To See is to Change: Shaina Anand
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A Parallax View of 40 Years of German Video Art.
Over two days, ten artists, critics and enthusiasts present a "recuration" of the 40 Years of German Video Art (http://www.40jahrevideokunst.de
), a collection being circulated internationally by the Goethe Institut. These respondents brought to the archive their own urgencies and preoccupations, and suggested that this "package" is not a sealed entity, and can be re-read as a history of encounter and entanglement between disciplines, geographies, schools of thought, agents and artforms.
A package in this form this suggests a certain stability in the category "German video art". At the same time its circulation opens up the material, and its context of production and thought, its "Germany", to review by diverse and sometimes unsolicited sources. It is our good fortune to be able to promote such activity. Sehen heißt ändern, to see is to change. For more: http://camputer.org/event.php?id=45
The 2-day screening program was held on 14th-15th November, 2008, at Jnanapravaha and Gallery Chemould in Mumbai.
Shaina Anand is a filmmaker and video artist, and co-initiator of CAMP, as well as the PAD.MA video archive. Shaina diagonally cuts through an array of works that deal with both utopias and dystopias of audiences and spectatorship. There is irreverence and interruption, vision but also naivety, determinism but also darkness. Looking back, what can we remember of these questions? Where can we stand today, in contradictory times of capital driven scarcity of digital 'art works' and endless circulation of information and images. What could be a productive distribution? What can be a withdrawal or 'absence'?
1970 | Filz TV|Joseph Beuys.
1969 | TV as a Fireplace | Jan Dibbets.
1972 | Documenta der Leute | Telewissen.
1983 | Der Riese | Michael Klier.
and others not in the package.
Queen's Mansion, Chemould Prescott Rd, Mumbai
SA: As being core organiser, one gets to... have watched all these videos plenty of times before.And we have met endless (?) and watched all the artworks from myriad approaches, sensibilities, point of views and criticisms. I did not have time then to have fun with the idea of this archive, just browse it, pick up this book which I read while Wilson was being screened by myself went through the chapters of the films I was going to talk about.The amazing and interesting thing about falling upon a package like this or anything is how or what it means to you when you browse it, when you flip through a book, when you pop the DVDs in,when you do a name check and you say hmmm I am going to watch a Joseph Boeys, hmmm I am going to watch Sun in Your Head by Vostell.The joy, some serendipity in knowing that oh my god this was the most important film that influenced me when I was eighteen. Or little things like that.And it was serendipitous to find a lot of works that had informed my nascent understanding of the possibilities of art, the possibilities of electronic art through a minor window of some works and ideas that artists share collectively, individually or even parallelly.Some one is doing pioneering work in '63 in America and someone is doing it in Cologne or elsewhere.This is...I found...I was really excited to be able to find a lot of works in this little window. So, I just want us to shut our minds off. I think, Rane very informatively said we are in a burnt out world right now.And ya...
SA: So if we can just imagine for a minute that it is the 1960s. Its the Western world. We are somewhere in Europe or in the East Coast of America. Television is new. Broadcast television is brand new.If you already want to be critical about whether it is brand new the first experiments in broadcast are happening, in wireless broadcast are happening transporting images from a prison to a police station. Experiments just to see if broadcast can work or if we get to have camera tailing on the ground telling where your bombs are going to fall in the world.This is the history of broadcast. But in the sixties television is brand new mass medium. And nobody has access to that technology. Television is just an electronic image or information that is now reaching millions and millions and millions of people.You have already seen, as Nancy has pointed out, it has nothing to do with using video but artists especially the Fluxus guys. She mentioned Vostell. They were already dealing with the image of the TV, the domestication of it, this object , the television is no longer the camera.What does this mean? It is not just bourgeois. It is mass medium. It is new middle class. It is everybody.It is altering family life. And artists were already very critical of it. I think Nancy mentioned Guenther Uecker in '63 is drilling nails into the television,just hammering it down.He would viciously just nail them in and literally bury it at the coffin.As Nancy mentioned Vostell's great pieces, super-performative acts. Digging a hole,making the audience hit the TV till the transmission goes off.Then, stabbing a canvas over it which has other meanings and implications. Tying it in barbed wire, burying it.Other artists are beginning to mix up the TV either as an object into their paintings or drawing it or photographing it. And then there is a critique, not of playfulness but more that they are angry. There are some texts being written. There is Guy Debord he has written...you are usually critical of the spectacle and the image and stuff. Then you have McLuhan who is going to be deterministic but yet speak about and and other improvements.
