Ironic Nostalgia: an Interview with Nelson Henricks

Author : Mike Hoolboom

In this interview from 2007, Henricks and Hoolboom discuss the atmosphere of euphoria surrounding the early days of video media usage in the mid-1960s.  There was a popular belief in its ability to bring about a utopia of representation in which alternative media could be used to articulate alternate subjectivities, and through this self-actualization and self-representation, video art would work towards the growing call for the materialization of genuine democracy.  Hoolboom pinpoints Nelson’s understanding of the political potential of video art by analyzing Nelson’s understanding of political efficacy as being defined not through something’s ability to produce direct political effects, but by its ability to enliven the field of the social through rhizomatic networks of interconnectivity. 

Henricks also discusses his belief in the reemergence of video art’s democratic potential through to the advent of digital video and the popularization of social media, which have enabled an increasingly de-specialized and populist utilization of video, thereby expanding the networks of video practitioners beyond what was ever thought possible in the 1960s.