Video History

1972
Mumble

Part of an ongoing video correspondence with sculptor Robert Morris, Mumble brings together repeated scenes and gestures, featuring Morris and Jim Benglis (the artist's brother), and a narrative of irrelevant, confusing, and often purposefully untrue, statements. Although the viewer is inclined to accept Benglis's narrative as true, such trust is called into question by her statements about actions taking place off camera—actions that cannot be verified.

1974
Muse

Characteristic of much of Gillette's work—which treats video as a field of light, movement and reflection—Muse extends beyond optical sensation to engage the viewer in metaphysical contemplation. The dilemma of human rationality in the face of nature's unswerving course is stated by the narrator: "This is senseless. Shall I make sense or tell the truth? Choose either—I cannot do both...

1978
Music on Triggering Surfaces

In Music on Triggering Surfaces, Bode constructs an interface between audio and video systems. The luminance information (voltage) from the visual images traversed by the black dot is routed to an oscillator to produce the audio signal, which varies according to the changing luminance. The video image itself then triggers the audio. The shifting grey-scale of the image becomes a two-dimensional sound map or audio score. This tape was produced at the Experimental Television Center. 

 

1975
My Father

In this classic personal elegy, Kubota mourns her father's death and recounts the last days of his life. Reflecting on Kubota's use of the video medium, the television emerges as the link between Kubota and her father, with the melodramatic crooning of Japanese pop singers providing a backdrop for Kubota's real-life tragedy.

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

1970

Skip Blumberg of the Videofreex conducts an interview with Charles “Cappy” Pinderhughes, the Lieutenant of Information of the New Haven branch of the Black Panther Party. From the steps of the New Haven headquarters, Cappy publicizes the upcoming Revolutionary Peoples Constitutional Convention set to take place in Washington, D.C. later that week (June 19th, 1970). In addition, Cappy provides a statement to be shared via the Videofreex at the Alternative Media Conference occurring at Godard College in Vermont.

1977
New Reel

In a tape that stands out as one of the earliest examples of the use of appropriated television footage, Freed assembles a collage of images representing American media icons, from Mickey Mouse and Richard Nixon, to The Wizard of Oz and the Rolling Stones. Placing cartoon images next to images of the war in Vietnam, Freed creates an appropriately surreal vision of American culture, and begs the question whether an anthropologist of the future would be able to decipher the truth of the age from such a confused mix of representations.

1972
Noise

The earliest of Benglis's videoworks, Noise calls attention to the assemblage element of video by allowing the image to disintegrate into static between edits. Benglis also plays back several generations of image and soundtrack to introduce increasing amounts of distortion. Conversation is reduced to unintelligible noise, resulting in the disassociation of sound and image that to some extent characterizes her later work.

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

Now
1973
Now

Throughout the video, Benglis asks "Now?" and "Do you wish to direct me?" and repeats commands like "Start the camera" and "I said start recording." As in On Screen, she makes faces and sounds in reply to the images on a monitor; at one point she appears to kiss herself. The word "now", used as both question and command, focuses attention on the deceptive "real" time of video, and reveals the structure underlying her presence in the video.

1976
Nun and Deviant

A classic example of feminist performance videos of the 1970s, which often incorporated autobiography, expansion of self through personae, and assertions of a new identity for women. In Nun and Deviant the performers come to happier terms with their identities both as women and as artists.

1998
OBSERVER / OBSERVED and Other Works of Video Semiology

This video trilogy of Camera, Monitor, Frame, Observer / Observed, and Observer / Observed / Observer creates a semiology of video as a work on video rather than a written text.  Its main purpose is to study the structural relationships between video and language, in this case using the English language.  I designed a system depicting the relationship between the observer and the person being observed using words such as "I" and "YOU" through a video feedback system as the basis.  This trilogy is a remake of my 1975-76 piece.  It is shorter in

1972
On Screen

"Benglis manipulates generations of video footage to confound our sense of time; she implies an infinite regression of time and space — Benglis making faces in front of a monitor of her making faces in front of a monitor of her... ad infinitum. The viewer retains a sense of the images sequentiality, although the sequence of creation is not revealed in a logical, orderly fashion, and is heavily obscured by the random layering and continual repetition of aural and visual components."

1978
On Subjectivity (About TV)

On Subjectivity examines how information is disseminated, how people read, screen, and interpret images; how mechanisms function and articulate information. How are we affected by what the networks choose to give us, and how do we choose to interpret what we see? Considering diverse interpretations influenced by cultural difference, levels of perception, and the manipulation of the image, Muntadas provokes inquiry into the potential of television and consideration of the intentional and unintentional influence of television on our daily lives.

1972
One, Two, Three, Four

Starting with an activity as basic as four hands clapping, Landry composes an arresting visual documentation of the fundamentals of music through a play of visual and sonic rhythms. Landry considers these movements “imaginary hand exercises for beginning drummers.”  As disembodied hands swim through shallow space, a strobe light freezes them in the process of clapping, creating a mesmerizing play of eye-ear coordination.

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

1974
Open Book

Acconci's open mouth is framed by the camera in an extreme close-up, bringing the viewer uncomfortably close. A desperate sense of strained urgency comes across as Acconci gasps, "I'll accept you, I won't shut down, I won't shut you out.... Im open to you, I'm open to everything.... This is not a trap, we can go inside, yes, come inside...." Acconci continues to plead in this way for the length of the tape, his mouth held unnaturally wide open. The pathological psychology of such enforced openness betrays a desperate struggle to accept and be accepted by others.

2012

The four‐part cycle Parallel deals with the image genre of computer animation. The series focuses on the construction, visual landscape and inherent rules of computer-animated worlds.

 “Computer animations are currently becoming a general model, surpassing film. In films, there is the wind that blows and the wind that is produced by a wind machine. Computer images do not have two kinds of wind.” 

-- Harun Farocki