Art and Obsolescence

Episode 013: Asti Shering

November 23, 2021 Episode 13
Art and Obsolescence
Episode 013: Asti Shering
Show Notes Transcript

This week’s show features art conservator Asti Sherring, who for the past ten years has played a leading role in developing the time-based media conservation community in Australia. Tune in to this week’s episode to hear how Asti went from saving up her summer job money as a fourteen year old to go on an archaeological dig in Italy, to being the first time-based media conservator at the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

Links from the conversation with Asti
> Asti's website: https://www.astisherring.com
> Grimwade Centre: https://arts.unimelb.edu.au/grimwade-centre-for-cultural-materials-conservation
> AGNSW: https://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au

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[00:00:00] Ben: From Small Data Industries, this is Art and Obsolescence. I'm your host, Ben Fino-Radin, and on this show, I sit down with artists, collectors, curators, and conservators, and more. People that are shaping the past present and future of art and technology.  

 Something we haven't exactly talked about on the show yet is just how local time-based media conservation practice is. For many of the more technical aspects of conservation. There is always a whole network of technicians and engineers, and in some case, folks who are passionately dedicated to arcane and obsolete technologies. All of this makes the work of time-based media conservation possible and is often localized to specific geographic regions.  

So I was very excited to talk to today's guest as her own career as a time-based media conservator has developed very much in tandem with the local community of practitioners, where she is based.  

[00:00:57] Asti: Hi, my name is Asti Shering. I am traditionally trained as a conservator and I've been dedicating my research and practical skills to time-based art conservation for almost 10 years now. 

[00:01:12] Ben: Now, if you can't tell from the accent Asti is joining us from Sydney, Australia. Today, we'll be hearing Asti's journey from getting kicked out of math class as a teenager for bad behavior to serving as the first ever time-based media art conservator at the Art Gallery of New South Wales.  

Before we get started. Well, first of all, if you're new here, welcome, and I hope you stay awhile. One of the huge reasons I do this show is not just to document the people that are making and collecting and caring for art, but also to directly financially support artists that come on the show and believe it or not running a podcast isn't cheap. So I can't really continue to do this work to support artists without your help. The good news is this is a nonprofit endeavor thanks to our fiscal sponsor, the New York Foundation for the Arts. So if you are looking for some end of year charitable giving I hope you'll consider heading over to artandobsolescence.com/donate. Thanks for any help you can provide friends. It is deeply appreciated. And now without further delay, let's dive in and hear from time-based media art conservator Asti Sherring  

[00:02:14] Asti: So in Australia, you're not allowed to get a part-time job until you're 14 and nine months, but if your parents sign a form, you can get a job at 14. And so at that age, my father basically turned to me and said, I'm not paying for anything anymore time to get a job and signed me up for KFC. 

So I worked for a year in the KFC drive through, in the Western suburbs of Sydney. So sort of very, outskirts, not what you consider, the city center. And I saved up lots of money and decided to go on an archeological, dig in Italy. 

I'm the first one in my family to have ever gone to school past year nine. So what you consider, I guess, junior year? I went to a very, public school, so it was a real, sort of dodgy education but I had a friend who went to a selective private school and they were running a program and they didn't have enough kids that were interested. So she reached out to me and said, you know, this sounds like something you'd really love to do. They're trying to find numbers. Would you be interested? I just had this absolute love of history. And so I took my father's sort of challenge of go out and get a job and decided to, sort of one up him and say, well, okay, well, if I'm going out and getting a job at 14, I'm going to take myself overseas to go to Italy on this archeological dig. My parents weren't thrilled. I mean, my parents, never had passports until they were 55 years old. I'm the one who took them overseas for the first time. So it was completely outside of, their remit. It wasn't like they were travelers there, their daughter sort of saying to them, well, I'm actually going to go overseas now by myself. Check you guys in, in a few weeks.  

So I saved up for the year and I went, and so I was 15, went by myself, over there and had an amazing two weeks. But while I was there on this dig and what started with this obsession with ancient history, by the time I'd left, Italy turned into this absolute obsession with art.  

