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Video Art - 1990s

broad overview of 1990s video art
by

Ellen Mueller2

on 2 July 2013

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Transcript of Video Art - 1990s

Video Art
in the 1990s

Throughout 1970s-1980s...
- Master narratives such as capitalism, religion, and scientific progress started to wear down.

- Artists attacked the ideological and ethical standards by which westerners had lived their lives; they found these establishments to be corruptible power structures.
This created
a
spiritual gap
.
1st world countries offered up
consumerism
& the
dream of wealth
as a balm for this
spiritual gap
.
Images from 1980 Vogue magazine
By the end of the 1980s...
There was a new ideology of consumerism built around ideas of...

- the nuclear family
- heterosexuality
- home ownership
- the market economy
- money
- youth
- beauty
- pursuit of instant gratification
By the end of the 1980s...
- Any remaining belief in the power of the individual or the power of collective action was lost.

- Artists shed their political ties.

- Political engagement was replaced by Thatcher-Reagan individualism and the lure of commercial success.
Video Art of the 1990s embraced...
- Recycling pop culture of film, television, fashion and music (made it more accessible to wider audience)

- Artists sometimes openly displayed an ignorance of the history of video art & art in general = "sublime indifference"

- Some work simply reflected the status quo, uncritically reiterating ideological messages
Works Cited:

Lewis, Catherine. "Video Art, A Guided Tour." London: I.B. Tauris & Co Ltd. 2005. Book.

(Thus, much of the work explores the construction of
identity
and
individual
)
Like other works by Hill, "Inasmuch As It Is Always Already Taking Place" is an amalgam of visual, structural, and sound components. The piece consists of sixteen staggered, uncased monitors that display life-size male body parts, pages of a book being thumbed, and a page with text that is too small to read. Varying in size from one-quarter inch (an eyepiece of a video camera) to twenty-three inches (the size of a ribcage), the screens, with their exposed, nervelike wires, are recessed into a five-foot niche that is set below eye level. The fragmented figure’s subtle movements are juxtaposed with nearly inaudible speech, primitive sounds of groaning, smacking noises, finger tapping, rippling water, and gun shots. Moving in close enough to decipher the sound, the viewer hears intermittent statements including “It was only an idea” and “I couldn’t say it any other way,” as if the body has its own language.
Gary Hill, "Inasmuch As It Is Always Already Taking Place" (1990)
Craig Baldwin: "Tribulation 99" (1991)
This is a parody of CIA interventions in developing countries as well as a critique of paranoia and conspiracy theories, presented as a pseudo-documentary that tells the revisionist history of alien intervention in Latin America in 99 brief ramblings.
"Head"
Cheryl Donegan
1993, 2:49 min, color, sound
With "Head," Donegan ushered in a new era of brash, low-tech performance video. Here she confronts sex, fantasy, and voyeurism in an autoerotic work-out performed to pop music. The tape records a direct performance action: Donegan unplugs the spout of a plastic container; a stream of milk spurts out. She catches the liquid in her mouth, swallows it, dribbles it back into the mouth of the container, licks the spout. As a culminating gesture, she spits the liquid against the backdrop, creating a kind of irreverent Action Painting. In this image of sexual "pleasure" and fantasy, Donegan is both subject and object, directing the action and performing for the camera without acknowledging its presence. When she exits the frame, the empty container and splattered wall look less like a scene of passion than the scene of a crime.
Sam Taylor-Wood
Matthew Barney "The Cremaster Cycle" 1994-2002
Tracey Emin: "Why I Didn't Become a Dancer" (1995)
A presentation of her teenage escapades in Margate with some unpleasant males, named as Shane, Eddie, Tony, Doug and Richard. The video is proudly vulnerable and redemptive.
"24 Hour Psycho" (1993), is a slowed-down version of Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 film Psycho.

A different take on a familiar classic, it introduces many of the important themes in Gordon's work: recognition and repetition, time and memory, complicity and duplicity, authorship and authenticity, darkness and light.
Douglas Gordon
Gillian Wearing "Dancing in Peckham" (1994)
This work is a system of nine sheer scrims that are hung parallel to one another and catch the light from video projections positioned on either end.

Images of a man and a woman can be seen slowly walking toward each other, passing through the scrims, merging at the center, and then moving apart again. This ghostly action becomes hypnotic, repeating over and over.

Like much of Viola’s work, The Veiling has a dream-like quality, and suggests the multiplicity of experience that exists both in our own thoughts and our understanding of our interaction with another human being.
Bill Viola: The Veiling, 1995
In his film
Dial H.I.S.T.O.R.Y. (1997) Johan Grimonprez
focuses on the imbalance of power between the way artists understand themselves to be ‘radical’ and the way terrorists apprehend the same word.

Artists consistently fail to be ‘dangerous’ in the sense that terrorists are. Compared to the bomb-makers of this world, artists - and writers too - are powerless he admonishes. There are, of course, some distant historical exceptions, like David’s uncivil participation in the Reign of Terror, but by and large, Grimonprez is correct in his estimation. His is an educational filmstrip for an artist’s conscience, and in this way he makes artists the only real audience for Dial H.I.S.T.O.R.Y.. The film leaves you with the idea that artists really should try to be more dangerous, or just more effective, or more real in the way that the bomb can be as real as the death it creates. In the face of it all, you wonder shouldn’t artists continue to aspire to power? And how?
"Mouth to Mouth" is a short, black and white video depicting a repeated action enacted by the artists, Stephanie Smith and Edward Stewart. The two and a half minute video is looped and displayed on a small monitor of the sort used for CCTV surveillance.

The video depicts a man, Stewart, wearing a shirt and trousers and lying underwater, in a bath. As he noisily releases his breath and bubbles rise to the surface of the water, a woman, Smith, leans over him into the camera frame and replenishes his breath with air from her own lungs. She withdraws; he lies still holding his breath until his oxygen expires and he has to breathe out again, triggering Smith’s painfully loud and abrupt inhalation and replenishment. The sounds of the artists’ breath have been amplified to provide the sound-track.
Stephanie Smith and Edward Stewart: Mouth to Mouth (1996)
1996

A 23-yr-old American student launches the website
"JenniCAM,"
on which she invariably displays, until 2003, real-time video 24 hrs/day of her daily activities.
"Ever Is Over All" (1997)
Pipilotti Rist
This work envelops viewers in two slow-motion projections on adjacent walls. In one a roving camera focuses on red flowers in a field of lush vegetation. The spellbinding lull this imagery creates harmonizes with the projection to its left, which features a woman in sparkling ruby slippers promenading down a car-lined street. The fluidity of both scenes is disrupted when the woman violently smashes a row of car windshields with the long-stemmed flower she carries. As the vandal gains momentum with each gleeful strike of her wand, an approaching police officer smiles in approval, introducing comic tension into this whimsical and anarchistic scene.
1997
Sony launches the first
digital
Camcorder in the USA
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