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Installation and the Moving Image

Installation and the Moving Image

Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 216
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  • Book Info
    Installation and the Moving Image
    Book Description:

    Film and video create an illusory world, a reality elsewhere, and a material presence that both dramatizes and demystifies the magic trick of moving pictures. Beginning in the 1960s, artists have explored filmic and televisual phenomena in the controlled environments of galleries and museums, drawing on multiple antecedents in cinema, television, and the visual arts. This volume traces the lineage of moving-image installation through architecture, painting, sculpture, performance, expanded cinema, film history, and countercultural film and video from the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.

    Sound is given due attention, along with the shift from analogue to digital, issues of spectatorship, and the insights of cognitive science. Woven into this genealogy is a discussion of the procedural, political, theoretical, and ideological positions espoused by artists from the mid-twentieth century to the present. Historical constructs such as Peter Gidal's structural materialism, Maya Deren's notion of vertical and horizontal time, and identity politics are reconsidered in a contemporary context and intersect with more recent thinking on representation, subjectivity, and installation art.

    The book is written by a critic, curator, and practitioner who was a pioneer of British video and feminist art politics in the late 1970s. Elwes writes engagingly of her encounters with works by Anthony McCall, Gillian Wearing, David Hall, and Janet Cardiff, and her narrative is informed by exchanges with other practitioners. While the book addresses the key formal, theoretical, and historical parameters of moving-image installation, it ends with a question: "What's in it for the artist?"

    eISBN: 978-0-231-85080-3
    Subjects: Film Studies, Art & Art History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-10)

    Conventional wisdom postulates that the aim of installation art is to produce in spectators an expanded spatial awareness, a phenomenological sensitivity to all that is actual and present within a bounded space.¹ If artists hope to induce in their audiences an embodied knowledge of their situated place within a gallery, then the medium of the moving image would appear to be the natural enemy of installation. Moving images are moulded to the shape of absent or imaginary beings signalling from elsewhere in time and space, from a dream world with no obvious causal link to the setting in which the...

  5. CHAPTER ONE Architecture
    (pp. 11-20)

    The ancestry of installation art has been linked variously to the radical theatre and cross-media events of the Bauhaus in the 1920s and 1930s, and later, Black Mountain College (1933–1957) and, as I shall discuss in chapter two, to the trespassing of painting beyond the frame, following the Cubist fragmentation of pictorial space. An expanded field of painting joined the atomised remains of sculpture and together they metamorphosed into temp orary art environments, assemblages and happenings by the likes of Allan Kaprow, Helio Oiticica, Carolee Schneemann and the Fluxus artists. Marcel Duchamp has been credited with granting artists licence...

  6. CHAPTER TWO Painting
    (pp. 21-37)

    If, as Eisenstein suggests, film and, by extension, movingimage installation descends down one line from architecture, then anotherbranch must necessarily proceed from painting, that other ‘creature of duration’. There are obvious continuities across both practices arising from formal considerations — both moving image and painting organise pictorial elements: shapes, textures, colours, light and dark into readable signs, for the most part defined by a frame, singly or in series. The orchestration of these components draws on compositional principles, forms of staging that were developed in painting; Paul Sharits, for instance brought ‘the act of presenting and viewing a film as close...

  7. CHAPTER THREE Sculpture
    (pp. 38-52)

    Over the past century, the integrity of architecture has been both affirmed and compromised by the ability of projected light to dissolve walls and rupture spatial continuity. At the same time, sculpture, that other engineer of solid matter, has become deeply enmeshed in moving image installation. In its early days, installation might appear to have enjoyed some congruence with Clement Green berg’s modernist demand for sculpture to ‘avoid dependence upon any order of experience not given in the most essentially construed nature of its medium’.¹ This state of materialist grace was to be achieved, said Green berg, only by artists...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR Performance
    (pp. 53-75)

    Installation art of every kind emphasises the role of the public as both participants and informed consumers of art. Performance art, whilst similarly emphasising collaborative interaction with audiences, in fact reinstates the artist, or her surrogates, as the embodied focus of aesthetic meaning. The artist becomes the unequivocal presence that hails the assembled company and demands a human, relational response. Performance art shares with theatre the liveness of this encounter, but when it emerged as a more or less discrete practice in the early 1960s, it broke with theatrical tradition. It began by jettisoning the proscenium arch that had provided...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE Film History
    (pp. 76-103)

    It is only necessary to live half a century to become aware of the rise and fall of hemlines and the eternal re-cycling o f human ideas and passions. This is not to suggest that time stands still within tight circles of recurrence, and there is no denying the breathtaking technological advances of the last decades. However, a brief journey through the history of film reveals many elements that might well have been cast off in the digital age but instead prevailed and resurfaced, refreshed in the work of con-temporary artists, especially when taking the form of moving image installation....

