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Article

Francis Summers

revised by Jessica Santone

(b Belgrade, Nov 30, 1946).

Serbian performance artist, video artist and installation artist. She attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Belgrade (1965–70) before completing her post-diploma studies at the Academy of Fine Arts, Zagreb, in 1972. Her early works included sound recordings installed on bridges, paintings of truck crashes, and experiments with conceptual photography (see Widrich, pp. 80–97). In her first significant performance, Rhythm 10 (1973), she repeatedly and rapidly stabbed the spaces between her fingers with various knives. Later, in Rhythm 0 (1974; see Ward, pp. 114–30), she invited gallery visitors to choose from 72 available objects to use on her body, as she stood unresponsive for 6 hours. Her infamous performance Thomas’ Lips (1975; see M. Abramović and others, pp. 98–105), in which she cut, flagellated, and froze herself, established her practice as one that dramatically explored the physical limits of the human body, as seen in the work of Gena Pane or Chris Burden (...

Article

Frazer Ward

(Hannibal)

(b New York, Jan 24, 1940).

American poet, performance, video, and installation artist, and urban designer. Acconci worked for an MFA degree at the University of Iowa from 1962 to 1964. He initially devoted himself to poetry and writing that emphasized the physicality of the page and then began to produce visual work in real space in 1969. He worked as a performance artist from 1969 until 1974. His performance work addressed the social construction of subjectivity. A central work, Seedbed (1972; New York, Sonnabend Gal.), saw Acconci masturbate for six hours a day, hidden under a sloping gallery floor, involving visitors in the public expression of private fantasy. Between 1974 and 1979 he made a series of installations often using video and especially sound, mainly in gallery spaces, examining relations between subjectivity and public space. For Where We Are Now (Who Are We Anyway) (1976; New York, Sonnabend Gal.), a long table in the gallery and recorded voices suggested a realm of public or communal debate, but the table extended out of the window over the street like a diving board, countering idealism with the realities of city life. In the 1980s Acconci made sculptures and installations, many viewer-activated, invoking basic architectural units and domestic space. ...

Article

John-Paul Stonard

(b Hameenlinna, Finland, 1959).

Finnish film maker and video artist. She studied at Helsinki University (1980–85), the London College of Printing (1990–91) and then at both UCLA and the American Film Institute, Los Angeles (1994–5). In 1990 she was awarded the Paulo Foundation Prize for Young Artist of the Year. After experimentation with photography, installation art and performance art, Ahtila turned to film and video in the 1990s. The three mini-films Me/We, Okay and Gray (1993) each lasting 90 seconds and written and directed by her, were shown separately and as a trilogy, as trailers in cinemas, on television during commercial breaks and in art galleries. They are noted for their use of narrative conventions derived from film, television and advertising, through which they explore questions of identity and group relations. Ahtila’s main preoccupation with narrative and what she terms ‘human dramas’ was continued in the film ...

Article

Christiane Paul

(b Buffalo, NY, May 25, 1978).

American computer artist, performance artist, video artist, installation artist, composer, sculptor, and printmaker. He graduated in 2000 from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, where he originally studied classical guitar but later switched to the technology of music. At Oberlin he also met Paul B. Davis with whom he formed the Beige Programming Ensemble in 2000, and released a record of 8-bit music entitled The 8-Bit Construction Set. In 2010 he co-founded, with Howie Chen and Alan Licht, the band Title TK.

Arcangel’s body of work has consistently addressed a series of themes, such as the manner in which we express ourselves through technological tools and platforms (from Photoshop to YouTube) in funny, original, creative, and awkward ways. His projects often explore our fascination with technology by playfully undermining our expectations of it and limiting viewers’ control. Another theme that frequently surfaces is the speed of technological obsolescence and the absurdity of a given technology’s lifecycle, which often moves from the cutting-edge of design to an insult of good taste (see Siegel, pp. 81–2). Arcangel connects these themes to the history of art, drawing parallels between pop-cultural vernacular and approaches in the fine art world and combining high tech and do-it-yourself (DIY) approaches. Among his best-known works are his hacks and modifications of Nintendo game cartridges and obsolete computer systems from the 1970s and 1980s (...

