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Interview: Andrew Lampert

Artist and moving image archivist Andrew Lampert has been working through the challenges that face presentation and preservation of moving image works. In this interview, Lampert gave great feedback to our Expanded Cinema research team about various aspects of presenting and preserving complex media art: digital vs. analog, performance vs. installation, iterative life of works, presentation and archival material, and the importance of documentation. Julian Ross, Ann Adachi-Tasch, and Go Hirasawa conducted the interview, at New York University, on March 9, 2017.

Interview with Andrew Lampert: Whose authority is it to make the decisions?

So then it starts to get into the question: Can a work of art be presented without the artist, and whose authority is it to make posthumous decisions about certain things? Is it the curator, is it the artist, or is it a combination?”

“Like this discotheque in 1969, trying to find an approximation in a museum in 2018 is a really substantial difference. Not just because of the fact that it’s in an institution and before it was in a non-cinematic, non-arts space, [but because] it changes the role and function [of the piece] in making that change. It becomes this historically regulated re-performance, and I think that’s really at the heart of the space issue.

Artist and moving image archivist Andrew Lampert has been working through the challenges that face presentation and preservation of moving image works. In this interview, Lampert gave great feedback to our Expanded Cinema research team about various aspects of presenting and preserving complex media art: digital vs. analog, performance vs. installation, iterative life of works, presentation and archival material, and the importance of documentation. Julian Ross, Ann Adachi-Tasch, and Go Hirasawa conducted the interview, at New York University, on March 9, 2017.

Based in New York City, Andrew Lampert has created an extensive body of films, videos, photographs, and performances. His work is regularly exhibited in venues around the world, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, J. Paul Getty Museum, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Art Gallery of Ontario, International Film Festival Rotterdam, Toronto International Film Festival, and New York Film Festival. Lampert previously served as Archivist and Curator of Collections at Anthology Film Archives, where he was responsible for directing the archive, preserving the film and video collections, and programming public screenings. He has taught at the School of Film and Media Studies at Purchase College, the Eugene Lang College at The New School and The Cooper Union.


Part of:




Hirasawa: For Cinematic Illumination, the 18-slide-projector work by Shuzo Azuchi Gulliver, we made an analog-to-analog [slide-to-slide] duplication, as well as a digital copy.

Lampert: It’s not authentic, but would one consider showing the digital slides, since it’s a matter of showing what exists already?

Hirasawa: Yes, digital is possible, but not ideal.

Adachi: One of the questions we wanted to ask was about digital versus analog presentation.

Lampert: Today, for preservation, creating physical analog copies, negatives, internegatives, duplicate negatives, is the responsible way to go about it. And, at the same time, digital is often part of the process; it’s not always 100% pure analog to analog. You end up with a digital master, and it’s not like you throw that away. If digital, it may be good for the next seven to ten years, and then we are going to have another format. One day, we are going to have higher than 4k, we are going to have 32k and beyond. And [the current digital format] is not going to be up-resed correctly. But, if you can preserve analog, presumably you can produce analog. Making multiple sets of exhibition copies is ideal, but not everyone has the money. Having a preservation master, and multiple positive print copies of the work, stored away, is ideal. If it’s a popular work, you’ll make multiple negatives, so one of the negatives is dedicated just to printing.

Still, in the presentation of the work, there is reality to consider. Those museums or institutions with the infrastructure and ability to maintain daily exhibit management should show a slide work on 35mm slides. Whether that’s for a month in a gallery, an evening in a festival, you have to have the right materials, right staff, right attention. But then, the places that need to see this work the most, maybe a village in Japan, or somewhere in the middle of Kansas where they’ve never seen anything like this and they don’t have one 16mm projector or two slide projectors — then you have to consider digital. It’s a matter to me of acknowledging in written exhibition and contextual material the differences and variations that exist in the format change. And, also, noting the authorship of the change, the responsibility and the ownership of the change. Who made the change? This doesn’t need to be in a wall plaque or on a title at the head of a film, but it needs to be available information. What degree of change has been made? I think that’s important.

