Conceptual Art

Ramp, 1980

On a gradually inclined plane, attempts are made to scale the rise, and rubber shoe marks leave evidence of the point where all of humanity fails.

This title is also available on Sympathetic Vibrations: The Videoworks of Paul Kos.

RECKONING 7 is something of an instrumental interlude between longer, denser episodes of the RECKONING series, which is now being made and released "out of order.” Through an improvised electronic score and footage from the prison yard lobby of a popular battle royale game, it floats a modest proposal of multiplayer online game as altered space for collaborative performance, meditation, levitation, and indecision.

The works on Reel 3 were produced during 1972-73, and re-mastered in 2005 when several newly available titles were added. The focus here is on social relationships and attaining the perfect life, be it through making the right decision, getting something for nothing, or just having it all. Many of the comic skits parody television ads and infomercials, and Man Ray has to make some consumer choices.

In this interview, Indian artist Shuddhabrata Sengupta (b. 1968) discusses his role in the initiation of the Raqs Media Collective, a Delhi-based artist collective, active since the 1990s. At the time of this interview, Raqs had been creating documentaries, art installations, and educational programs for eighteen years. Sengupta likens the driving force of Raqs to that of a game of catch, a process generated by a back-and-forth dialogue mobilized through writing and in-person meetings. As children of the late sixties, Sengupta explains how and why the members of Raqs, (himself, Jeebesh Bagchi and Monica Narula) share an interest in investigating mass communication, technologies of visibility, and the significance of memory and travel. It is also for this reason, Sengjupta explains, that the Collective’s work is committed to fostering rigorous research in addition to art-making endeavors.

"There are three scenes in this work, all reflecting a changing sense of time. Each has a voiceover soundtrack with a similar structure, but with different information. Some of the comments presume that the viewer is privy to information which is never given..."

In this interview with Carl Bogner, Sky Hopinka (b. 1984) discusses his process of becoming a video artist and his personal approach to documenting Indigenous landscapes and cultures. Hopinka is a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin, and he is also an educator in Chinuk Wawa, a language indigenous to the Lower Columbia River Basin.

A structure of Lawrence Weiner.

Photography: Moved Pictures; Computer Graphics: K. Hassett; “A New Pair of Shoes”, “Ships at Sea”, “Sailors and Shoes” Music: Ned Sublette, ASCAP; Lyrics: Lawrence Weiner, BMI

This title is also available on Lawrence Weiner: There are Things that Move Outside of Motion.

Sphinxes Without Secrets is an energetic and transgressive acount of outstanding female performance artists, and an invaluable document of feminist avant-garde work of the 70s and 80s. No Mona Lisa smiles here, as performance artists spill their guts about what outrages and delights them. Performers, curators, and critics unravel the mysteries of a new art form and ponder the world women confront today. Since its inception, performance art has provided a forum for artists who create work that challenges the dominant aesthetic and cultural status quo.

From an inverted position, high above the floor, the camera records Nauman’s trek back and forth and across the studio; his stamping creates a generative rhythm reminiscent of native drum beats or primitive dance rituals. However, Nauman is not participating in a social rite or communal ritual—he is completely individualized. Isolated in his studio, his actions have no apparent reason or cause beyond his aesthetic practice.

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

Letting go of realist constraints, and going back to the mirror-images of some of Provost’s famous previous works, we are diving into a cosmic ocean of ever metamorphosing baroque circumvolutions in which our minds try to capture reassuring forms before letting the ghostly demons blur our vision.

Twelve church bells are rung daily for 30 days in a sculptural setting at the Capp Street Project in San Francisco. Ringers progress from practice sessions on beer bottles to a full-scale ring.

This piece was shot using a combination of 3/4" U-matic video plus Hi8 video.

This title is also available on Sympathetic Vibrations: The Videoworks of Paul Kos.

At the age of twenty-four, Taiwanese artist Tehching Hsieh (b.1950), moved to New York, where he has created and documented time-specific, conceptual art performances since the 1970s. In this interview, Hsieh discusses his formative years and philosophical moorings. This dialogue includes description of the artist’s early period of painting, his military service in Taiwan, and the cultural atmosphere of a country then undergoing massive political change. Much of the discussion focuses specifically on Hsieh’s understanding of the relationship of art and life, his investment in “free thinking,” and the politics of documentation. For Hsieh, the ability to think freely is art’s bottom line—he believes the essence of his work lies in human communication. To this end, Hsieh insists that his work, though incredibly personal, is not autobiographical, but philosophical.