Article

Frazer Ward

(b San Francisco, CA, 1967).

American sculptor, installation artist, filmmaker, and video artist. Barney emerged in the early 1990s to considerable fanfare, based on the reputation of works made while still an undergraduate at Yale University (he graduated with a BA in 1989), and early exhibitions in New York galleries. Exhibitions such as Field Dressing (1989; New Haven, CT, Yale, U., Payne Whitney Athletic Complex), and early works in the series Drawing Restraint (begun in 1987), established characteristics of Barney’s work: striking imagery drawn from an idiosyncratic range of sources (sport-oriented in the earliest works), sculptural objects in signature materials (e.g. petroleum jelly, ‘self-lubricating plastic’), and athletic performances by the artist, in the service of arcane personal mythology (see fig.). These characteristics are most fully expressed in the Cremaster cycle of five films (1994–2003, released out of order, beginning with Cremaster 4 (1992)). Elaborate and expensive productions featuring lush imagery, drawing on both marginal and mainstream histories (performance art and Hollywood cinema), Celtic and Masonic lore, popular cultural references (Harry Houdini, Gary Gilmore), and anatomical metaphors (the Cremaster is the muscle by which the testicles are raised and lowered), the ...

Article

Morgan Falconer

(b Columbus, OH, 1949).

American installation artist and video artist. She graduated from the University of Florida in 1972, having studied finance, architecture and art; in 1986 she received an MA in Communication Arts from New York Institute of Technology. Barry’s work was consistently guided by an interest in the ways in which lived social relations are translated into built form in architecture and public space. Casual Shopper (1980–81; see 1988 exh. cat., p. 14) is typical of her early video pieces in examining these issues through a narrative about a couple in a Californian shopping mall; in it, Barry shows how the realms of private fantasy blend into the fantastical confections of the mall’s architecture. The slide and film installation In the Shadow of the City...Vamp r y... (1982–5) points to her related interests in subject formation, states of mind, and the way in which power is exercised through the gaze: bringing together a series of domestic and urban spaces, the images show a number of figures looking out of a window and a woman watching a man sleep. ...

Article

John-Paul Stonard

(b Birmingham, September 25, 1970).

English photographer and video artist. Billingham graduated from the University of Sunderland in 1994 and in the same year took part in his first group exhibition at the Barbican Art Gallery, London. The series of photographs for which he has become known shows the activities of his family at home. Taken over a period of years beginning in 1990 and initially intended as source material for paintings, these photographs are a stark, painful and often humorous documentation of the emotional, sometimes violent relationship of his parents and brother. They are noted for the extraordinary sympathy with which they explore their subjects and the domestic environment. Both the black-and-white and colour prints are mounted on aluminium, unframed, and untitled, suggesting that they are to be seen as a series rather than as isolated images. The images were published together for the first time in book form in 1996. In the following year he won the Citibank Photography Prize and was included in the exhibition ...

Article

Susan Best

(b Sydney, Aug 8, 1919; d Sydney, April 19, 2005).

Australian sculptor, video, installation artist, and sound artist. Brassil received her initial art training at Sydney Teachers College, East Sydney Technical College, and Newcastle Technical College (1937–9). She taught art for 20 years at Campbelltown High School before commencing her exhibiting career in the early 1970s.

Brassil’s first recorded work is Trilogy: Twentieth Century Perception (1969–74; Sydney, U. W. Sydney). Trilogy is composed of three components: Sound Beyond Hearing (900×900×150 mm), Light Beyond Seeing (900×600×150 mm) and Memory Beyond Recall (1050×1050×150 mm). Unlike Brassil’s later works, these three components can be wall mounted. They are beautiful, highly finished, shallow black boxes, and two out of the three are electronic. Memory Beyond Recall has glowing lights veiled behind layers of paper that appear and then dim down and disappear. Light Beyond Seeing has a central lit portion that uses mirrors to suggest an infinitely deep space. The main themes of Brassil’s career—perception, sound, memory, and the transcendental realm—are all signalled in this early work....

