Punchy haiku-likeVideo hits fast and runsWhat the future holds

Post by Rick Visser


Being a video artist, I think the points being raised in the discussion over the last couple of days ask important questions about the present situation in the field. Most people are not patient with video art even though they will stare blankly for long periods of time at any T.V. screen in any public space no matter what the programming. I’d dare say most of us no longer read long poems either, when and if they appear in journals or magazines. We turn the page and simply will not go back to them, knowing there is much work to be done if we do go back. Video art is most often more like a poem than a novel or short story (I call some of my work ‘cinepoetics’) but we tend to look at it as if it were the visual equivalent of a short story or novel. Video art often subverts the narrative flow and speed of our minds. We don’t always like that. We would like the art video to fit in with the flow of our minds as they have been conditioned.

It is only human to look for motion, action, and drama. I have a friend who has a high-rise office with a spectacular view of the Rocky Mountains and he admits that the action on the intersection down below grabs almost all of his attention when he looks out the window. In both TV and the cinema, we have been conditioned to the 1-4 second cut. Or less. Perhaps the most avant-garde video in the future will be done in only one shot, one cut. This would subvert its cinematic foundation which takes its strength from the change of planes (the cut).

A haiku-like video art may be the most successful in these initial stages of video art flourishing, stopping people in their tracks, striking them very hard across the hearthead and then releasing them very quickly. [See image above of “TV Interruptions,” David Hall’s 1971 stealth videos which appeared — unnanounced and without title — on Scottish television.] I think, too, that more specificity might be helpful in distinguishing varieties of video art: video sculpture, cinepoetics, etc., and more attention paid to presenting video art in various ways to find how people best relate to it. I don’t think the art gallery as we now know it is necessarily the best way to view video art. I just completed a 9 minute video that I refer to as ‘video sculpture’. Whenever I tell people I do video sculpture, a big hole appears in the space between us as they grasp for some inkling of what that might be. Franklin is right: video will probably dwell in the grey areas, perhaps for a very long time, but some of us really like that space.

–Rick Visser, video artist, produces the blog artrift from Lyons, Colorado