PRINT Summer 2015


WHEN IS A PAINTING not a painting anymore?
In 1962, Mark Rothko created the Harvard Murals, a set of six monumental paintings, five of which were displayed in the penthouse dining room of the university’s Holyoke Center, a windowed perch with stunning views. Deeply and delicately hued expanses, the canvases ranged in color from searing orange-red to light pink to dark purple. But in the decade that followed, continual exposure to daylight drastically changed the works, fading them so that some areas lightened to near white while others turned a dull black. Languishing in storage for many years, the works were thought to be beyond repair. But recently, a team of conservators and scientists made a new and unprecedented attempt to restore the pictures—not with pigment or chemicals but with light: For each canvas, they devised a highly complex colored-light projection that, when shone on the work, returns it to its original coloration. What we see is what was meant to be seen, ostensibly. But what are the risks of such an approach? Does the use of light open the door to virtual reality, to smoke and mirrors, turning the paintings into something else altogether? Or does it constitute a brilliant way of making the paintings viewable again, without so much as touching a thread of canvas?
Conservator CAROL MANCUSI-UNGARO, who worked on the project; curators HARRY COOPER and JEFFREY WEISS; art historian YVE-ALAIN BOIS; Artforum editor MICHELLE KUO; and artists LYNN HERSHMAN LEESON, DAVID REED, KEN OKIISHI, and R. H. QUAYTMAN peer into the void.

View of “Mark Rothko’s Harvard Murals,” 2014–15, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, MA. From left: Panel One (Harvard Mural Triptych), 1962; Panel Two (Harvard Mural Triptych), 1962; Panel Three (Harvard Mural Triptych), 1962. As seen with colored digital projection. Photo: Kate Lacey. © Kate Rothko Prizel and Christopher Rothko/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. © President and Fellows of Harvard College.

CAROL MANCUSI-UNGARO: Rothko’s Harvard Murals were installed in 1964, but after suffering differential damage, they were put in storage in 1979. They were included in a few exhibitions, two at Harvard and one traveling exhibition, but basically they hadn’t been seen or studied for decades.

The murals are one of only three commissions that Rothko made. Scholars studied the Seagram paintings, and they studied the Rothko Chapel, but they largely skipped the Harvard Murals because hardly anyone had seen them. Most only knew the story about their fading and being removed from view. The works themselves—and their art-historical legacy—were lost.

Given the significance of the work in general, the importance of the work in Rothko’s career, and the fact that the murals were in a university where in-depth research was possible, it seemed an appropriate time to take a good look at the murals.

The work had last been examined in 1988, when Harvard mounted an exhibition at the [Arthur M.] Sackler Museum, after carefully studying the paintings’ composition, history, and the associated studies on paper. Yet at the time, the focus in the press was on the damage: “Yep, they were once red and now they’re blue.” Serious reflection was absent.

This time around we wanted to look at the murals and consider what could be done. Are they going to be out of sight forever? Are we never going to study them or write about them, dropping them from the canon of modern art? Or can we do something?

That set of questions was really what gave birth to this project. A team of art historians, conservation scientists, and conservators from the Harvard Art Museums, working with the MIT Media Lab’s Camera Culture research group, devised a novel solution. We had a few key goals in mind: to restore the lost color to the murals, to address the differential fading across the five panels so that they could be seen as a singular work of art, as Rothko intended, and to present the evidence of the artist’s hand.

Given the vulnerability of the unvarnished paint surfaces, we could not readily use paint for the correction, as it might interfere with the artist’s brushstrokes (which are still visible), and might not be removable. And given the size and abstract nature of these works, as well as the extent of the differential fading, we couldn’t attempt a localized treatment. Therefore, we had to develop an approach that was both reversible and an overall solution. These criteria gave birth to the idea of using a projected, computer-generated, colored light system.

HARRY COOPER: Well, I should say that I was the curator of modern art at Harvard from 1998 through 2007, so I was there after that first show but before this project got started. I was in on some of the early discussions, but I have really just been an interested observer from Washington, DC.

MICHELLE KUO: But had you ever thought about pursuing some conservation during your tenure there?

HARRY COOPER: Not really. I had actually seen the 1993 Sackler show, where the panels were presented as a kind of natural-history object or artifact, and the theme of the show was really the striking color change.

And then while I was working at the museum, the paintings lived under extra-heavy-duty garbage-bag plastic wrapping in storage, and occasionally someone would want to see them. We would usually say no.

I didn’t think there was anything to be done about them. I would never have thought of projecting light. And I was very skeptical about it. But I am very, very impressed with the results.

R. H. QUAYTMAN: What happens when the work changes—I assume the paintings will continue to change? I guess software and technology change, too.

CAROL MANCUSI-UNGARO: Well, those are two different things. With the paintings, the scientists were very careful in designing the light projection to ensure that the projected light did not contribute to further fading.

LYNN HERSHMAN LEESON: I am struck by the fact that Rothko was trying to give an impression of light to his painting, and here the light is trying to give an impression of painting. It is an inverse effect. But I wonder why it is necessary to have a canvas at all! Why not just show these as literal—

R. H. QUAYTMAN: As a projection of the painting, you mean?

LYNN HERSHMAN LEESON: As a projection or some artifact depicting what the work is like. This is a mediated version that’s almost like a séance—

JEFFREY WEISS: That’s a great image.

LYNN HERSHMAN LEESON: Where you have two completely different slices of media in time.

CAROL MANCUSI-UNGARO: I certainly see where you’re coming from, and all I can say is that, for us, this proposition was an attempt to consider a possibility for conserving the works. We were working within the mind-set of the traditional tenets of art conservation.

The projected light was designed to address only the areas where the paint had faded. A compensation image was created that dictated the nature and specific location of the projected light for localized correction. So the paintings are not indiscriminately flooded with color. But that’s not to deny the point you’re making about the hybrid nature of this project.

JEFFREY WEISS: The fading is overall, right?

CAROL MANCUSI-UNGARO: It’s differential overall.

JEFFREY WEISS: But one form of fading or another is at stake in the entire series, throughout all the paintings?


LYNN HERSHMAN LEESON: But again, then: Why use the canvas at all?

HARRY COOPER: Why not project onto a blank wall or—

LYNN HERSHMAN LEESON: Or even a blank canvas, if you want that texture.

HARRY COOPER: That gets right to the question of what is left of the paintings in the experience. And Lynn, you’re suggesting that maybe very little is left of the original paintings in this séance, as you called it.

