF seriously. Then you are an artist. Maybe not an acclaimed or successful one, but an artist. I agree with that. In spite of that I can't get her to do her painting or writing!