These same questions are now being asked in the art world. The Whitney Museum of Art seems to be the only one with a replication committee to decide issues of this kind. If a work can no longer be repaired then, when, how and should it be replicated? Ben Lerner in his article The Custodians in the New Yorker, Jan 11, queries if we should look at older art aesthetically or as an artifact. The first means you want to experience the work as closely to the original view as possible. The later means that the toll time take on an object becomes part of the object’s integrity. The current solution seems to be to make sure you know the artists wishes, which might mean that the artists needs to be interviewed or leave specific instructions.
I am thinking about this because I now make work from materials that will not last long. I have used cellophane and glue gun glue in the last few years. I simply stopped promoting these works for sale as the longevity is so questionable. The maintenance or repair of these works would be costly, time consuming and inaccurate. But they give me very immediate results. No delayed gratification for me!.
In the future, these types of works might be scanned and replicated by 3-d printing. I might even be able to control the number of replications and the length of time they are allowed to last. I could put in future technological changes, like making them move or making them edible…or they could even record reactions of viewers to them. Who knows what the future might be for art. How will this affect the monetary value? Right now that is determined (in simplistic terms) by how many people with how much money want the works. But who knows what exchange credits we might be using in the future. Maybe these works will be money itself.