Technology - October 2011

1. The Art Newspaper - Preserving a work by starving it of air Anoxic storage can slow deterioration
By Emily Sharpe | From issue 227, September 2011
Published online 14 Sep 11 (Conservation)
 A cutting-edge area of research, and one that has conservators and museum professionals talking, is anoxic or oxygen-free storage and display. Oxidation has long been associated with the deterioration of light-sensitive materials, so the idea is that the degradation process can be slowed down by eliminating or greatly reducing oxygen levels.In exploring the possible benefits of anoxic environments on highly light sensitive colourants, scientists at the Tate are using microfaders—devices that measure the rate of colour change—to compare the light-sensitivity of  materials in air and in oxygen-free environments. Microfading involves shining a beam of light smaller than a full-stop on an object’s surface and collecting data on the rate of the induced colour change in real time.
Scientists from institutions including the Tate, the Getty and the Centre de Recherche sur la Conservation des Collections (CRCC) in Paris gathered at London’s Tate Modern this week (12-13 September) for a symposium on the potential impact of microfading and anoxia on collection care.
The symposium marks the culmination of the Tate’s five-year research project to develop for the commercial market a low-oxygen enclosure for works on paper. According to Pip Laurenson, the head of collection care research at the Tate, the institution’s research on microfading and anoxic environments has produced some surprising results. For example, a group of Francis Bacon
ballpoint-pen drawings and 20th-century pastels by Vuillard from the Tate’s collection, while still light-sensitive, are more durable than originally thought.“It seems that, despite real questions about the relationship between real-time fade rates and microfading, we are on the cusp of a sea change in the way we think about lighting and light-sensitivity of works of art, and this could have a profound impact on how we manage collections,” said Laurenson.Other institutions are also exploring anoxic environments, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, which used oxygen-free frames for its six-day display in January of autochromes by Alfred Stieglitz and Edward Steichen. Bertrand Lavédrine, the director of the CRCC, recently told The Art Newspaper that he would like to develop low-cost anoxic frames for collectors

.2. Laetoli, Kenya  - Robin Crompton of the University of Liverpool has published a study of australopithecus afarensis early footprints using three dimensional laser scans to confirm that the feet were anatomically modern. This methodology analyzed how force was transmitted by the foot to the ground confirming that the big toe and arch functioned in a very similar manner to the  transmission of force by a modern foot.

3. Cameroon - The underground petroleum pipeline from Chad to the Atlanti port of Kribi has had an unexpected benefit. The laying of the 600 mile pipe has uncovered nearly 500 previously unknown archaeological sites . The excitement created by the discoveries have enabled the archaeological community to convince some overnments of the importance of reserving cultural heritage.

4. Google Earth has been used by David Kennedy to search and find archaeological sites in Saudi Arabia on his computer from the comfort of his office in at the University of Western Australia in Perth.  Kennedy, who has located 1,977 sites that possibly date from 4000 - 1000 BC, believes there could be nearly million sites across the Arabian Penninsula. Kennedy published a paper with Dr. Michael Bishop in the Journal of Archaeological Science. What the world Saudi Arabia and the rest of the world will do with the data is anyone's guess.