introducing a political science of video

It was a really busy weekend for Berlin in terms of cultural events and due to overlappings one had to make decisions where to go. Therefore I had to skip the unitednationsplaza event, not because of lack of interest, but lack of time, as the attended symposium, which accompanied the exhibition ‘Art of Projection‘, took place within a similar time frame.
I might come back to make some comments on a few of the visited lectures, as some of them were quite interesting. But first of all I want to mention a point which struck me from the interesting talk ‘Touching Pictures: Toward a Political Science of Video’ of David Joselit through his profound interpretation of an elder work of Joan Jonas, who was my teacher some years ago and had been mentioned on this blog earlier. He presented (amongst other artists work like Acconci) her early work ‘Left Side, Right Side‘ by pointing to her self-description as to have perceived the ‘monitor as a box’, which holds a ‘space inside this box’ and defines a relation to the viewer by the distance between the camera and the monitor. His interpretation points at the (for this time period typical) definition of the apparatus (camera/monitor – media) in juxtaposition to the performing persona. Jonas uses a complex, even though simple setting of mirror, monitor and camera to make a brilliantly performed statement about a general confusion about ‘my’ image in relation to the ‘new medium’. In Joselits interpretation the performance demonstrates the dispossession of the image, which appears as ‘alienated property’.
Joselit ended up with the remark, that we (the general audience) obviously overlooked or did not take seriously enough the analytic artistic interpretation of the medium (new media) which – already back then – was inherent in the works of early video artists like Joan Jonas.
The mentioned work ‘Left Side, Right Side’ can be found and even partly viewed with more performance oriented descriptions, which but already point out the performance of the established uncertanity towards the ‘new medium’, under the following links:

link: Exploring video as both a mirror and a masking device, and using her body as an art object, she undertakes an examination of self and identity, subjectivity and objectivity. Creating a series of inversions, she splits her image, splits the video screen, and splits her identification within the video space, playing with the spatial ambiguity of non-reversed
images (video) and reversed images (mirrors). Though Jonas’ approach is formalist and reductive, her performance reveals an ironic theatricality.
video link: For Jonas, video served to extend the boundaries of her internal dialogue and to establish an evocative relationship between the screen’s box-like structure and her imagery—which interprets the figure in fixed space. Left Side/Right Side is concerned with the spatial ambiguity inherent in the video image—where the differentation between video image and mirror image is used to establish a condition of uncertainty that propels the work. —Bob Riley, Currents
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