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Film and Video Preservation

Compared to the much older formats - books, manuscripts, artworks - film is an extremely young medium. Consequently, the profession of moving image preservation has only really been adopting any kind of industry-wide standard since the early 1990’s. Most archivists who work with film collections inherit a kind of collective responsibility for the actions of our predecessors, which manifests itself both theoretically and practically, since the conditions of our holdings today are affected by the techniques they employed. The leads to a heightened level of accountability for the preservationist, who has to balance myriad issues of authorship, accountability, historical efficacy and technical history in every level of decision-making.

These issues are particularly acute when dealing with hand-made experimental works by artists, who often labored painstakingly over every cel and animation drawing. It takes a certain level of knowledge, both of the history of the genre and of the technical aspects of the films’ production, to properly approach a preservation project.

Taking all of these factors into account, iotaCenter takes its Preservation program very seriously. We have a long and rich history of enacting carefully realized film preservation projects, and have preserved more than 30 titles to date, including films by John and James Whitney, Jordan Belson, Pat O'Neill, Mary Ellen Bute, Hy Hirsh and Jules Engel. Many of these films were partially funded by grants from the National Film Preservation Foundation (NFPF), from which we have received over ten grants. Most of these film and sound elements are stored and maintained in our deposit at the Academy Film Archive, with whom we collaborate on preservation projects. The Academy has taken a vested interest in collecting and preserving experimental works for some time now, and preservationist Mark Toscano has a deep and varied knowledge set about these artists and their works.

Alphabetical List of Preserved Films

Films Preserved by The iotaCenter

Adam Beckett

Early Animations (ca. 1970-72) - NFPF
Dear Janice (1972) - NFPF
Heavy-Light (1973)- NFPF
Evolution of the Red Star (1973) - NFPF
Flesh Flows (1974) - NFPF
Sausage City (1974) - NFPF
Kitch in Synch (1975) - NFPF

Jordan Belson

Allures (1961) - NFPF
Light (1973) - NFPF
Momentum (1968) - NFPF
World (1970) - NFPF

Mary Ellen Bute

Mood Contrasts

Hy Hirsh

Colour de la Forme (1961) - Whitney Museum
Autumn Spectrum (1957) - NFPF
Chasse des Touches (1959) - NFPF
Come Closer (1952) - NFPF
Decollages Recolles (1961) - NFPF
Defense d'Afficher (1958) - NFPF
Divertissement Rococo (1951) - NFPF
Eneri (1953) - NFPF
Gyromorphosis (1954) - NFPF
Scratch Pad (1960) - NFPF

Jules Engel

Interior (1987) - NFPF
Play-Pen (1986) - NFPF
Wet Paint (1977) - NFPF
Rumble (1975) - NFPF
Silence (1968) - NFPF
Train Landscape (1974) - NFPF

Pat O'Neill

7362 (1965-67) - NFPF

John Whitney

Permutations (1968) - NFPF
Catalog (1965) - NFPF

James Whitney

High Voltage (1957) - NFPF
Lapis (1966) - NFPF
Yantra (1950-57) - NFPF

Light is the artist's sole medium of expression. He must mold it by optical means, almost as a sculptor models clay. He must add colour, and finally motion to his creation. Motion, the time dimension, demands that he must be a choreographer in space.
-Thomas Wilfred
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iotaCenter is a non-profit organization that provides this information as a public service to film artists and the larger community. We have made sincere efforts to get permission from all rights holders. Please contact us at if you are a rights holder whom we have not yet been able to reach. For all other inquiries, please contact us at

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