MARX: “if appearances corresponded to reality there would be no need for science.”
- the same goes for art
SHORT HISTORY OF VIDEO ART THROUGH MAIN TROPES
It’s important to understand the origins and history of video art so we can examine what its current state is, and how much the technological and social contexts have changed 40 years on.
Coincision of TV and video art, resistance to mainstream film): TV could become the site of media critique, reversing the ONE-WAY communication model.
Giving voice to marginal constituencies (women especially)
Political context: assassinations, Vietnam War…
Social movements: feminism, gay liberation/equality, civil rights, American Indian Movement
Video as a “democratic” medium (70s video collectives, cable community channels – sort of like the internet was in the mid 1990′s), allowing for a documentation of media-occulted radical social life.
collectives such as Raindance, TVTV, Videofreex
No real hope of dissemination at the time, and therefore the effect of early video art was minimal.
Now that networked dissemination through the internet has reached immense proportions, the rules have changed:
DISTRACTION becomes the viewing norm (can it be positively harnessed?)
YouTube has become increasingly MAINSTREAM (invaded by corporate interests, remediating traditional media)
COPYRIGHT is becoming more fascistic – corporations continue to be shielded from critique (how do you critique Disney without using Disney material?)
YouTube’s SOCIAL POWER expands while video art has become absorbed into the gallery system, and now sells for top $$$ (a populist medium withdrawn from the people, framed by the institutions of “official culture”.) See Christian Marclay’s THE CLOCK : industrial production founded on the division of labor, proprietary access, copyright ambiguities.
What can video still do?
PHENOMENOLOGICAL EXPANSION / MEDIATION OF EVERYDAY LIFE
PHENOMENAL EVERYDAY LIFE AS MATERIAL
IMMEDIACY OF VIDEO vs. long-term meditation (film’s delay in processing allowed for extended reflection time, and DISCONTINUITIES
1965 Nam June Paik uses a Portapak, by 1967-8 wide usage
CHEAP and user-friendly (vs. expensive film equipment / processing)
YouTube: the potential to immediately circulate before thought intervenes – almost an AUTONOMIC (nervous system) PROCESS
What does it mean to lose the INTERVAL between capture and viewing?
Explorations of the tactility of time
(eg. Douglas Gordon 24-hour psycho as well as Nauman’s Stamping in the Studio, as well as Staehle’s untitled 9/11) – ACCONCI CENTERS
also brings BOREDOM / DISTRACTION into the mix
LIVENESS: TV coverage of Apollo 13 (1969): a video art piece!—ATTENTION IS EDITED IN REAL TIME
Overflowing into the recording of absolutely everything, with no spatial or temporal limits i.e. mobile devices + unlimited storage capacity etc.
Increasing dependence on PROPRIETARY INTERFACES – of capture, non-linear editing. Does this lead to NEUROPLASTIC alteration?
YouTube breaks down definitively the art/non-art division which leaves very little space for an OUTSIDE perspective which would not immediately be aestheticized and controlled by the parameters of art
the danger of everyday life being COMMODIFIED, CAPITALIZED / FRAMED AS art—every tick, every fetish, every obsession has already been captured
the danger of living entirely through a mediated self / living through the comment/”like” system of approval
surveillance and self-surveillance – the desire to see something happen – even live DEATH (online suicide)
the age of “reality TV” (Is this Reality?)
VIDEO AS A SYSTEM OF SELF-REGULATION
coincision of capture with viewing: results immediately verifiable
bringing in REAL-TIME (vs. deferred time of film)
self-consciousness – feedback – psychological studies (eg. Dan Graham’s Performer Audience Mirror)
CYBERNETIC system – self-regulating through MACHINIC feedback – the basis of capitalism today (think of user-generated data, monetizing etc.)