This tape is a media arts collaboration between Joe Leonardi, Cathleen Kane, and radio artist Joe Frank. It is a synthesis of three “dark humored” radio pieces adapted for video.

In a vile and ingenious way, Acconci pleads with the camera/spectator to join with him, to come to him, promising to be honest and begging, "I need it, you need it, c'mon... look how easy it is." Acconci addresses the viewer as a sexual partner, acting as if no distance existed between them. The monitor becomes an agent of intimate address, presenting a disingenuous intimacy that is one-sided and pure fantasy, much like the popular love songs in the background with which Acconci croons, "I'll be your baby, I'll be your baby tonight, yeah, yeah."

Rirkrit Tiravanija’s work explores the social role of the artist, and that role’s ability to create interactive spaces for people to come together. Focusing less on the construction of discrete objects, he maintains a practice predicated on diffuse forms of installation that facilitate the activities like cooking, reading, and general collectivity. The particularly conceptual nature of his work is a central theme in this interview. While in art school, a teacher Tiravanija greatly admired told him to “stop making art” and this was something he took very seriously.

Reportedly shot in the back office at Leo Castelli’s New York gallery, an ashtray is used to demonstrate five different actions related to artistic work. With the camera static, the video opens with the ashtray in the center of the screen. A hand approaches from above and slides the object up and down, then back up and back down. Each time an act is completed, the hand retreats from the object, marking a separation from the next “possibility.” The actions (or movements) mimic language (e.g. “to and fro”) as it is spoken.

Transient Trilogy comes close to "being a real film, with an actor, a setting and something of a narrative scheme. Ruby himself plays a bum, who transits a marginal landscape, neither nature nor manmade, where he occupies himself crafting what can only be called artworks from string, cast-offs and other bits of trash."

— Walter Robinson, Editor, Artnet Magazine

Triviality features a scene of Tom Colt, a Los Angeles porno actor, standing naked in a bare room masturbating, trying unsuccessfully to bring himself to orgasm.

A two-headed calf died when one head atrophied. It became a trophy that the artist used as a source for this 16mm film transferred to video.

This title is also available on Sympathetic Vibrations: The Videoworks of Paul Kos.

They just flew in from New York, and boy, are their arms tired... Out in the Nevada desert, against the windblown backdrop of Air Force bomber training sites, artists Hajoe Moderegger and Franziska Lamprecht — better known as eteam — gathered testimonials of stranded passengers, crew members, and local residents to recall an episode in the lost annals of American aviation: the 2006 "unscheduled layover" at International Airport Montello (IAM). Truth in Transit reaches beyond simple documentation.

Turn-On, 1974

Acconci again confronts both the viewer’s and his own expectations of his performance, saying, "I've waited for the perfect time, for the perfect piece, I'm tired of waiting... but no, you want me to have something ready for you, something prepared." Acconci addresses the artist's perpetual wait for both inspiration and appreciation. He pulls apart the relationship of the artist to the audience, which for Acconci constitutes a mixture of independence and co-dependence, relying on the viewer to both validate and motivate his work.

Originating from personal affection toward Seoul, Twelve Scenes portrays the spectacles in daily life by juxtaposing urban space in a twelve month sequence. As the individual particles in a kaleidoscope create splendid illusions by being reflected on a mirror, Twelve Scenes shows our individual life, seemingly separated by time and space, actually composes the scenery in the kaleidoscope of Seoul. Twelve Scenes represents a 'moment for self-reflection' or 'small, but precious enlightenment on life'.

Two Track, 1971

Acconci sits with a man and a woman before a microphone. The man and the woman read from two different texts (novels by Mickey Spillane and Raymond Chandler), and Acconci repeats everything the man says. From time to time, an off-screen voice asks Acconci something about what the woman has been saying, and he tries to answer. The focus of the tape is the relationship between modes of attention, direct and peripheral, in a situation where simultaneous strands of information are being presented.

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

“Collaboration is competitive” – this is the tag line for the artist collective Type A, composed of Adam Ames and Andrew Bordwin. Their projects stretch across the mediums of video, photography, sculpture, and installation – using different formats less for their own sake and more for their appropriateness in relation to a given idea. This malleability allows them to stage installations that are more like interventions in various non-art spaces such as the city streets or a high school gym.

Undertone, 1972

In this now infamous tape, exemplary of his early transgressive performance style, Acconci sits and relates a masturbatory fantasy about a girl rubbing his legs under the table. Carrying on a rambling dialogue that shifts back and forth between the camera/spectator and himself, Acconci sexualizes the implicit contract between performer and viewer—the viewer serving as a voyeur who makes the performance possible by watching and completing the scene, believing the fantasy.