Also [important is] the realization that anytime you present expanded cinema, analog, no two performances are exactly the same, even if you have instructions. So, you have the best efforts. With digital, you also don’t have exactly the same [performance]. It’s not like you have the complete clone. Maybe the files are, but not the video projection, not the presentation, not the room. So when it gets to exhibiting any work, having the written instructions, a manual, previous documentation, and evidence of how it was shown is very important to include with the work. One of the biggest challenges of showing older works of an artist who has passed away, by a younger generation who wasn’t alive or present back in the day, is [that] today, younger people privilege the curator. Curators tend to make substantial changes to the work to accommodate their vision or their goal of their show. I’ve seen it a lot, and I think it’s problematic. Sometimes it can work, but most of the time it doesn’t. Above all, for me, it’s about acknowledging the change.

In the case of the 18-slide-projector piece, I would love to see that, but as you pointed out, museums may not have the space. At Tate, the Tanks might be a very good space for it. But the theater on the second floor would not be a good space for it.  So, it’s about delineating the context and the environment, how the work should be presented and framed.

I think about this not just with Expanded works. MoMA had a Robert Altman retrospective last year. They screened everything. I wanted to go one night because they were showing Nashville, which I haven’t seen in many, many years. But when I looked, the calendar listed it as a DCP [Digital Cinema Package]. I said, I don’t want to go see a DCP, I want to see a print. A print has been shown at Anthology [Anthology Film Archives] and maybe at BAM [Brooklyn Academy of Music] on 35mm. The point being, sometimes I don’t mind seeing a DCP, but in that case, I didn't want to see a DCP. I know there are copies of the film out there. MoMA lists the format, so they gave me a choice to see that film or not. I think that’s interesting. You should look [at MoMA] right now; they have the Ballad of Sexual Dependency, by Nan Goldin. That’s a fascinating work to see from the slide perspective, because it had so many manifestations, from slide show to this presentation that happened in a tent, which is how I previously had seen it, and now it’s at MoMA, in a different presentation.

And then we have to say, with all these pieces, that there are different iterations. Maybe the same piece, but different iterations. Every time that Malcome LeGrice performs Horror Film – I just saw an Instagram picture of him doing it – the basic principle is the same, but the execution or the space is going to be different. I’ve also seen someone who’s not him perform the piece. So, then it starts to get into the question: Can a work of art be presented without the artist, and whose authority is it to make posthumous decisions about certain things? Is it the curator, is it the artist, or is it a combination?

Adachi: Just before arriving, we were talking about [Expanded Cinema artists] selling works. Once it leaves the artist – for example, what would you do?

Lampert: Well, I’ve sold a performance piece to the Whitney called Varieties of Slow. It’s a piece that I made in winter in 2004/2005. Three Super 8 reels. One is black and white, one is color, one is red-tinted. The image in all three is an alignment of books on a shelf, and the books have these puns on stillness and light. A book on Polaroid, Henri Michaux’s Light Through Darkness, just an array of puns. And after I got the films back, I wrote down seventeen variations on how the piece can be performed. Very widely different variations. I’ve performed it in my apartment a few times; at that time I was doing a lot of private shows, all these pieces that are meant for one person or two people, or spatially, I’m in the next room doing something and you have to sit over there. They were really tailored for the space. Version #3 was included in the [2006 Whitney] Biennial and I performed it three times. It’s an eight-hour-long performance. In 2008, I was asked back to install version #14 for a month.  And that was a blow-up to 16mm, three projectors. That piece worked in this way: everyday I would send the projection staff at the Whitney instructions for what to do that day, and there was a grid. Projector 1, projector 2, projector 3, and time. At one o’clock at projector 2, switch from a 50mm lens to a 25mm lens. At four o’clock, put a red gel in front of projector 3. All these varieties of doing something in front of the lenses, with focal changes. Also in the room were four or five screens on tripod legs, and they also constantly moved. Plus, the back wall had a curtain that you could open up, making the white wall a screen. In the instructions, I would give increments for how to open it — 3/4 open, 1/2 open, etc. The idea being, you would walk in the room as a viewer and see the whole thing for three seconds and go, “I got it,” and leave. You might peek your head back in an hour later, and go, “wait a minute, it’s changed.” And if you are in there, it’s this incremental change. So it’s a month-long performance in the guise of an installation.

