Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Dadaist Manifesto, Tristan Tzara, Franz Jung, George Grosz, Marcel Janco, Richard Huelsenbeck, Gerhard Preisz, Raoul Hausmann

April 1918

Dadaist Manifesto (Berlin)

The signatories of this manifesto have, under the battle cry

gathered together to put forward a new art from which they expect the realisation of new ideas. So what is DADAISM, then?

The word DADA symbolises the most primitive relationship with the surrounding reality; with Dadaism, a new reality comes into its own.

Life is seen in a simultaneous confusion of noises, colours and spiritual rhythms which in Dadaist art are immediately captured by the sensational shouts and fevers of its bold everyday psyche and in all its brutal reality. This is the dividing line between Dadaism and all other artistic trends and especially Futurism which fools have very recently interpreted as a new version of Impressionism.

For the first time, Dadaism has refused to take an aesthetic attitude towards life. It tears to pieces all those grand words like ethics, culture, interiorisation which are only covers for weak muscles.


describes a tramcar exactly as it is, the essence of a tramcar with the yawns of Mr Smith and the shriek of brakes.

teaches the interrelationship of things, while Mr Smith reads his paper, the Balkan express crosses the Nisch bridge and a pig squeals in the cellar of Mr Bones the butcher.

turns words into individuals. The letters of the word " wood " create the forest itself with the leafiness of its trees, the uniforms of the foresters and the wild boar. It could also create the Bellevue Boarding House or Bella Vista. Dadaism leads to fantastic new possibilities in forms of expression in all arts. It made Cubism into a dance on the stage, it spread the Futurist bruitist music all over Europe (for it had no desire to maintain this in its purely Italian context). The word DADA shows the international nature of a movement which is bound by no frontier, religion or profession. Dada is the international expression of our time, the great rebellion of artistic movements, the artistic reflexion of all those many attacks, peace congresses, scuffles in the vegetable markets, social get-togethers, etc., etc.
Dada demands the use of


Dada is a club which has been founded in Berlin which you can join without any obligations. Here, every man is president and everyone has a vote in artistic matters. Dada is not some pretext to bolster up the pride of a few literary men (as our enemies would have the world believe). Dada is a state of mind which can be revealed in any conversation so that one is forced to say: "This man is a Dadaist, this one isn't." For these reasons, the Dada Club has members all over the world, in Honolulu as well as New Orleans and Meseritz. To be a Dadaist might sometimes mean being a businessman or a politician rather than an artist, being an artist only by accident. To be a Dadaist means being thrown around by events, being against sedimentation; it means sitting for a short instant in an armchair, but it also means putting your life in danger (M. Weng pulled his revolver out of his trouser pocket).... A fabric tears under the hand, one says yes to a life that seeks to grow by negation. Say yes, say no; the hurly- burly of existence is a good training ground for the real Dadaist. Here he is lying down, hunting, riding a bicycle, half Pantagruel, half St Francis, laughing and laughing. Down with aesthetic-ethical tendencies! Down with the anaemic abstraction of Expressionism! Down with the literary hollow-heads and their theories for improving the world!
Long live Dadaism in word and image! Long live the Dada events of this world! To be against this manifesto is to be a Dadaist!

Berlin, April
Tristan Tzara, Franz Jung, George Grosz, Marcel Janco, Richard Hülsenbeck, Gerhard Preisz, Raoul Hausmann.

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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Working On and With Eigensinn, Giaco Schiesser

Media | Art | Education [1]

Translated by Tom Morrison

The article focuses on a media and art education in pace with the times, through a new approach: the conception of Eigensinn (approx.: wilful obstinacy) of media and artists is developed in detail as the crucial artistic and media productive force. Giving an insight in some central influences / demarcations/ transformations of different art media in the 20th century it proposes that a forward-looking media art education in pace with the times could rest on three pillars: 1. Training in individual, collective and collaborative media authorship. 2. Working on and with the Eigensinn of media (e.g. film, photography, computers / networks and the fine arts). 3. Art as process, art as technique. These three pillars are worked out and presented in detail.

Zurich, July 2004 / October 2005
In memory of Hans-Jürgen Bachorski (1950-2001) [2]

Since to talk about something inevitably means to keep silent about many other subjects, I wish to begin by stating what I will not be talking about.
1. I will not discuss "broad" or "narrow" definitions of art, or indeed propose a normative definition. You will hear nothing about notions of art as a "Gesamtkunstwerk" along the lines first formulated by Richard Wagner, then democratized by Joseph Beuys, and recently updated by artists like Roy Ascott. Nor will you hear anything about Umberto Eco's definition of the "open work" or about notions of art that attempt to establish a work's character as art exclusively on the basis of its aesthetics by means of the internal structure or of the semantic compression, and the resultant "surplus value" of a picture, a novel or a film.
2. I will not discuss "broad" or "narrow" definitions of the concept of media, either. That means you will hear nothing about the meaning and implications of definitions that, in line with Herbert Marshall McLuhan, count cars and trains alongside the media of literature, photography and film, or about the even broader concepts that, following Niklas Luhmann, include money and love as media. I will also keep silent about very specific understandings of media such as are the basis, for instance, of Claude E. Shannon's mathematical information models.

However, there are five things I do want to talk about:

1. that which I am attempting to describe with the notion of the "Eigensinn of a medium";

2. the meaning of the terms "art as technique" and "art as method";

3. several historically recurring processes in the emergence of a new medium, and the implications of these processes for the arts;

4. a few conclusions resulting for an art and media education in pace with the times;

5. and finally, the prospective central importance of art and media in what is problematically termed the "information society", the era now underway.

1. Eigensinn – Meaning and potential of a concept
At a time when the major narratives to which we had bid conclusively farewell have become possible once more, I wish to begin with a small but magnificent story:
"Once upon a time there was a child who was wilful, and would not do as her mother wished. For this reason God had no pleasure in her, and let her become ill, and no doctor could do her any good, and in a short time she lay on her death-bed. When she had been lowered into her grave, and the earth was spread over her, all at once her arm came out again, and stretched upwards, and when they had put it in and spread fresh earth over it, it was all to no purpose, for the arm always came out again. Then the mother herself was obliged to go to the grave, and strike the arm with a rod, and when she had done that, it was drawn in, and then at last the child had rest beneath the ground."
This "tale" (no. 117) is by far the shortest of those included in the 1819 collection of fairytales by the Brothers Grimm. It is entitled Das Eigensinnige Kind [3] ("The Wilful Child", Grimm 1884, p. 125).
More than 150 years later, that particular fairytale was the subject of a lucid interpretation in Geschichte und Eigensinn, a book co-authored by the renowned writer, filmmaker and television producer Alexander Kluge and the sociologist Oskar Negt (Klege/Negt 1981, pp. 765-769). Kluge and Negt worked out the rich lexical substance of the term "Eigensinn" (along with the adjectival noun "Eigensinnigkeit" - a word and motif core existing solely in the German-speaking countries - and made the extended, transformed term the strategic pivot of their individual- and species-historical developmental analysis. They define "Eigensinn" as 1) a focus in which history can be comprehended as the centre of conditions of dialectic gravitation, 2) as a result of dire distress ("bitterer Not"), 3) as a reaction to the duress of a given context, 4) as the protest, condensed in one point, against the expropriation of one's own senses leading to the external world, and 5) as the further working of motifs expelled or retired from society at the place where they have most protection, namely in the subject (see Kluge/Negt 1981, p. 765ff.).
For Negt and Kluge, the Eigensinn of individuals represents an intertwining of two different processes: on the one hand, it is the place of repressed desires that have not been lived (Ort der verdrängten, nicht gelebten Wünsche) that accumulate in the course of an individual and social life. Of something yet to be settled ("ein Unabgegoltenes"), which - because unable to be stifled - insidiously and recurrently makes itself noticed (the hand of the obstinate child that repeatedly emerges from the grave after the child's death, because the child finds no rest). On the other hand, Eigensinn is the point of departure of all social and individual processes (Ausgangspunkt aller gesellschaftlichen und Individuellen Prozesse): social starting point for every political and cultural project, individual starting point for a self-determined life lived according to its own sense (eigen-sinnig). Eigen-Sinn, "own sense, ownership of the five senses, through that capability of perceiving what happens in the world around oneself" (Kluge/Negt 1981, p. 766) is the place which must recurrently be worked out in the course of an individual biography and from which a life of one's own can and/or must develop under the given conditions of a historical conjunction. In everyday life, people fulfil not only externally imposed requirements but also pursue their own objects by evading - sometimes consciously, sometimes unconsciously - with surprising, peculiar ("eigen-artig": of its own kind) and obstinate attitudes those things which they are economically, politically or culturally required to do, undermine them, ignore them, trample them underfoot, oppose and transverse them. [4]
The Eigensinn of individuals is best described by this conscious-unconscious, sometimes bizarre and often contradictory will to do that which they want to do, under whatever conditions, by their self-determined actions, their mentalities and their recalcitrance, and by the desires recurrently articulated in a form that goes against the grain. [5]
Due to the semantic richness of the words Eigensinn / Eigensinnigkeit, I have proposed that they be adopted as loan words in English.

2. Excursus: The two paradigms of the concept Eigensinn / Eigensinnigkeit - superbia vs. productive force
In German, the words Eigensinn / Eigensinnigkeit possess a lexical aurora encompassing at least four layers of meaning:

1) in the most current everyday usage, with clearly negative connotations: stubbornness, headstrongness, obstinacy, wilfulness, sometimes madness;

2) the literal meaning is "with the specific sense a person gives to him or her self and with which he or she interprets/maps their environment";

3) again, literally: with one's own five senses, that is to say with one's own sensibility/sensuality (in German, sense Sinn and sensibility Sinnlichkeit share the same common etymological root), with the logic and/or structure according to which a person behaves;

4) as positively connotated attributes, Eigensinn / Eigensinnigkeit mean independence,
originality, perseverance, self-confidence, an original way of looking at things.
The subdominant, repressed and suppressed tradition of the conception of Eigensinn as positive, as a productive force was disclosed only in the 19th century, with the Grimm brothers' transcription of the tale of The Wilful Child. The conception which appears here deserves to be worked out in more detail - because of space limitation I can only mark the direction here - by linking it to Sigmund Freud's conception of "extrusion" / "condensation" (Verdrängung/ Verdichtung) (Freud 2001), to Jacques Lacan's conception of the "split subject" (gespaltenes subjekt) (Lacan 1975, 1991) and to Antonio Gramsci's concept of the "bizarre", highly contradictorily composed "everyday mind" (Alltagsverstand) (Gramsci 1970, p. 130f.)
The predominant, opposite tradition which stresses the negative meaning of the conception of Eigensinn goes back a long time and can be found very early in the antique and the German languages. [5a] Augustine's more ambivalent concept of "voluntas propria", lat. "cosilium proprium" (a person's own will) becomes definitely a negative concept under the influence of the neo-platonism. From that time on "voluntas propria" became the origin of the original sin and the concept has become a battle concept (Kampfbegriff) to fight for the order willed by God. In the mysticism of the late middle ages the concept was translated as "eigen meinunge" (a person's own opinion) by Meister Eckehard and Tauler. Luther became the first to translate it with "Eigensinn". For both, for Luther's Protestantism and for the Catholic spirituality of the 16th and 17th century (e.g. Ignatius of Loyola, Teresa of Avila), "voluntas propria" became the marking for the totality of individual existence and was therefore to be rigorously fought against. Rousseau takes this thread by secularising the term but still using it in a negative way (volonté particulière vs. volonté génerale).
This secularised tradition is taken up, transformed and reformulated, in the work of G.W.F. Hegel [5b] which had a great impact on subsequent times. For Hegel Eigensinnigkeit is a level of the Unhappy Consciousness of the servant, which has to be sublated (aufgehoben). "Der eigene Sinn ist Eigensinn, eine Freiheit, die noch innerhalb der Knechtschaft stehen bleibt". In the framework of her Theories of Subjection Judith Butler has recently picked up the negatively connotated concept of Eigensinnigkeit uncritically approving with direct references to Hegel, (Butler 1997, Chapter 1): "Indeed self-feeling (of the servant, G.S.)refers only and endlessly to itself (a transcendental form of eigensinnigkeit), and so is unable to furnish knowledge of anything other than itself. (Butler, 1997, p. 47).
The history and development of the dominant conceptions Eigensinn / Eigensinnigkeit make clear that the individuality of a person that is rooted in his or her sensibility (Sinnlichkeit) - his or her own senses (Sinnen) - and in his or her own, developed meaning (Sinn) of being in the world has been excluded first under the verdict of the pregiven order willed by God and then subjugated to the majestic-dignity of the (world-)mind. End of the excursus.

3. Eigensinn of the Media as Productive Force
I have proposed that the notions of Eigensinn and Eigensinnigkeit be used in analyzing media and the arts, as well as in producing art (Schiesser 2002, 2003a,b, 2005). In other words: I propose to consider the Eigensinn / Eigensinnigkeit of media as a productive force of its own.
It is this collision of the Eigensinn of the media with the Eigensinnigkeit of creators that initiates and perpetuates a significant and paradoxical process. The artist is subjugated to the Eigensinn inscribed in the media, yet as a creator who is himself eigen-sinnig, the artist also incessantly tries to make the Eigensinn of media yield to his own will. Art has always derived its subjects, aesthetics and future from this process which, because it cannot be resolved, is interminable. I am proposing, in other words, that we talk about the Eigensinn of the media as a productive force.

