Dick Higgins: STATEMENT ON INTERMEDIA

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Art is one of the ways that people communicate. It is difficult for me to imagine a serious person attacking any means of communication per se. Our real enemies are the ones who send us to die in pointless wars or to live lives which are reduced to drudgery, not the people who use other means of communication from those which we find most appropriate to the present situation. When these are attacked, a diversion has been established which only serves the interests of our real enemies.

However, due to the spread of mass literacy, to television and the transistor radio, our sensitivities have changed. The very complexity of this impact gives us a taste for simplicity, for an art which is based on the underlying images that an artist has always used to make his point. As with the cubists, we are asking for a new way of looking at things, but more totally, since we are more impatient and more anxious to go to the basic images. This explains the impact of Happenings, event pieces, mixed media films. We do not ask any more to speak magnificently of taking arms against a sea of troubles, we want to see it done. The art which most directly does this is the one which allows this immediacy, with a minimum of distractions.

Goodness only knows how the spread of psychedelic means, tastes, and insights will speed up this process. My own conjecture is that it will not change anything, only intensify a trend which is already there.

For the last ten years or so, artists have changed their media to suit this situation, to the point where the media have broken down in their traditional forms, and have become merely puristic points of reference. The idea has arisen, as if by spontaneous combustion throughout the entire world, that these points are arbitrary and only useful as critical tools, in saying that such-and-such a work is basically musical, but also poetry. This is the intermedial approach, to emphasize the dialectic between the media. A composer is a dead man unless he composes for all the media and for his world.

Does it not stand to reason, therefore, that having discovered the intermedia (which was, perhaps, only possible through approaching them by formal, even abstract means), the central problem is now not only the new formal one of learning to use them, but the new and more social one of what to use them for? Having discovered tools with an immediate impact, for what are we going to use them? If we assume, unlike McLuhan and others who have shed some light on the problem up until now, that there are dangerous forces at work in our world, isn´t it appropriate to ally ourselves against these, and to use what we really care about and love or hate as the new subject matter in our work? Could it be that the central problem of the next ten years or so, for all artists in all possible forms, is going to be less the still further discovery of new media and intermedia, but of the new discovery of ways to use what we care about both appropriately and explicitly? The old adage was never so true as now, that saying a thing is so don´t make it so. Simply talking about Viet Nam or the crisis in our Labor movements is no guarantee against sterility. We must find the ways to say what has to be said in the light of our new means of communicating. For this we will need new rostrums, organizations, criteria, sources of information. There is a great deal for us to do, perhaps more than ever. But we must now take the first steps.

Dick Higgins
New York
August 3, 1966

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David Hall


David Hall – TV Interruptions: Tap piece (full version) 1971
Conceived and made specifically for broadcast, these were transmitted by Scottish TV during the Edinburgh Festival. The idea of inserting them as interruptions to regular programmes was crucial and a major influence on their content. That they appeared unannounced, with no titles, was essential.. These transmissions were a surprise, a mystery. No explanations, no excuses.

‘A single figure dominates the beginnings of video art in Britain – David Hall.. and his early experiments with broadcast television are unique. Not only are many of his video pieces classics.. but he has made important and often brilliant contributions to experimental film, installation and sculpture. A successful sculptor in the ‘new generation’ school of the 1960s.. he turned his attention to the less tangible media of photography, film and video. A founding member of the video art movement here in the early 1970s, Hall was an influential activist on behalf of the infant art form…’ (2)

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Entitled ‘1001 TV Sets (End Piece)’, 1972-2012,’ this work by video art pioneer David Hall at London’s Ambika P3 features over 1,000 TV sets, all tuned to random terrestrial stations.

David Hall (b. 1937) was awarded first prize for sculpture at the Biennale de Paris in 1965 and took part in other key shows including Primary Structures, New York in 1966 which marked the beginning of Minimalist art. Soon he was using photography, film and video to make single screen and installation work and exhibiting internationally at many venues including Documenta Kassel, Tate Gallery London, Centre Georges Pompidou Paris, National Museum Reina Sofia Madrid and the Museum of Modern Art Vienna.

His first television interventions appeared on Scottish TV in 1971 and his first video installation was shown in London in 1972. He participated in forming the Artist Placement Group with John Latham and others in 1966; was co-organiser of The Video Show (first major international show of artists’ video in the UK) at the Serpentine Gallery, London in 1975; and was co-curator of the first video installations exhibition at the Tate Gallery, London in 1976. In the same year he initiated and was a founder of the artists’ organisation London Video Arts (now part of Lux, London).