It was just so far from what I knew. There was culture everywhere mosiacs and colors and it was a completely different world to the world I'd existed in. Back in Australia at that time, I'd never been to an art gallery before in my life. The Art Gallery, New South Wales, where I ended up working. I never stepped foot into until I was 17 years old. And so really it was just being in a different place. And of course I have memories of the Sistine chapel and seeing those, those large, sort of traditional masterpieces, but I actually, I think it was just being absorbed by a different culture that was just so far from what I knew and feeling like art encompassed that feeling.  

And so I suppose that was really the start for me. And then from there it was okay, how do I combine my love of history and this passion I now have for art. Again, being the first person in my family to ever go past year 10 let alone, go to university was a really big deal. So I started applying, for different programs and I chose paleontology. Again, sort of hitting on that more archeological route, and I also applied for, a fine arts course as well. 

So both not really practical life skills, I suppose they were you know, passion subjects, and when it came down to it, I was just drawn more to the study of, of fine arts. Again, with that commitment to how do I bring this love of history? And by that stage kind of sociology and philosophy and the ideas of how history is made and taught and how those stories are told and all the various political agendas that come into it. 

So how do I bring that into what at the time was an artistic practice? So I went and did the undergrad at Sydney University's College of Fine Arts, and I majored in video and photographs. At that time actually the campus was it was an old mental institution. So for the a hundred years before it turned into an art school, it was a functioning psychiatric facility. 

So when you went and processed photographs using an analog format, you were literally in an old cell that somebody existed in underneath the school there were tunnels that led down to the water because in Australia, up until the 1970s, the seventies, there was a law that if you were transporting people with psychiatric or mental, and physical disabilities, that they couldn't be seen. 

By the general population. So they'd literally built kennels down to the water. And so it was such a strange place to be making art and learning about art. And so I guess under that, sort of little backstory, it was a very conceptual program. They were not at all focused on materials and techniques and how to sort of hone your craft. 

And in fact, what really got me was this one subject that was about the philosophy of photographs. And that is what sort of led me to discover conservation. 

While it did hit on materials and techniques and the whole, there are 11 inventors of the photographic process and all these, you know, dudes in various European countries are all fighting each other to be the guy that invented photography. The subject itself really honed into people and practices and how photography has been a documentation of human nature, over time, both in a good way and a negative way. And so that led me into conservation, funnily enough, because I mean, what I think is clear by now, I'm not a materials based conservator. 

I'm very much a conservator that's looking at and researching, theories and ethics and different approaches in a more sort of philosophical manner. So it just kind of started to come together and I believe it was when the historian Jeffrey Batchen visited the campus that I was on and he's written some incredible books about early photographic processes. 

And he mentioned conservation as part of his presentation. And that led me to sort of do a little bit of research and think, and start to think to myself, well, maybe this is where I can marry all of these deep passions that I have around history and art, and then people and how people think and behave. 

[00:09:31] Ben: Did you start doing pre-program chemistry and stuff like that? 

[00:09:35] Asti: Oh, gosh. Yeah, no, that didn't even exist in Australia. There are only two conservation schools, in Australia, a masters program in Melbourne and an undergraduate course at the university of Canberra. So I hadn't even got to that place yet. I just started to hit on this notion of conservation. And I actually have a fantastic story in relation to that, during my honors degree major show. So when we present our work I had, one of my examiners is a famous Australian photographer, Rosemary Laing. And she was looking at my work and we were talking about, you know, interrogating it and the subject matter and I must've mentioned during that examination that I was really interested in conservation. And I remember her saying to me, like, why would you want to do that? Why would you want to fix art when you can be an artist? And that really stuck with me that she had this quite visceral reaction to this idea that an art student would want to go and study conservation. 

Funnily enough, fast forward six years and I'm working at the art gallery of new south Wales, and I'm actually doing photographs conservation at the time. And one of Rosemary Lang's works, come into the lab and it's covered with cockroach accretions, just covered.  

 I had this beautiful, full circle moment where I kind of looked up to the sky and I was like, see Rosemarie? You do need conservators aren't you glad I did go to conservation school. 