LYNN HERSHMAN LEESON: Yes. Because it is an approximation from the period photographs of the paintings, right?

CAROL MANCUSI-UNGARO: Yes. The Ektachrome slides of the murals were made in 1964, and they provided a record of the paintings before the damage. But given the nature of Ektachrome slides, they tend to emphasize red and change over time. So the first step taken by the scientists was to digitally restore the faded slides in collaboration with the Digital Humanities Lab at the University of Basel. And then the second source for the unfaded original color was the sixth panel that Rothko had made for the commission but ultimately rejected. It had remained in the possession of the estate.

HARRY COOPER: But I would still say there are important aspects of the experience left. Even with the compensation image, we’re still seeing brushwork.

R. H. QUAYTMAN: And painted edges.

HARRY COOPER: Yes. We see exactly how Rothko fussed with those edges and aspects of texture, although one question is whether a slightly higher level of lighting overall would allow one to see a little more of the texture.

YVE-ALAIN BOIS: The only problem I have with projected lights, concerning Rothko in particular, is that projected light only lights the surface: The delicate underlayers are lost. If you shine more light, then that surface effect would get even more pronounced. So I thought that the low level of light in the gallery was actually a good idea—to try to approximate the way the work would have been lit, to have some of the underlayers show through.

KEN OKIISHI: I also don’t think that a pure projection, without the paintings, would be able to produce the mixture of pigment and light that would approximate what a painting looks like. With a digital projector, the image is always flattened to a greater degree than when you have light reflected off pigment. So I found that mixture very interesting.

But I did notice that, overall, the painting still flattened. The way Rothko worked, it wasn’t really glazing, but it was using layers and layers of pigment and paint, and through the brushwork, these halos or this kind of liquid abyss of layers would arise. I got the feeling that these layers were somehow lost. At the same time, we were seeing a kind of pumped-up Rothko. Like the way a Photoshop color correction pumps up an image, or the sense you get of looking at an exhibition catalogue and seeing a pumped-up version of a work, even if the pumped-up version looks good.

YVE-ALAIN BOIS: I was fearing that, but then in the adjacent gallery there were several other paintings by Rothko. Two of them looked extremely fiery and actually coloristically more vibrant than the restored ones. So I didn’t at all have the feeling that these restored works were pumped up.

DAVID REED: Even with a normal Rothko under normal lighting, it’s hard to tell exactly what is the materiality of the paint and what is the inner light emanating from the canvas. Looking at these canvases under the projected light, I had that same kind of confusion. It’s typical of Rothko, and I think it’s to be expected from his paintings. I like the confusion between “What is the light?” and “What is the materiality?”

JEFFREY WEISS: But to me, these remarks are still based on the idea that we’re looking at the paintings through projected, colored light, as opposed to the way they were intended to function, which is to conjure a metaphoric impression of inner light using the material means of paint and canvas alone, in combination with the illumination of the room, of course.

I’m full of admiration for what the Rothko team has done, and the care with which it’s been executed. My concern is that the impression we have from this installation is unnervingly real—which makes it easy for us to forget that it’s an illusion, for the most part. It’s the substitution of one medium for another.

Digital projector used in the color restoration of Mark Rothko’s Harvard Murals, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, MA, 2015. Photo: Kate Lacey. © Kate Rothko Prizel and Christopher Rothko/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. © President and Fellows of Harvard College.

CAROL MANCUSI-UNGARO: Every day, the projection is turned off at a certain time so you can see the paintings as they are.

JEFFREY WEISS: The lights go on and off.

YVE-ALAIN BOIS: “We’re off” at four PM—

MICHELLE KUO: When that happened, everyone in the room went, “Ahhh, amazing!”

DAVID REED: I even liked that overtly theatrical aspect of the presentation. That’s also a part of Rothko. I have a story that I’m shy about telling: When I was a student at the Studio School in ’66, I brought a petition to Rothko to sign. He took a liking to me because, at the time, I was on leave from Reed College in Portland, Oregon, and his niece was thinking of going there.

We had a long talk, and he took me into his studio, where he was working on what would become the Rothko Chapel paintings in Houston. The paintings were on rolling walls with wheels and hung from ropes and pulleys. It was like a stage set, with klieg lights. He pulled the paintings up and down and asked me which height I liked best, and the best relation between the heights. Then he put his arm around my shoulder and whispered—a stage whisper—in my ear: “I have never told this to anyone else, but when I was a child escaping from Russia, there were pogroms, and I saw big open graves. And that’s where these forms come from.”

In preparing for this conversation today, I read James E. B. Breslin’s book [Mark Rothko: A Biography, 1993], and it turns out that Rothko actually told this same story to a number of people. But I’ve kept the secret until now. [Laughter.] I played my role.

JEFFREY WEISS: We admire your discretion.

DAVID REED: His words had a powerful effect on me, which I’m sure was intended. They were part of a kind of performance.

CAROL MANCUSI-UNGARO: Did he say anything about the effect of the skylight on the paintings?

DAVID REED: Oh yes, if I remember correctly, he used a long stick to manipulate a frame under the skylight from which a piece of cloth was suspended. As the cloth opened and closed, he asked when the light was the best on the paintings.

R. H. QUAYTMAN: It’s interesting because the entire work is metaphorically about the painting of light, and then the light is leaving.

When I went and saw the Harvard Murals, I didn’t see the switch-off at four, but just saw the projection. I did feel that the room was dark, and that was weird to me, because you can’t look at paintings in dark rooms.

YVE-ALAIN BOIS: That’s the way Rothko should always be. You should always be in a dark room. He always switched off the gallery lights whenever there was a show. How Rothkos are lit changes them dramatically: Because, again, if it’s very harsh light, you don’t see the play of the underlayers, and it’s totally different. So they should always be underlit. He himself said so all the time, throughout his life.

JEFFREY WEISS: I think there were some exceptions, but it’s true, he often asked for this, even though we almost never do it. All the same, I would say that there is a sharp difference between seeing an actual painting in a darkened room and seeing a painting enhanced by the projection of color in the form of actual light.

R. H. QUAYTMAN: Yes. I just think they’re different things.

JEFFREY WEISS: It’s one thing to say, as David has, that Rothko is theatrical, and on his own terms that is fine as far as it goes, but it’s another thing for us to be creating that idea of theater using these other means.

