David Bernard Ambrose - On video art and transcending the medium <|>

Video art is inherently tied to its medium. Video requires the same technology used to view movies and television, but video art has its developed its own language different from its technical predecessors because it is created to explore and analyze subject matter that the mass media does not. This is the video artists responsibility.

It is difficult for the video art viewer to look at a television or a projection and separate video art from the medium in which they watch on a regular basis; this being reality TV, narratives, dramas, news and commercials. The expectation when viewing video art should be different. Video art usually does not employ the same timing and editing style that mass media uses and the production style has much less importance , but more emphasis is put on creating high concept artwork. Video art takes the cerebral approach to the viewer’s senses and imagination.

Video art has been primarily conceptual. Video has in past broken the rules and conventions of the medium, but will it continue to in the future ? Since it’s inception not much has changed. In 1965 when Nam June Paik showed hour old footage of the Pope parading down 5th Avenue in a Greenwich Village Café and Yoko Ono the same year showed the world a film of her sitting silently on a stage and inviting the audience to cut her hair. The video art world is still occupied by documentaries like these of events and art performances.

Consider the master works of art from the past in painting, sculpture, and photography, an emphasis has been put on aesthetics and challenged our sense of design, form, and beauty. Video artists have not immersed themselves into this tradition of visual art that has created the masterpieces. The majority of video artists have gone the route of conceptual art, which grew to popularity around the same time video art was born in the 1960’s.

The next step for video art is to continue to progress from experimental films and documentaries in order to develop a new visual language that will further challenge mass media. Will video take on the challenge of an evolving aesthetic? To do this, video must transcend the medium.

When the viewer perceives video art and all connotation to mass media is irrelevant, then the artwork will exist on its own terms.


 David Bernard Ambrose, Man of Sorrows, Video Still, 2007