The other important little piece that I haven't mentioned thus far which really kind of leads me down the time-based art conservation path, you know, is that I happen to exist growing up around men in my family. So my father, my pop, my uncle, who were all tinkerers with old school equipment. So my pop was a projectionist and then he turned into a TV repairman. My uncle Rocco was a camera repairman. My father has this incredible ability to be able to fix anything, electronic plumbing, wood, anything. As a very small child, I liked to exist with them in the garage as they were going through and trying to fix things. So I picked up so much information and knowledge around electronics and especially the analog audio visual, without even knowing sort of through osmosis, just being a small child existing with these men who tinkered. It's interesting when you start to think back on your journey, how old these little micro moments that seem insignificant at the time, or really have nothing to do with a professional identity or career progression actually become these pinnacle moments in defining what, who you are and what you're passionate about and where you want to go, where you want to take your life, which I find really fascinating. 

And I mean, that goes back to me needing a part-time job from 14. Like I worked at Kodak labs when the technology went from analog to digital, I worked at, it's called David Jones here, but I guess for you, it's like sort of a very big fancy department store. And I sold televisions again, when everything went from CRT to plasma and LCD. So I seem to be in the right place when when these technological shifts were happening, mostly because I needed money and the reason I think I kept ending up in these electronic kind of very male space, sales kind of electronic spheres is because, you know, they needed a token girl. They needed a token chick. Apple, I guess, was one of the last part-time jobs I had in that got to earn some money while I'm studying. That was fantastically significant because again, I was one of four women at the genius bar at the time, and it was the first Apple store in Australia and it was opened a month before the iPhone came to Australia for the first time. I remember being the first person to sell an Apple computer in that store and sort of got a handshake from, I don't know, somebody important within the apple world.  

So I learned, I learned a lot, and again, I learned about people and how to talk to people and how in these moments where somebody comes up to you and their iPhone is broken and they're crying because that contains the only pictures that they have of their newborn baby and if they lose these pictures, they've lost so much more than, you know, like records. There's so much emotion that goes into it. What I learned from being behind that genius bar was how to talk to people and how to make people feel better about technology, and that fear that exists around loss and losing things and even just being afraid of new things. So it was hugely significant. Again, didn't know it at the time, but retrospectively. 

[00:15:03] Ben: Wow. Back to conservation program, you mentioned, a bit about the kind of landscape of the programs there. So which program did you go to for conservation? 

[00:15:14] Asti: So, I went to the Melbourne University master's course because I'd completed an undergraduate degree already, and I know that to be recognized for jobs internationally, you have to have a master's level degree in conservation. So then I moved from, from Sydney to Melbourne, which was kind of a big step at the time. Because again, in Australia, you don't really move for college university. You often just stay in your city. It's kind of a rare thing. I was 24 when I got into the master's program and moved to Melbourne and I majored in paper and photographs because time-based art wasn't and still is not a specialization, that is on offer in Australia at all. So I thought I wanted to do photographs, conservation. I did do a chemistry intensive and that I have another hilarious story because, so I moved to Melbourne. I moved into this new little apartment. So the first time I'd really lived by myself and I opened the window in what was a very beautiful kind of spring, Melbourne weather, not realizing that there was a birds nest outside my window. So what actually happened was just moved into my apartment, got a new mattress, new bedding, everything and then my apartment becomes infested with bird lice. 

Every spring, all the birds become infested with bird lice. And so the good thing is they can't live on humans forever. They can live on you for sort of about a week, but they of course can live in bedding and lay eggs and all that stuff. So anyway, my lovely brand new bedding in my apartment get infested with bed lice and so this happened to coincide with the week that I was due to start the chemistry intensive. So I'm the chick. 

Itchy itchy. You know, my hair had that horrible lice shampoo in it. So like no one wants to make friends with that girl, right? Plus also chemistry is hard. Especially if you're me and you cheated your way through science and got kicked out of the maths course in your high school in year 10 for bad behavior, it was a completely new experience for me, trying to learn first year level chemistry in two weeks while being bird lice girl. But I passed - and people did eventually talk to me, I think once I'd wash my hair. So, yeah, so it was a really nice introduction to Melbourne. 

