Posts Tagged ‘video’

Saturday, February 6th, 2010

In September 2009, as part of the AND Festival in Liverpool, Guthrie Lonergan presented an alternative version of the film Groundhog Day (1993).

Groundhog Day is a film about a man who re-lives the same day over and over and over again. Lonergan’s version is a series of eighteen short videos, each composed of still-frame slideshows that represent scenes from the film’s narrative.

These still frames are underscored by Lonergan’s own first-person summarization of the narrative from the point of view of the protagonist, played by Bill Murray.

The number of videos corresponds (approximately – it’s difficult to judge) to the number of days that Bill Murray re-lived the same day over and over and over again.

Lonergan also released these videos not all at once, but one by one, so that it became performative. By breaking the story up into the number of days that Murray re-lived the day and presenting the videos over the course of a couple of days, the viewer gets more of a sense of this endless repetition.

The story’s eternal return theme, then, takes on a new air of uncanniness. The idea of endlessly cycling through the same day shocks you a bit more and allows you to see what this time would mean in a deeper way.

In one of Lonergan’s poetic/philosophical asides, he captures this.

We view a still image of Bill Murray in bed at the end of his first full day of return.

As the image very slowly fades to black, Lonergan (as the protagonist) muses:

I’m pretty lost at this point.

And I’m thinking about why this, why this is happening.

And… about how I’m a, a weatherman.

And this connection between you know weather and time and predicting things using patterns.

And can weather have patterns… and maybe time, as well.

Saturday, January 2nd, 2010

I am sitting in my apartment and I am trying to watch Ryan Trecartin videos on my computer and I’m having a lot of difficulty doing it. They are simply too nutso. At first, I thought, “he’s got to do something about that… I honestly can’t even watch this for more than a couple of minutes,” but, then, I realized that, in fact, Trecartin had latched onto something really smart about the way he makes his videos. They are not meant to work cinematically, where one starts from the beginning and watches the whole way through (well, perhaps, one could do it, but to my mind, the point lies elsewhere). His videos, rather, work much better in the world and language of contemporary art where the audience is going to come in at any time and watch for a minute or two, until they get the aesthetic or the point and, then, maybe stay and watch for longer (maybe stay for the whole thing), but, most likely, move on to the next work of art or the next gallery or the next whatever. The art occurs in the conception of the aesthetic, in reflecting upon the fact that this artist made something that works like this and the fact that he did it really convincingly, than it is in the pleasures of the narrative, per se. The fact that there is a narrative is simply part of the art (it’s something you like), but the actual experience of the video as art lies in considering the fact that this thing exists in the world and you’re actually watching it right now and “isn’t that really weird/amazing/whatever?” In an interview with Karen Verschooren, Cory Arcangel talks about this in relation to video art’s emergence into contemporary art:

You have a lot of gallery video artists now and things became less paced in cinema-time. A gallery will change the concept of cinema-time or narrative time. It doesn’t completely erase it, but people can walk in at any point and people can leave at any point. So you’re dealing with a different concept of time than with single-channel video art for instance.

So, one thing that those gallery video artists started to do was to take this into account. They also started to deal with questions like how does a video look, how is it installed, how is it projected, and so on. These are all things that brought video out of the single channel distribution model and into the gallery. We will also have to deal with this.


However, after that consideration of the video within the art gallery context, what is there? What does the work tell you about itself now that you’re acquainted? How does it reflect upon itself, how does it reflect upon its world (the world of contemporary art)?

In some ways, Ryan Trecartin’s videos work better at a party, some sort of social situation where someone is playing a strange or unique video that is not meant to be watched beginning to end (it’s too noisy, you’re talking to people, etc.), than it is, instead, to be reflected upon as part of a social situation, as something that someone would play at their party, like as a lens through which to consider the party.