Everything we are able to say, apprehend and know about the world is presented, recognized and known with the help of media. Ever since the half-blind Friedrich Nietzsche clear-sightedly found that the typewriter was "also working on our thoughts" (an understatement, from the contemporary stance), or at the latest since Herbert Marshall McLuhan's much-quoted aperçu that "the medium is the message", we have known that media do not merely serve to convey messages but are - somehow - involved in the substance of the message. It is therefore necessary to ascribe to media the power of co-producing, and not just transporting meaning, if not to join Roman Jakobson in declaring meaning to be product of the material (sensory) attributes of the medium itself. In other words, media (by which, in the present context, I mean merely those media which have historically earned special significance for art production, that is to say: literature, music, theatre, photography, film, video, television, computer and networks) possess a meaning of their own (einen eigenen Sinn) -- Eigensinn.[6]
The talk of the specific Eigensinn of different media initially makes it clear that media and their codification are never neutral tools for transporting ideas, images and sounds, especially when these media and codes are being used for academic or artistic purposes. They are inscribed with material, semantic, syntactic, structural, historical, technological, economical and political Eigensinningkeiten and their history (one need only think of what we have learned about the Eigensinn of language from writers like Saussure, Nietzsche, Freud, Marshall Mc Luhan, Lacan and Laclau), of which their users have only partial conscious command. In every contemporary medium being used for artistic purposes, then, its entire cultural history is inscribed, sometimes as "dead labour", sometimes as "living labour" (Alexander Kluge in taking up a notion introduced by Karl Marx). Every medium possesses a specific materiality, specific technological prerequisites, specific structural attributes, different traditions, semantic charging, and requires different techniques and modes of proceeding of which the artist is only partially aware. Therefore, every medium contains different potentialities and boundaries, and is furthermore defined in its type and effect by economic, political and cultural factors. That which is able to be written in a literary work differs from that able to be shown in a film. That which photography records or places in scene is different from that expressed by a piece of music.
Each of these mediums is unique and irreplaceable. The history of each medium saw the development of an ongoing repertoire of aesthetics often strictly separated from, or in contradiction to, those of the others. In film, for instance, this repertoire ranges from the silent-film aesthetic of somebody like Georges Méliès over the first and second French avant-garde movements and Italian Neo-Realism to the contemporary splatter movie. In literature it stretches from the aventure novel of Walther von der Vogelweide (or, in the Anglo-Saxon context, from Beowulf) over Dadaism and the écriture automatique of the Surrealists to the collaboratively authored Net literature of the present. In music it ranges from medieval pentatonics and Italian opera over twelve-tone music and jazz up to punk, hiphop and ambient - to name but a few examples.
Let me specify a few aspects of the Eigensinn of a medium on the basis of three mediums subject to extensive artistic usage, and using the examples of literature, Net art, and painting. The basic material processed by literature is language. Language is a time-based, mono-aesthetic medium. Whatever literature wishes to express must be presented in linear, sequential form. As a general rule, the reader reads literature in the form of a book, linearly, from top left to bottom right, page for page. A very different situation applies in the case of works of Net art: they too are time-based media, but they are synaesthetic as opposed to mono-aesthetic, since text, image and sound can be present in equal measure. Second, works of Net art are a polyphonic medium: text, image and sound may also occur simultaneously. And, third, Net artworks are fundamentally non-linear in design. Therefore, they demand from the spectator what I call "structural interaction", which may differ in quite a number of ways from the "interaction" of somebody who is reading a book or looking at a painting. Imagine, as the third example, that you enter the Louvre armed with a paintpot and brush, place yourself in front of the painting entitled Mona Lisa and attempt to actively alter the painting with your brush and paint. At the very least, you would have to reckon with legal proceedings and a psychiatric assessment.
These examples must suffice as demonstration of the fundamental differences in materiality, authorship, status of the artwork and the necessary behaviour of recipients in such cases. In one case we have an individual authorship, a finished work of art, and a recipient who, in order to enjoy the art, must read a book or view a picture, while in the other case we often have in front of us a collective, sometimes collaborative, authorship, an "artwork in movement" (Umberto Eco), along with, ideally, recipients who - translocally distributed and synaesthetically solicited - must actively first co-create the work of art as actual co-authors, for if they do not act interactively, nothing happens: no work of art comes into being. And the converse holds true: If the artwork comes to a standstill, if there is nobody interactively manipulating it, then it might be "completed", but is dead at the same time.
I must immediately stress the fact that from the historical perspective the Eigensinn specific to a particular medium - which was always a central theme of artistic production - has always emerged in a process of disassociation combined with reciprocal influence. The separation of established media from new mediums always entailed the transformation of the former. After the invention of photography, for example, the until then important genre of portrait painting receded into the background. Photography was now the medium of portraiture - until, after a renewed transformation, portrait painting became current once more in an innovative form, as for example in Cindy Sherman's untitled photo-portrait series in the 1980s. As a second example I would point to montage, a technique filmmakers adopted from literature and, having further developed it in the film medium, differentiated and transformed to produce a process of reciprocal interaction which has endured up to the present day. [7]

4. Influences | Demarcations | Transformations - On the History of the Media and the Arts
The varied history of the media and the arts makes more clearly discernible, at least since photography was invented, the following processes:
1. Artists working in and with the newly emergent medium must initially take recourse to established aesthetics and the methods of old media. [8] They try out, experiment, and only gradually work out the potentialities of the new medium. In some cases - like literature -the development of adequate, media-authentic aesthetics takes centuries, whereas in other cases - like film - it takes merely a few decades. In the early days of film, for instance, the medium as a matter of course took up established aesthetic elements of literature (such as the narrative structure of the story or the figure of the hero), of theatre (actors, dialogue, set), of dance (choreography, rhythm), and of fine art (panorama, close-up, long shot). [9]
2. "Old", that is to say established, media are plunged into crisis by the emergence of a new medium, and are required to alter their focus and differentiate their strongpoints and unique attributes in a new way within the dispositif of their particular, historically different media and art productions. [10] I have pointed out the altered focuses in the case of portrait painting in the field of fine art. Since the mid-1990s, it has been possible to witness a clear demonstration of the same process in the case of the theatre.
Due to the rise of the new media, the theatre has been in crisis for several years, and has recognized this situation. What answers has it found so far? On the one hand, we have seen the emergence of theatre that radically returns to and brings into focus one of its specific attributes, its physicality (as in the work of the Catalonian group La Fura dels Baus, or in contemporary post-dramatic theatre). On the other hand, theatre has emerged that attempts to reflect upon the new media (computer, networks), and to deploy them not merely as tools but as mediums for renewed, transformed theatre forms (for instance, the Japanese group Dumb Type, the Canadian director Robert Lepage, the Swiss director Stefan Pucher, or the German playwright Ulrike Syha or, within the last few years, also Fura dels baus).[11] In art-historical terms, the alternatives grasped are recurrently either to recall and focus upon a specific attribute of the old medium, or to reflectively integrate the medium which is new at a particular time. Even if the consequences of either method differ, they both bring about a transformation of the established medium.
3. If the Eigensinn of a new medium has to some degree been recognized, tried out and developed, the new artistic methods and possibilities have an effect on the old media. Soon after the invention of photography and film, for instance, these media began to exercise a strong influence on literature, and since very recently we can witness a similar influence being exercised by the new media: The attempt to explode the linearity of the language defining the literary work in its four-hundred year tradition can be traced from Dadaism over the montage novel and écriture automatique up to Concrete Poetry and the contemporary attempts to make useful for printed literature the non-linear link structure which is fundamental to the Internet.
4. Hybrid forms emerge that co-exist with the mono-media art forms. Historical examples would be ready-mades, experimental films, Happenings, art interviews, film essays, video installations.

5. "Art as Technique" | "Art as Method"
As I will demonstrate, art as technique and art as method are two different aspects of one and the same process. I will begin with "art as technique".
It would be possible to connect up the following considerations to current art discourse by referring to somebody like the French philosopher Jacques Rancière, a recognized authority on literature and film, who articulated his view on art as follows: "Like knowledge, art (...) creates fictions, i.e. material redistributions of signs and images of the relationships between what one sees and what one says, and also between what one does and what one can do"(cited after David 2001, p. 195). Or by referring to Jean-François Lyotard's thesis that the work of art "tries to present the fact that there is an unpresentable" (Lyotard 1984, p. 101). This attempt - the ultimate driving force in art - is a "task of derealization" (Lyotard 1986, p. 79) of the images, the representations, the ordering frame of reference. However, I wish to go back further in time and deploy the historical formula of "art as technique", which is rhizomatically linked to the analyses of Rancière and Lyotard. The hugely influential notion of "art as technique" dates back to the Russian literary theorist Viktor Shklovsky. In his 1916 essay "Art as Technique" (Shklovsky 1994) [12] he attempted to comprehend the objective of art, and in particular the objective of the image, while at the same time establishing a clear distinction from the aesthetic of mimesis predominant at the time of writing.
" 'If the whole complex lives of many people go on unconsciously, then such lives are as if they had never been.' And art exists that one may recover the sensation of life; it exists to make one feel things [and not, like in science, to recognize them, G.S.], to make the stone stony. The purpose of art is to impart the sensation of things as they are perceived and not as they are known. The technique of art is to make objects "unfamiliar" ["ostranie": making strange, G.S.[13], to make forms difficult, to increase the difficulty and length of perception because the process of perception is an aesthetic end in itself and must be prolonged. Art is a way of experiencing the artfulness of an object; the object is not important. (Shklovsky 1994, emphasis G.S.)
Shklovsky is essentially concerned with two things. First, by means of abbreviated (stunted), automated perceptions - "habitual associations" (Brecht) - people rapidly and transiently reduce the wealth of objects and facts in their everyday lives to recognizable schemata (cf. Shklovsky 1994). Art, by contrast, destroys these automatic mechanisms. By various techniques, objects and circumstances are abruptly severed from their customary associations, decontextualized, "made strange", so that the process of perception is prolonged and/or made more difficult, and the object is not merely recognized, but "felt" and, as if for the first time, "seen". The core concept in Shklovsky's considerations is that of the necessity to break through the "automatism of perception" by "various means" (Shklovsky 1994).
The technique of art stressed by Shklovsky has consequences in regards to the aesthetics both of production and reception; in the present context, the production-aesthetic consequences are especially interesting: If the "making of a thing itself" and the "form made difficult", that is to say the "making strange" by "various means", become the central focus of art, then immediately the question about the medium, about its Eigensinn, is on the agenda: about the undiscovered possibilities and obstinacies sketched out above. For the "form made difficult" and the "various means" are directly dependent on the materiality, structure, and technology specific to the chosen medium.

On the second aspect: art as method.
Art as method means to place the experimental in the foreground. But in contrast to the natural sciences, in which falsification and verifiability are the decisive criteria leading to proofs and verifiable results, the ultimate target towards which artistic practice is oriented is not the fixation on results but the process-based character of creative activity. Artistic experimentation is concerned explicitly with the "conditions of what is possible" (Philippe Lacoue-Labarthes, cit. after David 2001, p. 185), not with the foundations of the feasible. As a procedure of artistic practice, experimentation means to develop strategies of innovation. This, however, this presupposes something that might be described as an attitude of inner productivity. This attitude - which any academic media and art education must play an essential role in co-conveying to its students - is expressed in curiosity, willingness to take risks and refusal to compromise in regard to one's own subjects and interests and in regard to the work on and with the Eigensinn of the media. Admittedly, it is possible to theoretically reflect upon the possibilities of a specific medium and also, in the case of media whose histories are as long as those of literature, theatre, dance and music, to analytically define them more precisely. However, in order to investigate, try out, test to the limit and transform a medium, in order to undermine it, hybridize it, to go against its grain, in order to make it sensorially experiencable as an artefact, it is necessary to practice art on and with the particular medium.
Let me illustrate the above on the basis of two examples from film history. In the 1960s, the filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard withdrew to Lyon and for several years (as a member of the groupe dziga vertov) was almost exclusively preoccupied with video, at that time a new and exciting medium. The result was a series of videos (Six fois deux, British Sounds, Pravda et al.), in which the video medium is investigated experimentally, and new contents, new techniques, new methods and modes of perception are tried out. Finally, Godard put to use in film the experience thus gained by integrating the investigated formats, methods and findings (non-linear dramatic structure, splitting up one large screen into several small ones, aesthetic of the image) into films such as his Numéro 2 (1975), and so expanded the possibilities of film by transforming the medium. Or take the writer, filmmaker and TV maker Alexander Kluge, who attempts to make the television medium go against the grain, to wrestle from it new possibilities, and in this way enable the viewers to have new experiences, experiences that simultaneously presuppose and promote intense sensorial activity on the part of the audience (of broadcasts such as News and Stories, 10 vor 11, Bekanntmachung! et al.). Kluge accomplishes this by using a number of different aesthetic procedures, techniques and structural elements adopted from the rich history of film, music and literature and adapted for television: minute-long close-ups, original sound, slowness, inserted text panels, or the mounting of "classical lenses" on electronic cameras. "We use," states Kluge, "a Debrie camera from 1923, for instance, and program the electronic computers to obey the rules that long-dead cameramen fed to this Debrie camera. In this way, we recall a piece of dead work from film history, and program it into the broadcast." (Cit. after Schiesser/Deuber 2000, p. 363f.) [14]

6. A Media and Art Education in Pace with the Times
Eigensinn of the mediums, art as technique / art as method - these are the focal themes on which I trained my sights in the foregoing. I chose these aspects of the wide "media and art" field because I consider them to be the strategic factors or problematics in a model of media and art education on a level with the times. Individual, collective and collaborative authorship is the third, and equivalent, factor that joins the two stated already. What would the Eigensinn of the mediums amount to without the Eigensinningkeit and the Scharfsinnigkeit (the acumen) of artistic authorship!
A media and art education in pace with the times, an education thought out in terms of the future and at the same time taking seriously and working through traditional experience, will place territories of experimentation at the disposal of students. In these territories students will be expected and encouraged to carry out curious, radical and uncompromising work -- both individually and collectively, and eigensinnig at all events -- on self-chosen or biographically inscribed interests, contents and subjects, as well on and with the Eigensinn of various single and hybrid mediums.
Today, transmedia education is part of media training. Transmedia education means that the students are empowered to work simultaneously in and with one medium, and at the same time to learn how to devise and use artistically the interface to other media. In a media- and technology-based age like the post-industrial present, authorship means not only individual or collective authorship to which everybody contributes his specific components, but collaborative authorship in which everyone is capable of networking his/her specific skills with those of the others, and over and over again emerges from this process having been fundamentally transformed. However, alongside the development of social, communicative and, in increasing measure, analytic competence, this requires in-depth knowledge of one's own medium and knowledge of the other media. I see the significance of an education that intensifies this mindfulness of the nature of media and simultaneously encourages transmedia networking - and such an education must inevitably extend beyond the subjects offered by an art and media academy - as lying in the fact that it enables the students to make their way as artists on a level with their times or as flexible and versatile media authors of the type increasingly and urgently required by the "information society". In either case, they will be capable as individuals and as members of a team of assuming the responsibility for content, conception, implementation, production processes and budgeting.
If it is true to say that a new medium exercises a dual influence on old media insofar as it forces the latter to re-assess their possibilities in the light of new conditions, and at the same time transforms them, then an important challenge and chance for media and art education lies also, and particularly, in the enabling and furtherance of hybrid or cross-over artworks, be they interactive audio installations, video essays, media architecture, transmedia interfaces in urban spaces, DJ events, digital poetry, new aesthetics of the performative, SMS visuals for clubs, parties, intercity streams of DJ events, Net TV, cultural software, radio concerts for mobile phones - or, or, or. Transmedia or hybrid art demands - and in the mid-term that is the central challenge for art education - the working out, communication and usage of a series of complex specialist areas like neurophysiology, cognitive sciences, architecture, nanotechnology, theories of information, aesthetics, cognitive and perception theory, life sciences. At present, these subjects are taught at not one, but several different, universities - a situation essentially due to the striking leap forward taken by the media as a result of digitalization, even if they had become increasingly technology-based from the invention of photography onward. Thus, for art too, the dispositif has changed fundamentally and dramatically. [15] Some years ago, Hans-Peter Schwarz, the former director of the Media Museum at ZKM Karlsruhe, published a richly informative article in which he reconstructed the changing history of the various arts and of technology since the eighteenth century, and established the inescapable significance of technologies for contemporary and future media arts (Schwarz 1997, p. 11ff.). The linkage of the arts, technologies and sciences - a linkage that during the brief, historic epoch of the Renaissance took place as a matter of course - has today undeniably become a prerequisite for future art and media work, and for that reason also for adequate training in that field.

