Electronic Cataloging Project Entry #36

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Electronic Cataloging Project Entry #36

December 9, 2011

Dec9.jpgNew media in artwork can really be a challenge for registrars. This is evident in the repair history of our Nam June Paik piece,Leonardo da Vinci, 1991.Leonardo da Vinciis a multimedia work that has six tvs and a Sony Watchman that project video made by the artist—which was originally on laserdisc.

When the Museum was purchasing the work, it was believed that the technology would be much more resilient. According to a memo in the object file from April 1993: '[The gallery owner] described the piece as 'maintenance free and user friendly...the video disc itself should never wear out...a conservative estimate of the lifespan of the TVs would be a minimum of 10 years.'' Unfortunately by August 1994, the Museum began having problems with the televisions, laserdiscs, and laserdisc players (this can be seen from the size of the condition file).

Luckily for the Museum the artist was forward thinking in his use of new media and made allowances for changing technology. In the object file, we have a contract from the artist stating that we are allowed to make certain modifications to the work including replacing the television sets with newer model hardware and replacing the laser disc players with newer technology (which we have—DVDs). According to the contract Nam June Paik states that 'these modifications do not change the authenticity of this work as an original by me.'

At this point most of the hardware and software of the piece has been repaired or replaced—which is not that surprising, since how many of you still watch movies on laserdisc? It is lucky for us that we can adapt with technology—in fact the next step will probably be moving from DVD to completely digital (mpeg) and perhaps have a computer screen .

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