Article

Naomi Beckwith

(b Fulton, MO, Feb 4, 1959).

American sculptor and multimedia artist working in fibre, installation, video, and performance. The youngest of seven sons born into a central Missouri family, Cave demonstrated an early acumen with hand-made objects and throughout his career has created works out of texturally rich materials imbued with cultural meaning. Cave received his BFA (1982) from the Kansas City Art Institute, developing an interest in textiles and, after some graduate-level work at North Texas State University, received his MFA (1989) from the Cranbrook Academy of Art, renowned for their textile, fibre art, and design programmes. While working toward his art degrees, Cave simultaneously studied with the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, a company known for introducing African American folk traditions into the modern dance vocabulary. Cave moved to Chicago where he became chair of the Department of Fashion Design at the School of the Art Institute in 1980.

Working across the disciplines of sculpture, textile, dance, and cultural performance, Cave’s oeuvre is based on the human figure; he has produced wearable art as sculptures, arrangements of human and animal figurines as installations, and performance works. Cave’s signature works, the multi-sensory ‘...

Article

Aileen June Wang

(b San Leandro, CA, Feb 3, 1972).

American performance and video artist of Chinese ancestry. Chang earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, San Diego in 1994. She showed her first solo exhibition at Jack Tilton Gallery, New York, in 1999. Her body of work focused on how people can be deceived, either through sight—what one sees is not necessarily true—or through mainstream assumptions about such topics as Asia, sexuality, and socially accepted behavior. Chang attributed her past stint in a cybersex company as the catalyst for exploring illusion as a theme. She realized that video flattened three-dimensional, live performances into a stream of two-dimensional images, enabling her to engage in visual deception.

Most of Chang’s early works investigated problems of gender and sexuality, using her own body and elements suggesting violence or transgression. The photograph Fountain (1999) depicted her inside a cubicle of a public lavatory, with a urinal visible on the far wall. Wearing a business suit, she knelt on hands and knees, seemingly kissing herself but actually slurping water off a mirror on the floor. The accompanying video focused on Chang’s face and her passionate interaction with her own reflection. While the photograph suggested female humiliation in a male world, the video complicated matters by implying that the act was motivated by narcissism....

Article

Francis Summers

(b Reading, Oct 15, 1970).

English video artist. Leaving school at the age of 16 to work in cinema, Cunningham’s skill in creating special effects and models earned him a place on the set of Alien 3 and other movies. He also worked on British film director Stanley Kubrick’s aborted AI project, and for a time he illustrated the cult science-fiction comic 2000 AD. Cunningham claims to be most influenced by such musicians as the German electronic goup Kraftwerk rather than by the cinema, and it has been his work on pop videos that have earnt him his greatest notoriety. His first video was for the band Autechre, and he subsequently made videos for Portishead, Squarepusher, Björk and Madonna. He also produced television advertisements, notoriously for Sony Playstation, where a computer-manipulated alien/girl recommends the benefits of the ‘mental wealth’ afforded by the computer games. His best work has been for the music of Richard James (known under his pseudonym, Aphex Twin): the two videos he produced for him, ...

Article

Marta Zarzycka

(b Sittard, the Netherlands, June 2, 1959).

Dutch photographer and video artist. She studied at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam between 1981 and 1986. Dijkstra has produced a complex body of photographic and video work, offering a contemporary take on the genre of portraiture. Her large-scale colour photographs of young, typically adolescent and awkward subjects recall 17th-century Dutch painting in their scale and attention to detail. They present her subjects as painfully aware of their own changing bodies.

Dijkstra’s works are produced in series, creating groups of photographs and videos around a specific group of subjects or places. For the Beaches series (1992–2002), she portrayed adolescents posed on beaches from Hilton Head, SC, to Poland and the Ukraine; see, for example, Kolobrzeg, Poland, July 26, 1992 (London, Saatchi Gal.) where an uncomfortably posing girl unintentionally echoes the grace of Botticelli’s Venus. In a later series titled Park Portraits (2005–6), schoolchildren and adolescents appear in activity and repose, photographed in city parks in Europe, China, and the United States. Dijkstra is also known for the single-subject portraits in serial transition, such as ...

