Moving Image Preservation of Puget Sound Interview: Saving Magnetic Media from the Race Against Time

Moving Image Preservation of Puget Sound
Interior shot of an open Digital Betacam deck. (Credit: MIPoPS)


The Future of Magnetic Media

As a format, tapes are in a tricky position. With neither the convenience of digital nor the retro glow of vinyl, VHS and the like have often been left behind. Ironically, the very basis of their appeal — being cheap and light, and thus ideal for amateur videographers — has also doomed them to faster disintegration than traditional film. Yet for several decades, those unassuming black ribbons were how we captured many sweeping current events. The Wing Luke and WTO tapes offer a rare opportunity to glimpse Seattle’s movers, shakers, and agitators back in the day. These tapes preserve a significant piece of Seattle history through periods of rapid change.

Indeed, the efforts by MIPoPS to preserve these tapes are a gift to all Seattleites, and anyone else curious about our history. With many projects in the works, MIPoPS does everything from creating guides for fellow archivists to taxonomizing the challenges associated with preserving tapes. The number of possible uses of its free material, from music videos to history papers, from collages to Seattle think-pieces, seems boundless. For tape skeptics who view them as merely anachronistic artifacts, one visit to MIPoPS’ tiny room in City Hall will surely cure that notion.

Moving Image Preservation of Puget Sound
Audiovisual Archivist Annalise Nicholson working in the MIPoPS office. (Credit: MIPoPS)
Moving Image Preservation of Puget Sound
Co-Executive Director and Audiovisual Archivist Libby Hopfauf cleaning a U-Matic tape deck. (Credit: MIPoPS)



Moving Image Preservation of Puget Sound (MIPoPS)
Nonprofit Website
Internet Archive
“Moving History” Screening Series

The Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience
Museum Website
Internet Archive

Independent Media Center & the 1999 WTO Protests
Jill Freidberg’s Website and Archives
This is What Democracy Looks Like Documentary Film


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Written by
Alison Smith

Alison Smith is a student at Haverford College majoring in history and serving as a tutor in the Writing Center. When she’s not writing arts criticism, she likes drinking black tea, watching coming-of-age movies, and hanging out at the greatest place in the world—Left Bank Books.

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Written by Alison Smith
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