"Allowing Art To Expire Is Beautiful But Stupid"

Jon Ippolito


Rembrandt's oils took a couple centuries to yellow; Dan Flavin's fluorescent bulbs took a couple decades to go out of production; Group Z's work for Netscape 1.1 lasted a couple years before Netscape 2.0 made it obsolete. For those artists working in new media who want posterity to experience their work more directly than through second-hand documentation or anecdote, I have proposed an alternative called "variable media." Drawing on paradigms originally explored by Conceptual and Process artists in the 1960s and 70s, the idea behind variable media is to conceive of a work whose integrity is not compromised by its re-creation in different formats. Rather than rely on future conservators or curators to address this issue, Janet Cohen, Keith Frank, and I have chosen to step out on this aesthetic limb deliberately while we are still alive and kicking. To do this we invited a select group of curators to suggest alternative media, from oil paint to video to virtual reality, in which to execute one of our artworks. We then executed the versions we decided were legitimate interpretations of the original work. The results of this experiment suggest a radically new paradigm for the relationship between artists, private collectors, and museums--one which may prevent art on the cutting edge from slipping through the cracks of history.


Heidi Gilpin "Economies of Knowledge"

Antoinette LaFarge "Museum of Forgery"

Bill Seaman "An Economy of Means"

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