YVE-ALAIN BOIS: I remember when Carol was working on the restoration of the Rothko Chapel paintings with a team inside the chapel itself. And every time a cloud was passing by, everything had to change. You remember that? It was a nightmare because it was so volatile in many ways. In this particular case of the Harvard Murals, the relation to light is fixed. That’s what the projection does. You freeze a moment of color variation and that’s it. I think I would prefer to have something that is an approximation of a truth of one moment, rather than nothing at all.

R. H. QUAYTMAN: But weren’t the works made for a room full of light?


HARRY COOPER: But a room in which the blinds were supposed to be drawn. And yet the views are so nice that people didn’t draw the blinds.

LYNN HERSHMAN LEESON: Was there any kind of photographic record of the shifts? When did people notice how bad it was getting, the evolution?

CAROL MANCUSI-UNGARO: It was noted by the conservators a few years later, but to my knowledge there was no systematic notation of change.

YVE-ALAIN BOIS: I also saw the Sackler show in 1993, and at that time I came away thinking that the whole idea behind the show, on which conservators and curators collaborated, was to justify the situation: “It wasn’t Harvard’s fault.” Of course, this was before your time, Carol. If I remember well, the wall text referred to Rothko’s pigment as “fugitive,” implying that he knowingly used paint that would fade. There were tiny samples of canvas said to have been painted with the same colors that Rothko had used, and to have been submitted to the same harsh light conditions—it looked like the result of a forensic investigation, the gist of which was to blame Rothko himself.

CAROL MANCUSI-UNGARO: Actually, Rothko was very knowledgeable about his materials, and Lithol Red, which he used, was thought to be a permanent color at the time.

Mark Rothko, Panel Four (Harvard Mural) (detail), 1962, egg tempera and distemper on canvas, 8' 9" × 15'. As seen with colored digital projection.  © Kate Rothko Prizel and Christopher Rothko/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. © President and Fellows of Harvard College.

MICHELLE KUO: One more technically minded issue is the difference between analog and digital. When we are working with printing digital images, we have to toggle between CMYK, which is the main model of color printing, and RGB, which is what you see on the screen. So the translation from a digital image to an analog, materially printed image is something we’re always wrestling with. It’s never commensurate.

The same kind of incommensurabilities exist between the digital color of the projected light and the color of the physical pigment, and that is a difference that will always be there. At the end of the day, we’re relying on an implied objectivity of visual perception among all of us, even though we’re all probably seeing slightly different colors.

KEN OKIISHI: One thing that I had trouble with is precisely this reduction of color to numbers. There’s the kind of color that is produced in a painting, on the one hand, and the kind of color that’s produced in a digital image, on the other; the digital is, in its basic form, a reduction of a painting to a set of numbers. And the experience of when they turn off the projection becomes a ritual. First of all, all these people are gathered there.

And then whatever is faded by the sun appears before you, while the numerical, digital color disappears. A certain structure comes to the fore; and you also get a different complexity of the layers of color, even though the color is now totally “wrong.” But there is something in that tension between these experiences that I actually really liked. I liked that it created this new kind of ritual.

MICHELLE KUO: Rebecca, you look skeptical.

R. H. QUAYTMAN: No. I mean, I think the way paintings travel through history usually tells the truth. So this is going to be some kind of truth. It’s going to keep happening, this kind of technique. This is also the result of big changes in art restoration in general. It’s just: Where do we go with it?

LYNN HERSHMAN LEESON: Yes, but if it happens in an artist’s lifetime, to their work, they can of course control how the technique will project out, literally. And that’s something that artists should think about—how their work will be archived—and take responsibility for its future.

R. H. QUAYTMAN: I know. I think about that a lot. But I would rather err on the side of the painting than technology.

JEFFREY WEISS: This kind of technique is inevitable, is what you’re saying. And I agree. Broadly speaking, in our culture today, the distinction between the digital, or technologized, image and the painted image is often easily ignored.

This is a condition of beholding that is very different from the sphere of the Rothko project, but one that the project is nevertheless participating in—in a really fascinating and complex way, but one that should give us pause with respect to what we say about the material and technical terms of painting versus other kinds of imagemaking.

R. H. QUAYTMAN: Again, though: Where is it leading, I wonder, in terms of your work, Carol, and other things that this technology could be used on?

CAROL MANCUSI-UNGARO: Well, I’m interested in what you all think. This kind of software can theoretically be used on other works of art.

LYNN HERSHMAN LEESON: Have you ever considered putting it online?

CAROL MANCUSI-UNGARO: Jens Stenger, Narayan Khandekar, and other scientists who worked on this will publish an article about the tools we used, including the math, for people who want to do this, and it will soon be available online.

YVE-ALAIN BOIS: But Lynn, you mean—like showing online the unrestored and restored paintings to see the difference?


R. H. QUAYTMAN: But you wouldn’t be experiencing a painting that way.


JEFFREY WEISS: And you wouldn’t have ambient space and scale and—

HARRY COOPER: I’m a little uncomfortable with this idea that what we’re getting in the project when the lights are on is a digital experience. I would say it is partly an experience of extremely high-resolution, digitally produced light, but one that is married—through this amazing amount of work, in the most cellular way—to the structure of paint and canvas.

And so I think it’s tempting to talk about this as Jeffrey is suggesting, as participating in a society of the spectacle, digital revolution, lights and noise. But I think it’s very rare to see the application of digital technology, in such a painstakingly material way, marry itself to a physical substrate.

It’s something I certainly have never seen before. Normally, when we go see projections onto one surface or another, the surface never matters. Sometimes it’s just a projection into the air. But here the surface was treated with a kind of love. That’s the only way I can really describe it.

JEFFREY WEISS: It’s still a question of color imposed by projected light. I mean, no matter how good it is, it doesn’t change the fact that it’s a different medium or an enhanced medium. Nothing you say in defense of the project can alter the fact that we’re talking about a basic shift.

YVE-ALAIN BOIS: Yes, but you have to compare it to the alternative, which is basically to repaint.

JEFFREY WEISS: Well, no: The third option is to do nothing.

CAROL MANCUSI-UNGARO: But with this, you just flip a switch and it is nothing.

JEFFREY WEISS: Yes, but before the switch is flipped, we’re still creating a set of conditions that we’re asking people to encounter as authentic in some way.

KEN OKIISHI: But anyone going to a museum now sees people holding iPads up to objects all the time. So in many ways, people are already seeing images of artworks floating in front of artworks.

