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Jack McConchie

Jack McConchie, Time-based Media Conservator, Tate
American Institute of Conservation Annual Meeting, Houston Texas

Attending AIC’s 46th annual meeting proved an excellent experience that benefitted my development in several ways.

I was able to present my paper on my research undertaken on using Virtual Reality tools as a form of documentation for installation artworks. My work calls for collaboration from other institutions, and requires feedback from others who might implement it into their documentation workflow. AIC has an international list of high profile attendees, so it was an excellent and prestige platform from which to present. I have identified a key collaborating partner as a result, and look toward to being able to work further on this project. I feel that I showed how it could be easily integrated into an existing workflow, but through group discussion it became clear that this could fit into a new collaborative framework for sound and installation art documentation to the benefit of the broader conservation community. The potential for working on this as an AIC workshop along with representatives from MoMA was discussed with the chair of the Electronic Media Group. This discussion and potential developments to my research arose through being programmed next to complimentary presentations on sound and documentation. This is a great example of the benefit of attending and presenting at AIC.

An extension of my research is to collaborate with Central Saint Martins to help them archive their first Virtual reality artwork, building on my knowledge of using VR tools and archiving complex software systems to develop a strategy for VR acquisition. There were several presentations on various approaches to archiving software, all of which proved very useful. I was able to discuss my approach with a graduate of the NYU time-based media program who has written a paper on some of the challenges that we might encounter. I had previously identified a key technical collaborator in this project (Tom Ensom, Kings university PhD candidate) and since he also attended AIC we were able to discuss this as group and make plans to move the project forward. Capitalizing on the momentum around this, I have 5 days set aside in late June to meet online with this group to progress this component of my work.

I attended a lecture about the curriculum of the Time-based media course at NYU, having previously met with the course leaders at Tate last year. They were encouraged that I had developed my conservation career from a background in electronic engineering and have widened their entry qualifications to include science backgrounds such as physics and electronics alongside chemistry. With all of this in mind they put forward the possibility of me giving a guest lecture on some case studies where I have applied my degree learning. This would be a fantastic addition to my CV. I am very motivated to feed back into education, and so attending this presentation together with meeting the team and graduates was very beneficial.

One of the projects I am working on at Tate is the implementation of a “High Value Digital Asset” repository. This will be a server based storage system with semi automated ingest for our valuable digital files that form part of artworks. Integrating it with our existing museum management system is a huge task along with developing existing components of the system for our particular needs. One major user of this system alongside Tate is MoMA, and I was able to discuss implementation with the MoMA team, along with reflecting on presentations of institutions at different stages of implementing similar strategies.

I was able to attend the seminar “From abstract to paper”, which gives advice and structure to those writing for publication. Since I will shortly be turning my abstract and presentation into a Paper for submission to the AIC journal, this offered some excellent support and pointers around framing my case study.

I hope that these examples go some way to showing what a valuable experience attending AIC was. I am most grateful to the Plowden trust for awarding funding towards my career development in this manner.

I had previously identified a key technical collaborator for my project and since he also attended AIC we were able to discuss this and make plans to move the project forward.