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Variable Media

Permanence Through Change: The Variable Media Approach

Permanence Through Change: The Variable Media Approach, 2003
The Daniel Langlois Foundation and the Guggenheim Museum held on May 7, 2003, a book launch at Ex-Centris for Permanence Through Change: The Variable Media Approach. This bilingual publication was produced as part of a research partnership on variable media and published under the supervision of Alain Depocas, Director of the Foundation's Centre for Research and Documentation, Jon Ippolito, the associate curator of media arts at the Guggenheim Museum, and Caitlin Jones, a Foundation fellow working to preserve variable media at the Guggenheim. The book contains the proceedings of a conference held at the Guggenheim in New York in the spring of 2001 as well as texts by such authors as Bruce Sterling, Jon Ippolito, John Handhardt, Steve Dietz and Nancy Spector. It presents viewpoints, methods and case studies concerning the preservation of artwork created using non-traditional material, tools and technologies. Among the works explored are Nam June Paik's TV Garden, Meg Webster's Stick Spiral, Ken Jacobs' Bitemporal Vision: The Sea, Felix Gonzalez-Torres' Public Opinion, Grahame Weinbren and Roberta Friedman's The Erl King, and Mark Napier's net.flag.

Those attending the book launch included Jean Gagnon and Alain Depocas for the Daniel Langlois Foundation and Jon Ippolito and Caitlin Jones for the Guggenheim. They presented the variable media concept for preserving artwork created using non-traditional means and also spoke about the Variable Media Network. Mr. Gagnon emphasized that one of the Foundation's key interests is research into preserving our digital artistic and cultural heritage, in other words, artworks commonly produced today via new technological means. "That's why we wanted a hand in developing a variable media network," Mr. Gagnon said. "The book marks the first milestone in this project."

A Web site,, has been created to inform people interested in the variable media concept. The site offers the book Permanence Through Change: The Variable Media Approach in PDF format. Also available are texts outlining the main aspects of the concept as well as full transcripts and video excerpts from the 2001 conference. In addition, video interviews with artists and answers to a questionnaire on variable media will later be added.

As part of the same research, an experimental database is available to members of the Variable Media Network. This database helps preserve and share information taken from a questionnaire that artists are invited to fill out. A version of this database is offered on the variable media Web site.

Jean Gagnon © 2003 FDL