Video History

1978
Arbitrary Fragments

Using highly-manipulated and over-processed images, Latham investigates the process of video as inherently fragmented. Weaving together various people’s impressions of the artist and her work, the work demonstrates important parallels between video, storytelling, and the formation of identity — all processes of active fabrication that blend “lies” and truth in the construction of a certain reality, history, or past. Labeling an image of herself talking as “her most recent explanation,” Latham addresses “the construction of her video personality” as an identity outside of herself.

1974
Art Herstory

“In her brilliant video Art Herstory, [Freed] has restaged art history, putting herself in the model’s role in numerous paintings.... Time dissolves under her humorous assault—one moment in the painting, then out of the canvas and into that period, then back in the studio."

—Jonathan Price, “Video Art: a Medium Discovering Itself,” Art News 76 (January 1977) 

An excerpt of this title (14:49) is also included on Surveying the First Decade: Volume 1.

1980
Artifacts

An important record of Woody’s process of experimentation and play: a collection of images initiated by basic algorithmical procedures to verify the functional operation of a newly-created tool—the “Digital Image Articulator”—designed and constructed by Woody and Jeffrey Schier. Saying at the beginning of the tape, “The images come to me as they come to you, in a spirit of experimentation.” Vasulka presents a series of manipulations in which the image shifts and moves, dissolving through two- into three-dimensionality.

1971
Association Area

As a document of an early performance, this video details the process of orientating the body and self in space, providing a physical metaphor for the process of adjusting oneself in society.

"Blindfolded, ears plugged: our goal is to sense each other’s movement and bearing, to attempt to assume the same movement and bearing. An off-screen voice, heard only by the audience, gives directions that would help us attain our goal."

—Vito Acconci, "Concentration-Container-Assimilation," Avalanche 6 (Fall 1972)

1972
Videofreex, Aunt Betty's Birthday Party
Shot by Bart Friedman with the Videofreex's Tivicon camera, this tape begins in Lanesville, New York with members of the Freex collective wishing Aunt Betty a happy birthday. Later the Freex find themselves on the streets of New York City on the way to James Lipton's home.  The party starts off with family, but the crowd soon grows to include Broadway writer Sheldon Harnick, actor Tammy Grimes, author Eric Segal, and Broadway composter Cy Colman. Singer Lena Horne also joins the group and sings two numbers with Cy Colman at the piano.
Bad
1979
Bad

BAD is the mnemonic command for the B-Address register of the Buffer Oriented Digital Device, a tool for stretching or squeezing images. Starting with the register at zero and adding one level of distortion at a pre-programmed speed, the video moves to an increasing complexity of images that escalates in density of color, composition, and texture.

1972
Baldessari Sings LeWitt

"One of Baldessari’s most ambitious and risky efforts. Seated and holding a sheaf of papers, he proceeds to sing each of Sol LeWitt’s 35 conceptual statements to a different pop tune, after the model of Ella Fitzgerald Sings Cole Porter. What initially presents itself as humorous gradually becomes a struggle to convey Lewitt’s statements through this arbitrary means."

—Helene Winer, “Scenarios/Documents/Images,” Art in America 61 (March 1973)

1970
Beached

The soundtrack begins with the artist stating the conditions: “An artist may construct a work and/or a work may be fabricated and/or a work need not be built. I elected five possibilities for videotape.” These possibilities are the actions executed in Beached. They are shot in five sequences and consist of throwing, pulling, lifting, dragging, and using leverage.

This video has been remastered, though traces of historical picture loss remain.

1980
Janice Tanaka, Beaver Valley

In this angry answer to the expectations advertising culture places on women and their bodies, Tanaka deftly edits commercial images and sound-bite slogans to underscore the message such images carry: that women exist to please men, as wives, mothers, and lovers. Tanaka balances such mainstream images with black and white footage of herself lying naked next to her own doubled image, rejecting the mainstream model of female sexuality that regularly consists of seductive glances and suggestive poses arranged and pre-ordained for the male gaze of the spectator.

1979
Between the Lines

"Between the Lines is an exploration of what Muntadas terms the 'informational limits' of television—the selections, programs, decisions, edits, time schedules, image fabrications and so on—specifically addressing the means by which 'facts' in the network news are transmitted on television. Muntadas slows and examines the process, observing a newscaster’s exercise in assembling events, locating images, and constructing the news."

—Bob Riley, Currents: Mediated Narratives (Boston: Institute of Contemporary Art, 1984)

1997
Binary Lives: Steina and Woody Vasulka

In 1964, Steina Vasulka (then Steinunn Bjarnadottir) married Woody Vasulka, a Czech engineer with a background in film. They later moved to New York where, with Andreas Mannik, they founded the Kitchen, a performance space dedicated to new media. The Vasulkas collaborated on a series of video works whose imagery arose primarily through the manipulation of the video signal at the level of the electron beam itself.

1976
A Bit of Matter and a Little Bit More

The male/female, subject/object investigation in A Bit of Matter and a Little Bit More has no titillating introduction; the appetite is not whetted beforehand. Hardcore, the opening shot, shows the crotch areas of a male and female body engaged in coitus. At the end of the tape a male voice says, "Some questions and five answers relative to moved pictures, five questions and some answers relative to moved pictures—" a reference to the artists' book, 100 Rocks on a Wall.

1972
Black and White Tapes

Black and White Tapes derive from a series of performances Paul McCarthy undertook in his Los Angeles studio from 1970 to 1975. Conceived for the camera and performed alone or with only a few people present, these short performances use video to articulate both monitor and studio space. In the first excerpt, McCarthy paints a white line on the floor with his face, dragging his body from one end of the studio to the other. In doing so, McCarthy performs a recognizable formal gesture--drawing a white line.

1976
Peer Bode, Blue

"An electronic synthetic color video, based on a memory of Larry Gottheim's film Blues.  Natural and electronic real time events, new American electronic cinema. B&W video camera, Paik-Abe colorizer, 1/2" vtr, blue berries, bowl and milk. The filmmakers stopped talking to me. Viva Video!"

– Peer Bode

1974
Boomerang

This is a tape which analyzes its own discourse and processes as it is being formulated. The language of Boomerang, and the relation between the description and what is being described, is not arbitrary. Language and image are being formed and revealed as they are organized.

This title is only available on Surveying the First Decade: Volume 1.