7. Art Subjects | Immaterial Labour | Post-Postmodernism
"Postmodernism", "Hi-Tech Capitalism", "Postfordism", "Information Age", "Cyber Society", "Network Society" or even "Post-Information Age" - so probing, boldy assertive or normatively defining as these current concepts variously are, and however divergent their implications, they all point to the fact that a transition is taking place from one era to another. Among all the differing viewpoints in the specialist literature, there is agreement on one aspect: that digitalization and the concomitant computeratization and networking will fundamentally change all areas of society, politics, economics and culture, and in part have done so already. At the same time, it is becoming increasingly clear that what for some time now has been discussed under the rubric "immaterial labour" is gaining strategic importance. (See Negri et al. 1998 for an introduction.) Whereas "Fordism" or, as the case may be, "industrialized society" required working subjects who, in line with the principle of division of labour and integrated in a regular working day within a system of vertical hierarchy, went about their specific duties and clearly separated their working time from their leisure time, Postfordism demands working subjects of a wholly new order. At least in the fields in which graduates of an art and media academy will work, Postfordism already requires extremely creative subjects, subjects who are active, have multifarious interests, and are "rich in knowledge" (as the Italian social theorist and Postoperaist Toni Negri puts it), and preferably can demonstrate "hybrid CVs" (as Josef Brauner, former CEO of Sony Deutschland, put it already in the mid-1990s). Or, in the words of Maurizio Lazzarato, a leading theorist of "immaterial labour": subjects who are capable of combining "intellectual capabilities, craft skills, creativity, imagination, technical expertise and manual dexterity," of making "entrepreneurial decisions, of intervening within the framework of the social conditions, and of organizing social co-operation" (Lazzarato 1998, p. 46) - in other words, subjects who have taken to heart the principle of art as method.
That the above does not automatically lead to an affirmation of the social status quo, as some of you may fear and others may hope, becomes clear if you remind yourself that critique of society, not to mention its transformation, never originates from one location (there is no Archimedean point), but takes place in several places simultaneously. It needs artists who, with their aesthetic works, their sensory artefacts, offer us new modes of perceiving and thinking, new models of experience, place in our hands new instruments for drawing up maps and navigating. And in equal measure it needs media workers who - because they have developed their powers of authorship and throughout their studies battled against the Eigensinn of one or more medium - as filmmakers are capable of making television better than the programmes we see every day, as photographers are capable of deploying their medium in innovative fashion in newspapers, magazines, books and advertising, or as new-media specialists are capable of trying out and implementing cultures of playing other than the conventional shooter games, as well as new learning environments or the machinic platforms whose potential has so far hardly been fathomed.
The obstinate, wilful (eigensinnigen) members of society will perhaps not thank the graduates or the art colleges, but they will certainly need artists and media products of this kind, and will know how to use them for the greatest of all the arts: the art of their own life.

1) This article was revised and enlarged for the English translation. The original version dates back to 2003, when a first, abridged version was published in the Catalogue of the Ars Electronica Festival Linz2003: “Medien | Kunst | Ausbildung. Arbeit am und mit dem Eigensinn. Das Departement Neue Medien an der Hochschule für Gestaltung und Kunst Zürich“, in Code – The Language of Our Time. Code = Law, Code = Art, Code = Life. Ars Electronica 2003, deutsch / english, ed. by Gerfried Stocker und Christine Schöpf, Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz 2003, pp. 368-370 (engl.), pp. 371-373 (german).
The presend English version was then revised and enlarged again for a renewed German publication which has been published integrally in October 2005: „Medien | Kunst | Ausbildung – Über den Eigensinn als künstlerische Produktivkraft“, in, Schnittstellen, ed. by Sigrid Schade, Thomas Sieber, Georg Christoph Tholen. (= Basler Beiträge zur Medienwissenschaft. Bd. 1). Basel: Schwabe 2005.
My thanks go to Matthew Fuller and the Piet Zwart Institute of the Willem de Kooning Academy, Rotterdam, for making possible this publication in English.
2) An Old German scholar and professor based in Berlin and Potsdam, with whom I started thinking and talking about the problematic of Eigensinn of men and the media in the 1980s.
3) The celebrated Brothers Grimm (Jakob and Wilhelm) collected a wide range of German fairy tales in the early nineteenth century, and published them under the title of "Grimms Märchen". The collection immediately became famous, and has since been a standard on the bookshelves of every German-speaking household. Just as most British children will have heard episodes from "Alice in Wonderland" over and over again, children in Germany, Switzerland and Austria are familiar with "Grimms' Fairy Tales".
4) Eigensinn / Eigensinnigkeit is one if not the main focus of the whole work of Alexander Kluge. See e.g. his early works Lebensläufe (Kluge 1962) and der Luftangriff auf Halberstadt (Kluge 1977) as well as his recent works Chronik der Gefühle (Kluge 2000) und Die Lücke, die der Teufel hinterlässt (Kluge 2003).
5) The concept of Eigen (one’s own) and its compounds is mostly understood – even with Negt / Kluge - in an essentialistic way. In this understanding Eigensinn becomes the archimedic point of the unquestionable authenticity of individuality. I propose to think of the notion of Eigen and its compounds in a non-essentialistic way: The Eigene, Eigensinnigkeit of a person are effects of conscious and unconscious agencies and experiences. A person has to work off his agencies and experiences again and again, she or he has to construct and organize his/her Eigensinn again and again in a new way – in the sense of Michel Foucault's “aesthetics of existence”.
5a) For this and the overview up to Rousseau, see, Fuchs 1972; completions by the author, GS.
5b) See especially the Chapter "Lordship/Mastery and Bondage/Servitude" in his "Phenomenology of Spirit"; Hegel 1977, pp. 178ff.
6) Sibylle Krämer gives us an impressive analysis of these facts in Das Medium als Spur und Apparat (Krämer 2000). In opposition to Marshall McLuhan ("the medium is the message") and to positions referring to Niklas Luhmann ("the medium is nothing, it does not inform, it contains nothing") she argues that "the medium is not simply the message; rather the message keeps the trace (die Spur) of the medium (Krämer 2000, p. 81, my translation). This trace, which in everyday life we perceive only in the case of disturbances, is a crucial part of every artistic production - facts that amazingly Krämer is not aware of.
A thoroughgoing theoretical connection of the conception of Eigensinnigkeit of media (rooted in the framework of Cultural Studies, media and discourse analysis) with the conception of the Trace (rooted in linguistics and psychoanalysis), as a “present absence” in the sense of Derrida, has yet be accomplished.
7) See, in terms of literature, the work of writers so dissimilar as Alfred Döblin, John Dos Passos, Alfred Andersch, Alexander Kluge, as well as the books of Marshall McLuhan, which by all means can be regarded as literature, and in terms of filmmakers for instance the work of Sergei M. Eisenstein, Dziga Vertov, Jean-Luc Godard or Alexander Kluge.
8) An example that speaks for itself is the title of Walter Ruttmann's effective article Malerei mit Zeit (Painting with Time) of 1919, in which he tried to catch the new of the new art form film through an impressive formula (see Goergen 1989, p. 74.)
9) Photography furnishes a further example. "In early photography, the shots were often composed like paintings (...); the 'random' appearance of the snapshot, the caught moment, were not yet used." (Bell 2001, p. 116).
10) Impressive evidence for that thesis is yielded by the catalogue Autour du Symbolisme (2004) where the interplay between the art of painting and photography in the early days of photography is worked out in detail. The interplay expands from the legendary reaction of the painter Paul Delaroche in light of photography, “La peinture est morte”, to the poignant similarity of Gustave Courbet’s Origine du Monde and the stereoscopic photography of Auguste Belloc.
Furthermore, every given historical cycle is characterized by articulation through media with a dominant factor or dominant factors. At present, television remains the dominant factor.
11) Fura dels baus have started to discover the net as new platform for their interactive street theatre. See e.g. their interactive audio-net project F@ust 0.3 of 1998. (Further information and links concerning this project can be found on: The example of Furas dels Baus shows that a realisation of the two possibilities of dealing with a crisis of an art media does not mean an either – or. Both possibilities may be chosen by the same authors.
12) Shklovsky, Viktor Borisovic, "Art as Technique" in Russian Formalist Criticism: Four Essays, ed. Lee T. Lemon and Marion J. Reis, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1965, pp. 3-24.
13) Here I follow Renate Lachmann's rendering of the Russian term "ostranie" as "making strange". See Lachmann 1970, pp. 226-249.
14) The history of film, like that of all technology-based mediums, is rich in artists who worked not only on but explicitly with the Eigensinn of the medium.
Just some of the many other deserving names not mentioned so far are, with respect to film: Georges Méliès, the filmmakers of the first and second French avant-garde (like Germaine Dulac, Elie Faures), the exponents of the “Absolute film” (Walter Ruttmann, Viking Eggeling, Hans Richter), Guy Debord, the “documentary filmmaker” Chris Marker, as well as Stan Brakhage, the American filmmaker who died in 2002. Concerning music remember, among others, such different artists as Kurt Weill with his “Absolute Music”, John Cage, Frank Zappa, Prince, Eugene Chadbourne or Fred Frith; for literature, e.g. James Joyce, the Dadaists, the exponents of the “Concrete poetry”, Arno Schmidt, William Burroughs or Thomas Pynchon; for video art, Nam June Paik, Isidor Isou or Karl Gerstner, just to mention some of the first generation; for computer and networks as art media, among others, Jodi, I/O/D, Margarethe Jahrmann, Knowbotic Research or the Chaos Computer Club.
Television is the only media which hardly became an art format. “Television is indeed the most hopeless medium of all for the arts. (…) There was scarcely a phase, when everything was open, allowing creative investigation to define the medium.” (Daniels 2004, p. 58). In spite of the experiments of Otto Piene / Aldo Tambellini, Gerry Schum, Peter Weibel, Valy Export and the WHGB-TV station in Boston it remains a “medium without art” (ibid., p. 59) – with the exception of music video clips, which, though, were developed for different purposes.
An impressive insight, rich in its material, in the development of the tight interplay of media and the arts since the invention of the photography in 1939 to the present is given by the german-english omnibus volume Frieling/Daniels 2004.
15) Here it is necessary to recall something "remaining to be settled" ("ein Unabgegoltenes") in "materials aesthetics", which made strong "art as a specific mode of production". And, in doing so, simultaneously referred art to the fact that it is dependent on the general development of productive forces and would have to reflect upon these for the sake of its own development. A comprehensive insight into the history and projects of material aesthetics is offered by Mittenzwei 1977, pp. 695-730.

