We all see and create ourselves representations of the real world, often without realizing it. Our own perceptions are so changeable and subject to variables (mood, time of day, what personal experience you bring to the table and impart to the work). For example, with me, I watch a film ten times, in real life. But then I continue to watch it again and again, in bits and pieces, in my own mind. Remembering and either accidentally or willfully reshaping images, scenes, dialogue. Over time the actual work becomes ever more distorted. And yet this is my version of the film. This is the film I know, and that which matters most to me. Whether I saw it on the big screen or the T.V. Whether I heard it in the concert hall or the MP3 player. A work of art, once removed, is ever-changing.
I would assume the time when original incarnation (walk around David, stand back from a Pollock, etc.) matters most is probably at the point of impact, in their original form. Starry Night on the wall is more powerful than a postcard of it. Something like that. But I remain open and ready to make exceptions. And if original incarnation is the goal, then another question is how any given work can be more and less successfully translated across mediums, cultures, times, etc. A question for curators.