Many elements together- such as- new experiences of time, of music, sounds, their manipulation, changes to texts, words, and structure; new dance and the inclusion of the synthetic possibilities in music, including film projections as well as painting and blurring actions, were the terrain on which Nam June Paik discovered the electronic medium and Wolf Vostell created his works.
Paik's experience with the radar experiments by K.O Goetz, his collaboration with the WDR's electronic studio in Cologne, and particularly his engagement with John Cage's music after their meeting in Darmstadt in 1958 led Paik to create his first electronic works- the manipulation of and interaction with television sets in the Cologne environment.
Paik had experimented with televisions in previous years at his studio in Aachener Strasse, Cologne and Wolf Vostell may also have done likewise in Cologne but the first confirmed date of Vostell's work with television is on September 14, 1963 with 9 Decollagen oder. Organized by the Parnass Gallery in Wuppertal.
'Video art and institutions: The First Fifteen Years' by Wulf Herzogenrath in 40 Years Video Art De. Digital Heritage: Video Art in Germany from 1963 to the present, Rudolf Frieling/ Wulf Herzogenrath (EDS), pp. 20.'
SA: All this is new and yet the artist is only reacting to that image. He cant produce it He cant do any He certainly no at the moment.You are just responding to it. 65, again as Nancy said Nam June Paik was the first one to buy that Portapak, the brand Sony because then technology changes. In 65 had the Porta Pak which is a portable camera which is that big.But Nam June Paik buys it and Martha Rosler is being critical of him. He says hmmm whats the first thing he goes and shoots, the Pope.Anyway,but there is an underground screening in some pub in New York of these first images that Nam June Paik films.But you go back to the Vostell thing...I am saying this because I am trying to make a difference with when you can use the video image yourself. I mean use video I mean when you are just referred into it. So you have two seminal things going on. mentioned it in the introduction that according to this book or according to many its Vostell v/s Paik. Its a good war if you want to look back at its history. Nam June Paik is in 63 in Wuppertal in this private villa gallery space. He has filled the entire place with TVs.He has turned them upside down, he has buried them, he has linked them to pianos. He is replaying back Cage's performances. You know people are interfering with it through their hands, through all kinds of things.People are really...he is doing something there.The simple thing...I should refer to my notes here because I have quotes here.
In 1968, WDR's Channel 3 in Cologne was the first institution to appear on the screen. Gerry Schum was commissioned to report on this new development in his film report Consumer Art-Art consumption alongside the screening of increasing numbers of film portraits of artists, architects, and collectors which also contained "original" material arranged specifically for the media and only viewable there.
However, the very first TV artwork to be broadcast was Black Gate Cologne by Otto Piene and Aldo Tambellini , screened on August 30, 1968 by WDR III.
In this first artist's production for television, Piene and Tambellini used the special technical/electronic possibilities of television to produce effects such as solarization and superimposition: for the first time, a manipulation by artists of a live happening in a studio filmed by four cameras was seen on television.
'Video art and institutions: The First Fifteen Years' by Wulf Herzogenrath in 40 Years Video Art De. Digital Heritage: Video Art in Germany from 1963 to the present, Rudolf Frieling/ Wulf Herzogenrath (EDS), pp. 23.
When he landed in the United States in 1964, Nam June Paik was already anxious to lead the experimental video revolution.
One of his earliest works, TV Magnet (1965), challenged the viewing public to reexamine 'Television.' Paik took a piece of furniture, a TV set, and changed its meaning by presenting it as sculpture. He demystified television by altering the magnetic polarity of the cathode ray tube, demonstrating that the lines of light on the screen were clearly controlled by the large magnet sitting on top of the set rather than by some magical connection to the 'real world'.
Most significant, he changed the viewer's role as passive consumers to active creators by allowing them to interact with the piece by moving the magnet, thereby participating in the creation of the light patterns on the screen.
'Experimental Video' by Horace Newcomb in Encyclopedia of Television, Horace Newcomb (ED), 2004, pp.830.
Nam June Paik is also credited with purchasing the first Sony Portapak, the first truly portable videotape recorder, in 1965. Usually, the Sony Portapak and not the altered TV set has been identified with the beginning of experimental video.
For the first time, the low cost of the Portapak and its portability gave experimental artists access to the means of producing television.
