It‘s a dog's life: a still from Rob Hunter's Woof, Woof, I Want To Be A Dog
Video art is no longer the new kid on the block — but where is it going? Words: Alex Hetherington
In 1986 the American artist Bill Viola produced a seminal video installation. Entitled I Do Not Know What It Is That [Am Like, the work dramatically considered ideas of psychology and individuality. Similarly other artists such as Tony Oursler, Stan Douglas, Matthew Barney and Bruce Nauman have created works that chart the territory between behaviour, gender, conformity and being. What is more specific to these artists, though, is a preoccupation with video. film and the moving image. This influential body of work has paved the way for a generation of artists to explore the potential of this moving medium.
Now Edinburgh’s Stills Gallery is to play host to an exhibition that focuses on these issues. Become Like Me — curated by Rob Hunter, artist and lecturer at Duncan of Jordanstone Colleges Of Art — assembles twelve artists whose video work forces a deliberate investigation into our behaviour patterns. In grouping these artists and themes together, Hunter wants to create what he describes as ‘a psychologically intense atmosphere where we are confronted by forceful pcrsonalities.’ Video, believes Hunter, has the potential to force us to pay attention.
The various video works are to be installed in close proximity to each other to produce a seductive
'There is an exciting potential for chance and contamination.’
exchange of images and ideas. But with so much ‘information’ within the space, is there the possibility of confusion or conﬂict? Hunter would welcome this: “The viewer will be pulled into the exhibition. There is an exciting potential for chance and contamination; choices about what to watch are given back to the audience.’ Central to Become Like Me is the sense that the individual video works are trying to urge and persuade the audience to address a number of issues.
The range of artists Hunter has selected is intriguing, setting up vivid cross-references between period and theme. Represented here are major figures like the American artist Vito Aceonci and the Scotland-based Roderick Buchanan and Paul Carter, through to more recently emerged artists like Andy Kennedy, who shows a disturbing and comical alphabet recital. Other artists include Sean Dowers, who plays on appearance, and Beth Derbyshire, who has made a cinematic video loop. ‘It is an opportunity to see how early video work has helped define and structure the ideas of a new generation,’ says Hunter. ‘Video for these artists is a means to be deliberate and direct. Television is an important inspiration, as well as the visual power of cmema.’
This decision to show older pieces with new work is bound to make us think about the future of video work. ‘As more artists gain access to technology there will be opportunities to fully research the possibilities of this medium,’ Hunter believes. Whilst by no means a retrospective of video art, the exhibition — with its energetic and demanding approach — should give us some indication of what that future might hold.
Become Like Me is at Stills Gallery, Edinburgh, Sat 5 Feb—Sat 25 Mar.
News and views from the world of art
DUNDEE IS MORE than upping its contemporary art venues, it is getting affectionate. The artist collective Generator has recently secured a project space and its first exhibition is entitled An Invitation To Kiss. The press release does not say precisely if the merits of French kissing will be explored, but included is a re-inactment of Rodin's famed sculpture, The Kiss. On a giant screen, a film is to show two artists enjoying a little lip movement: perhaps it will offer a little guidance to those who feel the need to brush up their technique. An Invitation To Kiss runs until Friday 18 February.
MEANWHILE, OVER AT University of Dundee's Cooper Gallery things are a little more cerebral. In River Deep Mountain High (surely that's a line from a Tina Turner hit) the influence of historical landscape painting on contemporary art is examined. The line-up of artists is as deeply interesting and includes Peter Doig, Graeme Todd (who is soon to have a show at Edinburgh's Fruitmarket), John Stezaker and Carol Rhodes. The exhibition runs from Friday 11 February to Saturday 18 March.
THE NEW EXHIBITION space next to Edinburgh's Bongo Club is to relaunch in May with a programme of 'club-friendly’ art. Artists, particularly those who work in light or make sculptural and, importantly, robust work are invited to submit proposals. For further details contact Jo Salter on 0131 558 9408.
GLASGOW'S THE LIGHTHOUSE is also on the lookout for a few willing individuals living in the city. Droog Design is one of Europe's leading design companies and, to coincide with an exhibition of their work in May, The Lighthouse wants a number of households ‘to babysit’ a few of their products and make a video diary of the event. Those who fancy making their own radio programme are also invited to come forward. In August, Radio Lighthouse is to launch and wishes to include one hour live broadcasts on issues related to architecture, design and the city. Call 0141 221 6362 if you are keen. The great outdoors: Contemporary landscape art on show at Dundee’s Cooper Gallery
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3-17 Feb 2000 THE USTB'I