I personally don’t have such a problem with the fact that there is a different medium used to restore the work. I did think it was weird, though, that in that space, the only thing anyone talked about was the restoration—nobody actually talked about the paintings.

And at the moment when the projector died, when they turned it off, many people said, “Oh, it’s much better now!” Which I also think is totally ridiculous. But it raises the question: Is this a mediated experience or an unmediated experience? Does it add to the experience of the artwork in itself?

HARRY COOPER: Maybe I’m staking out an extreme position, but I would be happy with a presentation in which you simply walk into the room, and only on your way out are you told what you have seen. Because there is this problem of what we know and what we see. But of course that raises a lot of the concerns Jeffrey has about deception and honesty to the materials.

All the same, as Ken was saying, the discussion becomes fixated on the technique and the issues, if you’re told right up front about this big framing device.

R. H. QUAYTMAN: We could put it in the media part of the label or something.

HARRY COOPER: You could hide it. You could put it in fine print. [Laughter.] The stuff nobody ever reads except us.

YVE-ALAIN BOIS: I never read wall text!

CAROL MANCUSI-UNGARO: Well, the team hoped viewers would begin to think and talk about the paintings themselves. [Laughter.] My question is, Why is it that people are not talking about the murals?

DAVID REED: I have a lot of thoughts about these paintings that I think I wouldn’t have had if I hadn’t seen them in this revived state. To me, the experience drove home the fact that the paintings are meant to function as a group—to become one experience. That’s one reason I think the projections do work, because they even out all the background colors so the paintings can be seen together.

The fact that they are a group, a set of multiple, modular paintings, is historically important. At the time, Barnett Newman was working on “The Stations of the Cross”[1958–66]. On Kawara made Title, the triptych, in 1965, and then there are Lee Lozano’s “Wave Series” paintings done between 1967 and 1970. And Jo Baer made twelve paintings for a show at Fischbach Gallery in New York in ’66 that could be installed in different configurations but were meant to be seen together, as a group. So seeing the Rothko paintings as one work adds to understanding their historical position.

CAROL MANCUSI-UNGARO: I agree. And the Rothko Chapel came next, and they are certainly one experience with fourteen paintings—all with similar grounds.

DAVID REED: Exactly. And another thing: I realized that the Harvard canvases are organized in a very peculiar way. In the set of three canvases installed on one wall touching each other, the width of the canvas on the right is smaller than the width of the canvas on the left. You would think there would be a large central canvas and two canvases of the same size on either side. That’s not the case.

Then the image on the canvas to the right is also squeezed, so that there is a strong sense of momentum from left to right in the paintings, in terms of color, proportion, and the forms, that I hadn’t realized was there before. It made me wonder about a similar spin that happens at the Rothko Chapel, where you can’t stop and look at just one painting. Now, I think that this is very intentional. One wants to keep moving and see all the paintings. There is something very filmic about this experience, and I didn’t expect to find that in Rothko’s paintings. The projections helped me to see the paintings in a different way.

CAROL MANCUSI-UNGARO: I think the consistency of the ground color certainly contributed to your ability to do that.

LYNN HERSHMAN LEESON: How did the digital reconstruction happen? Did they take a particular color and iterate it all over? Was there a particular pattern to what was addressed?

CAROL MANCUSI-UNGARO: According to Jens, the compensation images were calculated from a very large data set, addressing each of more than two million locations, or pixels, on each painting. They took into account reflectance, the ambient light that would blend with the projector light, as well as many other variables, and refined the images even further to account for uniformity across the panels, etc.

LYNN HERSHMAN LEESON: Essentially pixel by pixel, it seems.

MICHELLE KUO: But without the actual sixth panel, and its undamaged section, it seems this couldn’t really have been done—you’d be relying on the color correction of the Ektachromes—

HARRY COOPER: Which is based on a lot of assumptions.

YVE-ALAIN BOIS: And, of course, there are several studies on paper that have not faded either.

CAROL MANCUSI-UNGARO: In fact, the studies on paper showed exactly what David was talking about in terms of progression and color of the ground.

YVE-ALAIN BOIS: Another amusing moment during the ritual of switching off the projection is when the conservators show you how it’s done. They bring you a piece of white card and pass it in front of the projection—so it’s between the painting and the projection—and you see that the projected coloration is really pixel by pixel.

And you realize that the amount of work that went into this is quite amazing. You also realize that sometimes the colors they have added in order to obtain what you see are very surprising. The color correction is completely unlike what you would expect.

JEFFREY WEISS: There is always a wow factor with any application of science and high technology in conservation. But maybe it also distracts or diverts audiences in a way that we should be wary of. It makes me think of an apposite story about James Turrell, who claimed that Rothko’s work was very important to him when he was taking art classes. But he realized later that he was seeing them as projected slides, and that that was what mattered to him—the paintings themselves were actually disappointing.

YVE-ALAIN BOIS: But imagine the case of a Brice Marden wax painting that has been damaged and somehow rubbed so that it is extremely shiny. And the only difference is the sheen, which kills the painting. Would we have the slightest hesitation in killing the sheen by using a projection? No. I think that if that’s the best way, if it’s the only way, I’d rather have that than a Brice Marden with a mega-sheen in the middle of the work. I mean, that’s hideous.

JEFFREY WEISS: Knowing that there are a lot of other Brice Marden paintings out there that are relatively unaffected, I would rather leave your painting alone.

YVE-ALAIN BOIS: You are a maximalist.

JEFFREY WEISS: No. I’m distressed that we can’t seem to get around the fact that we are still speaking of two different mediums, and that to me is different from most kinds of painting restoration, which do not alter the medium of the work.

YVE-ALAIN BOIS: You’re not a maximalist. You’re a purist.

JEFFREY WEISS: Using words like maximalist and purist strikes me as a way to avoid unpacking the implications. I think we all on some level—as curators and historians—need to at least traffic in a certain kind of “purism,” because nobody else will. So if this kind of restoration is going to happen anyway, it should be done in the context of debate. Taking it for granted as just OK or even an improvement or better than nothing is a mistake.

CAROL MANCUSI-UNGARO: But what’s interesting in this conversation is that most aged paintings have been treated in some way and the restoration materials aren’t always consistent with the original materials. So we’re just comfortable with the restorer mixing up some kind of synthetic paint that will look like the original paint—and putting it on to imitate the way the artist worked?

