Tom Ensom

🛠️ 📜 🔮

I am a London-based Digital Conservator specialising in the preservation of software. I work with those caring for software-based cultural heritage to research, develop and implement strategies for its long-term preservation.

You can contact me via tomensom@gmail.com or @Tom_Ensom.

Research and Teaching

My research interests include:

  • Conservation and long-term preservation of software-based cultural heritage, particularly software-based artworks and computer/video games.
  • Environment-centric methods in digitial preservation such as disk imaging, emulation and virtualisation.
  • Analysis and reverse engineering of software artifacts and environments.
  • Use of software as an artistic and creative medium, particularly in relation to real-time 3D technologies.
  • Modelling, metadata and ontologies as tools in support of digital preservation and information exchange.

My PhD research sought to develop documentation theory and practice in the conservation of software-based art. This research was the result of an AHRC-funded Collaborative Doctoral Partnership Award between King's College London and Tate. The thesis was examined in November 2018 and passed with minor corrections. It will be published on this website later in 2019. The title is: Technical Narratives: Analysis, Description and Representation in the Conservation of Software-based Art.

I teach courses and workshops on software preservation and related topics, including disk imaging, emulation and software documentation. Please get in touch using the information at the top of this page for any enquiries.

Professional Practice

My professional practice involves working with cultural heritage organisations and creators to develop and implement strategies for the care of software-based cultural heritage. I currently work primarily with Tate's Time-based Media Conservation team, where I focus on:

  • Supporting the acquisition of complex time-based media artworks, particularly software-based artworks.
  • Developing guidelines and workflows for the acquisition of software-based artworks.
  • Enhancing the metadata captured for software-based artworks and stheir components.

I currently have limited availablity for consultancy and other projects. Please contact me using the information at the top of this page for any enquiries.

Publications

Selected Publications

  • Ensom, T. and Falcão, P. (2019) Conserving Digital Art. Book chapter forthcoming in Museums and Digital Culture, ed. Bowen, J. and Gianichi, T.
  • Ensom, T. (2018). Revealing Hidden Processes: Reverse Engineering and Instrumentation in the Conservation of Software-Based Art. Paper forthcoming in the American Institute of Conservation's EMG Review (5).
  • Rechert, K., Falcão, P., & Ensom, T. (2016). Introduction to an emulation-based preservation strategy for software-based artworks. Published by Tate and available online.
  • Ensom, T. (2015). Collecting and conserving software-based art (outside the institution). In Proceedings of the Conference on Electronic Visualisation and the Arts (EVA '15), EVA London 2017, BCS London, UK. Available online.
  • Van den Eynden, V., Ensom, T. and Corti, L. (2013). Research Data at Essex Final Report. Report for JISC-funded project published by UK Data Archive and available online.
  • Ensom, T. and Van den Eynden, V. (2012) Unlocking the geospatial potential of survey data. In Proceedings of the GIS Research UK 20th Annual Conference, Vol 1 Presentations, GISRUK 2012, Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK, 11-13 April 2012. available online.

Selected Presentations and Workshops

  • Ensom, T. and King, C. (2019). Conserving Software-Based Artworks: Negotiating Ontology and Technology. Sussex Humanities Lab, University of Sussex, Sussex, UK, 1 May 2019. Event web page.
  • Ensom, T. and Seuskens, W. (2019). Disk Imaging and the Preservation of Software-Based Artworks: A Practical Introduction. Workshop at Future Proof!? Transformation Digital Art 2019, LIMA, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 22 March 2019. Event web page.
  • Ensom, T., McConchie, J. (2019). Towards a Preservation Strategy for Virtual Reality Artworks. Vanishing Point: The Curation and Preservation of Virtual Reality, Central Saint Martins, London, UK, 19th March 2019. Video recording available online.
  • McConchie, J. and Ensom, T. (2018). Developing a High Level Preservation Strategy for Virtual Reality Artworks. No Time To Wait 3, BFI, London, UK, 25 October 2018. Event web page.
  • Ensom, T. (2018). Documenting Software Performances in the Long-term Preservation of Software-based Art. Besides The Screen 2018, King's College London, UK, 3 July 2018. Event web page.
  • Ensom, T. and Falcao, F. (2018). Can We Beat Obsolescence? Subtitled Public 10 Years On. Conservation Piece(s) IV, HeK, Basel, Switzerland, 25 June 2018. Event web page.
  • Ensom, T. (2018). Revealing Hidden Processes: Reverse Engineering and Instrumentation in the Conservation of Software-Based Art. American Institute of Conservation Annual Meeting 2019, Houston, Texas, USA, 1 June 2018. Event web page.
  • Ensom, T. (2017). The Slippery Materiality of Software. Material Matters Study Day, National Gallery, London, October 2017. Event web page.
  • Ensom, T. (2017). Technical Narratives: Documenting Software-Based Artworks. Future Proof!? Transformation Digital Art 2017, Stedelijk Museum Schiedam, Netherlands, February 8 - 9 2017. Event web page.

Other Projects

Articles

  • Ensom, T. (2017) Art Conservation Meet Software Engineering: Converging Practices in the Preservation of Software-based Art. Post for the Digital Preservation Coalition blog available online

Full CV available on request.