Victor Sullivan, Video Lithograph, 1974.

ELECTRON/ORGANISM.

Victor Sullivan

Since the beginning of the eighteenth century the glow of an evacuated discharge tube had puzzled the investigators of electricity, but not until the late nineteenth century did this light between electrodes promise to bring about a revolution not only in physics, but also in communications.

The light—found to disappear in vacuum, color the sides of a glass tube with fluorescence, cast shadows, and even move light objects—was called “cathode rays” by Sir William Crookes in 1876. By 1894 Johnstone Stoney had suggested an alternate name—electrons. Three years later J. J. Thompson removed any doubt concerning some consequences of an elec- tron particle theory by confirming Perrin’s discovery that cath- ode rays carried a negative charge. By measuring the magnetic deflection of the rays in different gases, he observed that the mass-charge ratio of the particles remained the same and that their mean free path depended only upon the relative density of the transversal medium. He concluded in “Cathode Rays” (The Philosophical Magazine, London, 1897) that:

“. +. We have in the cathode rays matter in a new state, a

state in which the subdivision of matter is carried very much

further than in the ordinary gaseous state: a state in which all matter . . . is of one and the same kind; this matter being the substance from which all the chemical elements are built up.”

| ies pees Sn step toward the discovery of the inner struc-

In 1905, following both the theory of Thompson and a lead

_by Edison, Lee de Forest invented a device that was to pro-

vide revolutionary possibilities for the generation of electronic signals. The triode valve or vacuum tube with its two proper- ties, amplification and feedback, was at the same time an

. ,observing instrument and a tool, the first fully flexible cyber-

netic device to operate on information rather than on power.

Perhaps the most characteristic product of twentieth-century

technology, it gave us radio, television, and ushered in the age of the computer. Reyolutionized by de Forest’s vacuum tube and brought

"into its present solid state era by the 1948 transistor of Brat- tain, Bardeen, and Shockley, electronic communication by the ~. turn of the century may be developed into a primarily laser

technology. But for the immediate future we can expect inex- ‘pensive home video systems and battery-operated receivers,

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direct broadcasts from satellites, conference television, rapid ‘transmission and reception of facsimiles, and Picturephones. There will be an increase of home education by video and programmed learning, and television could become three-

_ dimensional. - “" This revolution in communications technology has had its

aesthetic parallels. In emphasizing the consecutive relation of input-output, a definite past-future order, communications tech-

~ - nology has placed itself in the Bergsonian irreversible duration

of evolution and organism, in a world in which there is always

_ something new, the world in which we communicate. Though . some may recognize a schism between technological and

aesthetic forces, electronic communications has become the backbone of an electographic art. |

Making a distinction between technological instrumental values and nontechnological expressive ones is less useful, perhaps, than the recognition that different aesthetic values attach themselves to different technologies. Technological change may not lead immediately to the production of great or even good art, but once it has become pervasively part of the social structure, it sets the condition for the emergence of new aesthetic values. Not only is the thought of every age reflected in its technique, the technique of every age is re- flected in its thought.

Both Diirer’s and Schongauer’s engravings from the early sixteenth century and the lithographs of Goya, Delacroix, Daumier, Manet, Degas, and Toulouse-Lautrec from the nine- teenth were at once results of technical innovations, devices for social communication, and a means by which the monopoly of art by a small group was broken down. Now we face a parallel revolution, but one even more widespread, involving greater numbers of people and greater numbers of nations. Who will be the electographers of the late twentieth century, and what images will travel a wired earth?

Technology may effect change, but the nature, direction, and magnitude of that change is conditioned and controlled by the prevailing socio-cultural structure and its predilection to adopt new goals or to adapt existing means. Whenever new tools create possibilities for doing new things, or for doing old things in new ways, subgroups within the system must decide whether, to what extent, and in what way they want to be influenced— and restructure themselves accordingly. Electronic communica- tion technologies provide not only a means for expressive innovation but also a challenge to the structural base of art dissemination. When the process of art, its criticism, and some of its products can be transformed into a transmittible signal, who will deliver it and to whom and at what price?

In an emergent post-industrial society, with a well developed capability for electronic communication, perhaps the social structure, guided by functional rationality, and the culture, concerned with self-justification, will create symbiotically, a sensitively attuned, widely distributed electographic art.