JEFFREY WEISS: Well, in fact, we’re not always comfortable with that. What’s more, this is a difference of kind, I think, not of degree. That’s the most important distinction I would make.

CAROL MANCUSI-UNGARO: Maybe there is no one state for a work of art.

LYNN HERSHMAN LEESON: That’s right. Time is not frozen. Things are in a constant state of flux.

JEFFREY WEISS: I am the first to acknowledge the fact that paintings everywhere are changing all the time. One illusion at stake here is the illusion of origin—of authenticity—because it’s impossible to claim that anything is still really authentically what it was when it was produced, and it’s also wrong to say that we can truly “restore” those qualities. And that is probably an idea that is hard for us to discuss, because it implies that nothing we’re looking at is original in the sense that we wish it were. Which goes to the whole question of the discipline of art history, to paraphrase Michael Ann Holly, as intrinsically being a melancholic practice, because it’s trying to retrieve and sustain a quality of the experience of the object that’s lost.

It is worth considering whether or not this restoration means to do that, to retrieve the irretrievable somehow, to fix our impression of the work in a very specific and permanent—

CAROL MANCUSI-UNGARO: No, not permanent. How is it permanent?

JEFFREY WEISS: Not materially so. But the projection creates a sensation of the work that is fixed, because our impression of it cannot change in the context of the normal variables of ambient experience. In that the conditions of seeing it are, by necessity, hermetic and scrupulously controlled, the effect can be compared to that of a diorama.

R. H. QUAYTMAN: I do think there is something eerie about the fact that this isn’t something the average viewer could do themselves. I mean, that’s what paintings are. Basically, you could do it yourself. Whereas someone with no technical training can’t really do a photograph. You can’t do this. You can’t do that. But a painting you could do, if you devoted time to it.

And so there is something weird when you’re using something you couldn’t normally do on your own, or even with a restorer in a shop, to fix a painting. It’s like it’s invisible.

White card illustrating the projected light used in the restoration of Mark Rothko’s Panel Five (Harvard Mural), 1962, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, MA, 2015. Photo: Kate Lacey. © Kate Rothko Prizel and Christopher Rothko/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. © President and Fellows of Harvard College.

HARRY COOPER: What about the idea that paintings are always seen under conditions of light that have been imposed and chosen? We know that Rothko often got upset about lighting, but that this restoration is in some way on a continuum with curatorial choices about illumination of paintings. And therefore it does not need to be fenced with quite as many warning signs and with as many worries as one might have.

DAVID REED: Harry, one of my worst experiences with Rothko, one that turned me against him at the time—like a lot of my friends, I’ve had my ups and downs about Rothko—was the Guggenheim show in ’78, where the paintings were lined up around the ramp and floated out from white walls in too much light. It was a terrible situation for the paintings. They looked decorative and arbitrary, repetitive, and as a young artist it made me less interested in his work. The show, done in a conventional way, did him no favors. In fact, it was more damaging to his intentions than this exhibition at Harvard, even with the projected light, since the daylight was more against his wishes than the projections are, in my opinion.

YVE-ALAIN BOIS: But besides the danger of further damaging the painting, which we are told is not the case here, I see this as a very gentle—and impermanent—way of correcting something without further alienating the surface of the painting. I remember your anxieties about the Rothko Chapel, Carol, because everything you did, even though it was reversible, was some kind of imposition that nevertheless intruded into the surface—which is essential for Rothko, we all agree.

Whereas this projection process, at least on that level, is completely harmless. It doesn’t impinge on the surface itself.

JEFFREY WEISS: I agree with you. It is harmless in the sense that it is reversible.

YVE-ALAIN BOIS: And I, unlike some of you, did not perceive that it was a different experience. I did not. It looked to me the way Rothko should look. The paintings were even dimmer than the other undamaged ones in the other room. The paintings were less boom!

I remember first seeing a set of Rothkos at the Tate, in the early ’70s, I think. It was very dim. In fact, you had to adjust for about five minutes to see the painting. And then the surface would slowly come to you—not unlike the way some of the blackest Reinhardts come to you after a while. I had a similar experience at Harvard. I did not perceive the projectors. In fact, I had to be told where they were. “Where is this projection?”

So I didn’t have this allergy that you seem to have, like “Oh my God, the digital!” You know, “Boohoo, we are changing domains and falling into spectacle.” I didn’t have that sensation at all.

R. H. QUAYTMAN: But the thing is, I didn’t know what the damage was, and I think I saw a picture on the Internet in which the canvas was really pale. Were they completely washed out?

YVE-ALAIN BOIS: Some colors are completely changed, from orange to purple, for example. Other colors that were supposed to be brown were blue, and in some areas they actually became almost black.

JEFFREY WEISS: I agree that the level of deception is extremely high.

HARRY COOPER: I had the experience of not being sure if I was having the experience. [Laughter.] The works don’t look lit.

It was a bit like what David was saying about the undecidability of Rothko’s surface. Is that blurry because the compensation image is not quite indexed perfectly, or is it blurry because his edges are soft? Or am I seeing underlayers? It was disturbing, maybe because I knew something was going on but I couldn’t get hold of what it was. I was squinting.

YVE-ALAIN BOIS: But don’t you squint in front of every Rothko?

HARRY COOPER: Yes, that’s true! But here I even took out my iPhone and turned on the flashlight.


HARRY COOPER: Just for a second.

YVE-ALAIN BOIS: You ruined another pixel.

HARRY COOPER: I did feel the need for some kind of—


HARRY COOPER: Some kind of real pure and blinding clarity about the whole thing.

CAROL MANCUSI-UNGARO: And did it do that?

HARRY COOPER: Well, I could suddenly see the surface—but you know, when I go into any museum, I’m the person who’s turning the flashlight on. I want to see facture, texture. So it worked for that, but, of course, it cancels out a lot of the real experience you’re supposed to have. It did leave me in a queasy state.

MICHELLE KUO: There’s also the question of whether this is actually a shift of medium in degree or in kind here. And can we really speak of medium in this way? What we’re looking at with the original Rothko work is an object that is itself an aggregate already: You have texture and color and depth, you have fiber and metal-based pigment and stretcher bar, and so on. These are all already very different materials—dissociable, heterogeneous, physical, and phenomenal qualities or properties—in this supposedly unified object. So it does seem strange to object to the addition of yet one more element if it is in the service of restoration.