- 1460 Antworten auf die Frage: Was ist Kunst?, hrsg. v. Andreas Mäckler, Köln 2000.
- Autour du Symbolisme. Photographie et peinture au XIXe siècle, Bruxelles: Palais des Beaux-Arts 2004.
- Bell, Julian, What is Painting? Representation and Modern Art, London, 1999.
- Brauner, Joseph / Bickmann, Roland, Die multimediale Gesellschaft, Frankfurt a.M. 1994.
- Butler, Judith, The Psychic Life of Power. Theories in Subjection, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1997.
- Daniels, Dieter, »Television – Art or Anti-Art? Conflict and cooperation between the avant-garde and the mass media in the 1960s and 1970s«, in: Frieling/Daniels 2004, pp. 58 – 79.
- David, Catherine, "Kunst und Arbeit im Informationszeitalter", in Daniel Libeskind et al., Alles Kunst? Wie arbeitet der Mensch im neuen Jahrtausend, und was tut er in der übrigen Zeit?, Reinbek 2001, pp. 183-200.
- Freud, Sigmund, Über den Traum (1901), in id., Gesammelte Werke. 18 Bde., Frankfurt 2001.
- Frieling, Rudolf / Daniels, Dieter, (Hrsg.), Medien – Kunst – Netz, Bd. 1: Medienkunst im Überblick / Media – Art –Net, vol. 1: Survey of Media Art, Wien /New York: Springer 2004.
- Fuchs, H.-J., »Eigenwille, Eigensinn«, in, Historisches Wörterbuch der Philosophie. Bd. 2. D - F, ed. Joachim Ritter, Basel / Stuttgart: Schwabe, pp. 342 - 345.
- Goergen, Jeanpaul, (Hrsg.), Walter Ruttmann, eine Dokumentation, Berlin 1989.
- Gramsci, Antonio: Philosophie der Praxis, ed. by H. Riechers, Frankfurt 1967.
- Grimm, Brothers: see "The Wilful Child".
- Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich, Phenomenology of Mind/Spirit, transl. A.V. Miller, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977.
- Kafka, Franz, "A Report for an Academy", in id., Metamorphosis and Other Stories, New York, 1966.
- Kluge, Alexander / Negt, Oskar, "Antigone und das eigensinnige Kind", in id., Geschichte und Eigensinn, Frankfurt a.M. 1981, pp. 765-769.
- Kluge, Alexander, Lebensläufe, Stuttgart 1962.
- Kluge, Alexander, »Der Luftangriff auf Halberstadt am 8. April 1945«, in id, Neue Geschichten. Hefte - 18. >Unheimlichkeit der Zeit<, Frankfurt a.M,: Suhrkamp 1977, pp. 33 - 106.
- Kluge, Alexander, Chronik der Gefühle, 2 vol., Frankfurt: Suhrkamp 2000.
- Kluge, Alexander, Die Lücke, die der Teufel hinterlässt. Im Umfeld des neuen Jahrhunderts, Frankfurt: Suhrkamp 2003.
Krämer Sybille, „Das Medium als Spur und Apparat", in id. (ed.), Medien, Computer, Realität. Wirklichkeitsvorstellungen und Neue Medien. Franfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp 2000.
- Lacan, Jacques, »Das Spiegelstadium als Bildner der Ich-Funktion, wie sie uns in der psychoanalytischen Erfahrung erscheint«, in id., Schriften. Bd 1. Baden-Baden, 1975, S. 61-70
- Lacan, Jacques, Seminaire Livre XVI : L'envers de la psychanalyse, Paris 1991.
- Lazzarato, Maurizio, "Immaterielle Arbeit. Gesellschaftliche Tätigkeiten unter den Bedingungen des Postfordismus", in Negri, Toni et al., Umherschweifende Produzenten. Immaterielle Arbeit und Subversion, Berlin 1998, pp. 39-52.
- Lachmann, Renate, "Die 'Verfremdung' und das 'Neue Sehen' bei Viktor Sklovskij", in Poetica, Bd. 3, H. 1-2, 1970, pp. 226-249.
- Lyotard, Jean-François, "The Sublime and the Avant-Garde", in id., The Inhuman: Reflections on Time, Cambridge: Polity, 1991, p. 89ff.
- Lyotard, Jean-François, "Answering the Question: What is Postmodernism?", in id., The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge, trans. G. Bennington and B. Massumi, Manchester 1984, p. 71f.
- Mittenzwei, Werner, "Brecht und die Schicksale der Materialästhetik", in Wer war Brecht. Wandlung und Entwicklung der Ansichten über Brecht im Spiegel von Sinn und Form, hrsg. und eingeleitet von Werner Mittenzwei, Berlin 1977, pp. 695-730.
- Schiesser, Giaco / Deuber, Astrid, "In der Echtzeit der Gefühle. Gespräch mit Alexander Kluge", in Die Schrift an der Wand. Alexander Kluge: Rohstoffe und Materialien, hrsg. v. Christian Schulte, Osnabrück 2000, pp. 361-370.
- Schiesser, Giaco, " Connectivity, Heterogeneity and Distortions - Productive Forces for our Times. The xxxxx connective force attack: open way to the public project of Knowbotic Research +cf (KRcF)", in Aussendienst. Kunstprojekte in öffentlichen Räumen Hamburgs, German/English, ed. Achim Könneke and Stephan Schmidt-Wulffen, Freiburg 2002, pp. 233-237.
- Schiesser, Giaco, "The wilful obstinacy of man - the wilful obstinacy of machines. An Introduction", in, Jahrmann, Margarete / Moswitzer, Max, Nybble Engine. A Nybble is Four Bits or Half of a Byte, Storage DVD, Wien 2003a.
- Schiesser, Giaco, »Media | Art | Education - Working on and with Eigensinn«, in, Code - The Language of Our Time. Code = Law, Code = Art, Code = Life, Ars Electronica 2003, Deutsch / Englisch, ed. by Gerfried Stocker und Christine Schöpf, Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz 2003b, pp. 368-370.
- Schiesser, Giaco, „Medien | Kunst | Ausbildung – Über den Eigensinn als künstlerische Produktivkraft“, in, Schnittstellen, ed. by Sigrid Schade, Thomas Sieber, Georg Christoph Tholen. (= Basler Beiträge zur Medienwissenschaft. Bd. 1). Basel: Schwabe 2005.
- Schwarz, Hans-Peter, "Medien - Kunst - Geschichte", in, Medien - Kunst - Geschichte, hrsg. v. Hans-Peter Schwarz / ZKM Karlsruhe, München / New York 1997, pp. 11-88.
- Shklovsky, Viktor Borisovic, "Art as Technique", in, Russian Formalist Criticism: Four Essays, ed. Lee T. Lemon and Marion J. Reis, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1965, pp. 3-24.
- "The Wilful Child", in, Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm, Household Tales, trans. Margaret Hunt, London 1884, vol. 2, p. 125.

Biography Giaco Schiesser
Giaco Schiesser is a professor for the theory and history of the media and culture with a focus on ”Media Cultures Studies” as well as head of the Department Media & Art at the University of Art and Design, Zurich (Hochschule für Gestaltung und Kunst Zürich, HGKZ).

Giaco Schiesser studied philosophy and German literature studies at the Freie Universität (FU) in Berlin. From 1997 to 2002 he conceptualised and realized the establishment of the university department new media with the focus on digital agency, connective interfaces and collaborative environments at the University of Art and Design Zurich as head of that department. From 1999 to 2002 he was a member of the direction of the department (together with Knowbotic Research and Margarete Jahrmann).
His work focuses on the culture, aesthetics and eigensinn of media, on ideology and democracy, on the constitution of the subject and everyday life.
Giaco Schiesser has lectured as a guest professor in Switzerland, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Japan and the U.S.A.

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An Ornithology of Net Art, Mark Tribe

One night in the spring of 2000, after a long day of studio visits at an art school, I opened my laptop and found a mysterious email in my in box. I clicked on a link, a browser window opened, and gigantic black numbers flashed on screen, counting down from ten, as an explosive percussion track began to play. What followed was Bust Down the Doors! , a 55-second text movie telling the story of a late-night domestic raid by an unnamed authoritarian force. I was stunned-never before had I experienced such a dynamic, emotionally powerful work of art on a computer screen, let alone one that had reached me in a hotel room via a 56.6K modem.

Since then, Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries-a collaboration between Young-Hae Chang, a Korean woman, and Marc Voge, an American man, who live and work in Seoul-have produced some 35 works, all in more-or-less the same vein: text--usually black, sometimes red or blue--flashes on screen, synched to the rhythm of a jazz soundtrack. The technology is Flash, a tool for, among other things, creating and delivering images and animations via the web. Using some fancy math (known as vectors), Flash enables artists and designers to pack a lot of graphic punch into tiny packages that can be delivered quickly over slow Internet connections. Although Flash can be used to do some very complex things (see, for example, the work of Joshua Davis), Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries barely scratch the surface of the application's capabilities. Instead of exploiting Flash extensively, Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries delve intensively into a small set of the application's features. Much as Barnett Newman explored the virtually limitless formal and expressive possibilities of vertical stripes of color on canvas, Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries play with the narrative possibilities of animated text accompanied by instrumental music.

In 2001, Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries won a Webby award in the art category. On the jury, some argued that selecting Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries would send the wrong message to the art world, since their work does not exemplify such distinctive features of the net art medium as interactivity or algorithmic computation. This argument derives from Clement Greenberg's view that "the essence of Modernism lies… in the use of characteristic methods of a discipline to criticize the discipline itself, not in order to subvert it but in order to entrench it more firmly in its area of competence." Although Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries' work fails the Greenberg test, it exemplifies many of the historical and relational dynamics of new media art: an experimental engagement with emerging media technologies; the use of new media to reach audiences directly, without art-world intermediaries; collaborative production; and a global perspective.

Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries found their working method and signature style almost by accident at a net art residency in Brisbane where they had an opportunity to learn and experiment with Flash. Although their work has been installed in museum galleries, such as the American Effect show at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 2003, their primary venue is a web site, Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries Presents. Both artists have worked as translators, and many of their projects are available in multiple languages. In addition to English, there is Chinese, French, German, Korean, Spanish and Swedish. Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries' work is global art for an international audience.

Since 2000, Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries have been embraced by the art world in a way that few new media artists have. Indeed, the duo's work may be appreciated more in the mainstream art world than among new media aficionados. Perhaps this is because their work resembles older art forms, such as concrete poetry and experimental cinema, and because its emotionally expressive voices and dynamic visual qualities communicate across disciplinary boundaries. But Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries' mainstream success may also have to do with something far more pragmatic. Unlike most net art, their work is user-friendly, even for those who find computers alien and discomfiting: no small, hard-to-read text, no hunting and clicking, no decisions to make, no forms to complete or files to upload. Works like Bust Down the Doors! and The Art of Sleep capture one's attention, hold it for a short time, and then come to a decisive conclusion. They don't leave one wondering if one has explored enough, or discovered every hidden link. To a time-starved, attention-challenged audience, Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries offer conciseness and captivating clarity.

The mainstream art world is, in fact, the subject of The Art of Sleep. Commissioned to coincide with Frieze, the hottest art fair at a particularly market-driven moment, The Art of Sleep features an insomniac narrator who ridicules the art world as "fancy-pants, smart-aleck, self-anointed so-and-sos" and compares art to "the business of religion: it's pretty persuasion. It's hocus-pocus. It's a conspiracy." Our narrator reaches this conclusion via a circuitous route, a literal shaggy dog story in the form of a bedside journal entry in which the sound of a barking dog at night leads down a rabbit hole of logical (and illogical) leaps: from the futility of the dog's barking to the futility of everything, the futility of art, art as the most futile of things, art as futility itself, the "gold standard of futility". At this point, the narrative shifts "from metaphor to materiality" and, in the process, comes unhinged. In our narrator's words, it "leaves the bakery." Art no longer resembles the dog, "it is the dog… art is everything. Not, art can be anything. A fart is art! I kid you not! It's Marcel Duchamp all over again! It's Air de Paris! See?" What are we to make of this?

The Duchampian answer to the question "What is art?" is that art is that which one chooses to call art. Artness is not a quality that things (pictures, stories, performances) possess in and of themselves; it is a status that can be conferred upon absolutely anything, even an ampoule of Parisian air. Art, in this sense, is a matter not of beauty, or profundity, or craftsmanship, but of context.

To call something art is, conversely, to recontextualize it, to relate it to other works of art, both contemporary and historical. When the British artist Richard Long created a visible path by repeatedly retracing his steps through the wilderness and said, "this is an art work," he brought his action and its traces into dialogue with, to name just two examples, the work of Tehching (Sam) Hsieh and Robert Smithson. He said, in effect, "this is not just a walk in the park or a path through the grass; it is a performance, an earthwork." Such acts of artistic recontextualization are thus also philosophical statements, attempts to expand the definition of art. But to call something art is, inevitably, to signal that it merits a particular kind of aesthetic regard, and herein lies the danger for the Duchampian artist. For not everything is worthy of our attention. As our sleep-deprived narrator puts it, "if everything is art, we're going to go nuts. It means that art as we know it is a hoax."

But perhaps it is a mistake to take seriously our narrator's musings about art. After his philosophical tirade, he admits: "this is mindless… a total waste of time." Maybe the real point of The Art of Sleep is, to paraphrase Barnett Newman, that art critics are to artists as ornithologists are to birds, that art should not be taken too seriously, and that critics should find something better to do with their time.

Mark Tribe, artist and curator, is Assistant Professor of Modern Culture and Media Studies at Brown University. He founded, and is the author of ‘New Media Art' (Taschen, 2006).

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Radio, Art, Life: New Contexts, Helen Thorington

What is Radio Art?

Radio art had a special meaning to those who created it in the US during the Eighties and Nineties. From the most complex hi-tech studio productions to the raw energy of live and interactive broadcasts, these artists were predominantly engaged with subverting media conventions by presenting something other than familiar radio forms.

Thus while the work might use journalistic devices or dramatic conventions, it was neither journalism, nor drama; it wasn’t music either though it might be composed entirely of non-textual sound. American radio art was a vast array of different forms that recognised radio’s distinct means and parameters, and at the same time, its creative possibilities, how it might challenge existing social and cultural norms and create/fashion new ones.

Part of its appeal, as Claire Brilliant so aptly remarks, lay in the tension created when the experimental artist tried to subvert the medium’s mainstream status while simultaneously leveraging its capacity to reach a wide audience.[i]

In the mid 1980s, when I started New American Radio, a weekly series of half-hour radio art programmes by artists for American public radio, there was a stranglehold on channels of distribution; most people, and certainly most artists, were excluded from radio production, just as we were excluded from book publishing and music distribution. Across the US, Europe and the Pacific a handful of great radio programmes focused on radio art and experimental music – The Listening Room in Australia, for instance; Kunstradio in Austria; the Pacifica stations in the US. These, however, were the only places that sound artists could enter broadcasting and take advantage of radio’s mass distribution. And those of us who produced the programming for them, whether we liked it or not, were gatekeepers. There was no such thing as open access.

Today that stranglehold is broken. Personal computers and networked connections are everywhere; and anyone with a computer and a network connection has the capital required for production and can produce and distribute whatever he or she wants – alone or with others.[ii]

The radio scene has changed. Broadcast radio is shrinking under the flood of new technologies. And, as a friend recently remarked, ‘radio art as such seems to have vanished.’[iii] Or has it?

The Networked World: Radio meets Art, meets Life

In 1996 my organisation, New Radio and Performing Arts, Inc., extended its mandate to networked art (art that uses the internet as its medium and that cannot be experienced without it) and launched its Turbulence site. Turbulence commissions artists exploring the networked medium and originating innovative work for it. Several of the works on Turbulence reflect the changes taking place in production as a result of the internet. Prototype #44, Net Pirate Number Station by Yoshi Sodeoka is an online short-wave radio station that broadcasts numbers derived from websites. Software in the work goes out to websites of all sizes, grabs some text, converts it into numbers, filters the numbers and then transmits them to the listener using a prerecorded video host personality. Why a radio station that broadcasts numbers rather than music and news? The artist’s reply: ‘We hope you, the user, will look for meaning where there may not seem to be meaning… we want you to see the world in a new way.’