Afterwards, Chrissie Iles [curator at the Whitney Museum] wanted to purchase it for the museum, so I asked her, what is it that you want? I was first given a contract that basically looked like one for a painting or sculpture. It wasn’t even for a video or a film, but it was a standard acquisition agreement. And we spent a few years, almost, figuring out what they would get as the piece. I would not give them #3, the Super 8 version. The Super 8 version of the piece uses the camera original footage, and the projectors themselves are these special projectors that go at 18, 12, 9, 6, 3 frames per second. So throughout the eight hours of the Super 8 versions, frame rates are changed. This piece  must be on film, and the Super 8 version has to be on these projectors. If I sold them the Super 8, I’d have to sell them the projectors, and this piece would be lost to me. Not that I perform it frequently, but it would be lost forever for me, in the basement of the Whitney. And I didn’t want that. But the 16mm version, it was different. I think I sold them three or four sets of prints. I did not give them the 16mm internegative for it. I told them I would consider donating it to them when I’m dead, but I’ll maintain it now. And if they need more prints in the future, while there’s film, I’ll supply them. I gave them the gels that I had used during the exhibition, so they have them to use, and as a model for what they can purchase on their own. I gave them a lot of notes on the piece. We did an extensive interview. We talked about different parameters of the piece. And I defined the space, not necessarily how big, but how it has to be dark, and the amount of chairs and screens. I also made it clear that they were purchasing this version, not all seventeen versions.

I put a few specific things in the contract. One, if and when it’s performed again, I have to be asked to do the performance, but I have the right to decline to do it. But if I decline, I have the first right to make the request to [specify] someone to do it. Another thing is that it can be performed only by an artist; it can’t be performed by a curator. None of the daily decisions can be made by the curator. The artist has to study all the notes, including previous exhibition daily notes, and think through the parameters of what can or would happen, what’s not enough, how much change can happen and how frequently it can happen. I don’t want a curator to have any role in that. I want the artist working directly with the staff, not the staff of the museum working for itself. Another thing I said was, when I’m dead and gone, I don’t want them to ask my family what to do with the piece, how it works. Because they weren’t there, and they didn’t see it. I’ve often dealt with [heirs] who have nothing to do with the [work of the artist], and they have all these ideas about it.  I don’t want my daughter to tell somebody about what her dad did before she was born. It just doesn’t make sense to me. So everything they need should be in that bible of the piece, the multi-document manual.

[The work] can’t be transferred to digital. In part, because the three projectors go in different frame rates. One goes at 16, one goes at 18, one goes at 24. And having tried with various projects to simulate slow motion projection digitally, I don’t like it. At least for my work I don't like it. It’s almost like, which is weird for me because I don’t feel this at all otherwise, but it’s almost like a Peter Kubelkian thing where it’s only on film or it’s dead. In this case, as the title states, Varieties of Slow, it’s about frame rates as much as it’s about books shown in slow motion. I also feel like it’s in the Whitney’s collection and it’s never going to be seen again. It’s an expanded cinema gallery installation work; maybe thirty years from now, they’ll pull it out of the basement. It wasn’t in the Dreamlands exhibition. If they have the 16mm projectors to do it, they can do it. But I don’t think it’s ever going to be seen again. At least at the Whitney. I really don’t have any expectations, as I wouldn’t for anything with a super-complicated media piece, that it’s going to have any regular life after its initial display. It may be revived. Anthony McCall pieces, there are certain ones that will have a life, but stuff so inherently reliant upon obsolete media playback, and it doesn’t make sense as digital. It’s a historic work and may remain so.

Adachi: And that’s okay?

Lampert: It’s not ideal, but it’s okay. I think a lot about these issues through my experience in presenting performances. I’ve done a lot of performance over the years, and see how horrible the documentation tends to be. I don’t want that documentation to be the work, but sometimes the work is so spontaneous or serendipitous that you can’t do it again. In these cases, the documentation effectively becomes a stand-in for the work, which cannot be recreated. Some of the old Fluxus artists doing pieces they did in the 1960s always makes me sad. I don’t want to see them do that. It’s not the same thing right now, so I don’t necessarily want to go back and do a performance; I don’t feel I’m in touch with what I did back in 2002, I wouldn’t want it to exist in the past.

