Media Analysis

Rosler calls Domination and the Everyday, with its fragmented sounds, images, and crawling text, an artist-mother's This Is Your Life. Throughout this work, we hear—but do not see—a mother and small child at dinner and bedtime while a radio airs an interview with a gallerist about Californian art of the 1960s. The soundtrack moves into overdrive with feedback, a passing train, barking dogs, and a bedtime story. The visuals, all still images, are drawn from television, movies, advertising, and the family album.

Like all of Smith’s videotapes, Down in the Rec Room is based on a performance that finds Mike once again all dressed up with nowhere to go. Smith mimes along with a children’s “let’s play make believe” record, and then repeats the action—this time disco dancing along with Donny and Marie on the TV set. Down in the Rec Room continues Smith’s critique of American fantasy culture by depicting the sorry life of the average guy.

Dramatically Repeating Lawrence of Arabia is a re-edit of David Lean’s 217-minute orientalist “classic” Lawrence of Arabia into a 15-minute hallucination of repeating masculinized poses, costumes and dramatic gestures. An algorithmic structure condenses and frame-by-frame remixes the original film into a cycling of divergence, convergence and momentary mirrorings.

Baldessari has Ed Henderson examine obscure movie stills and attempt to reconstruct the films’ narratives. By removing the image from its ordinary context—in this instance the chronological flow of film time—the process of interpretation itself and the contextual meaning carried by images is examined. During these interpretative exercises, Ed Henderson urges the viewer to question where the meaning of an image lies: within the image itself or within the spectators’ reading of the image.

This title was in the original Castelli-Sonnabend video art collection.

At one point in END-LESSsestina, several men linking arms are made to walk, blindfolded, into a pool of water. We see thrashing and an expanse of blue, and finally, a lone tennis ball bobbing largely in the frame. Leading into this scene we hear a sports commentator contend, “it’s not just her out there, she’s representing America.” This line repeats itself throughout the video like a refrain; a pervasive echo of the American media’s criminalization of Serena Williams’ celebratory dance at the 2012 Olympics.

Irreverent yet poignant, The Eternal Frame is a re-enactment of the assassination of John F. Kennedy as seen in the famous Zapruder film. This home movie was immediately confiscated by the FBI, yet found its way into the visual subconscious of the nation. The Eternal Frame concentrates on this event as a crucial site of fascination and repression in the American mindset.

"The intent of this work was to examine and demystify the notion of the presidency, particularly Kennedy, as image archetype...."

— Doug Hall, 1984 

Rising fundamentalism and a government that cites faith to defend war actions have helped grow a desperate society. Dipping between ecstasy and despair, transcendence and absurdity, this movie journeys to a hidden space where you can lose your way, lose yourself in the moment, lose your faith in a belief system. An exhausted and expectant crowd waits on this narrow span. It is not a wide stretch, but it can last forever.

This video documents the history of U.S. community television and public access TV, using rare video clips from across the nation. Combining unique archival footage from the early days of cable, rediscovered footage from the 1/2" portapak era, and interviews with access pioneers, Everyone's Channel provides an illuminating overview of the people, ideas, and technological developments that helped make cable access a reality, and stresses the continuing need to see it as a vital necessity and right.

Excess, 2009

A rumination via handwritten index cards and an assortment of images recalling histories and ambitions of varied film productions.

The film centers on the images of the Gulf War, which caused worldwide outrage in 1991. In the shots taken from projectiles homing in on their targets, bomb and reporter were identical, according to a theory put forward by the philosopher Klaus Theweleit. At the same time it was impossible to distinguish between the photographed and the (computer) simulated images. The loss of the 'genuine picture' means the eye no longer has a role as historical witness. It has been said that what was brought into play in the Gulf War was not new weaponry, but rather a new policy on images.

“The third part of the Eye/Machine cycle structures the material around the concept of the operational image. These are images which do not portray a process, but are themselves part of a process. As early as the Eighties, cruise missiles used a stored image of a real landscape, then took an actual image during flight; the software compared the two images, resulting in a comparison between idea and reality, a confrontation between pure war and the impurity of the actual. This confrontation is also a montage, and montage is always about similarity and difference.

"On January 22, 1987 an unjustly convicted Budd Dwyer grasped onto the pages of his final speech as Pennsylvania's State Treasurer before shooting himself in front of news cameras. Our current year of armageddon, recession, and occupation resonates as a fitting time to step into Budd's shoes (and perhaps others who sought freedom the same way.) I set up a mini news conference with antiquated, glitchy analog cameras, mixers, players, and decks with the goal of recording Budd's speech in one take.

