Preserve the Model


Van Gogh produced compelling artwork ahead of his time. This one is called "Wheat field with cypresses" from 1889. The original is in the National Gallery in London. How do we archive this kind of work? Clearly, digital scans of all varieties and wavelengths can be employed to record the static painting. But that is the final product. No art is static. It is all dynamic, time-based media, to use a phrase coined within media studies. The only reason why we think of Van Gogh's artistry as static is that there is no recorded process of how it was created over time. Contrast this situation against the products of modern cinema and video games.  These products are the result of complex models of geometry and dynamics. So, if you want to archive a video game, best to archive the process, the shape, and the behaviors. Preserve the simulation models rather than an end-product.  How something changes over time is precious and ultimately more valuable than what emerges from the end of a creative pipeline. Even with packages such as Photoshop or Gimp, there is a process that is stored as a dynamic stack of human interaction events. That is what we ought to be saving wherever possible. The focus on process, and on model, can also have an effect on how we think of art-not only from the perspective of archiving. Musicians and performers are used to modeling. Maybe, the rest of us should jump on board.