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Lossless compression and the future of memory

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Lossless video compression codecs such as FFV1 are currently emerging as a central organizing principle of archival practice. With reference to the perceived perfect reproducibility of digital objects, they promise to alleviate one of the great burdens of media preservation: decay. Recent large-scale international efforts to standardize lossless archival storage signalize a profound change in the relationship between loss, memory and history. This article examines the volatile status of lossless compression within cultural heritage institutions working towards format standardization. Engaging with a broader critique of contemporary archival policies, it questions the certainty with which lossless compression schemes frame decay as loss and contributes to the discussion surrounding the historicity and materiality of digitized objects and the historical value of decay for cultural heritage.
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Keywords: FFV1; archiving; media archaeology; memory; preservation; standardization

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz

Publication date: 01 April 2017

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UA-1313315-26
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