There was a performance I did at the Kitchen. Two nights, 2007 or 2008, [A4] with Okkyung Lee and three other musicians. Unfortunately, maybe there’s a bad minDV tape of it somewhere. We are set up in the middle, and the audience is all around us.  The Kitchen has set up two cameras to document. One up top, where the light and soundboard is, so they can have a wide view, but with a zoom. And another one on the floor, mounted on a tripod and left alone. The one from up top is really hard to see anything with, it’s not good. The sound is strange, because there’s dialogue and words, but you can’t really hear it [on the tape], you can only hear the music. With the one that’s on the floor, as it starts, you see me in the middle, and after two minutes you see me walking towards the camera and pulling up a portable screen that is in front of the camera. The rest of the tape is the rear of the screen. Nobody asked me beforehand where the camera should go.  So the video is two minutes, and the rest is the back of the screen. This is somebody who didn’t know what I was going to do, shooting with one camera, in the dark. I’m not into destroying things, but I might put red flags up. It’s funny, but there are so many pieces that are just gone.

Ross: I was listening to the Expanded Cinema discussion you had at the Microscope gallery with other artists, and you were talking about how you view film: [it] isn’t about the material but about the space. I was intrigued by that idea in relation to what we are trying to do with this 18-slide-projector piece[A5] . The spatial context is of course different, [as well as it] being something from forty years ago, [from] 1960s Japan, [not] 2017 Japan. [You] work in performance, which is very ephemeral, and have experience with film material, which speaks very differently in relation to time. Can you elaborate on that a little bit? From the perspective of an artist, but also from someone who’s dealt with the archival process and film context.

Lampert: I started having these ideas in part because the art context for this work outside of the cinema context, meaning the art world and certain institutions wanting to bring cinema into art history and art historical context, has to do it within certain walls and buildings. We can preserve [Shuji] Terayama’s three-screen film, or one of Taka’s [Takahiko Iimura] pieces, or any work made on a celluloid medium. Although we can’t make Super 8 negatives, at least archivally speaking. There are going to be people who say yes we can, and the labs, and people who do it by hand, but I’m talking about a verified archival process; that technology is not really around. We can make the materials and stockpile the equipment, but it still comes down to the particulars of a certain space. Like a discotheque from 1969, trying to find an approximation in a museum in 2018 there is a really substantial difference. Not just because of the fact that it’s in an institution and before it was in a non-cinematic, non-arts space, [but because] making a change alters the role and function of the piece. It becomes this historically regulated re-performance, and I think that’s really at the heart of the space issue. We are always trying to do these approximations.

So, a lot of these things, out of necessity, need to change or adapt. An example might be the Stan VanDerBeek Movie-Drome representation that was first done in Texas, and it was done maybe at MIT, and now at the Whitney. I think it’s done very poorly. It’s a poor job of approximating anything close to what [it was], even though we have access to many of the materials he used, knowing he used slide projector films, overhead projectors, different types of film projectors. At the museum, the inclusion of 16mm with a bunch of video, which they didn’t have [in the 1960s], is lip service to what it was. In the Movie-Drome you would lie down [to experience the piece] — which Ben Coonley’s piece brought [in the Dreamlands exhibition] — and here [the Whitney] you have this corner wall that’s being projected on. And you have wall text that explains what it was, and it’s a very popular spectacle image that looks good on Instagram, but, it’s a total mistake to me as a piece. I’m not saying that the piece shouldn’t be presented again, we should attempt to do some sort of multi-image simulation, but it’s a bound-for-failure proposition that has the best intentions.

