Thursday, November 13, 2008

Variable Media Art

Derek Lerner, (IN)BETWEEN, 2007 Variable Media 984.6 cm x 594.2 cm x 59.1 cm, 247 prims rezzing as 1 prim

New media that changes due to its nature, whether that time-based, performance-based, interactive, etc. is considered by some to be non-medium or variable media art since there is no way of categorizing it within the old medium format.

Do new media artists agree with that label?

What does that mean to you?

What does this mean for curating, conservation, etc?

We are just scratching the surface--

I would be very interested in accepting a non-medium work for my upcoming 50 Artists, 50 States, 50 Mediums exhibition.


Derek Lerner said...

Thanks for posting some of my work. I'm also very interested to learn more about what other artists/curators/collectors/etc. think about the usage of "Variable Media". I personally tend to have a difficult time referring to any of the work I create as "Digital Art" because it typically does not remain solely digital in most cases. I have an even more difficult time referring to any of my work that happens to have been created using digital tools etc. as "New Media", mainly due to that it's not "new". In some cases the work I created is motivated and somewhat ultimately defined by process, however I am first and foremost compelled by concept. To me the categorization of "Variable Media" seems to provide the most logical description behind my intent for some of the art I create. said...

Thank you very much for your input Derek--it always helps to hear the artist's point of view!

Jon Ippolito said...

For me, thinking of art in terms of variable media can have both a retrospective and prospective function.

If an artwork isn't pinned to the first format in which it's created, then it's more likely to survive when that format becomes obsolete. So this helps us recuperate artworks on crumbling cassettes or delaminating CDs via techniques like migration, emulation, and reinterpretation. So a variable media approach can help resurrect works of the past.

Thinking proactively, I have found it useful to create works on the assumption that their medium may vary in the future. This is already a "vocational hazard" for net artists, whose work looks different in different browsers and monitors, but it can also be a positive stimulus to creativity--witness the rich heritage of conceptual and performative artists from the past.

So when an artist remains open about the future variability of a work, it can be both a practical choice and also a new creative arena to explore.