Video History

1968
Bouncing in the Corner, No. 1

Nauman is seen standing and leaning back in a corner of his studio. Just as he bounces back to a standing position, his body falls again, momentarily collapsing, only to spring forward once more. This action places his body in an intermittent space, occupying a position halfway between standing and leaning, halfway between the wall and the room.

This title was in the original Castelli-Sonnabend video art collection.

1969
Bouncing in the Corner, No. 2

Repeating the same activity as featured in Bouncing in the Corner, No. 1—leaning back and bouncing forward from the corner—this time the camera is positioned just above Nauman’s head. This gives his body the sense of constantly rising and falling, his chin just crossing the bottom edge of the screen before sinking back.

This title was in the original Castelli-Sonnabend video art collection.

 

1970
Broken Off

In this video the artist states that a public work demonstrates what qualifies as art within his conception. Like Beached, it was also shot in a marshy area near the sea and in sequences separated by dissolves. One sees five different actions related to Broken Off. The artist breaks a tree branch, scrapes and kicks the ground with his foot, snaps a stick in two on a fence, scrapes a stone with his fingernail. At the end he pulls the line plug from the video, drawing attention to the mechanics of the medium.

1975
Cadillac Ranch/Media Burn

"We buried ten Cadillacs in a row alongside Interstate 40 (the old Route 66), just west of Amarillo, Texas; each car represented a model change in the evolution of the tail fin. This was clearly a sculptural act, but with a minimal amount of formal manipulation. Media Burn, created a year later in San Francisco, was a live performance. It was a spectacle staged for the camera culminating in the 4,000 pound Phantom Dream Car crashing through a pyramid of TV sets to the cheers of the audience of 400.

1983
Camel with Window Memory

"The Camel with Window Memory piece was made one weekend in the early '80's. I pulled out my post card collection and began to look at specific postcards run through the new digital video buffer I had built together with David Jones. The buffer had only one frame of memory but it was real time. It had the capability of displaying the image memory space, either as live or frozen.

1980
Cantaloup

Following the Vasulkas’ effort to build their own computer imager, Steina explains how the video processor works, digitizing the image, inserting color, reassigning value, density, and texture to specific areas of the video image. The constant experimentation and development of technological tools yields an incredible range of possible image manipulations. Emerging as a subtext of the video is the Vasulkas’ struggle to identify and define the programming languages necessary to creatively engage and alter existing technology.

1971
Centers

"Pointing at my own image on the video monitor: my attempt is to keep my finger constantly in the center of the screen — I keep narrowing my focus into my finger. The result [the TV image] turns the activity around: a pointing away from myself, at an outside viewer."

— Vito Acconci, "Body as Place-Moving in on Myself, Performing Myself," Avalanche 6 (Fall 1972)

1982
Barbara Aronofsky Latham, Chained Reactions

Unhinging the narrative conventions and stereotypical elements of the whodunit occult thriller, Chained Reactions is an update of film noir style. Calling on the cliches of gothic romance novels and television soap operas, Chained Reactions presents an increasingly dense collage of symbolic, absurd, and everyday images and gestures, challenging the viewer to find the associative meanings that link them. The soundtrack, composed of whispers, music, and sound effects, sets a suspenseful, unresolved tone.

1974
Chicken on Foot

In Chicken on Foot, Sobell bounces a chicken carcass as one would a child, periodically crushing eggs (fetal chickens) on her knee. A statement of the displacement of sexual desire on food and women’s bodies, and an expression of female ambivalence about motherhood.

1971
Claim Excerpts

"In this record of a live performance, Acconci gives physical manifestation to the subterranean regions of the artist’s mind and will, revealing the effort he must make as an artist to simultaneously convince himself and his audience. Perhaps no other piece from the early 1970s more thoroughly spells out the psychologized drama engendered by performance-based video....

1973
Collage

Three basic compositions are played and recombined in Collage: a hockey game; arms swinging across the screen; and a hand holding one, two, then three oranges. As in her other work, Benglis plays with several generations of each shot, rescanning the screen, and placing objects in front of the monitor. Organized around color and rhythm, each segment uses bright colors, rapid movements, and complex layers of images to present a mesmerizing compendium of information that frustrates any sense of narrative.

1973
Command Performance

Torn over the pressure to perform for his audience, Acconci fantasizes about "a dancing bear" who takes his place, performing in the spotlight, doing what others want, "what I always had to do."  The viewer is placed in the position of an authority or analyst, above Acconci’s head, listening to his hallucination.  This fantasy becomes increasingly erotic as Acconci unburdens himself psychologically and reveals his contradictory need to control and to be controlled.

This title was in the original Castelli-Sonnabend video art collection.

1983

The Commision is an ambitious narrative in operatic form that blends video effects and electronically manipulated sound with stylized docu-drama. Based on the real-life drama of Niccolo Pagnini, the 19th Century violinist and composer (Ernest Gusella), and his contemporary, Hector Berlioz (Robert Ashley), the work addresses the exploitation of genius, the artist as tragic hero, and the historical exploration of inspiration in the Romantic tradition.”

—Bob Riley, FOCUS: Steina and Woody Vasulka (Boston: Institute of Contemporary Art, 1986)

1977
Pere Bode, Cup Mix (2 Channels)

"A cup and saucer, pouring and drinking coffee, a duration ritual of contemplation and invigoration, doubled (tape copied), mixed, keyed + synthetic color, normal play and rewinding, sync events, the opening of a space to put the self in. 1/2 inch b+w Portapack, 2 reel to reel video tape decks, David Jones keyer and colorizer."

– Peer Bode

1979
Barbara Aronofsky Latham, Curtain: An Untold Story

In this video, the unseen narrator describes her inability to communicate to the camera what she wants to say and to whom she wants to say it. The curtain is the central metaphor for the piece, representing how Latham hides behind the video medium, as well as how the medium presents an obstacle to the artist, functioning as a cumbersome intermediary to expression.

This title is also available on Barbara Latham Videoworks: Volume 1.