Thursday, October 18, 2007

2 Faces of Video Art Part 2

Another sign how conceptual art has somehow co-opted (or seems to be in the process of co-opting) video art: Ringo Bunoan, a curator and conceptual artist identified with the group surrounding Roberto Chabet, was complaining that the one-minute limit was improper, because video art unfolded over a long period of time. Now, from the standpoint of an experimental filmmaker or experimental video maker, it is completely reasonable to make one-minute works, or even works that unfold in a matter of seconds. Hell, commercials run for 30 seconds. Ringo has apparently equated the scale and motifs associated with conceptual video art (prolonged duration, looping, relative static frame, repetition, incremental change, minimalism) with all art made with video.

I have to say I don’t like the co-optation of the term, but let’s lay that aside for a moment. I’m thinking: that the field/technology of the moving image appears to present two main problematics, or areas of exploration. On the one hand there is the problem of alternative sequential meaning: how can you sequence images if you leave out narrative, documentary,mtv? Then there is the problem that the kind of conceptual video art Ringo is familiar with seems to tackle. As it doesn’t seem to be concerned with the problem of shot sequence, I’m thinking that it’s concerned with the shot itself. Using film terminology, perhaps we can say that its problem is the problem of alternative shot meaning. What else/how else can the shot mean? This seems a likely way of putting it, as it appears to be one of the major problems the conceptualists address, ie: what/how else could a painting (ie a single image) mean?

In short, I'm thinking that although the one-minute video pieces and the video installations are both art and although they both use video, they are two different kinds of video art, in the sense that they require different kinds of viewing attention, address different problems, and that you need to use different sets of conceptual/critical tools to talk about what they are doing.

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