Last year, I led the first Sexual Assault Awareness Month collaborative installation at Plymouth State University. Not only did it require way more work than I had anticipated (especially in the action installation process) but the result was not quite what I think I would have wanted it to be. That’s a crazy sentence. What I mean is that, although it looked pretty cool, I am not sure how well it conveyed the message we were going for, and it def. could have looked better, had we given ourselves more time to get it installed or had planned way more in advance for where things were going to go. Having never done installation work before, I think it was difficult for all of us to figure our shit out.
I am hoping to lead another collaborative installation this year, but this time, rather than relying on statistics and bright colors to attract attention, I think I want to work with a video projection and maybe some “truisms” in Jenny Holzer style.
The thing is, I don’t really have much, ok, any, experience with video art. I mean, I haven’t made a video since I was in high school. I used to do them all the time for projects and stuff, but that was a long time ago. I dunno what I’m doing! That’s ok. I keep reminding myself that everyone has to start from somewhere. It just seems strange to be at this point and not know anything about this medium that seems to be so important in contemporary art.
So I am doing a bit of research. Or a lot of research, looking into other artists who use video art and what the aesthetics are like.
Video art allows a different level of audience participation – which is pretty cool, except for the fact that you have to have access to the equipment to make it happen.
You have to think about how you want to present your video art – is it projected onto a surface or material? Is it projected onto your viewers? Is it impacted by when your viewer enters the space? (Think Kara Walker)
I want to temper all this research (after all, the excitement of a whole new world to explore can overwhelm a more realistic approach to art-making) with some other research focused on how the viewers approaches video art installations. Check out Anne Perterson’s article, Attention and Distraction: On the Aesthetic Experience of Video Installation Art
Multi-screen installations demand that their visitors adopt an “environmental” or “context-aware” approach. Moreover, much information will remain either outside perception or on the “periphery” as something the visitor knows is available without attending to it directly.11 Thus, their sensory impact deviates radically from traditional art. To unpack this issue, this article resumes a theme from Walter Benjamin’s essay on the technological reproducibility of the work of art, reconsidering Benjamin’s notion that distraction and concentration “form polar opposites.” Benjamin argues that in contrast to a traditional work of art that demands “concentration,” modern technology fosters new media and cultural formations, such as Benjamin’s paradigmatic example, the film, that are “consummated by a collectivity in a state of distraction.”
I find myself wondering if this new frontier will be the more interesting and contemporary way to explore the topics I am interested in. And if it is, how will that change me, as an artist? How do you begin to deal with such different things as paintings and video art?