Archival time-based media : topologies of preservation and access




McCarther, Amye Rae

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The analog time-based media of film, videotape, grooved sound recordings and audiotape have emerged as a growing area of concern for cultural institutions. Collectively, these media constitute a rich body of historical evidence and intangible cultural heritage whose varied physical and technological components incur a wide range of preservation needs. The current moment is also one where digitally-enabled technologies for migrating and sharing time-based media appear to hold infinite promise, even as the most vulnerable elements of the historical record embodied in moving images and recorded sound threaten to disappear. This study investigates the preservation of analog time-based media as it exists in local repositories. The study was formed in response to the needs of a specific collection of analog audio open reels containing music recorded at Houston's Andrus Studios dating from the 1960s and early 1970s, and to the task of finding an appropriate repository to acquire the collection. Physical, technological and intellectual aspects of time-based media are articulated in the literature review, study criteria and semi-structured interview questions employed for the study. The findings form a topology of preservation and access activities that exist in local repositories and that contribute to the sustainability of acquiring substantial collections of obsolete time-based media such as the Andrus Studios collection.




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