THE GRAMMAR OF THE VIDEO IMAGE

Eric Cameron

. - .

The body of videotapes produced around 1971 by students and faculty of Nova Scotia College of Art and Design const- tutes an exploration of the structure of video-recording that is wide-ranging in its perception of salient features, and acute in its grasp of their mode of qualifying meaning. They spell out, in effect, a grammar of the language of videotape.

The television screen (like a film, a photograph or a painted picture) presents a configuration of tonal variations over a two- dimensional surface that may communicate the sense of a world fully in the round, but it retains an independent and sometimes contradictory geometry. In a class of Patrick Kel- ly’s, as their contribution to 13 Spatial Definitions, John Hand- forth had a group of fellow students place themselves so as to present a circular outline to the camera, while Brian Tanner, in his piece, had hands coming from the side to isolate a void in the centre. In Strip Up, Patrick Kelly applied strips of masking tape to the monitor to help performers take up the rectangular shapes of the uncovered surface. Interpretation de- pends on cues that may be misleading. In another ‘spatial defi- nition,’ Marion Petite appears to be viewed from above walk- ing; it is only when she sits up that we see she was lying on the ground, moving her feet against a wall.

Like film, but unlike painting and photography, videotape has the ability to communicate action. Movement, as well as size and shape, is subject to the perspective of the camera.

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Wallace Brannen walked a mile along a road towards the camera, at a steady pace throughout, but his apparent progress changes dramatically over the last two hundred yards.

Movement in this instance results from the behavior of the subject, but the camera itself may be moved. In Patrick Kelly’s Catch, masking tape is fixed vertically and ‘horizontally over the monitor forming a cross. The artist stands in front of the camera holding a sheet of plexiglass with similar markings on it. As the operator turns the camera from side to side, he follows quickly to regain registration.

The changes in image-scale produced by a zoom-lens may appear to move the camera closer to the subject or away from it. In another of Patrick Kelly’s pieces, the cameraman manipu- lates the zoom-lens, while the artist comes forward or retreats into the distance, holding in his arms a mirror that he now tries to keep in a constant relationship to the frame of the monitor image.

Pieces like these last two are possible because telerecording (unlike cine- or still-photography) allows the performer to see his image on a monitor as it is being recorded. In Video Trac- ing, Brian McNevin sat in front of the monitor and traced the image of himself sitting in front of the monitor; he then held the tracing up to the camera, restoring the identical image in outline.

A videotape may take its image from another videotape or a

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(Patrick Kelly) Marion Petite. 13 Spatial Definitions, 1971. 45 minutes.

film or photograph, but a televised photograph—or “photo- graphic” drawing—confounds our expectation of movement. Harold Pearse’s 133 Days in Halifax, based on a series of still photographs of the same view on 133 different days, gener- ates a revived sense of halted time as they fade into each other. Conversely, Albert McNamara’s Smile, in arresting the move- ment of a transitory expression as he sits in front of the camera for half-an-hour, may momentarily call into question the reality of his own presence.

The only actual movement in videotape is that of the tape through the machine and of the resulting light impulses across the screen, and the only actual time is the time it takes these things to happen. The time of the subject, like its form, is an illusion, and likewise admits of both misinterpretation and manipulation. Student Douglas Waterman in one of the finest works to have emerged from the College had the camera trained on its own recording mechanism placed beside him on

a carpet. Shuffling his feet builds up static electricity in his.

body. After a while he stoops and touches the tape as it comes off the recording head; the discharge erases a band that appears in replay before we see him bend down and touch the tape.

Television (unlike film or photography) conveys a “low resolution” image that may, for simple lack of detail, admit of ambiguities. Front and Back by Richards Jarden shows a figure

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in a dark short-sleeved shirt with arms hanging loosely by his if side. The picture is cut off just below the shoulder and above the elbows.

Videotape (like film) may employ sound; it operates on twin levels of reality and illusion just like the visual aspect; and this exposes it to the same hazards. Moreover, sound and vision may be recorded independently. In Length 4, Gerald Ferguson sat beside a tape-recorder playing back the four- letter words from his own Standard Corpus, and tried to keep pace from memory. We see him hesitate, falter, and then race to catch up, but the words we hear come out with impeccable regularity—sound comes directly from the audio-recorder.