Article

Christopher Finch

(b Chicago, IL, Dec 5, 1901; d Burbank, CA, Dec 15, 1966).

American film maker, animator, and entrepreneur. Much of his childhood was spent in rural Missouri, but during his adolescence the family moved to Kansas City, where he formed an interest in drawing and in Vaudeville theatre. He received little formal training, but by the age of 18 he was earning his living as a cartoonist, first in print and then in the fledgling field of animation. While still in Kansas City, Disney began, with his most important early associate Ubbe (‘Ub’) Iwerks (1901–71), to produce animated shorts including Alice’s Wonderland (1923), in which a young girl, filmed in live action, cavorted with cartoon characters. In 1923 Disney moved to Los Angeles, where Iwerks and other members of the Kansas City team joined him. They continued to produce similar comedies until 1927, when these were superseded by a fully animated series starring Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. By this time Disney himself had given up animation to concentrate on a supervisory role, but his ability to provide cartoon stories with dramatic structures and his flair for squeezing humour from visual jokes helped make Oswald a success. Disney lost the rights to the character to an unscrupulous distributor, however, precipitating the crisis that led to his greatest triumph. Urgently needing a new character, Disney created a mouse named Mickey (reputedly the name was chosen by Disney’s wife after many others, such as Mortimer, had been considered). The prototype Mickey, based on circles for ease of animation, was drawn by ...

Article

Milan Ivelić

(b Santiago, 1943).

Chilean painter, printmaker, draughtsman and video artist. He studied at the Escuela de Bellas Artes of the Universidad de Chile in Santiago (1961–5), at the Escuela de Fotomecánica in Madrid (1966), the Hochschule für Bildende Kunst in West Berlin (1967–9) and at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris.

Dittborn, together with other theorists and artists working in Chile in the 1970s, based his work on critical examination of the marginal position of Chilean art in relation to international developments, adopting to this end practices at odds with Chilean traditions. Rejecting conventional forms of painting as well as the usual methods of producing and presenting prints, he instead favoured photography as a source both of imagery and technique by means of screenprinting. He found his imagery ready-made in the portraits featured in old Chilean criminology magazines; he combined mechanical techniques such as offset lithography and screenprinting with traditional handcrafting methods of embroidery and drawn-threadwork; and in the mid-1980s he even went so far as to produce works on brown wrapping paper, which he folded and then distributed through the ordinary post, calling them his own variant of correspondence art. Dittborn used such contrasts within his work to reflect disparate realities, mirroring the social interaction of different levels in society and underlining the racially mixed origins of Latin American practices by exaggerating the clash between domestic crafts and advanced modern technology....

Article

Morgan Falconer

(b Derry, March 26, 1959).

Irish photographer, video artist and installation artist. He studied Fine Art at Ulster Polytechnic (1978–81). Influenced by the work of Hamish Fulton, Barbara Kruger, Richard Long and Jenny Holzer, Doherty’s work in the late 1980s often combined black-and-white topographical images overlaid with words and phrases or juxtaposed with texts. These first demonstrated his interest in the ambiguous and contradictory meanings that images can suggest; this has been fed by his sustained engagement with the political conflicts in Northern Ireland and focused by a specific interest in his home town of Derry. The diptych Stone Upon Stone (1986; see 1998 exh. cat., pp. 10–11) suggested a politicized parody of land art in its depiction of a river in Derry which divided opposing sides. Against the background of increasing controversy over media coverage of the troubles in the late 1980s, Doherty began to use images from television and newspapers, and in the early 1990s he began to use video, slide projections and sound. The slide installation ...

Article

Milan Ivelić

(b Santiago, May 11, 1940).

Chilean painter, printmaker and video artist. He studied architecture at the Universidad Católica de Chile in Santiago and printmaking at Taller 99, a workshop in Santiago run by Nemesio Antúnez, where he explored new technical methods for representing machine imagery and energy. In 1962 he travelled to Spain and then to Paris, where he studied at Stanley William Hayter’s Atelier 17.