'Experimental Video' by Horace Newcomb in Encyclopedia of Television, Horace Newcomb (ED), 2004, pp.830.
SA: So Paik is the first and only artist to intervene in the electronics in this stage so that an image can be formed as it emerges.So his vision at that point is as collage technique replaced oil paint, the cathode ray tube will replace the canvas.So the funny thing about this Wuppertal event that he needs tv telecast to be able to interrupt it and do this whole performance and at that point you only get TV between seven pm and nine pm.(Inaudible) for those few hours and Vostell as Nancy very thoroughly and beautifully placed is doing this in America and he has to film it. I dont remember...was it 16 or 35 but the TV images as they are coming on TV, he must have passively consumed them or (?)he interrupts them and we have seen the work. So, these are...this is already two important things that are going on.And then comes the Portapak. And so we jump to a moment where suddenly the medium of TV and the idea that we can actually do things on television has a very very short, super-utopian really wonderful moment both, again, in America and in Germany and then just dies.
In May 1968, Gerry Schum developed his idea for a Fernsehgalerie Schum Berlin, into which he incorporated suggestions made by Rene Block and Bernhard Hoke. The works were to be created exclusively for the television viewer and his/her home television set- at first on 16mm film-solely for this purpose and not available anywhere else.
Video art and institutions: The First Fifteen Years' by Wulf Herzogenrath in 40 Years Video Art De. Digital Heritage: Video Art in Germany from 1963 to the present, Rudolf Frieling/ Wulf Herzogenrath (EDS), pp. 22.
SA: When it dies we get the word "video art". We don't have it till then.So its this ...I want to go through these because I have...So we come to the Portapak. You can afford a camera and you begin to see the possibilities of many Utopias. One important person in this history is...This is a very unknown, bizarre, sad story but it is a German film-maker called Gerry Schum and we saw Land Art yesterday. Unfortunately Kaushik kept saying Robert Schum and I was like its Gerry Schum. He as a film-maker developed a clear concept for the artistic views of television in 1968. His vision mainly, television gallery, and I cannot pronounce this German word,Fernsehgalerie. So in 1968, he envisioned Television gallery and it was intended to produce and present art exclusively in the medium of television and not use normal exhibition galleries. To quote Gerry: " One of our ideas is communication of art considered possession of art objects. The TV gallery is more or less a mental institution which comes only to real existence in the moment of transmission by TV.So there is something very beautiful in what he is saying here. It can invoke...it has its own history, happenings and so many other things but yes, then there is something that's going to happen to two million, ten million x mass audiences that can only be realised in this moment of transmission.
SA: He shoots his television as a new way of conveying artistic processes and concepts beyond the object.His conceptual purism is a counter-pole to Otto Piene and I am quoting Dieter Daniels here who has a very beautiful essay that tries to contextualise this thing. So Gerry Schum has this idea of the TV gallery and meanwhile the German I forget the name of the broadcasting agency, is commissioning a super-expensive, really lavish studio with live action and stuff like that and Otto Piene does this work which we also have in this package is totally extravagant and blowing up these inflatables.Things are being projected over them and then the edit of it is ...so there is this extravagant, opulent art-piece that is being done.And there is some real (?), another wonderful vision.
Schum's concept, however, was to screen the works pure and simple in the same way that a piece of music is performed without commentary or having being altered in any way. No compromise was possible, not even in the case of the two unusual interventions that Schum succeeded in placing with WDR III- thanks to the producer Wibke Von Bonin: Jan Dibbet's TV as a fireplace ("A fire on the screen, offering the entire German people an open fireplace for the length of [20 crossed through and replaced with] x minutes in colour') and Self Burial by Keith Arnatt.
Video art and institutions: The First Fifteen Years' by Wulf Herzogenrath in 40 Years Video Art De. Digital Heritage: Video Art in Germany from 1963 to the present, Rudolf Frieling/ Wulf Herzogenrath (EDS), pp. 25.
SA: Schum did the programming entirely. He worked extremely closely with artists and allowed them the status of an autonomous work of art there.So he played producer, financier even one of those horrible TV industry types ones. He also played the artist. He also played the person who shot it often.He also played the curator.And sort of the key visionary kind.So like Devdutt would say no context, Gerry Schum said once it is on air, it is for the artist to control.And in fact he is criticised. How can you play Land Art for forty million people.It's just the tides come and go, people watch this in silence in a mass medium and not explain it.It was not. It was announced as a stark work of art in the credits and Land art plays.