[00:17:55] Ben: You know, I always knew that, real conservators who went to like real conservator school had it harder than me because you know, I'm an interloper, but I didn't know that it involved all of that.  

[00:18:07] Asti: Oh, yeah, that is as part of the hazing ritual you need to be infested with some kind of bug. Yes. They really want to know you're committed to the process and you'll be dedicated to the profession.  

[00:18:23] Ben: So you get the bird lice you do the chemistry, so I mean, when, did the whole, oh, time-based media is a thing moment happen for you?  

[00:18:34] Asti: So it was the end of my first year, and basically that knowledge I'd taken from Apple to how to repair computers and things, and one of my professors, Dr. Marcel, Scott, who is a fantastic human in all the ways, her startup disk on her Mac book crashed. And so she was walking down the hallways kind of freaking out, for lack of a better word, because of course when you lose your data or your computer stops working, and this is before automatic iCloud storage backup, you know, that really didn't happen. If you weren't saving things to an external drive actively manually, you'll lose your data. And so I think she was walking through the hallway and I overheard her saying her Mac book died. So I kind of poked my head out and I said, oh, I can take a look at that for you, you know? No worries. And so after a conversation, cause I think she was like, no, I'm just not going to give a random student my computer. So we had a conversation and I was like, I think I know what's going on with this. And I took away her computer and identified that the startup disk was faulty so I think I managed to do a data recovery and replaced her hard drive, like bought a SATA hard drive, and kind of went in and replaced it, which is something Apple, obviously don't like you to be able to do. But yeah, I had inside knowledge and I think I probably nicked some of the tools when I left the Sydney store knowing me. So I had the tools, I had the gumption and went ahead and repaired it for her. So it was when I handed her computer back I remember her kind of looking at me funny and then saying something to the effect of, do you know what you can do? 

And I was like, girl, I just fixed your computer. You know, of course I know what I can do, you know? Thank you. Give me an A next time. And she was like, no, no, do you know about time-based media? And so she started talking about time-based media conservation and she's like, look, nobody does it here, we don't know what we're doing, no one's got the skills. This is actually something you might be really good at. And all of a sudden I got this mad explosion in my head. I was like, this makes so much sense. If you could make that moment into a little movie, that was the montage where you see the little girl in the garage, five years old around all these men and the girl at the apple bar at the genius bar at Apple, getting shouted out by some businessman, and it just all came together in that moment. And I was like, okay rad, this is what I've got to do. So as part of the Melbourne program, you write a minor thesis. So my minor thesis was on a virtual theory of conservation. So again, very preliminary ideas, which I've been developing over the last 10 years. So what are the contemporary conservation approaches to works that are technological in nature, but also how we have to look at our ethics and our obsession with the materiality and the scientific methodologies and how all of this stuff that's coming to the history of conservation and built it up into the profession that it is today is not necessarily applicable to an area like time-based art or what I was specifically looking at the time, which was software based art. So from there, for me, that was just, that was where I was going. But of course there were no jobs and nobody really knew about it or talked about it in Australia.  

[00:22:03] Ben: So knowing that, what did you do when you got out of school? Did you go and be a paper conservator somewhere?  

