Restoring Digital Art In A Digital Age

Jun 27, 2013

Credit Douglas Davis via Whitney Museum

A conservation conundrum, that’s what the Whitney Museum of American Art faced recently when it set out to restore a piece of early digital art…it was uncharted territory for the cadre of conservationists who are typically tasked with matching paint colors and cleaning centuries-old sculptures. But in 1995 when the Whitney acquired Douglas Davis’s digital creation: “The World’s First Collaborative Sentence,” there wasn’t a conservation plan in place for the restoration of digitally created work. In 2011 the Whitney began the complicated process of restoring Davis’s piece, which lay dormant since a server switch in 2005. Melena Ryzik is culture reporter for the New York Times and joined us to talk about the Whitney’s process of restoring a relic from the early days of the internet.