Even when sound and vision record the same situation, one may falsify the sense of the other. Douglas Waterman's Inhale Exhale has three performers standing round a microphone. One exhales into it, the next inhales, and so on. The sound pre- sents a continuous pattern of breathing that is interrupted only at the visual level.

Sound relates to the perspective of the microphone as the visual image relates to that of the camera. In an extraordinarily beautiful and austere piece, another student, Percy Simmons, appears supine on the floor at some distance from the camera, but the microphone is taped to his chest; we hear his heart beat. As he raises his legs in the air, the beat quickens; then returns to normal after a short rest. In other tapes, David

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ARTS MAGAZINE /Dacambar 1074 d

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Gerald Ferguson, Length 4: From the Standard Corpus of Present Day English Language Usage Arranged by Word Length and Aiphabetized within Word Length, 1971. 30 minutes.

Askevold directs the camera at a standing microphone, then wraps aluminum foil around it tiil the screen is filled; Graham Dube watched a microphone being dragged over rough ground.

The monitor may not only convey information back to the performer, but may recycle it through the camera; feedback of sound results only in “boom.” Brian McNevin set up a camera looking at its own monitor while the microphone swings in front of the loudspeaker. On screen, we see a suc- cession of moniiors, each framed by the next and in front of each a succession of parallel swinging microphones, The sound is generated out of the hum of the mechanism itself; it increases in volume with proximity of microphone and speaker.

The camera records only the surfaces of objects immedi- ately in front of it, but locates them clearly; the microphone is more flexible but less precise. Jon Young, in an untitled piece, moves a pile of four bricks from the background to a position closer to the camera, and then the same distance again to bring them right in front of it, and then again to a position behind the camera. At this final stage, the sound indicates the continuation of an action no longer visible, but we have to be told precisely how it relates to the rest.

The possibilities of interaction and mutual reinforcement of video image and verbal language are extensive and complex.

David Askevold, Fill, 1971. 20 minutes.

Percy Simmons, Heart Beat, 1972. 12 minutes.

Wallace Brannen touches on this topic in a very short tape called Step. He walks from the back of the room to the camera saying “step” at each step he takes. Word and act are comple- mentary; they indicate at once which “step” he means and

also how to conceptualize a performance that might otherwise

be construed as “coming forward.” What ambiguity remains is that’ of language and image equally: whether “step” should be interpreted verbally as process, or nominally as accomplished fact.

There is no escaping the didactic elements. These tapes are academic not only in the truistic sense of being the products of an academic institution, but also in the sense that often causes the term to be used pejoratively—that they emerge as the evident outcome of theoretical speculation. Where they differ from the sort of work that gained academic art a bad name is that speculation is not aimed at codifying the merits of past achievements, but, in 1971, was breaking new ground; also that the theoretical insight is itself the essential content of the work. Given the general succinctness and sensitivity of its embodiment, theoretical insight rises to the level of real quality as art.

The tapes I have seen are mainly a collection of 47 pieces on six one-hour

$ prepared for exhibition in Vanepuver: The only piece referred to that

tape ] have not seen is Patrick Kelly’s Strip-Up. For more details, see Garry Neil Kennedy, ‘Video at N.S.C.A.D.’, Arts Canada, October 1973,

Wallace Brannen, Step, 1971. 1 minute.

XOCHICALCO

Joel W. Grossman Lynn Kohl

Recent advances in the portability of equipment have made video available for experimentation in a variety of new sub- jects and problem areas. One area where. video has been par- ticularly useful has been in the presentation of visual inter- pretative material for museum exhibitions. These presentations have, however, involved the taping of objects or subjects close at hand. Video has not been utilized to present archeological or art objects in their foreign cultural context.

With this in mind, The Brooklyn Museum in cooperation with El Instituto Nacional de Anthropologia e Historia decided to experiment with the newest one-half-inch black and white portable video equipment to determine whether it would be possible to make a high quality, low cost, bilingual docu- mentary. We wanted to see if, in fact, this new equipment was of sufficient quality, mobility, and durability to produce

a viable audio-visual product under the rigors of an actual :

foreign field situation.

The subject of the documentary is one of the most spec- tacular archeological centers in central Mexico. Located atop a high ridge in the western mountains of Guererro, the ruins of Xochicalco consist today of a series of plazas and mounds within a ring of what appear to be defensive walls. While

Santiago Analco Ramirez, a multi-lin major portions of the video tape in E

gual Nahuatle Indian who narrated nglish and Spanish.