One of the first times I had to think about this was in Berlin, at the Hamburger Bahnhof museum [Museum für Gegenwart] during the exhibition that Stan Douglas and Christopher Eamon curated. I went over to install [Paul] Sharit’s Epileptic Seizure Comparison, and to work with them on a piece called Christmas on Earth by Barbara Rubin. Christmas on Earth is a work from 1963, double projection, one image smaller inside of the larger image, and there are color gels you play with during the performance, and there is radio. The radio is tuned to pop music. When it’s performed today — it was restored by Anthology in the early 1980s and I think the Coop [The Film-Makers’ Coop] distributes it with a CD of 1960s greatest hits – it’s already a nostalgia piece. You turn on the radio today and you have Beyoncé and Drake and Rhianna and things like that, but it’s a real proto-hippie orgy film, so it won’t be the right mood. Having a CD with the Doors and the Turtles, which are actually not even right time-wise, they are not pop hits of, say, July 1963, they are 1960s hits. Already this time/space confusion is happening.

But in Berlin, they reached out to Anthology and said they wanted to include this piece in a show about the history of installation and projection works. There had been a recent article, I think in Art in America, about Barbara Rubin as this secret 1960s underground woman. So that brought the film attention, at least they recognized that this person was interesting and wanted [her work] in the show. The problem being, it wasn’t an installation, it was a performance. It had never been shown as a loop, you know. And I said sorry, it doesn’t work, but they were really begging for it.  We came to a compromise, so that it could be included in the show. They could only show it as a performance, so I think that they showed it twice a day, 12:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. Otherwise, the room was just a projector, on a plinth, nothing going on, and a wall text. For the press preview, I did the performance, and kept doing it over and over again. I did the performance once at Anthology and Jonas Mekas was present, and told me that I did it as it was [in 1963]. I was coning up the gel, doing all this stuff other than just taping the gel, it was more active, and he said that’s how it was. Which I didn’t know, I was just bored, so that’s why I was doing it, which they probably were, too. I had to teach the German projectionist and staff how to do it. Did they do it right, after I left? I have no idea, but they had the best intentions, they had the instructions and knew what to do. The film you would have seen [in the 1960s], you know maybe on a wall at Warhol’s Factory, not publicly because it was too seditious. It’s only posthumously that it has earned a semi-canonical status. It was not a public work, you know, in that sense, in that time. And now it’s being shown and brought into different history. Even though it’s expanded cinema, now it’s projection art. You know these are categorically different. Spatially, very separate, separate histories even. I didn’t have a problem with it being included [in the exhibition]; I just had a problem with it being on all the time. It’s not my work, it’s just archivally – what I’m trying to say is that I think of expanded cinema from the experiential side, and the audience’s, as much as from the mechanical and presentation side.

Ross: It’s really interesting to hear you talk about these works that were originally presented as performances that now have a life as, for better or worse, installation works. Cinematic Illumination was presented once, from beginning to end, and not installed in the sense that we are talking about. There’s a discussion of if it’s appropriate to make it into an installation work, noting it that it was a performance, or [instead, to present] it as you did the piece you just talked about, twice a day as a performance. These are things I think we should think about. Image Forum distributes some of these works, and a lot of [avant-garde] filmmakers are represented by them. Pieces like this, which sit between media, sit between art and film, aren’t really being archived in any way. There are all these questions of how to make it possible for these works to be archived, or represented, somehow. And one that we arrived at is to approach the Tokyo Photographic Arts Museum to do something with [Cinematic Illumination] in the context of an exhibition. So it’s good to hear you talk about performance, installation, and these questions.

Lampert: This has come up with a project that I’m working on right now with the Tate and Green Naftali gallery, which is the sale of Tony Conrad’s performance Ten Years Alive On the Infinite Plain, as a work. Tate and Tony had started discussions about how to purchase the piece, very preliminary discussions. One of the things Tony had said, somebody had recorded the conversation, “Andrew can help, Andrew can deal with it, he knows the piece.” So, Tony passed away, but the conversations continued.[A6] 

