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The Work of Art in the Age of Digital Fragility

The Work of Art in the Age of Digital Fragility Impermanence and fragility have become the defining conditions of the digital age. Technologies that were ubiquitous barely a decade ago, like floppy disks, now look like archaeological relics. It takes only a few years, if not months, before software environments are replaced by newer versions, often with limited backward compatibility. At the same time, digital technologies rely on hardware that has short life expectancy. The radical obsolescence of this new digital register raises a number of important questions. How are we going to prevent the fragile memories of contemporary digital cultures from receding into oblivion? This essay answers this question by looking at one of the institutions in which the problems associated with digital fragility are most especially felt, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and by exploring the ontological displacements that digital objects are operating at the heart of the museum. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Public Culture Duke University Press

The Work of Art in the Age of Digital Fragility

Public Culture , Volume 32 (1) – Jan 1, 2020

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Copyright
Copyright © 2020 by Duke University Press
ISSN
0899-2363
eISSN
1527-8018
DOI
10.1215/08992363-7816365
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Impermanence and fragility have become the defining conditions of the digital age. Technologies that were ubiquitous barely a decade ago, like floppy disks, now look like archaeological relics. It takes only a few years, if not months, before software environments are replaced by newer versions, often with limited backward compatibility. At the same time, digital technologies rely on hardware that has short life expectancy. The radical obsolescence of this new digital register raises a number of important questions. How are we going to prevent the fragile memories of contemporary digital cultures from receding into oblivion? This essay answers this question by looking at one of the institutions in which the problems associated with digital fragility are most especially felt, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and by exploring the ontological displacements that digital objects are operating at the heart of the museum.

Journal

Public CultureDuke University Press

Published: Jan 1, 2020

References