To Hold Up a Mirror: Preservation and Interpretation of Performance in a Digital Age

keynote / plenary
  1. 1. Charles J. Henry

    Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR)

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It is commonplace to separate the methods of preservation of our cultural heritage from scholarly
interpretation. Preservation is often described in more technical terms, while scholarship is deemed an
intellectual engagement removed from the the technicalities of electronic capture and persistence. This
presentation challenges that distinction, and rather explores the dynamic, causal relationship between
preserving a performance event and its subsequent interpretation.
The scholar's reception and elucidation of performance can be traced back at least to Aristarchus and
his collation and annotation of the various written records of recitations of Homer's epic poetry that
had accumulated by the second century B.C.E. More recently, the digitization of the Bayeux Tapestry
illuminates the interplay between the translation, from one medium to another, and preservation of a
fundamentally important object of human expression and its determining influence on how that object
may be interpreted and received subsequent to its digitization.
Today, performance often entails rich, multimedia elements that pose considerable difficulties for
preserving the event and making it accessible over time. As importantly, the methods of capture can limit
but also allow new and exciting opportunities for scholarly exegesis, including the capture of various
stages and components of the creative process, illuminating the context and history of the performance
What does it mean to preserve our cultural record digitally? What new methods of interpretation may
arise in response to a digital record of an otherwise fleeting and ephemeral event? What new means
of publication will be needed to communicate adequately the various 'readings' of a digitally preserved

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Conference Info


ADHO - 2010
"Cultural expression, old and new"

Hosted at King's College London

London, England, United Kingdom

July 7, 2010 - July 10, 2010

142 works by 295 authors indexed

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Conference website:

Series: ADHO (5)

Organizers: ADHO

  • Keywords: None
  • Language: English
  • Topics: None