So there is ...he says," During all the 30 minutes of the Land Art show, there are no words spoken, no explanation. I think an object realised in regard to TV does not need a spoken explanation.He also asked the basic question. What happens when artists take control of television.
SA: Whats important is that a lot of the works we saw were works commissioned by Gerry Schum's TV and TV as fireplace that we saw yesterday. I will show you a little clip of Joseph Boey's films TV.There is TV burier that we dont have here.Keith Arnatt's "Self-Burial" and Jan Dibbet's "TV as a fireplace".Keith Arnatt's "Self-Burial" this one minute image was inserted mandatorily into programmes for seven days and progressively the artist was getting buried inward, inward, inward into the ground. What happens is soon enough Gerry Schum cannot sustain this because its too arty, its a mass audience. This potential to free art to allow it to be accessed by everybody who is otherwise consuming it unaware of what the image is is shortlived.Gerry Schum has to actually convert this idea of Television Gallery to a video gallery which is an art gallery in the physical space and in order to make ends meet has to develop limited edition video art work. And so tapes are suddenly licensed, there are signed copies, there are originals. All of this happening between '69 and '70.And three months since then is born video art.From its history, very utopian history...and my papers are all messed up but I have some beautiful quotes and if I find them because I didn't staple this. Ah.
In 1972, the most important institution for the recognition of video art in Germany makes it appearance of video art in Germany: the documenta in Kassel, a large scale exhibition whose influence on the art discourse reaches far beyond the borders of Germany.
Since the Documenta 5, until the present day one can observe how integration of content and the presentation form of video art changes, as well as its ranking within the typical contemporary art discourse.
Originally Documenta was eager to promote the artist as the hero, and this was all the more possible and necessary as modern artists had been among the victims of National Socialist discrimination
Harald Szeemann's Documenta 5 investigated worlds of images for their reality content, from kitsch to the title page of the magazine Der Spiegel and the magnificent environments of the section "Individual mythologies". Thus the few video works of the section 'Self Portrait: Processes and Prozesse und Information' had no effect whatsoever, especially as connoisseurs were already familiar with Schum's tapes.
In the catalogue of the first Documenta, the heroization of the artists found a peculiar and prominent expression in the 16-page section of the plates, laconically listed in the table of contents as 'Photographs of artists'. Documenta 5 solved the puzzle of the lost photographs of artists. Instead of venerating the producers, the triumph of the new heroes, the mediators was heralded. Szeemann's contradictory notion of 'Individual Mythologies; the slogan of Documenta 5, is possibly the best password ever invented to lead the modern art's field of force. It gave Documenta 5 the intellectual and artistic features necessary to secure its fame as the most important Documenta.
'Video art and institutions: The First Fifteen Years' by Wulf Herzogenrath in 40 Years Video Art De. Digital Heritage: Video Art in Germany from 1963 to the present, Rudolf Frieling/ Wulf Herzogenrath (EDS), pp. 28.
'Changing the Heroes' by Walter Grasskamp in Thinking about exhibitions, Reesa Greenberg, Bruce W Ferguson and Sandy Nairne (EDS), 1996, pp. 55.
The videotapes have pretensions to being independent art objects. They have nothing in common with the usual dramaturgy of a film. Video art is not out of suspense. It generally focuses on a single occurrence or process.
Ideally, videotapes should not be present in a space just like a painting or a sculpture. Only when a videotape became as vivid as a sculpture was it viable to sell small editions at a relatively high price.
'At the right place at the right time? A brief report on current video art' by Sabine Maria Schmidt in 40 Years Video Art De. Digital Heritage: Video Art in Germany from 1963 to the present, Rudolf Frieling/ Wulf Herzogenrath (EDS), pp. 36.