  10. CHAPTER SIX Film as Film
    (pp. 104-128)

    Michael O’Pray described the cinematic outpourings of avant-garde artists in the 1960s and 1970s as a ‘promiscuous activity, taking many forms and showing in a range of contexts’, including clubs, cinemas, artist-run venues, cable TV and galleries.¹ At different times, the work was labelled experimental film, avant-garde film, structural/materialist film or, in the USA in particular, underground film, a term O’Pray favours because of ‘its implication for an art that comes from below, from beneath the accepted culture as opposed to leading from in front’.² Many practitioners did indeed believe that they were the as-yet-unrecognised radical vanguard of a new...

  11. CHAPTER SEVEN Structural Film: Detractions and Revisions
    (pp. 129-141)

    In any consideration of Structural film and the materialist creed that dominated avant-garde practices in the second half of the twentieth century, it is wise to in terrogate some of the foundational principles to which it adhered. The Structuralist critique of cinema was based on a number of interconnected suppositions, and we will begin with the belief we have already explored, that film, and by extension television, lulls audiences into accepting a series of cinematic illusions as reality, there by laying themselves open to ideological messages embedded in screen-based entertainment. A related idea was that audiences are so enthralled to...

  12. CHAPTER EIGHT The Dialectics of Spectatorship
    (pp. 142-163)

    Whatever responses artists may be seeking from the viewing public, most would agree with Liam Gillick that the bodies and minds of the persons who pass through and interact with the work are the essential, sentient elements that complete the work. Claire Bishop is one among many who has emphasised the importance of the gallery-goer in the development of installation art. Fundamental to its practice, she says, is a common ‘desire to heighten the viewer’s awareness of how objects are positioned (installed) in space, and of our bodily response to this’.¹ She emphasises works that stimulate viewers’ senses, particularly those...

  13. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  14. CHAPTER NINE Expanded Cinema
    (pp. 164-206)

    The American critic Gene Youngblood is credited with coining the term ‘expanded cinema’ in his eponymous book written in 1970.¹ Youngblood interpreted the new practice as a symptom of the impact of television and modern communication systems on the creative lives and individual psyches of artists growing up in the burgeoning ‘intermedia’ environment, which, he declared ‘is our environment’.² In spite of Young blood’s influential text, there is no consensus on a precise nomenclature for this multivalent cinematic art; Peter Kubelka referred to ‘invisible film’, Carolee Schneemann favoured ‘cinematic theatre’ and Stan VanDerBeek, ‘the cultural intercom’. Some now proclaim ‘situated/locational...

  15. CHAPTER TEN Sound
    (pp. 207-225)

    Any genealogy of installation and the moving image would be incomplete without a consideration of sound, in its aspects as both presence and absence. In mainstream film and television the synchronisation of the picture to sound serves to promote the credibility of the characters and the vividness of locations and provides what Roland Barthes termed a ‘certificate of presence’.¹ Sound promotes the coherence of the story and, like movement, smoothes the way through the disruption of edits and scene changes, and creates in the viewer anticipations appropriate to the unfolding scenario. Not only do soundtracks enhance the verisimilitude of the...

  16. CHAPTER ELEVEN Video Installation
    (pp. 226-251)

    By the mid-1960s, the general population of the UK was watching a potential eleven hours of broadcast television per day. Gallery-goers were already familiar with the gleaming face of ‘elsewhere’ trapped in a box, its quality of instantaneity, its promise of connectivity, its ‘community of address’.¹ The viewing public was already fluent in the representational language and spectatorial codes of television when artists engaged with and re-cast television as installation art. At home, the television displaced the hearth as the focus of family life. The ‘box’, nested within the four-walled enclosure of the home, first appeared as a humble piece...

  17. CHAPTER TWELVE Closing Thoughts
    (pp. 252-277)

    I shall now edge towards some closing observations based on three issues left outstanding in this genealogy of installation and the moving image. Firstly, the consequences of the displacement of analogue technology by the digital age merit closer examination. The demise of celluloid film gave rise to expressions of grief from senior filmmakers who, coming of age in the 1970s, had based their practice on medium specificity. They related viscerally to both the filmic apparatus and the charged moment of projection. Very few video-makers suffered equivalent withdrawal symptoms on the loss of analogue videotape, as I have discussed elsewhere.² Where...

  18. Bibliography
    (pp. 278-294)
  19. Index
    (pp. 295-304)