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Tuesday, May 30 • 2:00pm - 2:30pm
(Electronic Media) The Ballad of Little Bill: Collaboration in Time-Based Media Conservation

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The Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM) owns and displays a growing collection of time-based media and digital art, including significant works of art by video art pioneer Nam June Paik. In 2009, the museum acquired Paik's complete estate archive, including his writings, correspondence, notes, sculptures, and studio effects. To commemorate Paik's legacy and profound influence on the art world, SAAM holds an annual birthday celebration in his honor and invites contemporary artists to exhibit a selected piece of artwork. For the 2016 Paik birthday celebration, Film and Media Arts Curator Michael Mansfield invited Brooklyn-based artists Lilla LoCurto and Bill Outcault to present their work titled "the willful marionette." One of thirteen time-based media artworks acquired by the museum that year, it is indicative of SAAM's increasingly diverse collection of media art. The kinetic sculpture combines sculpture, software, and electronics. The eponymous marionette Little Bill (Big Bill being artist Bill Outcault) is a 3-D printed, blue PLA plastic doll designed from scanned images of the artist himself. The marionette is not controlled by human hand, but rather by custom software that interfaces between a system of eleven stepper motors that move the doll, and two Microsoft Kinect cameras which serve as the doll's ‘eyes.' The marionette is thereby able to interact with its audience, and responds in real time to spontaneous human interaction with gestures of its own. Its range of different physical and digital components poses unique risks, a quality which is a frequent challenge to the conservation of contemporary media art. Ariel O'Connor, Objects Conservator, and Dan Finn, Media Conservator, will detail their efforts to effectively document the work's many facets during the installation and acquisition processes. The presentation aims to present a case study that is exemplary of the wide range of expertise that time-based media conservation can require, and the collaborative approach that it necessitates.

avatar for Ariel O'Connor-[PA]

Ariel O'Connor-[PA]

Objects Conservator, Smithsonian American Art Museum
Ariel O'Connor is an Objects Conservator at the Smithsonian American Art Museum's Lunder Conservation Center in Washington, DC. Prior to joining SAAM in 2016, Ariel worked at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Walters Art Museum, Harvard Art Museums, and the Metropolitan... Read More →

avatar for Dan Finn

Dan Finn

Conservator, Time-Based Media, Smithsonian American Art Museum
Dan Finn is currently the Time-Based Media Conservator at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. He graduated in 2014 with an MA in Moving Image Archiving and Preservation from New York University. He also worked with the Smithsonian Institution as a contractor for media preservation... Read More →

Tuesday May 30, 2017 2:00pm - 2:30pm CDT
Comiskey Concourse Level, West Tower