Gema Grueso has a BA in Fine Arts and an MA in contemporary Art conservation-restoration. She has been working in Heritage restoration since 2006 and in contemporary art conservation since 2012 treating many different kinds of artworks such as paintings, sculptures and in the last few years audiovisual and new media artworks. She got her MA with a comprehensive survey about issues encountered in the acquisition, documentation, presentation and preservation of Internet art in 2012. Since then, she has maintained her interest in the different proposals and projects addressing the preservation and the management of new media art. In 2015 she enters Presto Centre as part of Reina Sofia Museum where she works since 2013 first as an object conservator and then in charge of the audiovisuals area of the department.
Museums, galleries, and other art institutions have sought advice and examples from libraries and archives when dealing with media art. We have learnt about file formats, metadata harvesting and recording, ingestion and storage systems, DAMs, and so on. Conservators in charge of the preservation of time-based media artworks have learnt to document thoroughly every aspect of these kinds of artefacts and have come to the artists or the artist’s studios in search for advice for the long-term preservation of these artworks. Several international projects, symposia, conferences, workshops, tools, metadata standards, etc. have been developed and still are being researched and tested in a range of different institutions all around the world. Why we still struggle with the preservation of these artworks? We have information, tools, we may have technology, and we can reach the artist to ask our questions… What is really lacking in this scenario? From the point of view of the conservation, the most difficult task to preserve media artworks is the decision-making process. It is a slow and complicated path because of all the parameters that have to be taken into account. The good news is that this process is everything but new in the conservation field; it may seem that the technology makes it really different, but that’s not completely true.
Besides, conservators are not alone, the artist is already on our side and also the curator is interested in certain aspects of its conservation. So the decision-making process is at least threefold, and I would suggest a fourth part: visitors. As Pip Laurenson stated some months ago in an enlightening lecture at the Institute of Fine Arts, we (conservators) also have to keep the present in mind, and this present when dealing with media artworks is the experience of the artwork. With these four aspects of our framework to make our decisions, what remains is thinking about the necessities of each one, and negotiate a long-lasting future for media artworks.