The history of this piece is that it was first performed in 1972, at the Kitchen in New York. There are four projections, 16mm loops, three musicians, performed by Tony, Rhys Chatham, and Laurie Spiegel, and Steina and Woody Vasulka were doing live video feed, presumably of Tony’s images on a number of monitors. Maybe Tony performed elements of it in the next couple years, it’s not really known. He has a crazily detailed CV, and this piece only lists 1972, where some pieces have multiple years. So I assume he only did it once. In the mid-1990s, 1997 or so, with Jim O’Rourke and David Grubbs, he does a performance, in Chicago, of the music with projections. Then in 2004, in Dortmund, with Mark Webber, then in 2005, here in New York, with me and O’Rourke and couple other people, and then every couple years. But after 2008/2007, he starts changing the name of it, instead of calling it Ten Years Alive, he starts calling it Forty-five Years Alive, because it has to do with the time passed since it was first performed. And with each performance it’s becoming an iteration, because he would change the number of projections, the number of musicians. And he does it for the last time in Bologna, maybe in 2013 or so. And Tate wants to acquire it, but the question is, “What is the piece?” And also, the piece is not an installation. Had Tony lived and decided that it was an installation, then, yes, it could have been an installation because the artist decided so. But one of the hitches is that, during the performance of the piece, there are four adjacent, side-by-side projections that very slowly get brought into one, which signals the end of the performance. And during the whole time, there are focal changes that make real crazy 3-D depth-type things happen, because the image is just vertical lines moving across a background.  

So the question remains, what is the piece? There are two primary elements that define the piece – the 16mm films, you have to have those to have the piece. Obviously, you need to have the music, too, because those are the two components. But amongst the musicians, Tony played violin, there was usually another violin, there was a bass, and there was another special instrument, the Long String Drone that Tony made himself. It’s a long string, and you have to play it with a slide. So it seemed to me that if the Tate was going to acquire it, they would have to acquire the films and the Long String Drone, or a copy of it. This constitutes the core materials of the piece. Now, how should the piece be shown? There are all these versions of it, so in my mind [the question was], what was the most common, what was the thing he did most. And the thing he did most was four projections, four musicians. And now the musicians, the way he wrote about it, Tony was the soloist, and the other musicians are the accompaniment. And Tony had a very distinctive and particular way of playing the violin. He had his own really anti-traditional technique, there’s no vibrato. He has a very constant linear sawing action. So, then you have to imitate Tony Conrad’s style of playing. Working with a few people on all this, we discovered that Jim O’Rourke had recorded Tony’s violin part at a performance in the 1990s. So, he supplied us with a copy of that, but it needed editing. The thought was, Tony’s isolated violin from the recording can be played through the PA, and the other musicians will play with him.

Tate has a wonderful requirement that when they acquire a piece it has to be exhibited within a year of the acquisition. So, in January 2017 they staged a performance of Ten Years Alive On The Infinite Plain, I think it was called Fifty-one or Forty Years Alive [the performance was titled Fifty-five Years on the Infinite Plain]. They continued forward with this math, which I then pointed out, after it had been publicized, made no sense, because Tony was dead. And it’s not like us doing it posthumously continues those numbers. If anything, this is just Ten Years Alive On The Infinite Plain. Because this is what the material is, this is what the recording is, it’s from Ten Years Alive, it’s not from Fifty-five Years Alive. And we did it. I did the projections; we did it in the Tanks [at Tate]. Rhys Chatham reprised his original performance on the Long String Drone, which he had played at least once since then. We had a second violinist and a bass player, both of whom had worked with Tony. It was important to have people who had worked with Tony, since they already had a couple days of being trained by him to learn how to play his music and tune their instruments in his systems. One of them had actually played a previous version of this piece, at the Kill Your Timid Notion festival in 2006. So, everybody was a Tony veteran. And we did the performance. To be honest, I had low expectations. It was great. Tony wasn’t there, obviously, but the way it worked with the mixing of the PA, it really surprised me how effective it was. In terms of the projection, I hadn’t done it in seven or eight years, and I definitely think it was, sadly since Tony wasn’t there, the best I ever did it. Their time-based media department was documenting everything, from us setting up the instruments, to asking us how the loops worked, and things like that.

To do the performance I made two negatives of the piece, one of which will go to Tate as part of the acquisition, one of which will be retained by Tony’s estate. In the end, we are still trying to work out what they will get, but part of it is a giant manual, that goes over the history of the piece and the iterations, gives the names of Tony’s collaborators, who in our life-time should be sourced to work on the piece. It sets up the parameters of what’s allowable, what’s not allowable. And they get a number of 400 ft. reels — the footage is all the same — which will be enough for a lot of performances.

