Performance

Posted: March 14th, 2010 | Author: admin | Filed under: Art | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

I used to be in a field (video) where there wasn’t any market interest whatsoever. The upside of this could be summed up in five words:

“DO WHATEVER YOU FUCKING WANT”

The downside:

NO MARKET (often, not always) = INVISIBILITY

The last bunch of years (is there a connection between the fall of the left here?) have seen formerly market-resistant art forms (video, conceptual art) aggressively move, or in the case of performance art, try to move into the marketplace.  It is no surprise that much of this work has become more conservative and less relevant (I’ve long felt that conceptual art, for example, has entered into its ‘baroque’ phase).  These forms, when they mutate, have the market-friendly (ever evident in commercial advertising tropes) ‘smell’ of resistance/avant-garde/edginess/revolutionary tendencies, without actually HAVING them.  They must, almost by definition, take on the dominant values of the larger world, though there’s certainly interesting leakage and contradictions that can occur (again, also very evident in commercial television).

But let’s be frank, rich people are for the most part not the most politically left-leaning/civic-minded/risk-taking/open-minded/liberal-even/please fill in your hyphenated two words here.  Rich people are intent on preserving and increasing their…wealth.  Their/our pursuit of ever-increasing consumption levels has always been politically negative and socially reprehensible, and it is even more so in our current world circumstances.

As I write the above, it all seems more than self evident – and yet this strongly goes against the current assumptions in the art world that:

SELLING = GOOD

What has motivated this semi-diatribe?  The current article/s in the New York Times on performance art.  I will not come down on either side yet (should it be re-performed, should it be editioned and sold…)

I just want to point out how far down the road we’ve come, and what a strange place we now find ourselves in.

Isn’t Joan Jonas fab?


Marker

Posted: March 8th, 2010 | Author: admin | Filed under: Filmmakers, Internet, Television | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Perhaps this is enough.  A black and white image of a woman, freckled, wind in her hair, hand up to her mouth, looking off camera.

Now that I’ve got you here under false pretenses, assuming that anyone else is here aside from me, I’d like to place a marker on this time of YouTube.

I came of age when a camera cost $80,000 and editing equipment was unaffordable and inaccessible – this is how I ended up working for 15 years in ‘the industry.’  After a particular video was finished, then followed the hurdle of distribution.  Video artists were rejected by the art world due to lack of collector/commercial value and rejected by film festivals due to lack of…film.  Broadcast television was out of reach, except for a lucky few that had been deigned safe for awkward slots on PBS.  We hated the passivity of television and dreamt of a truly interactive, democratic, messy, anarchistic tv.

I was reminded of all of this twice, first by a passing comment in Berlin on how YouTube was giving people an attention span of 20 seconds, and then, when reading Ed Halter‘s lovely essay television for the people on Jeff Krulik, director of Heavy Metal Parking Lot.  Krulik made the video for a public access television station (public television was also where I got my start in Ithaca, NY), and also Public Access Gibberish made up of ‘notable’ clips from his station. Watching a man in a purple jumpsuit stating ‘my name is Timothy, I come from the bottom of the sea’  I realized how Public Access was post-vaudeville and pre-YouTube, albeit with the added value of a cheap television studio and use of the solidity of a tripod.  Few artists (Jeff Turtletaub being the best example I can think of) truly succeeded at using Public Access as a platform for interesting work.

Fast forwarding (brrrrrrrrrr) several decades.  Now we’re in a time of broad access to both video cameras and editing (the means of production) as well as the Internet (YouTube, Vimeo, etc) as a cheap or free means of distribution.  This could represent a kind of democratic opportunity.  Perhaps I should change that word to should.  Anyway, nice typing those words in the same sentence – democracy, opportunity.