Michael Snow, Sink (detail), 1970, C-print, eighty 35-mm color slides in timed carousel projector, dimensions variable.

Michael Snow, Sink (detail), 1970, C-print, eighty 35-mm color slides in timed carousel projector, dimensions variable.

Michael Snow

Michael Snow, Sink (detail), 1970, C-print, eighty 35-mm color slides in timed carousel projector, dimensions variable.

I’M PROUD of (most of) what I’ve done in the past, but, apparently unable to learn from the past, I continue to make works in soon-to-be-obsolete media.

Some of the paintings and sculptures I have made since 1956 require medical attention, but many of my “technological” works are in the emergency ward. They were produced in media that are disappearing or have disappeared: 35-mm, 16-mm, Super 8, and 8-mm film; 35-mm slides; quarter-inch audio tape and cassettes; LPs; several breeds of video (1/2“, 3/4”, DigiBeta, etc.). I have made color and black-and-white photo works on many different grounds; I’ve even made holograms. And since I’ve always been somewhat of a purist about medium specificity, chameleoning a work that originally was a particular utilization of the qualities or possibilities of a given medium into a replacement medium is painful. Help!

Two 35-mm-slide-carousel works of 1970, Sink and Slidelength, were acquired by the Museum of Modern Art in 2012. These works are not “just images” (if that were possible); rather, attention is directed to the automatic carousel, the one-after-another presentation of the images that are visibly produced by white light passing through each transparency. But slides are obsolete, and MoMA has understandably urged me to propose ways to make these pieces endure. To attempt to guarantee a future for them, I’ve managed to have several sets of the slides made by the last remaining lab in Toronto that can make duplicates. For basic preservation I have had digital scans made of each slide. Finally, I propose to stage the two works and shoot an HD-video documentation that could be used in the future when all the slides have finally faded. These new manifestations would have to be labeled as “documentation” or “depictions” of the original works. Ouch!