The museum has a requirement to have something on the floor. It’s not just a one-time performance. So I have suggested, if it’s shown upstairs, it’s not called Ten Years Alive by Tony Conrad.  It almost should be as if it’s coming through the Education department rather than the Art department. You know, “elements from” Ten Years Alive On The Infinite Plain. You can have a film loop going, or a couple. You can have documentation of previous performance, you can have sound recording. There’s a real good sound recording of the original 1972 performance, which is actually being released a couple months from now. You can have that playing. You can have the Long String Drone in the room. You can have all these things that are basically learning tools, like in an art history museum, but they are not art works. We also toured the existing galleries of their collection to identify what kinds of rooms and spaces might work so they can get the dimensions and write it down in the manual. And also light levels. And sound. Tony’s music is played loud. So how do you do that, in a space where in the next room maybe there is a Mark Rothko painting or some Carolee Schneemann video or something. So, it’s the same kind of problem. To take something that existed in one type of space, and put it in another. I should add that, if and when, because Tate has Tate Modern, Tate Liverpool, their satellite places, plus they loan to other museums, so if and when the piece is exhibited, this “elements from,” not the performance, let’s say the gallery version is exhibited, it has to be accompanied by a live performance. Not in that space, but in a large, non-theatre, non-gallery space. And there are parameters, like you need this kind of PA, all of the things that Tony required in his lifetime. To show it in one form, you’ll also have to show it in another.

So for instance with this slide piece [referring to Cinematic Illumination], if you want to show it digitally for six months, you have to commit to doing it for one night. And maybe not on-site, off-site, maybe at SuperDeluxe [Tokyo], or maybe somewhere else. You have to commit to that, so that we can get both experiences.  

Ross: [You’ve had] experiences where you’ve been working with an artist like Tony Conrad who then passed away, and I’m wondering if there are any things that you wished you had asked in relation to their work. Or just ways of working with them, so that such works exist after their deaths. Is there anything we should ask?

Lampert: Well, I never found an artist who didn’t want to change their work. Very, very rarely there’s an artist who doesn’t want to tweak something or make it 5.1 sound, and claim that they always felt that way about it. So with living older artists, I say it’s about having humor about it with them, and telling them, no. Or tell them, like in the case I had with one artist, I’m going to make a new negative, and we are going to make new prints, and make a digital copy, a high quality digital master. I’ll give you the master and you can do whatever you want with it in digital. You can make a 2015 version. But I’m not going to trick history into thinking that this is what it is, if you change it. This is the historic one, and maybe you don’t want it to be shown anymore, but it’s still going to be preserved. That doesn’t mean that we have to show it everyday, but for the record, let’s have it as it was.

In terms of asking questions to them, it’s probably project-specific. It’s not as much, necessarily, asking about specifically how to do something, which obviously you would want to do as part of your methodology. It’s more about what’s allowable and what’s not. The artist is older and presumably wants this work to be seen after they are gone. Keep in mind that you all are the shepherds for this work now, you are caretaking for it now, but you’ll have different jobs, you’ll have families, you’ll have lives. You’ll also be seventy, and not necessarily want to deal with somebody’s work as you did forty years ago. New people are always going to be taking this piece on. Talking to an artist, in the case of this slide work, you want to think about the timing of each slide. Let’s say we are going to show it digitally, how long would each one be on the screen? Do you want the sound simulated on the soundtrack? There are very specific parameters for that piece. Knowing in advance that people outside of this circle are going to want to show this work, and will have ideas about the work, they need to know what lengths are allowable to go to, and also what does the artist prefer to happen? It’ll probably be violated, anyway, in the future, but for the record what would you like and not like to happen? Are there places and spaces they’d want to have it in? Are there contexts you don't have to have it in, for example a festival, or you don’t want to have it in a gallery. It’s trying to get those details documented, that is my biggest thing. The thing is they’ll want to change it, and how much can that happen?