I’ve been reading on Rewind, an ongoing research project and archive on artist’s video in the 70′s and 80′s – many useful texts, links, names in their database alongside a good set of relevant essays in line with the current series of event’s we’re hosting at Primary.
Some excepts that stood out while reading:
‘The Trouble with Video Art‘, By Kevin Atherton
The trouble with video art was, that compared to television, it took such a long time to look at, or at least it seemed it. … In video art’s case, in it’s attempt to define the parameters of video as a new art form, this meant one of two things: either ‘monitors within monitors’, or: ‘monitors within monitors within monitors’.
In this one glorious deconstructive moment [Danny] Blancheflower had thrown the B.B.C into a complete spin, which for those of us old enough to remember it, makes any subsequent ‘Artists Intervention’ on T.V seem tame by comparison.
Some video artists were beginning to use the critical distance from television that video provided in order to critique television (principally for its one way ness) … [on channel 4's launch] this brief merger was in fact a type of crossing in itself, a moment in time when reality, in its imitation of art, changed places with it. Celebrity now seems to be the most dominant reason for visual art to be covered on television. ‘Television as Art’ has certainly disappeared as a concept, and to an extent so to have ‘Arts Programmes’ replaced by Jay Gooding [sic] and Tracey Emin who have joined forces as contestants in the reality show from hell.
Museums … can’t get enough of it, simply because it’s not video art anymore. It’s this other thing, this big international art biennale thing, which you hang on your gallery wall not by banging in a nail, but by turning on the power button and turning off the light switch. … The truth is video art came and went, it was a moment, which once it was recognised was simultaneously over, consumed by the gallery system and television alike. Understandably artists now use video whenever they feel like it in a refreshing post-modern celebration of what they see. A big part of what they see includes television itself but the difference now is that television also sees them. I suppose that we should celebrate this reciprocal arrangement that binds artists to the media. However the deal would seem to favour media savvy artists instead of media artists.
This television breakthrough would take the form of a twice-weekly soap opera called ‘Art World’ where artists, who all live in the same place, are asked to play themselves. … Trouble is I think that like all good ideas, it’s already been done.
Expanded Cinema – And the ‘Cinema of Attractions’, by Dr. Jackie Hatfield.
In the 1970s whilst the passionate debates led by the practice at the London Filmmakers Co-op were philosophically driven, given textual voice by Peter Gidal and Malcolm Le Grice, and sharpened by the need for intellectual credibility in relation to the conservatism of both fine art and film academies, philosophies emerging from the practice at London Video Arts, emanating initially from David Hall, Tamara Krikorian, and Stuart Marshall, were swiftly eclipsed by the social, political and commercial imperatives perpetuated by Thatcher’s Britain.
i wonder how the current social, political & commercial atmosphere infects or eclipses contemporary practice, I wonder whether we're just referencing the medium and content of the more popular formats, as oppose to exploring deeper the mechanics of these or the interplay between technologies. Are we using or using the technology? As the speed in which the tools we use become redundant increases (and increasingly those tools become unusable or inaccessible), are we just slaves to the dominant medium].
Inherent in many of these works, was the interruption of the public broadcast; challenging the assumption of the televisual flow, and exposing the mechanism of the one way channelling of information. The purest of television interventions played knowingly with the assumptions of mass entertainment and the popular display on the ‘telly’. The direct descendant of these works being interventionist internet art.
When video projection was combined with time-delay devices to interrupt real time or pre-recording images, or switchers to mix between channels it was approaching a technologically active and semi-immersive cinematic environment.