[iDC] fidelity [shelf life]

Simon Biggs s.biggs at eca.ac.uk
Wed Nov 28 10:23:40 UTC 2007

What is the difference between a Bach concerto played on original
instruments and a performance employing 19th century instruments and
orchestration? Which is the real Bach? How far can a work be interpreted
before it gets broken, if it ever can be broken?

The orchestrators and conductors that introduced the 'original instruments'
approach to interpreting Bach in the 1970's and 80's thought they were
"returning" to a truer interpretation of Bach whilst those familiar with the
19th C way of doing Bach thought this new approach sounded appalling.

The sort of debates that raged in the classical musical world about
authentic interpretation have since diminished. I have the impression that
people are more willing to take a relativist view that accomodates a range
of approaches.

Why can't this approach be the case in respect of a Lewitt wall drawing or
the re-staging of a highly mediated artwork. The question would seem to
concern how we might establish methods for evaluating authenticity that are
non-restrictive and what implications this might have for notions of
originality and authorship.



On 28/11/07 01:30, "Annette Weintraub" <annette at annetteweintraub.com> wrote:

> Coming back to the thread after the long weekend, I'd like to take up
> Tim's comments on fidelity and emulation.
> I'm inclined to believe that fidelity is incompatible with the
> fluidity of emulation as it applies to new media art. 'Emulation'
> implies a process that imitates or recreates a thing, and the term
> suggests incorporation of imperfections or differences or at the very
> least a generational remove. Emulation inevitably incorporates
> translation, mutation and alteration, perhaps in ways that shifts
> intent and interpretation. It also defines itself against the
> 'original' thing.
> A Sol Lewitt drawing, if carried out as per instructions, might
> contain subtle shifts and variations in different reconstructions
> based on different wall surfaces or the precison of its
> artist-executors. But those shifts and imperfections would remain
> within the conceptual boundaries of the process and have 'fidelity'
> and integrity. If however, the only pencils available to 'perform'
> the wall drawing were impossibly perfect drawing tools and created a
> cold mechanical line rather than a warm drawn one, a quite different
> impression would ensue. It's funny to think about how hard it can be
> to emulate a more simple state. But the difference in tools is
> everything.
> You can containerize many aspects of a work-narrative content, visual
> appearance, sound, text-and then repackage it, either by emulating
> the original environment or porting it to a new one. This process can
> open the work up, add layers of history and new context and create a
> descendent work. This may be a small infidelity, but possibly a
> necessary one.
> Best,
> Annette
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Simon Biggs
simon at littlepig.org.uk
AIM/Skype: simonbiggsuk

Research Professor in Art, Edinburgh College of Art
s.biggs at eca.ac.uk

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