[00:22:10] Asti: I guess the short answer is, yes. But also knowing that I will, become a time-based art conservator. I don't mean to sound arrogant or overly cocky, but I've just always been that kind of person where I'm like, oh, okay. Well we'll just do this. We'll just make this happen. And that's just the way it is. So just feeling really confident that whatever I did in the interim was going to lead me to exactly where I wanted to go. And so, yeah, so I went and did paper and photographs conservation. I got amazing experience. I did an internship at Art Gallery of New South Wales, which led to a few days of paid work. I worked at the Museum of Contemporary Art on exhibitions. I worked at the Biennale of Sydney. I did a stint at the National Archives of Australia as a film conservator. So preserving and digitizing world war one, world war two footage, which was incredible, which I'm also not allowed to talk about because I am under a lifetime confidentiality agreement to never talk about the content, which I mean, is really cool. Right? It's like, oh, okay. All right. And never, ever talk about this or you're going to be mad trouble. And yeah, that kind of led to, developing lots of relationships and again, getting more experience, really building up knowledge around digital preservation, and then I went to LACMA actually, to the Los Angeles County museum of art. They got a grant to do a photographic conservation survey for a year, and I was very, very lucky to secure one of those positions. And as part of that, they also had wrote into the project specs that they wanted the fellow to have an involvement in their time-based media working group. And I think that's probably what appealed to me at the time. And so, yeah, I had that fantastic year in LA, which was both of the best year in the worst year of my life for different reasons. And just before I was coming back to Australia, my old boss at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, who's the head of conservation there, Carolyn Murphy sent me an email saying, I think I've managed to get some project funds together to start up a time-based art survey, a conservation survey. When are you coming home?  

[00:24:37] Ben: Yeah. Perfect timing. And you're like, all right, this is it.  

[00:24:40] Asti: This is it. I'm on a plane. I'm outta here. And yeah, that was my first time I sort of was employed as a time-based art conservator and it all kind of developed from there.  

[00:24:51] Ben: That's amazing. So you land at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Something that I love to ask folks who were like the first time-based media conservator at their respective institution is, you know, like what was it like when you first got there? You know, had the museum been collecting TBM for a while? How did you get started? How did you prioritize things? What kind of projects did you focus on initially? What did you look to as a role model since, there weren't other institutions doing time-based media conservation yet in Australia. 

[00:25:27] Asti: I'll preface with, you know, the Art Gallery of New South Wales was the most amazing opportunity I was given and without that institution and the mentorship of people like Carolyn Murphy, there is no way that that I would sort of be where I am. However, it was tough. Those first two and a half to three years was really difficult and it wasn't the work that was difficult. Although, you know, of course I came in the gallery had been collecting things since the mid 1960s. They didn't have, you know, standardized nomenclature, didn't have any kind of collecting principles and practices, didn't really have a way to record and grasp and understand the variable nature of the works, the conceptual nature and the material characteristics. Prior to my coming on board, the works had been looked after by either objects conservation in that sort of more the sculptural material components and the audio visual staff, which existed as part of a facilities team. So when I started in 2015, it was three days a week, a junior level role surveying the collection, identifying what do we have? What do we want to call it? And trying to get some stats together on what are the potential losses? What's going to happen if we continue to do nothing. 

And then the reason I say it was hard was because the institution was not invested in this and many of the stakeholders did not see the point. So I have a memory of the first meeting of walking in and just sort of feeling so green, and walking into a room and there are you know, 20 people around a table and, Carolyn introducing the project and just everybody stoic. You could cut the tension with a knife and just thinking oh dear you know, with my sort of enthusiasm and excitement and realizing in that moment that this was not a feeling that was shared by many. And so while I was practically doing the survey for the first six months, and then from there other projects that incrementally kind of started to establish what the specialization was or could be. A lot of my time was spent advocating and trying to create relationships and bring people with me and onside, and to see me as somebody who could actually be helpful, not somebody who's coming in and telling people what they haven't done or how to do their job, or just being in the way. I'll never forget that the first whispers to come back to me was from somebody very high up, who I'd respected at the time, referred to me as a silly little girl with nothing much going on in her mind. You know, that was really the vibe. Then the turning point, just to bring that into sort of a positive space, that turning point was when my colleague Lisa, Lisa Cat, who was an assistant curator at the time, and myself got invited to participate in the getting started workshop run by MoMA and the Andrew Mellon Foundation. Because one it solidified my role to the institution they were saying, oh, she's been invited to MoMA, like the pinnacle of contemporary art institutions in the world, you know, from an Australian perspective, she must actually know what she's talking about. And two for me, I went, oh, thank God. I'm not alone anymore. I know people now.  

