From documentary and guerilla video to story telling, from traditional animation, to compositing, to machinista and from optical and kaleidoscopic to algorithmic visualizations, video has come a long way since the early experiments with the medium in the 60s and 70s. This small selection of works crosses video genres to create a narrow spectrum of some of the medium’s possibilities. The constructed (animated) or manipulated (using compositing) moving image is the common thread linking the video works.

We read [PAM]‘s curatorial concept “THE FUTURE WAS THEN ………. SO NOW WHAT?” as a reference to the state of the medium itself and, as video is yet to be defined, our contribution showcases some of its formalistic investigations. Sean Cubitt said that “video had a tendency, despite its early formalism to undertake to do broadcastings without broadcasting, filming things without film”1. A curatorial approach can admittedly not stand in such a thin yet very valid ground. So – as with any selection – we have to define boundaries within which works have to be omitted in favor of ‘representative’ samples. According to Cubitt again. “…video prevents the prerequisite for a theoretical approach: that is, deciding upon an object about which you wish to know.”2

So if video refuses to be defined or abide to any theory, what is the platform which can be used to curate such works? Video’s presence in international art exhibitions and major collections has been documented since the late 60s but most of the curatorial decisions for the inclusion of those works were made using aesthetic theories borrowed from the ‘traditional’ fine arts. This fact has helped the medium to establish itself in the mainstream art scene but also prevented it from occupying its own territory – that is to establish a set of aesthetic considerations which would exist ONLY for and within this medium.

NeMe has gladly responded to Lee Wells’ invitation to curate part of [PAM]‘s presentation in SCOPE New York and Basel as the concept of [PAM]‘s participation finds us within a parallel sphere of investigation to our forthcoming event, “The Mirror Stage”. Our selection for SCOPE does not provide answers to the questions but investigates through seven works the absence of any predominant form. For this selection we focused on single channel ‘narrative’ works – even when that narrative is an abstracted one as in the case of Roddy Simpson’s ‘Stair’ which uses composite techniques to create a poetic dance video reminiscent of Duchamp’s ‘Nude Descending the Staircase’ or Henry Gwiazda’s machinista work ‘A Doll’s House is……’ which explores urban themes within a virtual world evoked in a screen split into four. These stand in contrast to Eva Olsson’s socio-politicized computer animation ‘Taking Control’ and Muhammad Ali’s ‘Face’, ‘Shadows’ and ‘Verting’ which use traditional hand drawn animation techniques. Finally Orit Ben-Shitrit and Harold Moss’ ‘The Long from Inside’ uses state of the art 3d animation to reveal a gothic world. The five video makers are thus presented together not for their similarities but for their differences, emphasizing the very pertinent question “…SO NOW WHAT?”.

NeMe’s selection for [PAM]‘s presentation at Scope 2008 (New York and Basel) is curated by Yiannis Colakides and Helene Black.

Notes

  1. www.rewind.ac.uk/Sean%20Cubitt.html (sighted on 15 Oct 2007)^
  2. Cubitt, S. Videography: Video Media as Art and Culture. Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1993, page xvi^