Game engines are software tools for building virtual environments and experiences. They simulate properties of the real world, like materials and physics, while supporting the creation of different realities with their own geographies and rules. Having emerged in the context of video game development, game engines are also finding use in the creation of software-based art. When displayed, these artworks consist of moving image sequences that play out in real-time, allowing them to respond dynamically to input or unfold in unpredictable ways. This talk will consider the theoretical and technical considerations involved in the conservation of artworks made in game engines, and reflect on the role of the conservator when working with an emerging medium.
Tom Ensom (he/him) is a freelance digital conservator specialising in the conservation of software-based art. In 2018 he completed his PhD, which explored approaches to the documentation of software-based art through a collaborative doctoral partnership between King’s College London and Tate. He continues to work closely with Tate’s Time-based Media Conservation team, where he has helped develop their conservation strategy for software-based art and works on the acquisition of a wide range of time-based media artworks. His current research focus is the conservation of artworks which employ real-time 3D rendering and immersive media technologies.