In case you were wondering what I was banging on about: In the same way the physical presence and qualities of the lighter Roosevelt carried, when he was, er, assassinated in a fictional parallel universe where the Nazis won WW2, are totally irrelevant to its authenticity, the physical presence of contemporary art bears no relation to its value. So when that artwork has been incinerated, it doesn’t matter. Emin’s tent or the Chapmans’ vision of Hell may be destroyed, but who cares? They were, are and always will be conceptual. No need to mourn them, no need to recreate them, as their artistic form was only proven in the ideas (in compsci terms, metadata) surrounding them, their physical form (the raw data) is irrelevant. I find it amusing that everyone is wailing and gnashing of teeth so much over their destruction – really, why bother? The art hasn’t gone. Charles Saatchi’s insurers should refuse to pay out, as there has been no actual destruction of the art. In fact he shouldn’t have wasted his money on insuring the physical goods in the first place, he should have just insured the metadata related to them.
(There’s an idea. Coming soon – metadata insurance! That outweighs the value of the data it’s describing! It will happen)