DAVID REED: I’m very eager to accept the projections, and I’m surprised how much I am. They bring something back to life that was dead. But I’m interested in Jeffrey’s wariness about the project and where this comes from. I think we all do have to worry about how technology can alter works in various ways. So is there more you can say about where your worries come from?

YVE-ALAIN BOIS: I can see the worry that, one day, this is going to spell the end of museums, because all you need is a couple of projections. But this kind of thing is already happening. A few days ago, there was a New York Times article about the mayor of Tehran installing some fifteen hundred large reproductions of art works in his city, including many Western ones, such as Munch’s Scream, etc. I don’t actually remember if these images are on screens or just printed and pasted on large billboards, but according to the article, this urban campaign is being very well received by most locals—and as a political strategy designed to mollify the mayor’s public perception, it seems to be working.

JEFFREY WEISS: Saying that the common use of projections or iPads obviates these concerns seems backward to me: It may mean that the Harvard team’s treatment is easier to accept, but can it be used as a justification?

I think it would be unfortunate to reduce this exchange to a pro and con debate. I see the value of what’s been done. I also see, as I said, the inevitability of it. So it’s brought us a lot of information that we didn’t have before, for which I’m grateful. But I just don’t see it only that way. And I think that this distinction, this material distinction of medium, is something that is real and should be at stake in the conversation, and not something that gets bracketed out of our consideration of the success or failure of the project.

CAROL MANCUSI-UNGARO: Do you think it’s complicated by the fact that art itself is made of that material now—digital projections?

JEFFREY WEISS: Absolutely. I think that the technologized observer is at stake here in every way—the way in which we see the restoration and the almost tacit acceptance of it. The fact that we can even take it for granted because we have iPads in museums is fascinating to me but also disconcerting, because, given that it is a form of simulation, what is successful about the Rothko project could also compromise the way in which we understand the material and technical specificity of painting as a medium.

LYNN HERSHMAN LEESON: And the projection in this sense is an artifact that has less chance of shifting, or takes longer to shift, than the condition of the original physical materials.

YVE-ALAIN BOIS: What do you mean, Lynn? CDs are basically kaput after ten years—

LYNN HERSHMAN LEESON: Well, this isn’t a CD.

YVE-ALAIN BOIS: Well, whatever. You know, new technology changes at a far quicker pace than many older materials.

KEN OKIISHI: I think it’s fine to put a projection onto a painting. [Laughter.]

The phenomenon of it is, of course, interesting to me, since I’m making artwork with this particularly anxious confluence of mediums: paint and video. But that aside, the basic level of restoration here—the sheer ability to show these works now—is pretty amazing.

It’s funny that there is this notion that with the lights off, it’s a pure thing, and with the lights on, it’s not pure—because I think both states are totally impure. In one, you have to imagine what the painting used to look like, and in the other, you have to trust that the restoration is correct. Right? So they both create this situation of doubt, and not only technological doubt.

JEFFREY WEISS: That’s an important idea here: doubt.

LYNN HERSHMAN LEESON: What do you think Rothko would have thought about this?

DAVID REED: I think he would have liked it. He liked controversy. He liked going over the edge. I now think that his legacy might not only be in multiple modular paintings but also in video projections and a lot of other installation art. The legacy of Rothko lies in the theatrical, in dematerialized color.

JEFFREY WEISS: But this doesn’t give us license to defend colored light. Even so, while I do think we have the responsibility to be as true as we can to the work’s terms and its means, what David has described is one way that painting can get away from us in useful, interesting ways, going on to have other lives that we can’t anticipate or control.

YVE-ALAIN BOIS: Jeffrey, I want to make sure I understand your position. If I understand correctly, you’re saying that you prefer not to show the work rather than to show the work with this restoration, which is trying to restore its visual integrity—its aesthetic integrity, as opposed to material.

You know, there are many times when it’s not necessary to restore a work because it’s not actually that damaged; it’s fine. But there are moments where the work has suddenly fallen into nothing, it just loses all its capacity to move you because it’s not there anymore. It’s a slow, quantitative evolution that takes a qualitative leap at some point.

JEFFREY WEISS: I’m not arguing against the treatment as an experiment or, as Carol said, a proposition. I want to make that clear. I really think that what we’ve learned from what you and the Rothko team have done, Carol, has been of great value.

YVE-ALAIN BOIS: But . . . ?

JEFFREY WEISS: But conservation practice doesn’t exist in a state of innocence. I am trying to introduce into the exchange a consideration of the level of falsification—be it open or covert—that’s at stake. And, following from that, a whole other set of questions and problems emerge that concern what it is we do when we treat something, why we can’t accept that some things just do die, what it means to look at the same painting from one year to the next, what it is we see when we go to a church in Rome, etc., which is where this topic, I think, also takes us.


HARRY COOPER: I was thinking of The Last Supper as a possible analogy, where, if I’m not mistaken, there is a question about whether there is any original paint left on the thing at this point. There has been restoration of restoration and so on, and we get to a point where the image we see now may be a total simulacrum, albeit in a similar medium. But still I think it goes to your point; it requires an act of faith, both in the various acts of restoration and in how they might relate to some original. And is there a point at which one might say, “Forget it. We’re fooling ourselves. It’s gone”?

JEFFREY WEISS: I would add that the ruinous state has its own role to play in the influence of or afterlife of that painting, over the centuries, and that in fact the ruin, as extreme as it is now, has to be useful in some way for reasons that obviously have nothing to do with what’s authentic to the work.

So I’m trying to grasp both sides. It’s really that there are more than two. For example, there are competing ideas of authenticity here: the so-called original state of the murals, which the Rothko team is trying to recuperate, versus the quasi-ruinous state that the murals are in now—equally real. But there is also a third idea: that the enhanced murals will, going forward, serve as a whole new version of the work.

R. H. QUAYTMAN: Well, as per usual the market may decide everything. [Laughter.] In the sense of whether the painting has value—literal monetary value. And insurance companies!

HARRY COOPER: So if a damaged work went to market, you might buy it along with the software that controls the compensation image.

R. H. QUAYTMAN: That’s really the next step. Would it be more or less expensive?

CAROL MANCUSI-UNGARO: But, Jeffrey, do you think that the Harvard Murals are ruined?

JEFFREY WEISS: In some respects they are, by definition, a ruin. They have changed in irretrievable ways.

YVE-ALAIN BOIS: Rather than being so pessimistic, you could imagine artists taking inspiration—

JEFFREY WEISS: I don’t understand why what I am saying is pessimistic. I’m trying to hold onto what I thought we all believe is specific to painting as a medium, and I’ve got to tell you, Yve-Alain, that coming from you, this is pretty shocking! [Laughter.]