BASIS OF SURVEILLANCE – Foucault’s Panopticon (eg. JenniCam)
FEEDBACK also in a social democratic sense (two-way communication)
focus on PROCESS (over final object)
attention to the PRESENT (the “now” of experience)
ACCONCI’s Theme Song (1973) – the video confessional has now become a mainstay of YouTube (Broadcast Yourself)
FEEDBACK has become different in the age of “social media” : YouTube lives off of RECOMMENDATION SYSTEMS
BAD FEEDBACK – the interface is geared to provide more of the same (think of Amazon lists)
—not to mention the surveillance which large media corporations operate, or the “user data” gathered by GOOGLE (which owns YouTube), monetized and capitalized
BUT, YouTube offers an unprecedented opportunity to reconnect with the SOCIAL and AFFECT and operate transformations on that level (despite the many obstacles, perceptual and cognitive)
How can one take advantage of collective affect in order to instill other ways of living?
VIDEO EMERGES IN RELATIONSHIP WITH OTHER DISCPLINES / ART FORMS
expanded installation, spatial practices
conceptual art / fluxus
DETAILS ABOUT PROJECT 1: COLLABORATIVE REAL-TIME PERFORMANCE
Infrastructural Video: Surveillance and Control
FEEDBACK (an important concept throughout the course):
FEEDBACK between yourself and the machine in early video art;
FEEDBACK now also through memes and recommendations, likes and favorites
FEEDBACK on the TECHNICAL LEVEL via noise-correcting algorithms trawling through your past photo history, to make up for low quality phone lenses.
THE PAST IS WOVEN INTO THE PRESENT (Hito Steyerl): “it makes seeing unforeseen things more difficult. The noise will increase and random interpretation too. We might think that the phone sees what we want, but actually we will see what the phone thinks it knows about us.”
Increased Technical Capabilities
on shooting levels: Spike Jonze “Pretty Sweet” : DRONE VISION
on coding levels: Face2Face Real-Time Face Capture
A boundary has been crossed. It used to be that sound was the untrustworthy sense, now visual technologies have reached a level of sophistication which makes duplicity undetectable.
oversaturation of information leads to disorientation – your senses have difficulty grasping it all
Farocki – Deep Play (2007) : an object explored from multiple angles, domains, conceptual logics
Ryan Trecartin – Popular Sky (2009) – explosion of non-starters / performance art / collaborative composition – social media shorthand language translated into video language
attention is scattered
the repatterning of brains via technological stimulation (neuroplasticity)
Appropriation and Remixing (Sousveillance)
Dara Birnbaum – Technology Transformation Wonder Woman (1978): one of the first video artists to intersect with network TV
was making this as the show was on the air
mash-ups – all done thru technical manipulation and keen knowledge of the material, formal & affective minutiae of video
What does it mean to lose the INTERVAL between capture and viewing?
(no distinction between fact and fiction)
APOLLO 11 moonshot: first example of mass video art! (see next week) (record number of live viewers for the time)
PERISCOPE: DrummondPuddleWatch (Drummond Central marketing agency is behind it!)
Site-Specific Intervention: CAGES (Nuit Blanche, Toronto)
Sousveillance: talking back to mainstream media: Eric Garner on-camera murder
Infiltration: Pussy Riot Punk Prayer (2012)
Livestreaming: “Chicago Torture” video (2017): something DELETED has been inevitably already downloaded and can be RECIRCULATED
The point is that we don’t know yet how these kinds of capacities, widespread and easily accessible, are going to change our relationship with perception, politics, or what kinds of mutations these new forms of viral circulation are going to operate in our brains (neuroplasticity).
WHAT’S CERTAIN is that mainstream media has been severely undercut by the rise of YT, streaming video, and the capacity to circulate instantly (“the information cascade”).
Throughout the term, you will be accumulating a range of different types of videos: “intuitive” capture of events; experimentation with the camera’s properties in relation with a particular context/event; disorientational maneuvers etc. Near the end of the term, one of your peers will look at your assembled videos and present them to the class, with excerpts and commentary. The sooner you begin experimenting, the better!
You will upload these videos to your YouTube account (public or private) and share it around Week 8 with a classmate who will be randomly assigned to you, who will have one or two weeks to formulate thoughts.
1. Find an example online of an event captured by a phone which “changes the media story,” by giving the lie to an “official” media account. Be as specific as possible regarding the material, temporal, cultural components of the intervention.
2. Start off your video notebook with a couple of entries: Make two 3-minute videos which explore some of the ideas described in Video Ecologies .
4. Bring your phone and laptops!