Oct. 1, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Video Artists Persuade Viewers to ‘Watch This!’

Courtesy Smithsonian American Art Museum

Hanhardt also wanted to pay tribute to Nam June Paik, considered to be the first video artist. The installation, “9/23/69: Experiments With David Atwood,” features a TV set from the 1960s. In the TV screen, images from 1960s videos are warped and distorted with color and shapes. Though easily found on applications such as Apple’s Photo Booth today, these kinds of changes were unheard of at the time. Paik had to invent them, Hanhardt said.

Another earlier piece comes from artist Peter Campus. “Three Transitions,” made in 1973, features Campus in three different scenarios being played on a TV. The first shows Campus cutting through a yellow paper wall. He positions a camera on each side of the wall. During the editing process, he laid the images on top of each other, creating the illusion that he was cutting through himself. Another “transition” shows a video of Campus “erasing” his own face by rubbing it away, only to reveal a still photograph of himself underneath. The final episode shows the artist burning a photograph of himself. But instead of a still image, he has positioned a video of his face where his portrait would be.

For Hanhardt, it’s important to display these kind of installations because he believes the future of art is likely to be in new media. 

“Some of the best work coming from young artists are in these forms because that’s what they are used to working with,” he said. “It’s what they want to work with. We want to embrace that.”

The exhibit opens Friday.

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