French philosopher Jean Baudrillard theorized the concept of copy as simulacra: an entity that is not a copy of anything tangible, but becomes truth through its hyperrealist condition. Simulacra are copies that no longer have or never have had an original reality from which to imitate. Perhaps the most prevalent form of simulacra in our contemporary digital culture is the video game. As machines of engagement with artificial environments, video games as digitally-based art works are pure simulation in which they become signs of their own reality rather than that of the physical world. Their ephemeral nature raises issues of their future preservation, which is only now becoming increasingly important for museums as collectors of cultural production. Because video games are a reproducible medium, they are not an authentic or original masterpiece. This indicates a shift in museum acquisitions and conservation of traditional physical objects to electronic media.
This project addresses the problem of establishing and maintaining copies of video games in museums. It will question: How do museums collect transitory media? What parameters of quality should be considered? How should they be stored when the hardware is obsolete? Should we document social networking in video games? How do curators present and mediate this art form? As simulacra, video games are changing the types of things museum collect which signifies larger paradigm shifts in contemporary culture regarding our values and commodity consumption. Long scoffed at in the art world, copies of digital media are now being exhibited in large-scale institutions alongside the Abstract Expressionists. Issues of their preservation fulfill museums’ mission to conserve and mediate historical objects as part of our shared cultural memory.
Source: Project Proposal