Attention! Production! Audience!-

Performing Video in its First Decade, 1968-1980. A very informative and readable article from Chris Hill originally published on the Video Data Bank website – and also available here as pdf.


Performance art had often functioned historically as a transgressive gesture. With its postwar experimental roots in the aleatory music of John Cage, who advocated the listener’s focused “learning” so that “the hearing of the piece is his own action,” [61] and in paradoxical Fluxus events, which embraced boredom in combination with excitement to “enrich the experiential world of our spectators, our co-conspirators,” [62] undermined audiences’ cultural habits and expectations. It also shared with multi-media happenings “in a real, not an ideological way, a protest against museum conceptions of art-preserved and cherished.” [63] Performance art clearly participated in an economic critique of the art establishment’s investments in objects through its refusal to be commodified. Video installations, performance documentations, and processoriented recordings at the time shared with performance art an accommodation of chance events. As unedited documentation of live events, with grainy black and white images of unknown stability, video also had questionable archival, and therefore investment, value within the art market. Performance assumes a relationship with a present, local audience, who share to some degree in the risk-taking or experimental nature of performance work.

.. some relations and also equally ambiguity in practice to the locative and other interactive forms of new media can be traced here already …

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