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Video Art - 1960s

broad overview of early video art

Ellen Mueller2

on 16 January 2017

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Transcript of Video Art - 1960s

Video Art
in the 1960s Pre-60s Maya Deren, "Meshes of the Afternoon" (1943), 13:30 min The film's narrative is circular, & repeats a number of psychologically symbolic images, including a flower on a long driveway, a key falling, a door unlocked, a knife in a loaf of bread, a mysterious Grim Reaper--like cloaked figure with a mirror for a face, a phone off the hook & an ocean. Through creative editing, distinct camera angles, & slow motion, the surrealist film depicts a world in which it is more & more difficult to catch reality. 1960s Jean Rouch, "Chronicle of a Summer" (1960) This film is a collaboration between filmmaker-anthropologist Jean Rouch & sociologist Edgar Morin. It is brilliantly conceived and realized sociopolitical diagnosis of the early 60s in France. Simply by interviewing a group of Paris residents in the summer of 1960—beginning with the provocative & eternal question “Are you happy?” & expanding to political issues, including the ongoing Algerian War—Rouch & Morin reveal the hopes & dreams of a wide array of people, from artists to factory workers, from an Italian émigré to an African student. Chris Marker, "Le Jetee" (1962) 26 min Constructed almost entirely from still photos, it tells the story of a post-nuclear war experiment in time travel.

The 1995 science fiction film "12 Monkeys" was inspired by, and takes several concepts directly from, La Jetée. Andy Warhol, "Sleep" (1963) 5 hr 20 min It consists of long take footage of John Giorno, Warhol's close friend at the time, sleeping for 5 hours & 20 minutes.

The film was one of Warhol's first experiments with film making, & was created as an "anti-film". Andy Warhol, "Kiss" (1963) 50 min It features various couples --
man & woman, woman & woman, man & man -- kissing for 3½ minutes each.

The film features Naomi Levine, Gerard Malanga, Rufus Collins, and Ed Sanders. Andy Warhol, "Empire" (1964) 8 hrs 5 min It consists of 8 hrs and 5 min of continuous slow motion footage of the Empire State Building in New York City. Abridged showings of the film were never allowed, & supposedly the very unwatchability of the film was an important part of the reason the film was created. 1965 - Sony releases the first portable video recorder, Portapak 1965 - Andy Warhol is presented with a Norelco slant-track-video-recorder & shows the first videotapes at a party in New York 1965 -
Nam June Paik buys one of the first obtainable Portapaks in the USA, & soon afterward shows the tape "Electronic Video Recorder" in the New Your Cafe Au Go Go 1966 - The 1st video game is developed by engineers from the company Sanders Associates in New Hampshire Bruce Nauman, Bouncing in the Corner, 1968 Bruce Nauman,
"Walking in an Exaggerated Manner around the Perimeter of a Square"
10 min 30 sec 1967 - Aldo Tambellini opens the Black Gate, the first "electro-media theatre" in New York, where he arranges performance & "environment actions" with video Bruce Nauman: Video Corridor, 1968-70
The video shows a narrow corridor with two monitors at the end of the corridor and someone walking through the corridor towards the monitors. In May 1969, "TV as a Creative Medium" opened at the Howard Wise Gallery in New York.

This seminal exhibition heralded the development of "video art." The 1st exhibition in the USA devoted to video, this exhibit signaled radical changes, inspiring a generation of artists to take up video & provoking commentary that extended well beyond the channels of art discourse.

Among the twelve artists in the show were Nam June Paik, Charlotte Moorman, Paul Ryan, Ira Schneider, Frank Gillette, and Eric Siegel. Prescient in its diversity, the exhibition featured performance, objects, closed-circuit tapes & installations. "TV Bra for Living Sculpture",
Nam June Paik &
Charlotte Moorman.

TV Bra for Living Sculpture was both an apparatus to be worn & a live performance. In this collaboration, Moorman manipulates the images displayed on the two miniature television screens of the bra Paik designed, with the sound of her playing the cello.
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