Home ANNUAL SUMMITS 2005 Summit Variable Media: A Case study on The Erl King by Grahame Weinbren and Roberta Friedman

Variable Media: A Case study on The Erl King by Grahame Weinbren and Roberta Friedman

Day 1, Group 2

Caitlin Jones, Guggenheim Museum, New York

Conservators have explored many traditional and experimental strategies for dealing with works of an ephemeral nature. Among these strategies is a way to replicate obsolete or unavailable materials or hardware – emulation. To emulate a work is to devise a way of imitating the original look of a piece by completely different means. The term can be applied generally to a refabrication of an artwork’s components, but also has a specific meaning in the context of digital media, where emulation offers a powerful technique for running an out-of-date computer on a contemporary one...

...As part of a larger program called the Variable Media Network, the Guggenheim Museum, in collaboration with the Daniel Langlois Foundation, has investigated a series of case studies to formulate creative strategies for endangered works. One work chosen to test emulation is Grahame Weinbren and Roberta Friedman’s video piece The Erl King (1982-85). Heralded as one of the first works of interactive video art, The Erl King invites the viewer to control the work’s narrative structure through the use of a touch-screen monitor. Due to its unique combination of obsolete hardware (both off the shelf and custom made) and artist written software, The Erl King presented itself as an ideal candidate for hardware emulation. This artwork however proved once again that there is no “miracle cure” for the conservation of electronic artworks. In conjunction with the artists, the Guggenheim conservation department employed computer programmers, and technicians to inform the best practice for The Erl King’s preservation.


The original work was exhibited side by side its emulated version in the exhibition Seeing Double: Emulation in Theory and Practice with a number of other digital artworks and their emulated counterparts. The exhibition and subsequent symposium Echoes of Art: Emulation as a Preservation Strategy provided forums for artists, preservation experts, and the public to put emulation to the test.


Liens externes vers les oeuvres d’art mentionnées dans la présentation:

Dan Flavin: the nominal three (to Guillaume of Ockham).
Marina Abramovic: Seven Easy Pieces.
Grahame Weinberg & Roberta Freidman: The Erl King.

Caitlin Jones holds a combined research position in both the Curatorial and Conservation departments at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum New York. With a background in Art History and Archival Studies she worked with the Daniel Langlois Foundation for Art, Science, and Technology as the Langlois Fellow for Variable Media Preservation. She co-edited the Guggenheim / Langlois publication “Permanence Through Change: The Variable Media Approach,” was co-curator of the exhibition Seeing Double: Emulation in Theory and Practice at the Guggenheim New York. In 2004, she was assistant curator on the Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin exhibition, Nam June Paik: Global Groove 2004. She is currently the Director of Programming at the Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery in New York.