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practices show that these open works are at the same time very closed; few people are able to (re)work and understand the sensibilities of their original coding. For some artists this is one of the cores of their work. An emphasis on variability and emulation could overlook these sensibilities; would that be a matter of accepting a loss in favour of prolonging a work’s life? Or could it be that some works are not meant to live forever, either as originals or as emulations, and other strategies, for example, documentation, need to be considered? Could you envisage such a practise and what would it mean for the artwork and for the economy of the art market?  There are several questions packed in here. For instance, and perhaps ironically, remixes that use original code allow the remix artist to engage with the original work on a deeper material level rather than the appropriation that is more widespread with artworks that cannot be physically re-mixed (think L.H.O.O.O. again.) Remix can allow access to the ‘material subconscious’ of the work – all the accidental, nuanced, and previously hidden decisions of the original artist – whereas appropriation only allows access to the surface, it’s cultural context and associations. Again, variability, perhaps ironically, may sometimes allow more of  a work to survive.

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To address your other questions: Even a Variable Media approach would usually favour preserving the form and material of the original where possible; emulation at least runs the original software; even if in a different environment. But what happens when using the ‘original’ hardware, software, and contexts aren’t possible? What happens after the last Mac Mini dies one hundred years from now? And this will happen much quicker and more frequently than with traditional media art. There is no prescriptive answer from a Variable Media approach other than to document any guidelines (especially the artist’s intent) as early as possible in anticipation of this event. Those guidelines will be different for each work. In some cases, the artist may have decided that once an historically-specific model of computer hardware is no longer operational, their work then enters the

Speculative Scenarios — Edited by Annet Dekker  

There is a growing understanding of the use of technological tools for dissemination or mediation in the museum, but artistic experiences th...

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