Still it was our blog, Networked_Performance,[iv] launched in July 2004, that brought home the truth of the radical changes taking place as a result of the Internet and its spawn of new technologies. In 2004 the blog entries archived the practice made possible by the ready availability of inexpensive portable devices – wireless, mobile phones, PDAs, GPS cards, Bluetooth, and others. Computation was leaving the desktop and migrating to the street. It would now be carried in the hand, worn on the body, or embedded in devices and in the environment.

Further we observed that the work was being produced by a growing generation of programming capable artists, artistically minded engineers, architects, academics, and others – many of whom did not identify as artists – all repurposing objects from the everyday world, embedding unfamiliar functions in them.

A boxing bag plays meditative tones when struck; an American semi-tropical climbing Philodendron functions as an instrument in a musical ensemble; a park bench moves and sings; a goblet lights up when a distant friend or lover drinks from it; a wall is so sensitive to human presence that touching it sends resonant vibrations through the bodies of the room’s occupants; a darkened room responds to the aggregate breathing of its inhabitants and the lights rise, illuminating the space.

Why create work like this? Why embed alternate functions in familiar objects? The answer resonates with Sodeoko’s earlier reply: ‘We want you to see the world in a new way.’

As mobile technologies became more readily available, those interested in transmission ideas and broadcast tools began to take radio out of the studio: In Soundpocket 2, a huge oak tree, a sculpture, and a small pond served as local radio stations, transmitting internet radio streams; Radio Cycle broadcast stories, news and sounds directly onto the streets via teams of radio-carrying cyclists. CUT-n-PASTE, an Amsterdam women’s artist group, connected its listeners with a number of personalities in Amsterdam’s nightlife, transmitting their lives by the permanent open mike of their mobile phones to audiences via radio, the internet or into a performance venue. For eight days in September 2007, The FM Ferry Experiment, transformed the Staten Island Ferry into a floating radio station, broadcasting to the NYC region as it continuously traveled between Staten Island and Lower Manhattan. Mobile Radio, Sarah Washington and Knut Aufermann’s travelling radio and sound-art project was initiated, its mission, to seek out new forms of radio art by taking radio production out of the studio environment.

Some of these radio projects broadcast alternative content; some did not. All removed radio production from its original source in the broadcast organisation’s studio and put it in the hands of artists and other creative people.

The Emergence of Sound Art as a Prominent Practice

While the issue of everyday sound’s inclusion in the musical repertoire was settled by composers some time ago, it is only recently that we have seen sound-based artistic work flourish, with manifestations ranging from field recordings and sound tools, to immersive installations and computer games.

This rapid and diverse development is particularly evident in the emerging field of sonification. Data sonification – as described by Wikipedia – has long been viewed as a valuable tool for studying complex sets of scientific data by allowing researchers to perceive variations and trends invisible to other analysing techniques; it has not been used extensively by artists until recently. Today, however, sound compositions created by the translation of data to sound are legion.

In August 2007, for instance, composer Chris Chafe let five vats of different varieties of tomatoes from his garden ripen to perfection. He and his collaborator Nikolaos Hanselmann recorded the ripening process by tracking the changes in CO2 that the ripening produces. Music was generated in real time by computer algorithms influenced by CO2, temperature and light readings from sensors in each vat. After the ripening, time was speeded up and a stand-alone computer music piece, Tomato Music was created. Tomato Music is then a sonification of seven days of ripening that takes place in the course of 49 minutes.

In an earlier work by Miya Masaoka, Pieces for Plants, a semi-tropical climbing Philodendron’s real-time responses to its physical environment were sonified or translated to sound by means of highly sensitive electrodes attached to the leaves of the plant. A human, the so-called ‘plant player’ worked with scored movements – proximity, and touch – to stimulate physiological responses in the plant. The ‘plant player’s’ interactions with the plant were then expressed in sound via midi and synthesiser.

German composer Frank Halbig used ice-core data – collected by the European Project for Ice Coring in Antarctica – to create Antarktica: a climatic time-travel, a concert for string quartet, live electronics and video, performed in 2006.

In 2004, Andrea Polli, a digital media artist living in New York City, sonified the summer heat in Central Park.

DJ Spooky’s most recent large-scale multimedia performance work is Nova: The Antarctica Suite, an acoustic portrait in which every sound is made from the sound of ice (environmental, geological, magnetic, atmospheric etc).

The list goes on and includes many projects where the focus is on sounds in our environment that are undetectable by the human ear: the sound of naturally occurring emissions such as radio signals created by the planet itself;[v] sounds intercepted from space; sounds of clouds – their size, moisture content transformed into musical sequences.

Still other works use the sounds of objects in our environment to create compositions.

In Music for Rocks and Water by Cheryl Leonard, performers play water and a variety of rocks which are ‘dripped, drizzled, poured, rolled, rocked, brushed, rubbed, stacked and even tickled’; sometimes they are played underwater.

Peter Traub’s ItSpace makes use of the sounds of household objects to shape a series of short compositions.

These sound works renew our connection with real life, with the objects and things around us, with the natural world, our environmental concerns, with our universe. As Leigh Landy writes,

[they] offer a return to the connection of art and life because...[their] specific content creates experiential [and imaginary] associations linked with meaning by listeners.[vi]

People latch onto a sound’s perceived origin – they recognise it; they remember; and their memories fill the experience of hearing it again. These references bring the work close to daily life. They shape something we might call an interaction with the world around us, an experience of being in the world.

For many of us the flourishing of sound art is most welcome, signalling that the hegemony of vision may not be forever and that this enhancement of our sensorial experience will bring with it a deeper understanding of our relation, not just to one another but to the world we inhabit and all things in it, and therefore a richer experience of ourselves as perceiving subjects.

From my perspective, we can look on this as one of the true positives that the re-distribution of power across society and geography is making possible.

We Together: Active Listening, Collaboration and Participation

New technologies have developed since the networked_performance blog was initiated. Based on the observation that people go online not for pre-programmed material but to do things together, commerce has returned and established what we call social space: commercial content aggregators like like MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, and Flickr. Free and participatory in nature, they give users control of the media they produce and consume.[vii]

Non-commercial specialised sites are plentiful as well, sites like Jason Van Arden’s BubbleBeats, which allows users to combine colourful bubbles filled with music (or other sounds) to create new compositions. They are social spaces. As Van Arden says of Bubblebeats:

It combines the addictive diversion of a casual game, the free expression of music, and the fun of participating in an active social network.

Free, fun, participatory, social spaces are fast becoming the next broadcasters (or perhaps narrow-casters). Activated by them, otherwise passive audiences are making new friends, composing and playing music, uploading videos and photographs, talking, sharing, exchanging, and perhaps most significantly, publishing and distributing themselves.

Virtual worlds offer other kinds of experiences. There, residents explore the technologies and social ramifications of synthetic, multi-user environments, The extraordinary success of virtual worlds such as Linden Lab’s Second Life, rests almost entirely on the decision the company made to support an openness within their 3D virtual world, to turn control over to users, to make it possible for any user to add almost anything to the environment.[viii]

Changes will not stop here. New technologies, new interests, new commercial ventures, will bring additional players to the networked environment, changing existing institutions and how they relate to experimental practices. The new environmental awareness, for instance, has already unleashed a wave of innovation in every category of technology – including portable music and video players.[ix] And, according to media futurist and author Gerd Leonhard, the music industry has undergone more changes in the last months than it has in the past ten years.[x] What lies ahead? Leonhard writes,

… fully interactive, fully-share-enabled, full-length-tracks, will become a default setting on the social networks…. regardless of the record industry’s ‘permission-denied’ tendencies….

…and they will broadcast to (and from!) those always-on, always-within-reach and utterly personalised mobile devices fka [formerly known as] mobile phones, not just to or from computers. Blogs will amalgamate with, and integrate into social networks. Personal publishing will evolve to include entire ‘me-casting’ toolboxes. My taste, my list, my ears, my audience, my artists, my, my network…[xi]

Access and participation define internet activity today. The nexus of experimental activity in radio has shifted and because it has, it has opened doors for thousands whose voices were silent before, and brought with it the possibility of a creative practice that, as Sodeoka hoped for his i#44, Net Pirate Number Station, lets us see our world in a new way.

Helen Thorington, 2008

Helen Thorington contributes a feature article on the evolving context for sound and radio practice, exploring networked media, participatory platforms and the sonification of every-day objects. An introducing to a series of Radio Art including recent work by Christof Migone and Sarah Washington.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Interview with Marina Abramovic, Alexandra Balfour and Pitchaya Sudbanthad

(Interview conducted in 1999)

Alexandra Balfour and Pitchaya Sudbanthad: Can you please give us your definition of performance art? What got you involved in this from of artistic expression? Are there any negative aspects to it?

Marina Abramovic: For me, performance is when the performer steps into his own mental and physical construction in the public. It’s a kind of energy dialogue. They are not rehearsed or repeated but done once basically. There is a concept that is a platform for the performer to follow, but at the same time, he doesn’t know the outcome of the performance in that moment. It is very different from the theatre. There is a constant dialogue between the performer and the public. I got involved with performance after making sound installations. At one point, I started using my body, and then, I never could go back into the seclusion of the studio and just make objects or other types of artwork. Performance was something that fit my nature the best. The negative aspect is that after performances, many artists cannot continue because of the amount of effort and energy required. You’re permanently exposed to the public, and the artist’s nature needs the seclusion of the studio. They often need to make objects. They cannot just maintain performing for long periods of time. It is very difficult. The second thing is the market. There is nothing left over. There is not much except the memory of the audience.

AB + PS: I think that it’s fair to say that you have faced death a few times in the performance of your pieces. Is there not a line to be drawn about what should or should not occur during a performance?

MA: It’s complicated. First of all, in the performances, I create a structure in which I can go far into the physical limits that a body can take. I don’t want to die. That is not the purpose. I want to experience the edge and how much I can take to this edge. There was one performance when the public took all the responsibility. This was the piece Rhythm 0, in which the control was not in my hands anymore. The other possibility is with the borderline between the public and the performer. When the public is participating, there are all kinds of possibilities for them to intervene and change the flow of the performance and change the meaning of the performance. But in my case, I don’t want to give the public that much freedom. There was one piece with Ulay in which a person from the public attacked me with a karate jump during the performance. We arranged this just to provoke that question: what is the borderline between the public and the performance?

AB + PS: You’ve used pig’s blood and skeletons in your works. You’ve incorporated many objects into your works that are associated with biology, or to be more specific, the decomposition and dissection of the animal. In a way, it appears as if you are holding some sort of a communion between the audience and the artist, but the blood and body are actual. How do you use the idea of spirit in your art?

MA: First, all the objects used change meaning by repetition. In some cases, it is a long process. The artist and the public need time to enter a state of mind, which can be achieved through repetition and the long duration of the piece. Each element and material becomes something else. You open the door and close it. That’s just opening and closing a door. But over hours, it becomes something else. It can take on another meaning. Elements like blood, bones, knives, honey, milk, and wine all have spiritual meanings and not just in the performances.

AB + PS: In many of your works, you’ve dared the limits of pain and fear. Following your break-up with Ulay, there seems to be a noticeable shift from that direction. In your 1993 work, Biography, you announced “Goodbye pain, goodbye extremes, goodbye self-denial, and goodbye Ulay.” Have these farewells been realized, and where do you think you’re going from here?

MA: There’s no such kind of a logical ending in dealing with pain. The Biography performance included all of the other performances in very short periods of time, and I had to come to the climax of the piece in less than three minutes. You see very early performances with real blood, knives, whatever. In the middle of the piece, I switched into the conglomerate period, moving away from all these things, but in the end, I went back to it, to performances that involve pain. It is not linear. It’s more circular. Things come and go. It’s not that I’m finished with pain. I’m always taking and analyzing all elements.

AB + PS: What influences your art? Is it the politics of the day?

MA: I’m not interested in politics per se although it cannot be denied that some of my pieces have political content. I’m more into the transcendental aspects of the work. You can transfer ideas and make changes in the observer’s mind.

AB + PS: How do you judge the effectiveness of your pieces? What is your best work to date and why?

MA: When I perform, I have to be there one-hundred percent. For me, then, it’s beyond good or bad. I can’t judge anymore. If I’m less than one-hundred percent, then the piece is not as good. If I’m in the here-and-now of the piece, the public can get affected. Some of them can’t leave. You see the emotions of the people. Some are very angry or excited—all of these extremes, but then again, my works are about extremes. The piece that is best for me is the work I’m doing right now, a piece called Expiring Body, a media installation inspired by my trip to India. It’s closest to me right now. At the same time, I don’t look to the past. I look to the new work. It’s changing all the time.

AB + PS: With this new computer age, do you foresee yourself getting involved with artistic projects over the Internet? Do you see a need for such technological involvement?

MA: I never touch the computer. I don’t drive a car. I am technologically at the beginning. I always feel that technology is all progress and all reckless. You become an invalid without looking at your own abilities. But I see the Internet as something positive because you can connect so many people around the globe, and I’ve considered working with it.

AB + PS: After all these questions, it would be interesting to know your definition of art.

MA: I see myself as a bridge between the East and the West. I think the function of the artist is to change the ways humans can think. The key role, like Duchamp or that kind of an artist thought, is to change the way that society thinks. The important thing is to find the point where society will change. To me, good art and artists will have to have not just one but many layers. Artists have to be analysts of society.

AB + PS: And what do you think is vital for young artists to make it in today’s world?

MA: It’s important for them to understand who they are. This is what I feel that not many people do. Many artists will just look around and not really go into themselves. Make works that make sense. Avoid art pollution.

Above copied from:

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Electronic Zen: The Alternative Video Generation Talking Heads in Videospace, Jud Yalkut

Electronic Zen: The Alternative Video Generation Talking Heads in Videospace: A Video Meta-Panel with Shirley Clarke, Bill Etra, Nam June Paik, Walter Wright and Jud Yalkut
interview by Jud Yalkut

Originally recorded on February 4, 1973 for broadcast on WBAI-FM.