SA: "The circle of people, said Gerry Schum," that can be reached by galleries and museums is minimal. âŚCompared with the book market, it is as if a successful writer could only keep in touch with his public through poetry readings, with his novels going through print-runs of millions. I am forced to the conclusion that in terms of possible communication between artwork and art public we are at about the same point as literature was before Gutenberg's invention of the letterpress." So, just for a moment imagine this if we didn't have a TV and it was all brand new."I cannot see why modern art can only be publicized on a wider scale when it is no longer modern."And that brings us to archives.That brings us to right now I can access the works of my Indian video art colleagues because they are afraid I would pirate. Twenty hears later sure lets build a wonderful archive.Lets tell stories.But there is a moment that's lost here. So, with the '69 story in Germany there was a similar story with the Boston TV. The first film we screened yesterday-the Marcel Odenbach If Memories Could Deceive Me was funded by Boston TV which had a proper art fund and the best names really. Even Gerry Schum managed to get all the stars who perhaps did their first and only work in that. It wasn't about using video art. It was about using that medium in giving the artists their time and realising something.
SA: I will show you...I have kept really short clips here because I really believe the archives are here. We'll keep it at CAMP. It will be at Max Mueller. You should be able to access it.
So, this was also telecast. Its called Felt TV.
SA: Its a much longer piece.There is the famous blood sausage that Beuys often uses in his work. There is various things that happen here. There is the carving made of the sausage. Two things that I found interesting was his use of felt here (?) Is it distancing you? Is it transmitting? He is pissed off with Gerry Scum.Little bit, Because he says you chose very bad camera angles.Because the initial feedback after this was telecast was that I am not bashing the TV.I am not boxing the TV.I am boxing the consumer. Because it was himself that he was punching.Beuys returns...He doesn't do other works for TV at all.But comes back in another thing that I will refer to. But I found some wonderful Dieter Daniels that says," So the artistic 'reconquest' of television is symptomatic of the new interdisciplinary direction being taken in the 1960s, working towards removing the boundaries between genres and the cultural institutions linked with them. The milieu of new music, happening, Fluxus, expanded cinema and concrete poetry helped to shape this early phase, which can only be reinterpreted as the beginning of media art from today's perspective." So I found something that matches what I was thinking.
SA: Let me find another Schum quote."In a television object the artist can reduce his object to an attitude, to a mere gesture as an indication of his concept. The art object presents itself as a unit made up of the idea, a visual presentation and the artist as demonstrator."Anyway, so its Video Gallery now. I just want to jump to two more significant things that happened before, in my opinion, it all deadlines, flatlines rather.Documenta 5 in 1972 has an extremely interesting commission again again that resonates a lot my work which is called Television.So again, its just a personal thing. My naive and failed project in 2001 was called Television Mumbai, fully failed but.Its a collective of artists who make a project called Documenta, Documenta of the People and it is broadcast and all the action is happening outside this...It happens in the ground outside there.Its a little mini van, a Volkswagon which has all this equipment and they are just creating (?) and compositions.They are shooting it, hand held long, people are arguing.I mean to think all the young people in Kassel and super-old people are sitting there arguing but all the documentations of it are lost. Some of it was conserved and is put in as a video piece in Documenta 6 (This is Documenta 5, 1972) in 1977 which is actually dedicated to video. So you already see video art and its place in...
SA: I will just play a different clip. Lets not...lets just close our mind to the rest of the world and think that its still precious days and things like that.
But what they would do is once these encounters were filmed they would be played back and more people would come and there would be endless debates about many things including the art, television, religion.
SA: So the first bit was on religion. The second bit, it kind of continues...
SA: So whats happening...so this work was just hated.People were like what is this all over the place thing? What is this discursive rant that is going on? Why does this happen every day at Documenta and so on and so forth.Pretty much the whole archive is lost but there was this little thing that became a debute for the next Documenta (inaudible)...important to bring this in the package. So what is happening is that there are other shows going on in the seventies.So its all hit the gallery now.So there is Howard Wise gallery in New York, an exhibition in'69, TV as Creative Medium.Rose Art Museum in Massachusetts has a show called Vision and Television also in '69.The Art In America magazine called its special issue in '69, "TV, the Next Medium".What already the broadcast medium is abandoned.When Documenta 6 in '77 has video as its main feature, the entrance to the gallery has a sign that says VT â TV.not equal to TV.Videotape is not the same as TV. So now you are contextualising the works as video art and thats sort of breaking in.
Documenta 6 had at the same time spent a lot of money and had some extremely well-watched and repeated satellite broadcasts. They were live from Kassel. I wanted to bring in two excerpts.