“I'' shaped sunken ball court. Teams would try to bump a solid rubber ball through the rings on either side of the ramp.

most of the structures consist of mounds of uncleared rubble, a few. areas have been cleared and partially restored by the

Mexican government. To date, these efforts have revealed

stepped platform structures, apartment complexes, a sunken ball court, and a series of deeply buried underground tunnels and chambers which very likely served as solar observatories.

The temple of the Plumed Serpent is on the highest and central portion of the site. When reconstructed it revealed some of the most spectacular stone relief carvings known in central Mexico. The four facades depict a repeating theme of calen- drical glyphs and human figures poised between the coils of the plumed serpent, Quetzalcoaltle.

The purpose of the visual scenes and narration was to de- scribe the site not simply as a spectacular physical monument, but rather as a clue to the ideas and goals of the ancient urban planners who built it and the people who lived there. The documentary thus included not only views of Xochicalco, but also shots of sculptures, stelae, and artifacts (from this site and others) to illustrate stylistic and cultural parallels. The idea was to provide students with the most current evidence and diverse interpretations of the significance of this ancient urban center in terms of the general development of Pre-

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Columbian cultural history. Above all, we wanted to test the usefulness of video as a tool to disseminate research results to students two to four years earlier than is presently possible through normal avenues of publication.

The overall quality and impact of our black and white video documentary is excellent. Although it lacks the brilliant color of film, the video medium conveys a sense of immediacy which film cannot. The video tape equipment was reasonably portable under high altitude conditions. With a crew of three —archeologist Dr. Joel Grossman, Indian narrator Santiago Ramirez, and video-maker Lynn Kohl—we were a small, mo- bile self-contained unit.

Video tape can be recorded at lower light levels than those required for exposing film. This film eliminated the need for a heavy power source and bulky lighting equipment. The low light level capability was especially valuable in solving photo- graphic problems often encountered at archeological sites: the presence of underground rooms and poorly lit chambers. We found it possible to tape a sequence in underground pass- ages and caverns with only the light of a kerosene lantern.

Perhaps one of the most versatile features of video tech-

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Close-up of calendrical glyph with ancient numerical symbols explained in Spanish English, and Nahuotle.

Entrance of long subterranean tunnels leading to ceremonial chambers.

nology for this foreign field project was its “instant playback” capability. Unlike film, video tape requires no processing and can be viewed immediately after recording. In this particular project, where perspectives varied, the archeologist, narrator, and video-maker could view the shots, discuss the work, and suggest changes in the field as the production progressed.

_ | The simplicity and speed of instant video playback pro-

vided numerous opportunities for institutional cooperation while on location. For example, while we were taping in Mexico, Dr. Jorge Angulo of El Instituto Nacional de Anthro- polcgia e Historia had the opportunity to make suggestions and check oversights. The same sort of input was possible as the documentary was being edited later at The Brooklyn Mu- seum, Michael Kan, the Curator of Pre-Columbian art, selected collection pieces which could be used as stills in the tape to better illustrate key arguments.

This option for cooperative input together with the technical ability to add and retract visual elements permitted us to con- sider new ideas and acquire more relevant imagery as the tape evolved. The flexibility of video proved easily adaptable to the fluidity of archeological interpretation which changes with each new find.

Close-up of a face from the Mayan site of Yaxchilan, illustrating similarities in style to the seated figure at Xochicalco. All photos courtesy Brooklyn Museum.

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TWO CONSCIOUSNESS

Dan Graham

A woman focuses consciousness only on a television monitor image of herself and must immediately verbalize (as accurately as possible) the content of her consciousness. The man focuses consciousness only outside himself on the woman, observing her objectively through the camera connected to the monitor. He also verbalizes his perceptions. The man’s and the woman's self-contained conscious, unconscious, or fantasized intention— consciousness—is projected. The audience sees on the video screen what the man and woman ‘objectively’ are seeing at the same time they hear the two performers’ interior views.! Because of each of the performer's time process of perception, verbalization, and perception response to the other’s verbali- zation, there is an overlap of consciousness (of the projections of each upon the other). Each’s verbal impression, in turn, effects the other's perception: the. man’s projection on the periphery of the woman’s may affect her consciousness or behavior.