The following Meta-Panel, so-called because it represents an attempt at an overview of the alternate video scene as of the time of the discussion with a glance into the video future, was one of two hour-long radio discussion panel shows, hosted by Jud Yalkut, for the Pacifica radio station in New York City, WBAI-FM. The shows were part of a weekly series called ARTISTS AND CRITICS, each week dealing with a different art form. During the life of the series, one a month was on the media arts of film or video. The other video panel show, included in this book, was the discussion on the Kitchen, An Electronic Image And Sound Laboratory. This video panel, called now TALKING HEADS IN VIDEOSPACE, was originally recorded for broadcast on February 4, 1973, and its guests were four of the foremost practitioners of video art explorations: Shirley Clarke, proponent of ultimate participation video; Nam June Paik, video pioneer, avant-garde performance artist and co-creator of the Paik-Abe Video Synthesizer; Bill Etra, video artist and co-designer of the Rutt-Etra Video Synthesizer; and Walter Wright, working with computer generated images since 1965, former computer animator for Dolphin, Computer Image Corporation, and designer of his own video synthesizer system.
JUD: Since we have four practitioners of what is called alternate video here, or video art, terms to be defined, we can start out by discussing what do we mean by alternate video at the present time?
WALTER WRIGHT: I’ll start by telling you what I do. I’ve been exploring the use of something that might be called a video synthesizer, and it has the possibilities of transforming or building an abstract image, or changing a real image into something more abstract. The process means that I can take a real video image in, or generate one with oscillators, and then add to it electronic color. Nam June Paik has in fact built one of these machines, being the grand-daddy of this.
NAM JUNE PAIK: Thank you for mentioning, sir. (Laughter)
SHIRLEY CLARKE: Which he sells for a pittance.
WALTER: And Bill and I are going to rebuild Nam June’s.
PAIK: Thank you very much. I think this should be in good solid hands, who know every institution, and how to do things. Distribution is much more important than production. A guy who can start from the distribution end on, that guy will be really good for it. I like what you, Bill, and you, Walter, are doing because we are a small, small stone in a vast sea, and the problem is how to face that vast sea, you know. And it will benefit everyone, and then the video synthesizer can be a solid media, alright. If they made video into a medium, then we can sell video synthesizers as a medium, because this is much more interesting this way. It can be sold eventually for a few hundred dollars. So it will be much cheaper then a portapak, because it has no mechanical moving parts. So, theoretically, the video synthesizer, from all professional technical points of view, should be, if we make as many as portapaks, which is not too many, we should be able to go 1/3rd price of portapak.
SHIRLEY: I have to interrupt you now to ask, does this make an image? What is it, live process?
BILL: It will do either.
SHIRLEY: But, I mean as against the portapak which records, as sort of a pseudo mini-movie camera?
BILL: Carried to its ultimate extreme (Laughter) which is- oh, I don’t know what it would cost to build one now. We’re in the process now of getting together and building one which would go to the ultimate extreme. Television is recorded in a. matrix of 526 by 600 and something lines, vertically and horizontally, and we would be able to put a different color and intensity dot into any one of these points and move it around at will, so it wouldn’t necessarily have to have a camera to generate an image. We would be able to actually paint it.
SHIRLEY: Like painting.
BILL: That’s one of the possibilities. Now you can also take a live image and process it. You could take a person’s face and roll it up into a little ball.
SHIRLEY: But does it replace a camera and a recording device?
PAIK: I think we can always use camera.
BILL: You would need a recording device to record it.
SHIRLEY: My first suggestion would be, since you’re going to work in that area, that you give us, into our hands, an object that would be like a little ball that would actually be a lens similar in a way to a microphone in an audio system, that you can squeeze closed.
JUD: An image collector.
SHIRLEY: Right. An image collector, and you would squeeze it closed to zoom in, and open your hand to zoom out, and through a wire or whatever, send a signal-to a recording apparatus so we could free ourselves finally from the nonsense of looking at video as if it were film, and thus messing up our heads further, (Laughter) since we already see a great many electronic movies, and we don’t see a great many electronic videospaces.
PAIK: Yeah, yeah. I agree completely. I completely agree.
SHIRLEY: And you really have to change some of our physical devices. There’s no reason any longer to have a camera, right? That was something necessary for movie-making; you had to look through the lens in order to see what you were going to shoot. In film, this was fine, but in video, where the finished product is seen in videospace, i.e. a TV monitor or a video projector.
PAIK: That’s it. There is no finished product, because, like your room at the Hotel Chelsea, Shirley, I think that is the most ideal, supreme creation of video so far,, because there you feel the space, and there is no product and it’s more interesting.
SHIRLEY: To me, there is no product.
PAIK: Because that’s the process of a living room. You have integrated videospace with living space.
SHIRLEY: I think I’m ready now for when we have the two-way cable access, or even first cable, and then two-way access. No, my image is: I’m up in my Tepee, you know, the roof, and all of you are with me, and various other artists in New York, in China, in Paris, and Tennessee, altogether into a live mix. That, to me, is the essence of video.
PAIK: I think that is really a very good use of video., in constant video living.
SHIRLEY: Every event that I have seen that fits into the live action process use of video does the thing that no art in front of it ever did before, that makes you understand video., and not fall into the traps of video is like film. It is, but video is also like theater; it’s also like dance; it’s also like music.
PAIK: Video is video.
BILL: Conceptually, it’s beautiful, Shirley, but structurally nearly impossible. My phone doesn’t work half the time.
SHIRLEY: I don’t think that’s important.
BILL: No, it’s not important to the concept. It’s important to the reality.
SHIRLEY: Our minds go faster than the technological manufacturing keeps up.
JUD: That’s been one of the problems with film for ages, that you can’t splice as fast as you can think.
SHIRLEY: Yes. I got into film in the mid-50s, and we all went in and spent the next 15 years trying to develop a hand-held sound camera. Now, when I left film a few years ago, we had the great accomplishment of an Auricon which was there before any of us came and separated the sound system so you could record sound separately, meaning that the manufacturing people have never kept up with the artist, and never kept up with the fantasy and mind of man. But, I think it’s going to get progressively less so. Time feeds everything. And our job is just what we’re doing right now, which is to talk to people, get them to understand some of the possibilities so they want them. Then they’ll make sure we get them. Because manufacturers in a free enterprise system produce to the demand.
JUD: Eric Siegel’s been pushing very much for the manufacturers to come up with new developments which would meet the needs of the practitioners.
SHIRLEY: We never succeeded.
BILL: Everyone in this room has done it. I’ve seen Shirley’s remodeling of the Sony camera.
WALTER: Manufacture our own.
SHIRLEY: That was one of the better moments.
BILL: The glove camera.. (Laughter) Nam June can’t buy a synthesizer.
SHIRLEY: So he made one.
PAIK: And went into making synthesizers. Walter is redesigning synthesizers. Walter’s worked with computers and he’s redesigning them. I, as an artist, found an electronics engineer who’s building a synthesizer because I couldn’t get a synthesizer, or at least I couldn’t get anything that approached what I wanted. It would have cost me a half million dollars.
JUD: It’s an exact analogy to the old days of light shows. You could never go out and but a machine to produce the effect you wanted to produce. You would end up having to get the components and building from scratch for every single image you wanted to produce.
PAIK: Video is very fast., but it’s supposed to be a cool media.
SHIRLEY: What I find fabulous is that I’m basically a very impatient person. I’m amazed that I have managed to survive two years of constant mechanical hang-ups. I have yet myself to participate in or attend any event where the equipment worked. I remember spending 72 hours to get that ferris wheel set up to enjoy it for ten minutes, and the show was over. It’s endless, endless.
PAIK: That’s what I gave as an answer when somebody, the LONG ISLAND NEWSDAY, interviewed me about what I thought of Art and Technology’s Nine Evenings. I said: It’s marvelous, because it showed how technology is fragile. (Laughter) And this is a great accomplishment so that art does blind words for technology. So I think that’s a great achievement and I’m airing some part of that for my Cage show, because it’s a tribute. And number two is that when the last issue of the 1960s came out of Newsweek, which I read in Tokyo while building that synthesizer, and was fighting with those machines, I read what the editor in-chief of NEWSWEEK said the 1960s did, that two things happened: you had ended on the moon, in which all technology worked perfectly; and number two, you had a great blackout where all technology failed., and he had much more fun in the blackout when everything failed than on the moon landing where everything worked. I think that’s a brilliant observation.
SHIRLEY: It is. I think one of the talents that all of us have developed, I know I certainly have, as performers, is that we fill in when the machine fails.
BILL: A basic survival tactic.
SHIRLEY: Communicating person to person with an audience, which is in a way a marvelous thing, because we can assure ourselves, whereas for awhile electronic music had the problem of bringing the human being back into it, the performance. We’ve got the human being in there always.
PAIK: When you had that very difficult session at NET, I think they should have filmed you, then they could have made a wonderful documentary on Shirley Clarke. The greatest show.
SHIRLEY: The artist versus the engineer, or something against women. Are there any lady engineers around here. (NOTE: The radio station.)
JUD: There are several who work the night shifts quite a bit.
SHIRLEY: Oh, good. Because there were none at NET.
BILL: It never works, the equipment doesn’t work.
SHIRLEY: That’s true, but sometimes it does.
BILL: I went to see a friend of mine, Steve Rutt, who’s the inventor who’s working on the machine we’re building, and for a week I got him interested in video. He was into other fields of electronics, and Steve walked around for a week, looking at his scopes around the plant., shaking his head: “It doesn’t work.” None of it works, and he would play it back on the 1/2” machine and the playback would change from time to time, and “it doesn’t work..” and he would look at the broadcast signal, and say: “That’s not what it’s supposed to look like; that’s lousy.” And the fact is that television is one of these non-perfected media, which get very soft.
JUD: Low definition.
WALTER: Yes, low definition.
SHIRLEY: I don’t mind that, because I personally think the aesthetic of the 8mm camera is way beyond the aesthetic of the 35mm camera, you know that heavy monster that sits and watches is not really as beautiful as something that can be held by a human being in your hands. And that’s certainly important here. It’s just that sometimes when it doesn’t work at all- (Laughter) I went recently to see an experience by a young artist from Baltimore who came to New York, and it was interesting because he did it over a period of seven performances, one each night for 15 minutes. He gradually got all his equipment together by the end of the week. (Laughter) But, meanwhile he learned a lot. I went to all of time. Unfortunately, not everybody had the time to do that.
PAIK: Actually, the VISION AND TELEVISION show at Brandeis, the opening was 7:30, and nothing was working in my part, and I had half a floor. (Laughter) Oh, nothing, and one of Charlotte’s TV bras broke, OK?
WALTER: In Boston?
PAIK: In Boston, and at 6 o’clock everything closes, all the TV stores.
SHIRLEY: Did you have to buy brassieres or TV sets though?
PAIK: And then, suddenly, miraculously, 15 minutes after the opening, two sets worked, and then I had a great performance as if two sets were all, you see. Always, man is more interesting than machine. So, if man gets turned on., it’s much easier than machines.
SHIRLEY: Of course since you’ve been to my place, more things work. I’m learning more about wires every day. I spent my first year crawling on the floor, looking for which wire to attach. Now I’ve got a little patch thing, and I hit it, and sometimes it works.
BILL: It’s the artist developing into a technician. Sometimes you have to.
SHIRLEY: Ugh. (Laughter)
BILL: You get entrapped by this wonderful stuff that you see you can do if you have a laser, or a video camera, and I took all this stuff to the Avant Garde Festival this year, and it broke, including the tape. The tape came apart. (Laughter)
SHIRLEY: But mine worked this year. The thing I did with Don Snyder, the Oracle, really worked. It’s true we spent 5 to 6 times as long putting it up as we enjoyed it, but there was an atmosphere that was created that was very, very exciting. What I found, by the way, is the most successful thing to do, is what I call game playing, using video to play games, because the human element is built into game playing, and there is that built-in exchange, and if you can find setups that that becomes part of. The thing of Paik’s that I’ve enjoyed are always where there is the live human element being faced with the audience. Sometimes it’s a reaction to a man standing there nude, and on his intimate parts is a little TV monitor. It’s much better for me than watching tapes, that’s for sure.
PAIK: There is a clear distinction between video art and videotaped art, that we cannot enough emphasize this difference.
SHIRLEY: For me, what I do, maybe I’m wrong, I refer to something called videofilm, which uses electronic computers, and all sorts of things, to enhance the ability to put onto a single strand, or many strands, images that are recorded; but then I see next to it a live process, which is an interaction with things which are prerecorded, and basically they imply some kind of a mix of different elements, of people, of prerecorded tapes and cameras, and to me I guess that’s more video.
JUD: And the videofilm can be released as a film or a videotape. There’s an interchange between the two.
SHIRLEY: Right. Is that, by the way, the same as reversing the procedure, where film can be put onto video, i.e. television, cable, or whatever, and therefore will hold up, or do you think that the tape which has been made for a tape holds up better in its original form? Is that an issue about it? Ply suspicion is that, in the long run, it’s not.
JUD: The interchangeability between the two is rapidly being discovered in terms of syntax.
PAIK: Of course. That is important.
SHIRLEY: When our screen sizes change, that will also make a difference.
PAIK: I think the difference between broadcasting and non-broadcasting is in the main technical.
SHIRLEY: It makes a great difference.
PAIK: How we think of it. If communication should be complete, alright then, communication is practically a feedback loop. You go and come back.
BILL: Absolutely. It’s a feedback loop whether it’s a delay line or a few microseconds.
SHIRLEY: Are there lots of friends of ours outside who are waiting? If everybody comes to the Kitchen this Sunday- Paik, who won’t even be physically there, he’ll be in Boston, right? What’s going on right now, you’re at the Kitchen, seeing us right now, and what Paik suggested was, why don’t we play back the audio through a radio when it’s broadcast, and each of us bring some kind of image feed, so that while this is going over the air, the images could be watched, whatever they might be.
PAIK: Actually, you have time to come over to 240 Mercer Street- the Kitchen, alright- then watch and see this program with us.
SHIRLEY: They can do just what we’re talking about; they can leave their houses, dash over to Mercer Street, and watch what’s happening now. This is video.
BILL: If we’re doing a commercial for the Kitchen, I have to say that we’re supported by the New York State Council On The Arts.
SHIRLEY: No, you’re not doing a commercial.
JUD: In other words, you’re listening to the conception of a piece which will be realized when you’re hearing it and watching it at the Kitchen.
WALTER: And Nam June will be phoning in from Boston.
SHIRLEY: And if we’re really very good at miming, we could mouth our own words.
PAIK: Anyway, 240 Mercer Street, and you can reach through subway to E. 8th Street, or Bleecker Street
SHIRLEY: Ok, everybody has arrived. The audience is here, and we say hello. Now we start.
JUD: What’s the picture of the video movement at the present time?
SHIRLEY: Right now.
BILL: No, I have a different outlook than Shirley on what video art is, or what videotape is. The difference between tape and live performance; now this will probably make it so that we’re all going to be screaming at each other, and nobody will be able to understand what’s go ing on.
SHIRLEY: They’re having a hard enough time already. (Laughter)
PAIK: It’s a good talk show. Better than most talk shows you see.
BILL: You see, I work with electronic image, and I’d rather work, for the most part, without people.
SHIRLEY: You’re lazy.
BILL: No. I’ve done several things with people, and you’ve seen them.
SHIRLEY: I never saw you do anything with people, except help me.
BILL: The Billy Graham tape. I didn’t direct him. I did the thing with the San Francisco Cockettes. You saw that. You liked that.
SHIRLEY: If you ask me whether I like tapes I’ve seen, if you ask if I’ve liked film tapes I’ve seen, sure, I have.
BILL: I did a live show with a strobe at the Kitchen, but that’s besides the point. I would prefer to use a medium without people because as soon as I involve people in the medium, I lose some--of the control, and for a lot of pieces I would prefer to have total control. I would like the interaction with the audience to come, not on a cerebral level where you sit there, watch the tape and think of what I meant, but where they sit back, relax and think of other things, and then have the tape affect them in such a way that they’re carried along, and they can think their own thoughts and add their own imput into it on a highly personal level, on an individual level.
SHIRLEY: You’re misundestanding, though, the role of the video director. You’re confusing him with the videomaker, let’s call him. The videomaker can control, is the one in charge of, the situation, and he sends out broadcasts out over the air, or across the room, to himself, whatever he wants, and when you want to control a situation, fine. But I don’t see the process as being of that short a duration. First of all, I see it as constantly continuing. Already in the United State, the American people go to sleep, go to work, and watch video. If you ask them what they do, most Americans watch TV, and that’s their occupation.
BILL: I guess so. I don’t watch TV.
SHIRLEY: So what I’m suggesting, in the six hour day that the average person puts in, there’s a great deal more time to explore many things in relationship to any input, any process, any kind of back and forth thing. So, I’ll give you my great fantasy, what I call the Pleasure Palace Theater of the Future. And it’s something like Mercer Street, but instead of being a bunch of separate people who have come in and rented space, this is on e big overall space, a kind of labyrinth maze, and that as you go from room to room, you can go through many experiences, from dance, to music, you can eat, you can take a sauna bath., you can play chess to Mozart, you can see live theater. Jud and Paik know this well because several years back (Laughter) we described the same event. I haven’t yet found that 200,000 dollars to even get the first thing, but it’s an architectural space, something that would certainly get anybody out of the house. Otherwise, I, for one, plan to stay right smack in my house and watch TV, until you send me something else over the cable so I can turn on the cable, or else I may stay in my house and play bingo’- via the cable. But, other than that, I don’t think we’re in any disagreement. I think you either don’t understand, or just don’t accept the implications of what I’m describing, something very big that will include watching tapes made electronically or however. I personally would like to feed film inputs to my tapes because they give me certain images I cannot get otherwise.
BILL: It’s just the average artist’s inability to communicate with anybody else. (Laughter) I agree with what you’re saying perfectly. And I didn’t understand it, right? So there’s a communications gap, which I find happens a lot between people who are always striving to communicate.
SHIRLEY: No, I think it’s very important for us to exaggerate what we say. In other words, I will not stand publicly for electronic films versus video as a live process art form, because unless I scream loud and clear for process.
BILL: You would never get it.
SHIRLEY: We won’t get it at all.
BILL: I feel the same way about electronic image. Unless you sit there and shout: “You need this machine which will do this,” people look at you like: “What do you do?” “Well, I do videotapes.” “What sort of people do you tape.” “I don’t tape people at all; I deal with electronic images.” They say: “What does it look like?” and unless I have my portable video playback unit there, or my studio, I can’t even begin to show them. It’s become totally strange. Walter must have the same experience.
JUD: For years, it’s been: “What kind of films do you make?”
SHIRLEY: Thank you. Jud. I was just going to say, I make films about people and I never make films about abstract objects. That was not my thing, that’s all.
WALTER: The FCC says there something wrong with the television; they’re going crazy when they see things like that.
SHIRLEY: I like them fine. But then, I usually admire what I don’t do. As do we all. But I think Jud is a very good example. Jud’s been in and around the video scene since its very conception, way before I even knew it existed, and yet he has remained very faithful, no matter what he uses as input, to the kind of filmmaking that he believes in, that he’s been doing for many, many years. And Paik’s work resembles Paik’s work, whether it’s music, or whether it’s his tapes.
WALTER: Or whether it’s an interview. (Laughter)
SHIRLEY: Why would it be anything else? And I remember seeing Walter’s things the first time, and flipping out because he was playing around with TV with images we would get all the time with a TV screen, even though we all admit that the problem with things keeping themselves together technically is tough, and it isn’t going to be much longer before we see large groups of people, across the city, across the world, all different kinds of art imagery produced, using this medium for distribution.
JUD: That’s for sure.
SHIRLEY: And that’s why you compared it earlier WBAI, because the whole thing with why Gene Youngblood feels so strongly about it, and when I met him at Paik’s house last fall, I suddenly got the impact of the meaning of it, what access to this medium is going to mean, because he described himself sitting in California, a film critic, not being able to see films, which is, of course, insane.
JUD: When we’re talking in terms of opening up channels, it’s like gradually being able to feel more and more different parts that we never knew existed of our nervous system.
SHIRLEY: That’s indeed true.
JUD: And what perhaps has to happen culturally at this point, and what we are talking about now, is just like the first injection of stimulant into this mass nervous system.
SHIRLEY: One of the things, of course, that’s fantastic is this idea: we’re having a conversation now that’s really marvelous. We’re really inputting a great many ideas. Now, unless people sit at home with a cassette and record it for themselves, they won’t be able to play it back and at their own leisure re-examine it. And this is, of course definitely true with images. You go to the movies, and you’ve got to look back each time. Let’s just think for a moment of the videocassette and what that’s going to do. We can have these things just like we have books and records, and that’s going to make a big difference’-too. I’m busy right now trying to write, which is not my thing at all, and I realize that in the few moments we’re spoken here, the next year’s worth of articles have been written.
WALTER: Ah, maybe I ought to start writing.

