Saturday, May 31, 2008

when Paik TV goes on the fritz

How do we preserve art that wasn't created to be preserved? Such a category would include, let's say, an artwork made partly or wholly of organic materials such as chocolate or beeswax. Or an artwork constructed of a then-old or a now-old form of technology that is difficult now to replace or even repair.

I began by asking how we preserve such art, but the apter question might be should we? What becomes of art consciously ephemeral if years later we decide it must be preserved (because of its sheer dollar value; because of its canonicity)?

Starting with the problem presented in Los Angeles by the failure of some old television sets, an article in the Christian Science Monitor reports on this difficulty.

Above at right: a Nam June Paik piece dated 1965. This is not the L.A. failure mentioned above and so far as I know this Paik piece still works.