Xerox scientists working to make conservation more difficult.

April 5, 2009

Xerox Corporation scientists have invented a way to make prints whose images last only a day, so that the paper can be used again and again. The technology, which is still in a preliminary state, blurs the line between paper documents and digital displays and could ultimately lead to a significant reduction in paper use. – Xerox

“Green” is the watchword of the day and the world of heritage conservation is not immune from its impact.  The University of Texas hosted the conference From Gray Areas to Green Areas: Developing Sustainable Practices in Preservation Environments.  The American Institute for Conservation has formed a Green Task Force.  The British Museum is hosting a conference in late April, 2009 titled Going Green:  towards sustainability in conservation.   However, at what point does going green actually impair the ability of conservators to preserve materials for future researchers?

Xerox is hoping to eventually introduce a product that will reduce the consumption of office paper by creating a transient printing process that will allow paper to be reused.  This is a noble goal, to be sure, but how will it impact our work?  If the process becomes widespread,  how will conservators deal with materials that are meant to be temporary?  How should conservators deal with these transitory documents?  Are these documents that like performance art should only be witnessed in a particular time and place or are we merely adapting a technology that will impose a burden on understanding our own past.

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