A field is created in which audience and performers place reciprocal controls on the other. The audience's reactions to the man’s responses (his projection of the woman) may function for him as a ‘superego,’ inhibiting or subtly influencing the

PROJECTION(S)

course of his behavior or consciousness of the situation, Lik wise, the man’s responses on the periphery of the womar consciousness interfere with her self-consciousness so that h behavioral responses, including those of self-perception, may | ‘subconsciously’ affected. Each of the three elements functio mutually as a feedback device governing behavior—a ‘supereft or ‘subconscious’ to the consciousness and response of t others.

An abstractly presupposed psychological? (or social)? moc is physically observable by the audience. The specific resu of the piece vary according to the context in which it is pe formed, with changing historical circumstances, locale, or u of different social classes of audience or actors.‘

1While an audience might initially assume that the woman was being ‘m into an object,’ it becomes apparent that her position is more powerful t! the man’s as her subject and her object are not separated (separable). Wher the more the man (to himself) strives to be objective, that much more d he appear unconsciously subjective to any observer from the outside ( audience).

The Freudian axiom that one person is always projecting himself onto observation of a second person.

3 Imposed behavioral (‘psychological’) differentiations between men and wor

* As another category of variation, I have proposed (1974) to have the pi performed with each of the performers naked.

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VIDEO TIME IN WALTER

Bob and Ingrid Wiegand

Time—real time, past time, time distortion, time interlace— is a central reality of video. (Artists who have worked with other, more timeless media, such as painting or photography, often do not learn this until friends, who ask to see what they ‘are doing, fall asleep while the tape is running). Film is about time, too, but as long as the size and texture of the video image and the viewing situation (lighted rooms vs. darkened theaters) differ for video, video time will have its own charac- teristics and possibilities.

When we made Walter—a very tight, non-narrated, half-hour documentary on an individual—the time aspect came to dominate the structure entirely. Eleven hours of footage on a complex individual confronted us. We cut it down to two hours of first-class footage and began to look for the structure inherent in this material. We found that most of the footage followed one of three basic time structures: in the first, Walter was teaching a gymnastics class shot in real time, virtually without interruptions; the second was an hour of footage of

Walter sailing and racing his catamaran over a two-hour period; |

a third and major part of the footage involved Walter remem- bering and telling stories about his life, a time period covering chunks of his fifty-odd years,

With these elements in mind, we made a time-line kind of chart on graph paper, tentatively arranging different time series in relation to each other. The actual time sequence was main- tained, that is, the second part of the gym action is shown after the first; Walter’s years in a Nazi slave labor camp follow an event from his college years. The net effect is of a weaving

of time; each thread appears and reappears, but the sense of °

continuity is maintained.

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The structure of the final piece and some of the final changes are shown in the video time chart. The gym sequences form the basic topological, or surface, structure of the piece. They appear to continue even when they are not on. They are the present not only because they are shown in real time, but also because, more than anything else, they represent Walter’s present in terms of content. But in this real-time structure there are “holes” or “windows” from which other time elements emerge. Each section of sailing and racing footage is viewed

. in real time, but the intervals in which it is not seen are

shorter than the “real time” that elapses.

- “* The largest spaces are occupied by Walter’s talking about

his past life. The shortest of these is four minutes, and only one has an edit in it. (In fact, only two sections are broken by edits in the final tape.) Some of them cover years. The

__ slave labor camp section runs from Walter’s arrest to his libera- ‘tion; the memories of his childhood cover an unspecified period

before he started school at the age of eight. These sections do not only cover large spaces of time; the offective real times between them are long, as if big loops of time are compressed or speeded in front of us, and behind the other sections shown.

The piece does not always follow this scheme to orthodoxy. Parallel-time operations are also used. For example, parts of the racing footage are made more dense by carrying a second layer: Walter’s voice-over narration of his involvement with sailing, racing, and the sea over various time periods.

