Video History

1981
Deadline

An insert square of a man running is superimposed over a magnified mouth that speaks to him—first in nurturing encouragement, then with a no-win Mommie Dearest kind of criticism. Originally presented as an installation on six monitors, Deadline focuses on “the stress man feels in the urban environment,” using a range of digital video effects to stretch, compress, flip and fracture the image.

1973
Discrepancy

This structurally simple video, shot through Benglis's apartment window, contains a, "distinct disjuncture between the visual and aural components of the work. The viewer, initially presented with a contemplative view of nature, is frequently distracted by the chatter of a radio. As the camera zooms in and out, it establishes a dichotomy: indoors and outdoors, the man-made and the natural.

1974
Disturbances

Jonas uses reflections on a lake as a mirror to displace reality, creating a disruption and the illusion of presence.

“Disturbances begins with a Symbolist-like image of two women, dressed in white, seen only as reflections in water.… Throughout the tape the water fills the monitor, creating layers of images. The reflections on the surface of the water are superimposed on the activities that take place underneath the surface.”

1974
Divided Alto

Utilizing a four-way split screen, Divided Alto documents Landry’s improvised flute performance—focusing on the harmonics of the instrument as he plays double and triple chords. The camera centers on the elements that make the music—the mouth and fingers of the musician—as the music moves from counterpoint to synchronization, establishing rhythms that ebb and resurface.  The tape is double-tracked in stereo, video, and audio.

1976
Do You Believe in Water?

The performers are seated around a pink octagonal table on pink, violet, and silver cinder blocks. One performer (Robert Stearns) stands up, recites the credits for the piece, and then says, “Do you believe in water? Robert Stearns.” He claps and turns to the next performer who asks the same question and gives his name. Next the players split up into pairs and attempt to relate to each other—playing tug-of-war, making love, arguing over who has the most integrity, and fighting for possession of the props.

1972
Document

With Benglis standing in front of a photograph of herself, which is then affixed to a monitor bearing her image, the notion of "original" is complicated—making the viewer acutely aware of the layers of self-images and layers of "self" that are simultaneously presented. Like Martha Rosler's Vital Statistics of a Citizen, Simply Obtained, Benglis presents the viewer with a "document" of questionable veracity. It is a document attesting not to the "real" Benglis, but to the impossibility of discerning one real identity.

1978
Domination and the Everyday

Rosler calls Domination and the Everyday, with its fragmented sounds, images, and crawling text, an artist-mother's This Is Your Life. Throughout this work, we hear—but do not see—a mother and small child at dinner and bedtime while a radio airs an interview with a gallerist about Californian art of the 1960s. The soundtrack moves into overdrive with feedback, a passing train, barking dogs, and a bedtime story. The visuals, all still images, are drawn from television, movies, advertising, and the family album.

1974
Done To

Done To (alternately titled It Is, Done To) consists of simple still-frames accompanied by a complex, incongrous soundtrack, or silence. There are instances where image and sound coalesce; however, the majority of the images are overwhelmed by the at-times symphonic, at-times cacaphonous soundtrack, displacing the normal film viewing experience. The standard film format of going from frame to frame — and then and then and then — is what this film is concerned with.

1971
Peter Campus "Double Vision"

Campus investigates the metaphoric overlap between properties of the video camera and processes of human perception, an area of great interest to many early videomakers.

1973
Dressing Up

A reverse striptease, non-stop comedic monologue about shopping for clothes, while eating corn nuts. Dressing Up was inspired by the artist’s mother’s penchant for bargain hunting. Mogul produced Dressing Up as a student in the feminist art program at the California Institute of the Arts in 1973.

1977
Early Conceptual Videos

A collection of early conceptually oriented videos which were produced in Tokyo in the early 1970s using words along with images, except for the first two flicker-effect pieces: A Chair (1970) and Blinking (1970). 

Time Tunnel (1971) is an attempt at time travel in a very conceptual sense. 

Man and Woman (1971) shows full body images of a naked man and woman shot from above without movement.  They are shown alone as well as together, one over (or under) the other, symbolizing words at the same time as their positions. 

1969
East Coast, West Coast

In this rare and humorous record of the art dialogue of the late 1960s, Holt and "guest" Robert Smithson assume opposing artistic viewpoints: the uptight, intellectual New Yorker versus the laid-back Californian. Their play-acting lays bare the cliches and stereotypes of a "bi-coastal" art world. While Holt stresses analytic, systematic thinking, Smithson represents the polar opposite, privileging visceral experience and instinct, saying, "I never read books; I just go out and look at the clouds." and "Why don't you stop thinking and start feeling?"

1977
The East Is Red, The West Is Bending

Rosler uses the format of a cooking demonstration (as in Semiotics of the Kitchen) to address cultural transaction--the meeting of Eastern and Western cultures. Reading directly from a West Bend Electric Wok instruction booklet, Rosler wryly comments upon the Oriental mystique conjured by the West Bend manufacturers, a mystique evoked and then "improved" upon through Western technology--i.e. non-stick surfaces and electric power.

1973
Ed Henderson Reconstructs Movie Scenarios

Baldessari has Ed Henderson examine obscure movie stills and attempt to reconstruct the films’ narratives. By removing the image from its ordinary context—in this instance the chronological flow of film time—the process of interpretation itself and the contextual meaning carried by images is examined. During these interpretative exercises, Ed Henderson urges the viewer to question where the meaning of an image lies: within the image itself or within the spectators’ reading of the image.

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

1973
Enclosure

Benglis uses the video format as a metaphor for other types of limiting conditions or limited realities. "The constant motion of Benglis's hand-held camera (scanning her studio and two television sets) calls attention to the limits of the camera's field of vision: the walls of the studio are the ultimate 'enclosure' of the camera's eye. The open window and the sound of children (from the street) seem to suggest release; yet the confines of the studio are never truly broken."