SHIRLEY: No, I think we should do more ways of talking actually, because it’s a good way of communication.
JUD: As you get more in non-verbal communication, you discover that words have an entirely other importance.
PAIK: And hire a professional editor to edit it, so it will be as good as anything.
BILL: You’d have to get someone who’s literate. Like Shamberg came to guest lecture at one of my classes at NYU, and he asked me to write down something, and I asked him how to spell every word because I never learned spelling.
SHIRLEY: You talk alright, like I do.
BILL: Alright, but not well. And I said to Michael, I’m sorry, you’ll have to write it down yourself. I’m illiterate. And he said, post-literate. (Laughter)
SHIRLEY: Well, that’s a nice compliment.
BILL: There’s an interesting thing that hinges on what we’re talking about. It was a sort of scary talk I had with Paul Kaufman, who’s the Executive Director at the National Center For Experiments In Television at KQED on the West coast- actually there are three of them- and he’s the director of that one. I asked what he thought was going to happen in terms of abstract and strange video art forms in the next few years. And it was, of course, the summer before the election, and he said: “I think Nixon will be re-elected; everybody will feel sort of suppressed and stop a lot of their protesting, and we’re going to be the Soma producers. We’re going to produce pretty patterns and nice television so people can sit at home and not go out and protest, and sit back and get high and watch tape.” Now, I see it differently too, otherwise, I’d be totally seared; but it is a scary thought.
SHIRLEY: But I see something much more exciting going on now.
BILL: Opening sensory, new tactile, new sensory, orgasmic feelings, through image and sound, electronic image and electronic sound, added in with old art forms which you can now put in a cassette and review paintings or old pictures frame by frame, and do intense study. It does imply something of going more into yourself, and getting out of politics, and that’s sort of a frightening though, in some ways.
SHIRLEY: Up until that very last sentence, I was absolutely with you. And then, I will just take this deviation here. If you look at a very interesting phenomenon, which is all the people, many of them violently anti-Chinese, anti-Mao, who returned from their first visits to China and their first reaction to it, you get a very interesting phenomenon because all they report is that there is a group of people now in the world who are happy at the moment doing what they’re doing because they see a positive future based on the best parts of their past. And, here, we all feel kind of floaty lost. This is a very political statement I’m making now, that if we saw our roles as having to learn these new skills we’re talking about, so that the technology makes possible the communication web, to really start to cross, we too can become part of what the Chinese are going through, without or with the kind of revolutions they had to go through to attain what they did. It might be possible in the future, just through communication, through information passed to people, and it doesn’t matter if it’s Nixon in the White House or who it is, because the power of the people stopped that bombing in North Vietnam, no matter what anyone says. There’s no question about that. It didn’t stop the fighting.
WALTER: Maybe we’ll get the communications web then.
SHIRLEY: But when we get it, we better jolly well have used this period perfecting some of the techniques. I, for one, find it difficult to do something that was never asked of me before, though it’s been asked of jazz musicians for years: the fact that a jazz musician can play and improvise within a group. He hears what he plays, and at the same time he hears what other people are playing. What do we do with our eyes and our bodies? Dancers know something about it with their bodies. We don’t know anything about that with our eyes. Now this is a skill we’re going to have to learn, a totally new skill for the human being. There was no other way he ever needed it before.
PAIK: That’s very true.
SHIRLEY: And it’s a very important thing to look at this period as practice time, or getting together time. It’s true; our heads are in front of the reality of things, but our skills aren’t.
PAIK: For instance, from that moment of time that man-monkey stood up and we had man, until the time we could draw, first, say the painting of 5000 B.C. good painting in a way- it was a million years we took just to learn how to use it. OK, we even use cave painting still a lot of times, and from 5000 B.C. to now is a very short time still.
SHIRLEY: Because you have to look at it not just as passive input, Bill.
PAIK: I think it is very important that we got a new hand, telecommunications.
SHIRLEY: Right, a new tool is going to make man.
PAIK: This new tool takes a very long time, and now the smart way of many, many experiments should be done because we cannot say that this is video, and this is video art, now, you know. We cannot say that.
SHIRLEY: No one’s ever defined for us what painting is either.
PAIK: Art is a very elusive concept.
SHIRLEY: I think that’s something we all have to do, busying ourselves perfecting our talents to create electronic images, a skill that we’re all going to need.
PAIK: That’s very important.
SHIRLEY: I am busy learning things having to do with movement, fine. That’s what we need. We need all our different inputs.
JUD: It’s rather like studying the zen of electronics.
WALTER: Yes, zen electronics.
BILL: Jud knows me and I think he may be poking fun at me. Jud and I teach a course together and jud knows that the only book I require in the course in how to use a half-inch portapak is the book ZEN IN THE THE ART OF ARCHERY (NOTE: by Eugen Herrigel.). People then look at the equipment in a different way. Instead of saying, in the standard Western approach: “This is a machine that I’m going to battle it out with,” they should look at it and say” “This is something that I’m going to have to incorporate into myself in order to be able to use it.
SHIRLEY: I agree with you, but I’m very curious about what Paik wants to say now, because I wonder about how he felt about being able to be p art of something like the Experimental Television Lab.
PAIK: My position from the beginning was, though I’ll do all that I can do, that I thought the best thing I can do is not to exercise any of my personal influence., so that it can be as open as possible, and then, I thought of doing as Lao Tzu said., the doing of not-doing.
SHIRLEY: By giving people access to what you have developed.
PAIK: Yeah, yeah. Of course, it was a very hard decision first, like in 1970, the various things I had already developed for ten years, and then to make a machine, and to liberate it or not to liberate it. I thought many, many nights. And one day, I knew it, that I should go off, and that day I said I will practically not use it. I made one whole year of movies with Jud Yalkut, so that I don’t play video synthesizer. It should be an open thing. Therefore, video art should be as open as possible, and also therefore all environment and all non-videotapable art. For instance, in a panel discussion with George Stoney, Gene Youngblood and Russell Connor in Minneapolis during the first video art competition, I said: “You are supposed to be video art competition, but what you are doing is single channel videotape art competition.” (To WALTER) I’m sorry, you won, and it was a very good tape. It was a good thing they discovered Walter. It was all a good thing, but the name was at fault, and I didn’t submit anything. And the thing is that video art and videotaped art are different, and we are also thinking of environment, and that is also different. I always think about the profound meaning of Paul Ryan’s thing which very few people know. Paul Ryan has this time-delay line and self-analysis. I think that’s very important.