Finally, however, all these “time loops” swing into the pres- ent. The gym class ends; the sailing section closes with “trophies

won this year”; the memories finish as Walter says: “That's * _ what helped me and that’s how I come to success.” ;

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ience sees itself live on Monitor 1. Simultaneously, it could be seeing a replay on Monitor 2 The Performer (seeing the audience on havior from 8 seconds earlier. The performers’ verbalization is heard by the audience to co- an 8 second delayed monitor gives a be- ith its delayed monitor view. ee oo a _ havioristic description of what he sees. erformer verbally projects the audience’s future he is actually predicting a line of develop- Observing their behavior, he then pro- ginning from a point 8 seconds before the present (while the audience is experiencing the - jects their next line of behavior.

n of this predicted future which can be seen on the live monitor) and may project a parallel

ture by 8 seconds ahead of the Performer’s predicted future perspective by connecting its

seen on the live monitor, to its near past on the delay monitor.

TWO ROOMS/RELATIVE SLOW-MOTION (1974)

A performance is organized beginning at a specific time with two audiences in two separate rooms. |

A recording (from camera Al and camera B1 respectively) of the responses of each audience is played back to them in slow motion on Monitor 1 thirty seconds after the be- ginning of the performance. Simultaneously, Monitor 2 in the room displays as a live image the other audience observing itself delayed and in slow motion. Because the tape seen on Monitor 1 in each room is replayed in slow motion, the delayed time between its recording and its playback increases continuously and progressively the views seen by the audiences from a time period progres- sively further back in their pasts.

64

An audience objectively observes the effect of the delayed slow-motion playback on a second audience at the same time as it (subjectively) observes itself. One effect of an audience’s watching itself in slow motion may be to slow ‘down its present time movement. This effect might be observed in watching the other audience.

As an audience compares the image of itself replayed in slow motion with the (live) view of a second audience seeing itself in slow motion, it has no absolute way of judging the synchrony of the two audiences’ relative time positions in the past seen in the images playing back at present time, or whether or not the speeds of the slow motions are the same, relative to each other.

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camera tapes the reflection of the entire opposite wall and the contents of the room.

The image seen by the camera appears eight seconds later on the video monitor (via a tape delay loop placed between one video deck which is recording and a second video deck which is playing back.)

A viewer having entered the space is free to move within it, orienting to the present time or the present and past times, On the monitor image the flow of the body’s movements are seen from the outside, continuously eight seconds past; On the mirror at right angles, his body is seen from the outside but in present time. |

If the viewer’s body does not obscure the lens’ view of the facing mirror, the camera is taping the reflection of the room and the image of the monitor (reflected in the mirror—always the time recorded eight seconds previously reflected from the mirror). Usually the spectator’s body will not block the view so that the image recorded is a reflection of the monitor’s view

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Mirror Convention: Normally a mirror appears to show only a static, instantaneous image in present time without duration (or time flow). What might happen is that the mirror opposite the camera and monitor (where present time is superimposed on the reflection of the monitor’s flow of past images) and the right-angle mirror may be experienced perceptually as flowing present time.

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Audience A may view itself on an 8 second delay on Monitor 2 or may view Audience B on Monitor 1, which also shows Audience B’s (Monitor 1) image of Audience A’s own behavior of 8 seconds ago. Simultaneously, Audience A hears a continuous description by the Performer of their behavior 8 sec- onds ago, of their present behavior, or their behavior as a casual influence on or being influenced by or being a temporal fore- runner of Audience B’s behavior. When the Performer ascribes the development of Audience A’s present behavior to the in- fluence of Audience B’s earlier behavior, this may have the effect of imposing the casual interpretation in the Performer’s mind onto the relationship between Audi- ence A and Audience B.

Alternatively, when Audience A hears the Performer’s description of their behavior, this will anticipate by 8 seconds its own view, corresponding to this description, but not seen until 8 seconds after the descrip- tion. As the description by the Performer will in part refer to Audience A’s hearing and responding to the Performer’s own de- pictions made before Audience A is able to view for itself this behavior, a feedback in- terference or tautology is created.