I’m just saying that we have a different set of responsibilities, at least with respect to self-criticality, with respect to our practice, both as historians and as conservators. And that’s the position from which I’m trying to ask these questions.

Mark Rothko, Panel Five (Harvard Mural), 1962, egg tempera and distemper on canvas. Installation view with colored digital projection, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, MA, 2015. Photo: Kate Lacey. © Kate Rothko Prizel and Christopher Rothko/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. © President and Fellows of Harvard College.

YVE-ALAIN BOIS: This makes me think about the Newman painting Shining Forth (to George) [1961], which is in a disastrous state in the collection of the Pompidou. This is a painting that is, at present, disgusting to see. The work, which is a masterpiece of Newman’s, has been stupidly murdered by those idiots at the Pompidou; it was badly damaged in an accident in 1990—by large, black motor oil splashes on the middle of the painting. Then the director of the museum at the time, Germain Viatte, forced a poor conservator to do work on it at full speed, even though he wanted to follow the advice of many people who knew better, such as Carol—which was to wait until conservation scientists assessed the real nature of the damage and whether it was at all possible to restore the painting. The consensus of everyone having any knowledge of what was at stake was “Please wait!” But Viatte wanted the painting back in the galleries as soon as possible. Treatments were attempted, alas not reversible ones, which actually made things worse—soap created blue stains next to the black oil ones—yet the painting was quickly reinstalled . . . only to soon be de-installed as a result of public outcry. It remained in storage for years, which paradoxically engendered still another problem: By not being exposed to any light, the cotton and Rivit glue used by Newman darkened in some areas, creating a kind of huge brownish “cloud.” Very recently brought out of storage, after further restoration attempts, and reinstalled, the painting is even more of an eyesore now. To sum up, it has three major problems and solving one systematically makes the other one worse. So far, no one has figured out how to treat the problems together. It looks like shit. And they decided to display it again without any shame, and it is really painful to watch.

[Editor’s note: After this issue went to press, a new restoration of the painting was unveiled and installed on May 27 as part of the permanent collection at the Centre Pompidou; the latest conservation has, according to Bois, “splendidly addressed the aforementioned damage; it is verging on the miraculous.”]

Could this projection process digitally erase the damage?

CAROL MANCUSI-UNGARO: It could be investigated.

YVE-ALAIN BOIS: Then I’m all for it. If this technology—which is completely nonintrusive and is not permanent, and which you can switch off at any time—if this technology could restore this Newman to what it was, which is really one of the most beautiful paintings he ever made, I’m all for it. Do it right away. There is no moral problem. I don’t have anxieties about all the technological monsters that are going to crawl into my bed.

R. H. QUAYTMAN: What if, for example, there was a very valuable painting under a not-valuable painting, and you could project the X-ray onto the painting?


CAROL MANCUSI-UNGARO: This is moving away from historical conservation, into the making of art.

JEFFREY WEISS: I’m not a technophobe. But erasing a stain from the surface of an unpainted canvas and imposing an overall wash of color through the projection of actual light are two very different things. There is, I think, an inherent resistance to criticism of the Rothko project, because we badly want this kind of thing to work. And when it’s pretty convincing or very convincing, then most of the other criteria fall away.

What I’ve been saying is that I think illusion is a risky place to be, always: ethically, even politically. And I stand by that.

KEN OKIISHI: Are you against restoration in any way?

JEFFREY WEISS: Of course not. I’m not categorically against any form of restoration, including this. But I am against some restorations, in a case-by-case way—

YVE-ALAIN BOIS: Against bad restoration.

JEFFREY WEISS: I’m not, for example, intrinsically against cleaning a painting, which often results in changing the way it’s looked for many decades, if not centuries. That has to do with eliminating the discoloration of varnish or removing an accumulation of grime. But this is different.

R. H. QUAYTMAN: One thing that might clarify this question is if you could say that it’s a restoration that only addresses the fading of colors, nothing else. Like does it change a line? Does it change an edge?

YVE-ALAIN BOIS: That is true.

JEFFREY WEISS: We could explain it at great length and with wall text and with books and catalogues and with docents, but it still doesn’t change the nature of the experience with respect to the shift in medium. It simply asks you to suspend disbelief, so to speak, on behalf of what the restoration accomplishes, which is absolutely something that, again, as an experiment, is worth asking. But that experiment begs other questions. In any case, what this project has done is brought us, I think, to a kind of crossroads with respect to conservation and technology in the realm of painting.

KEN OKIISHI: I found the whirring of the projector very distracting. So on a sound level, I found the restoration rather unsuccessful.

JEFFREY WEISS: And the projection slightly exceeds the lower margin of the painting—

CAROL MANCUSI-UNGARO: There is a reason for that. Jens had to deal with the fact that a digital projector produces images that have the so-called screen-door effect: Each pixel has a dark square around it. These are very thin dark lines, but unacceptable for a painting restoration tool. To eliminate this problem, he defocused the projector a small amount, which creates a slightly soft edge of the compensation image and a slight overspill.

MICHELLE KUO: That, of course, could one day be overcome. It’s interesting, because we’re talking about works that were made just a few years before someone like Robert Rauschenberg would start to incorporate machines into some of his sculptures, which he would then completely allow to be technologically updated—radios, for example, were updated later to digital radios, and so on, and the fact that some component of the material itself completely changed was completely fine.

JEFFREY WEISS: Well, this is a form of what we refer to as the migration of medium.

MICHELLE KUO: But this was part of Rauschenberg’s brilliance, creating a kind of ever-evolving readymade that would change with, and allow for, the obsolescence of technology. This is a historical moment where you have a real divergence in what artists are thinking about in terms of media and the hybridity of the object: The reason we’re arguing about this at all right now is that we never heard Rothko say, “Oh, one day you can just project something onto this,” whether it’s film or video or 3-D projection.

It’s a question of when: When do you listen to the artist and when do you not listen to the artist? Because obviously their opinion, too, may also change over time—even when they are alive their views might evolve—and certain artists give instructions and others don’t.