SA: So the first one was an hour special (inaudible)
(Second clip begins)
SA: And we were going to do a good night screening, a sixty minute of Nam June Paik's Good Morning,Mr.Orwell which is a ...Paik described it as art for twenty five minute people.It was broadcast live. It was a live link between Paris and New York because Germany couldnt fund it completely he went to Paris and then New York. And had a veritable list of nearly every avant garde artist at that point to every interesting rockstar, musician, poet and so on. WE are not going to screen it. I will just play a little bit of the introduction so that there is a bit of a context to the last film that I had shown.
SA: When we watched it at the studio earlier, a lot of us were reminded of Variety entertainment that would be telecast on DD on New Year's eve.So when your parents went out, at six as a kid I sat and watched rubbish for hours on TV.Can I have the lights on and read that veritable list of stars in the catalogue? Participants were:Joseph Beuys, Studio Bercot, Robert Cobas,Sappho which is a very interesting band, Turkish punk, UrbanSax, Laurie Anderson, John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Salvador Dali, Peter Gabriel,Allan Ginsberg, Philip Glass, Mauricio Kagel, Mitchell Kriegmann, Yves Montad,Charlotte Moorman who is always with the bra, Nam June Paik's partner, John Sanborn, the Thompson Twins, UrbanSax, Ben Vautier,Dean Winkler, Jacques Villers in Paris and George Plimpton in New York.Its worth watching but ...I have some notes about Paik and his utopia but again if you think for a minute then he says things like when TV is one-way and TV is national you are hearing news from a one-way channel in your nation about war and horrible things happening. If you could have global disco where everyone could go on with the world, dance together and share their dance forms and poetry and he does that often and even if you watch this entire thing or you watch Global Disco, seriously the variety of people he brings together, you would never see that sort of programming whether they are talking about race, whether they are talking about the avant garde. I mean there is something quite naive and ...But the reason for this was like Orwell who wrote a horribly depressing book in 1948 that life is not like that and that TV determinism is something I am deeply sceptical about and so I want to end with a film made in '83 and completed in '84. It's exactly when Nam June Paik is doing Good Morning, Mr.Orwell.
Michael Klier's Der Reise (The Giant) is a simple montage of video images recorded by surveillance cameras in various German cities- images of concern about something Orwell created as a vision of totalitarianism in 1984.
Der Reise originated in cooperation with ZDF's Das Kliene Fernsehspiel, and was first broadcast there in February 1983. Michael Klier's experimental documentary film creates an urban utopia that shows viewers the threatening and dualistic way in which both the omnipresent surveillance mechanisms and the cinematic image work; it is the same length as a feature film.
Klier's film uses only image from remote-controlled surveillance cameras in public streets, squares, shopping centers, and transit spaces such as airports and train stations, but also shots from banks, department stores, supermarkets and private property buildings. He spent three years on selection and montage, and put music by Wagner and Mahler in the film.
Der Reise is a film without a director, without a camerman, with no plot and no characters. There is no one who, as in a piece of documentary reportage, for example, is a witness to events. The equipment records the images of reality anonymously and in a dehumanized fashion. And yet the tension mounts almost imperceptibly over the length of the film, almost monotonous in its accumulation of similar images, and traces of atmosphere, individuality, fiction gradually start to become recognizable.
Der Reise presides over what might almost be described as a carnival of 'raw surveillance'. Seemingly grounded in a stubborn refusal to make the customary selection of the telling image, Klier's piece infact has the opposite effect of allowing the process of selection freer rein. In preserving the surveillance camera's slow saccadic movements, its scanning of the surface of the world, the piece reproduces- albeit at a technological remove- the action of the spectator's own eyes in the Gestalt search for patterns and correspondences; our urge to summon meaning and event from what are, to all intents and purposes, unremarkable, 'uneventful scenes.
Light Readings: Film Criticism and Screen Arts by Chris Darke, 2000, pp. 192.
1983| 'Der Reise: Michael Klier' by Katrin Kaschadt in 40 Years Video Art De. Digital Heritage: Video Art in Germany from 1963 to the present, Rudolf Frieling/ Wulf Herzogenrath (EDS), pp. 198, 199.
Live via satellite from New York, Paris, San Francisco in 1984, Nam June Paik's interactive television broadcast, 'Good Morning, Mr Orwell' was seen throughout the North American continent, Europe, Japan and Korea as a form of what he termed 'global disco'.
The piece, a collaboration of many artists and broadcast facilities was meant to refute the 'Big Brother is watching you' auguries made by George Orwell's 1984 as they relate to media.