YES AND NO is an experience in one’s own balancing of positive and negative feedback. Set up two videotape machines with a single tape. The first machine records you and the second plays the recording back on a five-second delay. According to how you feel, start with saying YES or NO into the camera. If you start with YES, when that comes back on the monitor five seconds later, you can either switch to saying NO to your YES- and so on and so on. All manner of ambivalence can be explored in this way .... (Piece at Brandeis show) ... “VT is not TV. Videotape is TV flipped into itself. Television, as the root of the word implies, has to do with transmitting information over a distance. Videotape has to do with infolding information. Instant replay offers a living feedback that creates a topology of awareness other than the tic-tac-toe grid.
SHIRLEY: My daughter, Wendy, is involved in something that’s fascinating.
PAIK: Psychological.
SHIRLEY: Yes, of self-analysis with video which could end up being something like a Proustian novel, and that’s a whole other possible thing.
PAIK: What I’m quite interested in what we are doing now with Jud is freezing time. Why are we, why suddenly, take a portrait of a great man? It used to be a job for a painter, and the painter’s job was how to make it better. Then they invented photography, and that became the job of a professional photographer, and when it became very cheap, it became everybody’s job, you know. So Paul Ryan’s portapak is the same thing, all beginning with “P”.
SHIRLEY: How about a film I once made called PORTRAIT OF JASON, which, by the way, I thought was a videotape. I thought when I finished it I thought, when I finished it, I could hire myself out as the modern day portrait painter. You know, for $1000, I’ll come to your home and do your film on you.
BILL: One of my first revelations In video, when I started working with electronic image, I would keep the camera on myself as I was playing with the thing, because I wanted a live image to input into this mess. After awhile I realized that I had the bad habit of picking my nose.
SHIRLEY: Self-improvement.
BILL: You discover it. But after awhile, you’re watching all this tape I decided it didn’t matter anymore.
PAIK: Actually, George Stoney said the same thing. That’s really interesting.
SHIRLEY: What I’ve done is, I set up my first equipment so that the monitors and the camera were right there together. From then on, no one ever looked through a lens or a viewfinder in my house. We looked in the monitor. But then Viva said: “Aren’t you going to make people self-conscious?” The answer was: “Of course. They go through a period of self-consciousness, of enjoyment, of vanity, and then they go beyond it.” And it’s fabulous. I have finally gotten where I will let people take still pictures of me, which I never could do before, because I was really insecure about my image.
JUD: It’s like the Gurdjieffian idea of self-remembering, and video feedback is making us more able to do that instantaneously, to train ourselves to do it.
SHIRLEY: Simultaneously.
JUD: Yes, simultaneously, because we can train ourselves to do as things are happening, to be aware of what we’re doing at the moment that we’re doing it, and be right on top of it.
PAIK: Yes, like Paul Ryan.
SHIRLEY: It will change how people who go out with videotape deal with themselves, let’s say, everybody wants to show everyone else in the world something of themselves. We’ve given them the means to do it themselves. No longer do we have the interpreter; we’re that for ourselves now. There’s this dating game at Antioch College they’re into- the kids- it’s perfect; it’s a very good video symbol. You come and for x number of dollars, you make a ten minute tape of yourself, and then you want a date with somebody, you can come in and look through all those tapes and see what the different people look like, and you choose somebody to go out with. It’s a very good idea.
PAIK: It’s much better than a computer.
BILL: We must have that at the Kitchen.
WALTER: That’s the kind of thing the TV LAB should be doing, and broadcasting it, too.
SHIRLEY: We could do it at the Kitchen, and pay for the tape because a person would pay, say, ten dollars to be put into.
WALTER: The video data bank.
SHIRLEY: Video Date Data. (Laughter) Dada. D-A-D-A.
BILL: This is where you could get your $200,000 for your Pleasure Dome.
SHIRLEY: Oh, you mean I could gradually take $2 off of everybody as they came in, out of the $10
BILL: And it goes to a good cause, the Pleasure Dome.
SHIRLEY: Bingo in my house is cheaper. I run a bing game on the cable. Why not? They do it in Chicago.
WALTER: Which cable?
SHIRLEY: They have apartment buildings which have been wired up for cable in Chicago, and there are young kids sitting there making quite a mint of money running bingo games for the apartment houses. Fine, why not?
WALTER: That’s right. The cablestations in Canada play bingo too.
SHIRLEY: I want the money to come to us so we can continue doing our thing.
PAIK: Actually, the latent, sleeping demand or use for video is so much.
SHIRLEY: It blows your mind.
PAIK: For instance, the reason I am not I is because when I started working at Binghampton [note: Binghamton is correct spelling] Community TV Center- Binghampton is a sleepy small town.
BILL: Was- (Laughter)
PAIK: In upstate New York. Actually, there were university and then town people. There were three Binghamptons: one was university, which is quite far; another is IBM people; and another part is old Binghampton which is centered on Johnson’s Shoe factory. There are three completely different types of people on income. And when you see a house, you know where they belong. Anyway there was hardly an introduction, just sleepy town. Then Ralph Hocking set up the TV Center, with seven portapaks, and nobody cam to rent it out. His job was to rent it out free, and nobody comes. First week, one guy; second week, two guys, and then, in two months, people just kept coming, all kinds of people, firemen, policemen, and of course, young people, and the poets, and clergymen. For instance, they still had hula- hoop competitions going on. And now, they really have a waiting list for ten portapaks a month.
JUD: That happened with public access in New York City, too.
PAIK: And then we made a video synthesizer and, of course, nobody used it. For months, nobody, and I had a very bad conscience to make that, to spend so much money, with nobody using. Then, slowly, slowly, two week waiting period, even the video synthesizer.
SHIRLEY: Well, you know, that was the history of the portapak. Remember, three a month, now 33,000 a month.
JUD: And how many people per portapaks.
SHIRLEY: Yes, one portapak goes to many people. It’s not a little home toy quite yet. The implications are extraordinary.
PAIK: That Binghampton case.
SHIRLEY: Just think, that community that’s sitting there, all sleepy and separate, where one person didn’t get to know another, and I don’t know if they have cable-or not, but if they did those tapes would go out over cable, and what a different change. P I AIK Because it happened in Binghampton. I lived in Freiburg, a small German town, a university town. The only sexy thing in town was the undergarment advertisement.
SHIRLEY: That was the big turn-on.
PAIK: That was the most sexy thing, you know. Martin Heidigger lived there, and Edmund Husserl. It’s like the birthplace of existentialism, Frieburg, near Switzerland. And Binghampton was on that level, you see.
BILL: They will never talk to you again, Nam June.
SHIRLEY: Why? Well, it’s changed the sex habits of the world. Put your own portapak up and make your own porno.
BILL: That’s right. They have them in Tokyo.
SHIRLEY: I see it as a live action thing, frankly.
BILL: I have trouble lighting the set. (Laughter) I know it’s a skill you have to perfect; that’s what I say.
PAIK: Very interesting. You just talked about how we have to learn to use our senses. So, there are three classical visions: Plato said that the word “conception” is the most important thing; St. Augustine said that sound is the most profound; and Sinoza said that vision is the most profound. Now, TV commercial has everything. (Laughter) But still, another interesting thing: when Doug Davis videotaped his honeymoon with Jane, in some motel in Vermont, and then on the bed. They showed it silently, and I told them: “Turn on the sound” and they didn’t turn on the sound.
SHIRLEY: That’s interesting. It made it personal when the sound went on
PAIK: So sound is profound, no?
SHIRLEY: There’s no doubt that all the inputs make it. Anytime you have a medium with something missing, like on radio now, people can’t see our funny faces, so they’re missing part of the fun.
JUD: But they can run around doing something else.
SHIRLEY: Yeah, right.
PAIK: That audience is so important.
SHIRLEY: By the way, one of the things that’s struck me so much about video; in theater, you have to go to the place, and in film, in order to see it. But with video, the place is something we have to start to question. Where do you see it? It can be both ways.
PAIK: It can be anywhere.
SHIRLEY: It’s quite a different thing when something comes into your home.
PAIK: The most interesting thing about NET’s two channel production, which I saw, the most interesting part was when Bob and Ray intercepted and met in the middle. That was fantastic.
SHIRLEY: That was the whole trip. And when they took the rope to pull, and they got it wrong in the tug-of-war, so that instead of being out of one monitor into the other, they got it a little mixed up so they were both in the same monitor on the edge, and suddenly you understood that’s what integration is.
PAIK: And also, both disappeared- in the middle. That is a genius idea. That’s what the video medium is- silence.
SHIRLEY: I once discovered something very funny. I was doing what I call Sculpture Tapes, where you take three cameras and you put the monitors one on top of the other, say, like a body is, head, torso, feet. And the people watched while they were being taped, and what was interesting was that, in the playback, the bottom monitor, which was the feet, bad nothing much happening, and that’s where your eyes went all the time. Not up to the busy tops, and all the moving around, but to these dumb feet which just stood there, or just sat. That’s what I’ve learned actually very much from oriental art.
Once, when Paik came to my house and we were playing with my stuff, he took a live camera and set it up so that it had one of those absolutely perfect kind of Japanese etching qualities., just the edge of something, the edge of a monitor showed, a little frame, and suddenly your eye can’t go into all my fancy images. It kept going back to this quiet.
JUD: The quiet center.
SHIRLEY: The power of observing quietly while action goes on around is another thing that only video input can do, because you need the live feed to the present moment.
PAIK: My thing is that the future, because I am now studying radio quite much, the degree of freedom we will have in the future.
SHIRLEY: Yes, we have to do something about that.
PAIK: Freedom need not be first amendment. Medium free. When you go to movie, you are prisoner of time.
SHIRLEY: Absolutely.
PAIK: Alright. There’s no other thing there.
WALTER: A physical prisoner.
PAIK: On television, you have half freedom, because you turn on the lights a certain amount, and you can do a certain amount of your things, read some books.
SHIRLEY: And also, the commercials were a good tought.
PAIK: Right, so you can leave the room. Or you don’t watch it. You come only for the commercials. And number three, radio gives you more freedom, because you can all information while you type a letter, and doing things, and even watching TV. Therefore, if in the future we can have one silent TV station, where you can get all the information through visuals, while we can choose our own audio source, from records, radio.
JUD: That could be aided, of course, by having a larger visual screen.
SHIRLEY: The day of the mosaic screen, where you have many inputs on a wall.
PAIK: When you stop broadcast, there’s more important information.
SHIRLEY: But the reverse of what you’re talking about, too, where the sound is played for you on the video, and you can make your own image.
PAIK: Of course.
SHIRLEY: And all the variations that come from understanding that.
PAIK: I have the feeling that all talk shows, including TONIGHT show and Dick Cavett, will eventually go back to radio, because there is no reason to see Johnny Carson every night.
SHIRLEY: What I find though is this; I like to get a look at how somebody behaves.
PAIK: Sometimes-
SHIRLEY: There’s something interesting about personal behavior. Let’s take an aging movie star; that’s very interesting to watch. There are all sorts of strange possibilities. But there are ways of doing it that don’t demand so much, for instance, when there’s a talk show on, I find myself more listening to it
PAIK: And you do other things.
SHIRLEY: I now live alone, and find something very interesting. In the old days, I used to turn on my record player when I came into the house. Now, I turn on my TV set, because in many ways I can deal with it merely as sound input, and busy myself. Not too often do I turn to look, and the soap operas are fine with just sound. They really don’t need much image, and game shows too. But, where I see the major difference in what we’re talking about, is having access. At the same as we have access to all of this to the fact that if you are living in Korea, and you are living in San Francisco, and you are living in Brooklyn.; and I’m in New York, and you’re in Minnesota.
WALTER: Why me in Minnesota?
SHIRLEY: I don’t know; you won the prize there. Then we can, also at will, use what used to be called the videophone. We can also plug into each other.
WALTER: That’s the thing to be able to get back to.
SHIRLEY: That we get back and forth.
WALTER: Sometimes we’ve got to talk back to the television set.
SHIRLEY: You can send video images. You can say: “Shirley, shut up for a while; I’m sending you for the next half hour beautiful images; enjoy them.”
BILL: Why are we restricting ourselves to one screen? I used to sit at home and have two air programs on simultaneously, or I would flip dials. I’m a very big one for sitting there and zooming around. The information needed really to digest two or three prime time shows isn’t very much. You can flip the dial and have them all laid out.
SHIRLEY: That’s true of television. It isn’t, I don’t think, quite so true of the kind of concentration that some of us expect with other things. In other words, I think then that the skill we were talking about developing, is that we have to learn to integrate images so that multiimages can be played, and that they can connect in a way that makes it possible to watch.
BILL: Like Nam June’s last show at the Kitchen.
WALTER: Or Shigeko Kubota’s RIVERS.
SHIRLEY: Shigeko’s RIVERS was a very good example.
BILL: This is all, I think, important. As Nam June said in his show: “You can allow your eye to do the editing.”
SHIRLEY: Well, it does what life does
BILL: To some extent. You can have a four-wall screen, or a six-wall screen. You can have the floor and ceiling. You can be inside a cube where there’s something different everywhere.
PAIK: Like quadrasonics, we’ll have quadravideo.
BILL: I think this is the next step.
SHIRLEY: The average living room, twenty years from now, has screens of many sizes on the wall, the way they have paintings. And they can still hang paintings on the opposite wall.
SHIRLEY: Do we still have more time.
JUD: I’m going to over-record, so we can edit.
WALTER: This is edited. This is what should be left on.
BILL: This is process radio. (NOTE: The program was broadcast exactly as it was.)
SHIRLEY: Still a real filmmaker.
PAIK: One thing- let me say one thing.
SHIRLEY: Last word.
PAIK: No, not last word, but one word. Everybody says one last word. Like in court. (Laughter) Finally, Harvard University, with many hundreds of years of history, and many thousands of scholars, you know, finally got one guy, and of course Harvard man has to research books to get degree, so he got research.
PAIK: Of course. They always get better than we do. (Laughter) He did all research about what was written about the telephone and, for the last hundred years, or 110 years, that the telephone was existing, only two essays had been written about the telephone.
SHIRLEY: Oh, that’s not nice.
PAIK: One is McLuhan; another is another guy. In a hundred years! When-television.
SHIRLEY: Unbelievable.
PAIK: Yes, telephone changed our lives, and only two guys wrote about it.
SHIRLEY: You know what’s very interesting. There’s this old Don Ameche movie about how he discovered the telephone; Don Ameche was the actor who played Bell, right, so there he is discovering the telephone, and finally when he and his partner have gotten it together, and they’re going to have a big show to get money so that they produce telephones- what they do is- it’s an absolutely perfect example of what our lives have been like- One of them is in Springfield on one end of the phone, and in Boston, all these rich people are watching, right, and guess what he sends out, the first telephone message: “Hello, hello, you there? and you get there, and then a group of barbershop singers do a little number, there’s a cornet solo (Laughter) and then it’s all interrupted because the landlady, who they own rent to, interrupts than., saying: “You have to get out. Sorry, you can’t do this.” She kicks them out, and everybody looks and says: “Well, it’s a nice toy, but really what is it? Who in the world would ever want to use it.” And that’s exactly the state we’re in now. It’s a good analogy.
JUD: There must be a tape of that somewhere.
WALTER: We’ll hire a Harvard man to research it.
SHIRLEY: I find my survival now, which is in a way very nice, by thinking of all this, as in the beginning of any new art form, as something one plays with. You must look at it more as a toy. Don’t take it too seriously. Enjoy it. Because it’s in that enjoyment that the significance of the thing is finally revealed. We don’t really know yet all the possibilities.
BILL: And we won’t, for several million years.
SHIRLEY: Ta-daaa.

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