And conservation in Australia in general. I mean, my experience at the AGnSW is not unique by any means, you know? And there were other moments within the wider conservation sector, at national conferences where the responses I were getting were similar. I guess I can say for any negative opinion, you know I have been told, I am not a real conservator, by conservation professionals and for every one of those negative reviews, I suppose there were three amazing, wonderful advocates saying, yes, finally, let's do this. So excited. 

 I think it was absolutely a journey that I needed to undertake and no hard feelings. There was one moment once where I was in a lift with a conservator and they were just so angry about technology and time-based art and that it was taking away from real art in the gallery. 

And I was in a lift with them and I had this moment and I turned to the person and I said, you know I didn't invent the internet, right? Like if I had invented the internet, I wouldn't be here in this lift for you right now. I'd be in you know, my yacht in Morocco, like, I get that I'm this messenger for change. I understand that I'm the person in front of you telling you something else and so I get it. I can feel that this is not about me. But, you know, at the time it was really hard. And so it's really important if you're ever in that situation to find a nice, safe bathroom where you can cry and collect yourself and then go back and just, you know, keep going up to bat. 

I think I learnt so much about people and identities. Conservation is such a passion profession with such highly intelligent people who chose to dedicate our life's work to a service of cultural heritage. And I mean, let's be honest. We could have all been lawyers and accountants and making bank and, you know, we could have taken those brains elsewhere. So clearly we've gone into this field because of a deep love or commitment, and our identity does get all smushed up in that. This is sort of, part of the research I do now is really understanding that the psychological aspects and where identity comes into the conservation profession and how that's impacting the decisions, we're making our ethics and how we present ourselves to the world. Cultural institutions are going through these moments of huge change and it's my fear that if we carry on with this, where scientists, lab, coats, materials forever, not to detract from that and say that that's pointless. It's not, it absolutely has a place, but if that's what we see as the pinnacle of our identity and in some cases, then try to squash others who are not doing that. I don't really see a long-lasting future for the conservation profession. So within that, I don't regret any of the experiences that I've had because I've learnt so much from them. 

[00:33:00] Ben: Wow. Were there any conservation projects in particular that you worked on while you were there? That really just stand out to you to this day?  

[00:33:10] Asti: Considering I'm no longer at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, I left at the end of last year, the moments that I love reminiscing about art the ones with the artists and the installation crew on the floor. You know, going into a four day install where we've done our best to prep, but really technology, you know, this, and process-based contemporary art. This can go either way and, stepping up to that every day, getting there early, staying late and facilitating and helping to create something that didn't exist before. I think is like the coolest thing ever. And so it's hard for me to pinpoint one because I can think of, you know, in my head now I'm thinking of the artist Robert Andrew, and the artist Daniel Vons Derma they're both Australian artists and working with, those two artists, for four days straight, existing in a space with them as they make their artwork happen is just the best feeling. It's, it's just awesome.  

[00:34:16] Ben: I think you have a really unique perspective as, you know, somebody who has been such a pioneer in the time-based media conservation world in Australia, but you've also worked a bit in the US having that perspective. What do you see as being like some of the most distinct challenges that exist for the ecosystem in Australia for time-based media conservation? 

[00:34:38] Asti: I have to say we're really making progress. I would have said previously it was again, down to that advocacy. You know, so many of the institutions in Australia, they're public institutions and so they exist under premier and cabinet in selective states or the federal government. So to be able to create a role in an institution, you have to be able to make an argument, not only to the stakeholders who you work with your executive team within your institution, but then premier cabinet, you have to be able to really demonstrate that this is an essential role. And so I think in the past 10 years that was the major challenge, but what we've seen in Australia in the past, let's say 18 months is an incredible development. There are now, apart from the Art Gallery in New South Wales, ACME now has a time-based media conservator, Candice Kramer, the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences in Sydney now has, they call it variable media conservator, Chris Redmond, MONA in Tasmania has a conservator dedicated to time-based media and, and now the NGA. So the National Gallery of Australia, Alicia has just got that role and so there's so much traction, there's so much happening in this space. And so there's really only a matter of time before we have, you know, an expansive cohort here. And to me, that's really exciting. So yeah, nothing but positive vibes for me, in terms of the challenges.  