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While the Performer describes their be- havior of 8 seconds ago, Audience B may see their present responses on Monitor 2, or correlated to the Performer’s description, they may see on the 8 second delayed image of Audience A’s room that room’s monitor image of Audience B (as they are being observed by Audience A 8 seconds ago). An alternate possibility is that the Performer is describing his live image of Audience A’s behavior which, however, will not be seen by Audience B for 8 seconds. Or the Performer may be ascribing a casual connection between Audience A’s present behavior (not yet seen by Audience B) and Audience B’s behavior of 8 seconds past (which is being seen by Audience A), which provides an outside commentary on the image Audience B sees on Monitor 1. When the Performer projects a relation be- tween Audience A’s present behavior and Audience B’s earlier behavior before Audi- ence B can make these connections for itself, the Performer (’s behavior) may im- pose a casual reading pattern onto Audi- ence B’s (and Audience A’s) behavior where none or a dissimilar one may have formed. This is reinforced as they see the delayed view on Monitor 1 of Audience A hearing and responding to the connection drawn by the Performer 8 seconds in the

PERFORMER

The Performer sees Audience A li and Audience B 8 seconds delaye He alternates initially between obse1 ing and describing phenomenolica one of the other audience’s behavic He then observes both to connect t image of Audience A’s present b havior to that of Audience. B’s earli behavior, constructing a cause-an effect chain of mutual influence that he may predict the future dire tion of either Audience A’s or Auc ence B’s behavioral moves.

past where also Audience A is seei responding to the responses of Al B's responses.

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VIDEO AND ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONISM

Hermine Freed

If the content of formalist art is form, then the forms in a video art work are a function of its content. Just as formal] similari- ties can be found in minimalist sculptures or abstract expres- sionist paintings, videotapes tend to be stylistically unique, although there are likely to be conceptual similarities amongst them. These similarities often arise out of inherent qualities in the medium which impress different artists simultaneously. If minimalist sculptors have explored the nature of the sculptural object, then video artists tend to explore the nature of the video image. As the range of possibilities is broad, so are the sources, ideas, images, techniques, and intentions. Neverthe- less, similarities can be found in tapes of artists as seemingly dissimilar as Campus, Nauman, and Holt, and some of those similarities can be related to their (unintentional) resemblance to abstract expressionist paintings. I refer not to electronic video which mimics the visual qualities of abstract expression- ism, but to certain fundamental conceptual attitudes visible in abstract expressionist painting and much of the best video art. Just as minimalism eschews the personal, video and abstract expressionism are rooted in it. Just as minimalism denies the importance of process, abstract expressionism and video rely on it. Just as minimalism avoids psychological incidents,

abstract expressionism and video embrace them, Just as space ,

is concrete in minimalist sculpture, it is elusive in both abstract expressionism and video.

This comparison may seem surprising since the choice of video as a medium grows more out of conceptual art considera- tions than painterly ones. Although the major concern here is the conceptual concerns common both to video and abstract expressionism, it must be noted that on the simplest level, the pictorial, video is closer to painting than to sculpture or conceptual art. It may be argued that video is viewed in a sculptural box (a TV monitor) and that image-making is of secondary importance, yet it is viewed frontally with a Hat, pictorial image that has the same limited framing edge as a painting. (Yes, the tube projects a deep space, but the screen is flat. Yes, the edge is variable, but limited nonetheless.) In most video art tapes, all activity takes place within a still frame. The incidents may change, the image may change, but there is rarely evidence of camera activity. Although one may ascribe this to the simple avoidance of technique, the relation-

ship between the video image and painting is much, more:

significant. Indeed, if we examine the works of those artists

for whom the manipulation of the camera is of major im-

portance, we find that the goal and focus of their work is technology and technique rather than content.

Underlying abstract expressionist painting is a concern for Freudian and Jungian psychology. Gesture is related to free association and its unconscious processes, form to the collective unconscious and the primitive myth. The power of the un- known is manifest in its abstraction, Video shares this conscious involvement with psychological processes, but its models are more likely to be found in contemporary psychology: R.D. Laing, Gestalt therapy, and phenomenological psychotherapy. Video artists are more likely to be interested in making the unconscious conscious and ‘to concretize rather than mytholo- gize experience. ee |

One might imagine that Laing has worked with video through his descriptions of interpersonal perception. He clari- fies that our understanding of ourselves is normally based on inner processes—thoughts, feelings, perceptions, experiences—

whereas others view us through our behavior. Through video, we can view cur behavior and personal interactions removed from immediate feelings and experiences. Laing speaks of the ego boundary as the extension between man and society. The works of Acconci, Benglis, Campus, Holt, Jonas, Morris, Nau- man, Serra and myself operate on that boundary line.

Peter Campus and Bruce Nauman have both made live video installations which involve the viewer directly. In Cam- pus’ Shadow Projection the viewer sees himself projected on a