JEFFREY WEISS: Yes. And is migration as a given always acceptable? With Dan Flavin’s sculptures, for example, the fluorescent lights eventually stop working; then you have to decide on new technology versus replacing the lamps with newer versions of vintage equipment. The fluorescent-light industry is becoming obsolescent anyway, and so pretty soon we’re going to have to custom-make these lamps, which he used to buy on Canal Street for a buck and a half. What will emerge is some kind of cottage-industry workshop production of these lamps.

In fact, over time Flavin himself preferred slightly later technology to the earlier so-called vintage object. He often approved new versions of work that replace the original fixtures with later ones. Of course, the market right now rewards the vintage object, even if it’s in a less functional state than the newer version. I think that will probably change too over time. Yet perhaps that’s better than changing the medium to, say, LED. But keep in mind that Flavin is also on record as having said, more or less, “when the lights go out, the work is over.”

HARRY COOPER: I think that term migration is apropos, in which you go from 2.0 to 3.0, or from film to digital. And the word migration suggests a movement, a massive movement that you might not be able to undo easily. But as Carol will tell you, even when you’re in the same medium, terrible dilemmas come up in any conservation lab all the time. Are you going too far? Are you guessing here? Are you going to in-paint? Are you going to overpaint? Are you not?

CAROL MANCUSI-UNGARO: That’s what’s definitely going through my mind as we’re talking. I mean, we accept a certain level of aging in works of art. We just do. We accept cracks in oil painting.

HARRY COOPER: Right. But in a way, what you’ve done here—in the broad context of a field that has become more and more conservative, in what I think is a good and responsible way—you’ve suddenly done something radical in terms of effect, and yet it’s conservative because it’s so perfectly reversible, just turn-offable. You’ve smuggled in something radical under this umbrella of reversibility. And it’s got us all worked up.

JEFFREY WEISS: This restoration now belongs to the history of the interpretation of Rothko’s work and its dissemination and transmission, which is to say that a lot of people are going to see it, artists in particular, and they’re going to draw something from it they would never have taken away from their experience of other works by Rothko that are in perfectly good or acceptable condition.

And what you have done through projected light will now become an aspect of the encounter with the work that will influence the way in which it is engaged by younger artists, which I find extremely interesting.

LYNN HERSHMAN LEESON: And they may think up other works that might employ that technique as part of the medium.

KEN OKIISHI: Can I just say something, because I am one of those younger artists? [Laughter.] Why is it specifically younger artists? I think one of the reasons that I am less freaked out by this is that I’m used to seeing video projections on all kinds of objects.

JEFFREY WEISS: That’s the point I’m trying to make. I want to emphasize the value of distinguishing between Harvard’s means and those that are intrinsic to painting per se.

KEN OKIISHI: But it’s not such a big deal.

R. H. QUAYTMAN: Well, it’s kind of a big deal. [Laughter.]

LYNN HERSHMAN LEESON: Also, it’s your work, and you’re doing it with your own work. What if somebody else—

KEN OKIISHI: I’ve actually specified “no projection” in a museum acquisition/conservation report for some of my own work, where the paint is on the surface of the screen, and the light comes from behind the paint, from the monitor. If you were to project on top, the video light would be coming from the wrong side of the paint and screen. It would destroy shifting relationships of color, figure/ground, transparency/opacity, inside/outside, which can only happen when the light is coming from behind. But the instructions were also kept abstract enough that unanticipated technologies could be used. I was simply specifying the direction and visual properties of the video light, not exactly how it is produced.

MICHELLE KUO: Rebecca, would you want this to be done to your paintings?

REBECCA QUAYTMAN: Well, I was just going to ask, how might an artist obtain this technology for their own use? I kind of want to try it. [Laughter.]

LYNN HERSHMAN LEESON: It’s easy. You can do all kinds of things today. My archive recently went to Stanford and two of my projects—one a site-specific piece from 1973, another a performance—were digitally converted and put online. Even though it worked remarkably well in terms of documentation, and gave access to ephemera that could not normally be seen, it really didn’t work except as a reference point. I think I was less impressed than they were.

DAVID REED: Some of the paintings that I made in the early ’80s are falling apart. I used the wrong ground and the power sanding I did on the canvases is causing layers of paint to crack. One of these paintings is owned by the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, and they want to save it. Rather than trying to repair it in some way, I’ve decided to keep the old painting, let it fall apart—it has a certain feeling in its dilapidated state, I don’t know, something you can look at; and then, using a better ground, I’ll make a new painting that’s as close as I can manage to the first. Viewers can look at the two together and make some kind of decision, as can I.

I don’t know whether I’ll prefer the old painting in ruins to the new one or vice versa. For me, it’s an interesting experiment—an acknowledgement that paintings change and age.

LYNN HERSHMAN LEESON: Maybe this reflects an impulse for immortality. But time changes all things. I just had a painting get damaged—it was going to a show at Modern Art Oxford, and the customs people took a razor to the canvas, slicing it and damaging three other works, too.

And I don’t want to restore it. I think that this kind of scarring, over time, becomes part of the piece itself. We can restore semblances but never really erase the experiences things have, like light damage or even cuts. The repair is an illusion to cover the scars, and I think we need to show the differences.

R. H. QUAYTMAN: Wow. They must really be uncomfortable with that response of yours. [Laughter.]

YVE-ALAIN BOIS: We just hope that, as Jeffrey said, this Rothko project begins to create a debate among conservators around the world, especially concerning works for which everything else has been tried.

HARRY COOPER: And we’ll probably reach a point when the projection becomes so powerful that it may not matter what it’s being projected onto. If there is so little of the original left, and at that point, you say, “Well, let’s just make a facsimile of it.” And then you’re just screwed, if we’re allowed to say that in Artforum. [Laughter.]

“Mark Rothko’s Harvard Murals” is on view through July 26 at the Harvard Art Museums in Cambridge, MA.

The Rothko project team included Narayan Khandekar, Carol Mancusi-Ungaro, Christina Rosenberger, and Mary Schneider Enriquez, all of the Harvard Art Museums, as well as Jens Stenger of the Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage, Yale University. Ramesh Raskar of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology collaborated on the camera-projector system and software, and the digital restoration of the Ektachrome transparencies was completed with Rudolf Gschwind of the University of Basel.

Carol Mancusi-Ungaro is the Melva Bucksbaum Associate Director for Conservation and Research at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Harry Cooper is curator and head of modern art at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; Jeffrey Weiss is senior curator at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York; Yve-Alain Bois is professor of art history at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton; Lynn Hershman Leeson, David Reed, Ken Okiishi, and R. H. Quaytman are artists based in New York.