I’m exploring video art at the moment, from 1970s to 1990s – here’s one famous piece from David Hall which was shown unannounced on Scottish TV in 1971. This interest has come in part from capturing the VHS recordings I made in the 1990s – my own but also from BBC2 and Channel 4 who in the 80’s and 90s put on video art late at night. All big influences of mine, and it’s interesting to look over the Milk Laboratory VJ crash edit work I did because it seems to relate to what I do now and also that history – not surprising since I was at art school at the time.
I’m always surprised how little video art gets put out on DVD or is commercially available, a lot of the videos I want to buy or show are only available to educational institutions or for ‘show rental’ to cinemas and film festivals for silly money – surely there must be an audience for video art? Or in the case of this video, it’s a weird Yahoo embed because all YouTube versions have embedding disabled – an edict that would have come from the ‘media owner’ whoever that is. It shows a certain blindness to their audience, closed in and shut off from the wider world – this is one reason I didn’t really want to go into the art world when I graduated. The galleries don’t want to engage in a wider audience, they want to keep it exclusive…which is sad because video art specifically would thrive in this YouTube and multi channel new media world – and is, without the galleries being involved – shame the history isn’t being shown though outside of a few in art school. That would be of benefit to both, but when did galleries and curators ever do anything modern? Armory Show?
Interestingly that the ones who have made great efforts to get their work out there – Len Lye Institute, Kenneth Anger, Maya Deren estate – seems to be off the beaten ‘art’ track, being seen more as filmmakers and doing it to spread the love (and more importantly I don’t think have galleries parasitic on their work). Which is why I bought all of those DVDs.
But quite often I go to an exhibition and love the video work, then ask in the shop if there is a tape or DVD and get blank looks. Crazy. It’s the old idea of the piece as being exclusive and one of a kind, a Gallery idea of the work which really doesn’t fit in this modern digital landscape. Maybe the art world will eventually follow the music world into the 21st century? Doubtful.
Anyway you might see some of my own video art and also these recordings (what I can purloin anyway and maybe the David Hall piece) at Kleptonite this Saturday. Yes it’s on again – expect the unexpected (and 1990s cheesy 3D which looks really cool in a retro fashion now, and like Scratch Video is knowingly or unknowingly referenced like crazy by the cool YouTube & Tumblr kids).
Oh and completely stupid strange video, too. Plenty of that 😉