Appointed Honorary Professor at Dundee University in 2003 he has taught at the Royal College of Art, St Martin’s School of Art, Chelsea College of Art, San Francisco Art Institute, Nova Scotia College of Art and many others. He introduced the term ‘time-based media’ through his writings, and created the first time-based art degree option with emphasis on video at Maidstone College of Art, Kent in 1972 (now University for the Creative Arts). He has made work for broadcast by, among others, BBC TV, Channel 4 TV, Scottish TV, Canal+ TV and MTV.

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A walk around the lovely Morden Hall Park, south London

‘In 1971 David Hall made ten TV Interruptions for Scottish Television which were broadcast, unannounced, in August and September of that year (a selection of seven of the ten was later issued as 7 TV Pieces). These, his first works for television, are examples of what television interventions, as they came to be known, can be. Although a number of interventions have subsequently been made by various artists, the 7 TV Pieces have not been surpassed, except by Hall himself in This is a Television Receiver for BBC TV in 1976, and Stooky Bill TV for Channel 4 TV in 1990…’ (3)

‘These works have come to be regarded as the first example of British artists’ television and as an equally formative moment in British video art…’ (4)

‘For [Hall].. the video medium was an unexplored territory for artists, its codes yet uncracked. He argued that video art was integral to television and not just its technical by-product. TV – and its subversion – was where video’s vital core was located, well beyond the ghettos of film co-ops, arts labs and art galleries. This view opened an unusual space, somewhere between high art formalism (which it resembled) and the mass arts (which it didn’t). Anti-aesthetic and anti-populist – conceptual art with a looser, dada streak…’ (5)

A Situation Envisaged: The Rite II (Cultural Eclipse), video installation 1988/1990
‘The installations of David Hall.. along with many of his videotapes, have concentrated upon the physical reality of TV as a site of exchange, a creator of illusion, a channel of information, or what Baudrillard terms ‘a screen of ecstatic refraction’. In several of his [later] installations Hall has presented the viewer only with the back of the television sets.. In these works we are simultaneously denied the pleasure of looking at a TV screen, given another view of television, literally the view we never choose to look at, and reminded of the fact that television conceals as much as, or more than, it reveals…’ (6)

‘The question was that of knowing how to introduce resistance into this cultural industry. I believe that the only line to follow is to produce programmes for TV, or whatever, which produce in the viewer.. an effect of uncertainty and trouble. It seems to me that the thing to aim at is a certain sort of feeling or sentiment. You can’t introduce concepts, you can’t produce argumentation. This type of media isn’t the place for that, but you can produce a feeling of disturbance, in the hope that this disturbance will be followed by reflection. I think that that’s the only thing one can say, and obviously it’s up to every artist to decide by what means s/he thinks s/he can produce this disturbance…’ (7)

References
1. Sean Cubitt, Greyscale Video and the Shift to Colour, Art Journal, Fall 2006.
2. Michael O’Pray, Monthly Film Bulletin, British Film Institute, February 1988, and A Directory of British Film and Video Artists, ed. David Curtis, Arts Council of England 1996.
3. Nicky Hamlyn, Coil magazine 9/10, London 2000.
4. Chronology, Diverse Practices: A Critical Reader on British Video Art, ed. Julia Knight, Arts Council of England 1996.
5. A L Rees, Stephen Partridge catalogue, University of Dundee 1999.
6. Jeremy Welsh, Video Positive catalogue, Tate Gallery Liverpool, Moviola 1991.
7. Jean-François Lyotard, Brief Reflections on Popular Culture, Institute of Contemporary Arts Documents 4, London, 1986.

http://www.davidhallart.com

Corinne Vionnet

Works from Corinne Vionnet

Works from Corinne Vionnet

Photo Opportunities, Corinne Vionnet, 2005-2013

We travel, we see a monument, we take a picture. Framing sites of mass tourism in our viewfinders, we create photographic souvenirs that are integral to the touristic experience. Conducting keyword searches of famed monuments in photo sharing web sites, Swiss / French artist Corinne Vionnet culled thousands of tourists’ snapshots for her series Photo Opportunities. Weaving together numerous photographic perspectives and experiences, the artist builds her own impressionistic interpretations – ethereal structures which float gently in a dream-like haze of blue sky.

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www.corinnevionnet.com