"We have 10 to 15 years left to transfer available audiovisual recordings to digital media and prevent their loss. We need to join forces to change the situation – for it is of the utmost importance that this recent history be understood and shared not only for issues of identity and affiliation but also for a clearer grasp of relationships and challenges in contemporary societies." Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO
The whole civilization audiovisual heritage of sound recordings and moving images is at risk. In the last couple of years we often hear warnings about that from the United Nations cultural agency, UNESCO, especially on World Day for Audiovisual Heritage that takes place on 27 October each year. Many factors lead us to this concerning point: from neglect, natural decay to technological obsolescence. This problem is something that is affecting all countries, both developed and developing, and needs to be dealt with soon.
Another reason why we should act immediately is that a large amount of the world’s audiovisual heritage has already been lost forever through negligence, destruction, or a lack of appropriate resources, competencies and structures. UNESCO warned that only 10 to 15 years are left to transfer remaining audiovisual recordings to digital media before they vanish as well. That would be
irreversible lost to humanity for many reasons.
When it comes to understanding of the history of the 20th and 21st century, video recordings, radio and audio programs are incomparable sources. Unlikely to previous centuries when the history was kept in traditional archives and documents, new centuries brought new media and information channels. Sounds and pictures replaced paintings and long reports. And we were not prepared for that.
The question that remains is: what should be done at this point? What UNESCO demands is involvement of every member state, as well as the institutions in charge and producers and consumers as well. Only with join forces, we can expect protection of our common audiovisual wealth. But keep in mind, we are running out of a time!
Cover image: Heritage India Foundation