The relationship between video and the mass medium of television has played a central role in Paik's work from the outset. With 'Good Morning…' Paik was the first person to completely explore the artistic possibilities of satellite transmission, the direct effect of television images as they emerged, their manipulation with a synthesizer, the experience of simultaneity and the time difference through broadcasting in different time zones, and the development of a metaphorical system for outer space from satellite technology.
He took up the ideas of the media theorist Marshall McLuhan who had enjoined artists to work with electronic media in his epoch making essay Understanding Media (1964). Artistic experimentation and innovative techniques come together in 'Good Morning Mr Orwell' as so often with Paik, which is evidence of the high degree of compatibility between satellite as a medium and the subject matter associated with 1984.
'Live Television as Global Disco' by Margot Lovejoy in Digital Currents: Art in the electronic age, 2004, pp. 234.
1984| 'Good Morning Mr. Orwell: Nam June Paik' by Doris Krystof in 40 Years Video Art De. Digital Heritage: Video Art in Germany from 1963 to the present, Rudolf Frieling/ Wulf Herzogenrath (EDS), pp. 198, 199.
SA: Michael Klier who is a film maker makes an eighty-two minute film called Der Riese or The Giant. It is eighty-two minutes because he wanted it to be feature length. Sebastian told me it ran in cinema halls.And again this is serendipity because two weeks ago in Taiwan, I actually made a presentation on the power of zoom, looking at various ways in which this omnipotent all-seeing eye works and I wish I had read this really.So of course, what the film basically is eighty-two minutes of surveillance footage taken from CCTV cameras in Germany. He has managed to source them all. We talked about suffocation. We talked about prisons.I hope you go through all of this but endure at least ten minutes of the film may be. (inaudible)
This is from the catalogue itself and they are referring to Astrit Schmid-Burkhardt.Text is called The All-Seer: God's Eye as Proto-Surveillance.Its a book written in 2002." The semantic multi-dimensionality of the 'look as a mode of experience and perception' is particularly revealing in this context.Voir is seeing and savoir is knowing or congnisance and recognizing and pouvoir is power and dominance. Then there is (inaudible), "The idea of the "divine omnipotent eye" in the metaphorical sense goes back to antiquity, but has been represented pictorially only since the sixteenth century."
SA: (inaudible)These are called PTZ cameras, pan tilt and zoom and all run from control rooms that can control, navigate and then zoom.The UK has (inaudible)...I have to show a couple of shots from here and there.The breadth of the CCTV, it goes into prisons, hospitals, rich mansions, gated communities, it goes on...He presented (inaudible) there is Wagner playing and its an oral society (inaudible).He also made another video which was banned in the sense that nobody screened it or gave it official telecast called Hotel.The Hotel where he then fakes, he does the surveillance, follows things in much the same way but at very close quarters and a bases it on a lot of issues...We have seen Harun Farocki's images at CAMP ( inaudible).
Dziga Vertov's Man with a Movie Camera...I don't know, I just thought about that.
SA: Didn't want to end on such a dark note but I think my point of trying to pretend that it wasn't a parallax view but it was parallax to be seen in terms of chronology or just be anachronistic and collapse and take us back to the sixties was my ...you can see it with a bit of naivetĂŠ and hope actually and how is this linked with CAMP and our activities? I think Sebastien was mentioning yesterday they were looking for another four letter word or ten letter whatever. He meant this in a different, not in an urgent way but there is something we are all trying to define in terms of our various art practices and CAMP doesn't just do discursive events. We actually work very committedly in the public domain whether it is collaborating with the Pirate team, whether it is having electricity from the jetty in Bandra promenade to an upper jetty in Khar Dhanda's non-existent promenade. Whether it is building archives. We would like to introduce Sebastien who has been working with us for a year in a wonderful collaboration. So CAMP is really about doing things. It doesn't have binaries with...or one to make walls between commercial artists or artists working with ...you know what I am saying... or activists,film-makers, poets. That is pretty much why we brought ten people together who, I think, just like art.That was why we came together.I do hope that without saying things , these things address certain absences in discussing art practices today. The internet has happened, the open source movement has happened.There is so many...technology is accessible.CCTV cameras are everywhere. Its a burnt-out world.2009 is probably a year to reckon with, I guess.In all of this, we need to really take some risks, dream happy utopias. I wouldn't therefore see heroic in a bad sense because I would then just see heriosm as against just being able to do things individually, collectively, think of an audience as well.