R.M. Fischer’s lamp sculptures, made from found industrial parts in a hybrid style of high-tech slickness and Baroque exaggeration suggested parodies of industrial commercials. The narration sounds like advertising hype but is actually composed from critical reviews of Fischer’s work. The slick, serious look of the final tape was accomplished in part by using a professional voiceover actor, a commercial photographer, and music composed for a brand-name commercial.

Fishtank, 1998

An alcoholic, emaciated father; a grossly obese, tattooed mother; a goofy, hormone-addled brother—all together in a claustrophobic council flat. Welcome to the Billinghams'. Richard Billingham wowed the art scene with his book Ray's A Laugh. Fishtank, his first film, charts the emotional territory of the flat and the family who play out their lives within its confines.

TVTV's inside view of the 1972 Republican National Convention made broadcast history. While network cameras focused on the orchestrated renomination of Richard Nixon, TVTV's rag-tag army of guerrilla television activists turned their cameras on to the cocktail parties, anti-war demonstrations, hype and hoopla that accompanied the show.

"In the free space of the commodity, I digitally took apart moving image sequences and re-animated them into an encoded montage to create a metaphor of experience where the viewer feels like a fiber optic cable has been hard-wired into their consciousness — a look where the image is simultaneously visible and invisible. My hope was to create a work that re-presented information as a kind of subliminal narrative that critiqued the currently popular technotopian rhetoric."

— Les LeVeque

German filmmaker Valeska and her crew—soundwoman Constanza and cameraman Albert—arrive at Maple Tree Farm during the Thanksgiving holiday of 1971 to film a piece for German TV on the Videofreex. In this video, the Videofreex turn the tables so to speak, making the Germans’ filming process—and the artificiality of the filmmaker’s prefabricated shots—their subject.

Using footage from the legendary Bruce Lee’s last, unfinished, film, Fulbeck turns the subtitled martial arts movie on itself—levelling criticism and commentary with the genre's own tools, and examining the various representative functions of the late actor.

In the wake of Lord of the Universe, TVTV planned to cover the impeachment of Richard Nixon, but, unfortunately, Nixon resigned. The group made a ninety-degree turn to covering the “first hundred days” of the Gerald Ford administration, a cavalcade of photo ops and campaign appearances. In Part One of the four-part series, entitled WIN (referring to the Ford slogan, “Whip Inflation Now”), TVTV goes on a whirlwind across-country trek with Ford, stopping in Sioux City, Iowa, Salt Lake City, and Portland. The show is more about Ford’s public than Ford.

Gone, 2001

Gone is a two-channel installation based on the second episode of An American Family — the landmark PBS verité documentary about the Loud Family of Santa Barbara, California. Dougherty has created a free-form variation on the theme of parental visits to wayward queer children by mapping the dialogue and plot onto a contemporary community of artists and writers in New York today, paying homage to the art underground and the city itself.

In Greetings from Lanesville, the Videofreex tour the countryside of Lanesville, New York interviewing the local people for a weekly broadcast program all from behind the wheel of the Lanesville TV Media Bus. As the first localized pirate television station, Lanesville TV brought its guerilla broadcasting to Upstate New York with interviews of ordinary townspeople in an effort to present an image of community created by the community itself.

Since the turn of the century, popular media in the U.S. have promoted a stereotyped image of Latin America in order to justify the concept of U.S. dominance in the hemisphere. The Gringo in Mañanaland uses travelogues, dramatic films, industrial films, newsreels, military footage, geographical textbook illustrations, and political cartoons to take a detailed look at United States media representations of Latin America. This video is not a dry document or didactic lesson: it is a look at history and the telling of history.

This extensive interview with California artist Doug Hall (b. 1944) provides unique insight into the culture and politics of experimental artistic production during the 1970s. Discussing the founding of the performance group TR Uthco, Hall offers context for his contribution to the field of video art, and shares stories of his collaborations with Ant Farm, Videofreex, and others. Ranging from his early years as an art student, to his romance with artist Diane Andrews Hall, to reflections on technology in art, this interview importantly extends the discourse surrounding topics of archive, performativity, and autobiography—subjects that have come to define the contours of video art today. 

In this tape, shot in August 1970, a number of Hells Angels are interviewed on the street in New York City. They talk about their bikes and their preparations for a “run”, and their reactions to the way they are portrayed by the mainstream media.

“On the surface, Rea Tajiri’s work reads like the standard deconstruction of appropriated popular media via text to which we have grown accustomed in the ’80s. But this is a work of remarkable evocation and resonance that counterpoints and complements the scores of Hitchcock films with ‘meta-narrative’ possibilities. These possibilities occur by doubling the inherent distance from the appropriated subject, standing twice removed in the realm of parallels rather than parodies.