After five years of being an AGNSW and achieving so much institutionally and getting to do such cool things, I really felt mid last year that I'd had my moment, that it was time to kind of step aside, and really let you know another emerging conservatror, Rebecca Barnett Clements take over for me, you know, jump in and really build the next phase of the project for herself. So I'm doing my PhD in, time-based art conservation, the working title is Techno Idiot because I, I love that quote so much as an Nam June Paik quote, where he referred to himself as a techno idiot, and that he essentially existed with a bunch of really, really smart people and he was kind of the idiot in that. And I think that perhaps goes back to one of my horrible moments of being told a nice girl was nothing much going on. To really kind of own that. So I'm spending time during that PhD and yes, now I have a five week old baby. So that's a fun journey getting that to completion, and watching her grow rapidly, and then jumping into consultancy and private work, because what I did note in the years that I was in an institution was that there's just so much need for support and that many institutions can't afford to have an ongoing specialist, but they do get project funding and they do just need help, whether it be, how do I begin to catalog my collection? We're doing a digitization project, what are the standards we should be digitizing to? So really sort of a gamut of skills some that more hit on artworks and conservation treatments and others that are really sitting within that more digitization, digital preservation sphere. It's been super fascinating so far, and I've had a great response from individuals and institutions so early days, but I'm excited to see where it goes. 

[00:38:26] Ben: I'm sure you're going to thrive. I mean, there's nobody else doing it, where you are and I just can tell you have that special entrepreneurial grit, you know, and that's required.  

[00:38:39] Asti: Takes one to know one.  

[00:38:40] Ben: So other than the baby, other than the PhD, other than the consulting, what's coming next for you? Anything else you want to share?  

[00:38:48] Asti: Oh dear. What's coming next? I've got a few, publications coming out. With Amanda Pellegrino, Amanda and I have been, co-editing a special time-based art conservation journal publication for AICC and bulletin, which is the Australian Institute of conservation. So that will be out in December. There are six papers from the Australian conservation community dedicated to progress research developments, case studies, in this area. So that's really exciting cause this is our, the first, solid Australian publication dedicated to the specialization. So, yes, I guess that's, my latest one and yeah, just really just trying to finish that old PhD.  

[00:39:37] Ben: For folks who are interested in getting into time-based media, art, or maybe who are just getting started. Do you have any advice? 

[00:39:44] Asti: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, now there's that excellent subject at the Grimwade center, display and documentation, which, Patricia Falcao from Tate co-teachers with Rob lane. And so students now are getting an introduction into this space, which is essential, but really not feeling like they've got that materials technique grasp. And then others are coming in with a lot of technical knowledge saying they don't understand the curatorial conservation crossover. So. I've really been recommending to emerging conservators that heading down that field of independent research, really being honest with yourself and be like, this is what I get. These are my skills, but this is where I'm lacking. And then going out and doing more study or unpaid internships or spending time working with people outside of the conservation community, digital specialists, you know, film, projectionist, audio visual installation crew, contemporary art installation crew, and trying to really absorb. Just become a sponge to all this kind of knowledge. And I guess that the most important takeaway to people coming out of the conservation program is that conservation is a niche specialization. We think it's awesome. We think we're rock stars, but that's not necessarily the general vibe and that there are plenty other rock stars amongst us that aren't necessarily going to come out of an academic program. One of the huge early influences for me was the gallery's contracted electrician. I learnt so much from him. To me, really stepping outside of the conservation field and being okay with not having the answers and listening to people who have had a different journey in a different experience who can give you knowledge that you would otherwise never be able to get is essential. 

[00:41:56] Ben: That's beautiful. Asti Sherring, thank you so much for joining me today. It has been truly a pleasure.  

[00:42:03] Asti: Thank you so much, mate. It was awesome, and really lovely to see you.  

And thank you, dear listener for joining us for this week's conversation. If you enjoyed today's show, please leave a review on Apple Podcasts, it really does help other people discover the show. If you want to keep the conversation going, you can follow us on Twitter and Instagram @artobsolescence.  

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