In the mid-1960s Downey settled in the USA, where he became interested in and made contact with the pioneers of video art, which became his primary medium. Proposing to work directly with energy rather than simply representing it, he presented his first audio-visual installation in 1966, conveying light, sound and energy by means of closed-circuit television. Conceiving of the artist as a cultural communicator and keen to appropriate to his own ends methods of image reproduction derived from advanced technology, he created a series entitled Video Transamérica, which he began in ...

Article

John-Paul Stonard

(b Washington, AR, July 10, 1940).

Native American Cherokee sculptor, performance artist, and video artist. In 1968 he moved to Geneva, where he attended the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in 1972. After his return to the USA he lived on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota and played an active part in the American Indian Movement; he also served from 1975 to 1979 as the executive director of the International Indian Treaty Council in New York. He left both organizations in 1980. Durham’s sculptures and installations can be seen against a background of activism, in which he records the plight of Native Americans in the face of Western colonial culture. His sculptures, bricolages of found objects, often take the form of vivid anthropomorphic constructions, appearing as ironic fetishes in an ethnographic display. Durham often includes words that provide witty if inconclusive suggestions of the type of protest that he is staging, as in the wall-mounted work ...

Article

John-Paul Stonard

(Karima)

(b London, July 3, 1963).

English sculptor, painter, draughtsman, video artist and installation artist. She studied at Maidstone College of Art (1983–6), and at the Royal College of Art in London (1987–9). In January 1993 she embarked on a six-month collaborative project with the artist Sarah Lucas, The Shop, in the Bethnal Green district of London, selling art objects in the style of bric-a-brac. Her first solo exhibition, My Major Retrospective, (London, White Cube Gal., 1993), provided the public platform for her subsequent success. Emin’s aptitude for self-promotion was demonstrated by the opening, in 1995, of the Tracey Emin Museum in South London, which she ran as a showcase for her work until 1998. She was shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 1999.

Emin achieved notoriety both in the art world and in the popular press as the enfant terrible of British art, a result not only of her outlandish behaviour but also of her starkly confessional work, based on an unorthodox upbringing and turbulent private life. In ...

Article

Kevin Concannon

(b Woodbridge, Suffolk, May 15, 1948)

English musician and artist. Eno studied fine art at the Ipswich School of Art under the tutelage of Tom Phillips (who introduced him to John Cage’s Silence) and at the Winchester Art School from 1964 to 1969. In 2007 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the Royal College of Art. Eno is best known as a rock musician, first with the band Roxy Music from 1971 to 1973, and afterwards recording as a solo artist and with other musicians. He was inspired to work with tape loops by Steve Reich (b 1936) after hearing that composer’s It’s Gonna Rain (1965). He is known for ‘ambient’ music (which he named) as well as ‘generative’ music, terms popularized by Eno to describe respectively music that blends with the environment and can be listened to or ignored, and music that is ever-changing and generated by a system. Ambient and generative scores have typically accompanied his visual art installations. He is also well known as a producer of albums by rock luminaries such as Talking Heads and U2. In ...

Article

John-Paul Stonard

[Höllinger, Waltraud]

(b Linz, 1940).

Austrian film maker, video artist, photographer and performance artist. After studies in Linz and Vienna (1955–64) and work as a script girl, film editor and film extra (1965–8), she signalled her decision to follow a career as an artist by changing her name to Valie Export (a combination of the abbreviated form of her forename and a reference to a popular brand of cheap Austrian cigarettes, ‘Austria Export’). The provocative and politically engaged stance she then developed in her work constituted a relentless exploration of feminist issues and a wish for direct social change as a result of her activities as an artist. In one of her best-known earlier works, Genital Panic (1969), originally an impromptu performance in a Munich cinema, she confronted audience members wearing trousers exposing her genitals. This work was later made into a photographic poster depicting the artist wearing the same confrontational apparel, sporting a wild hair-do and holding a gun. Agitational erotic interaction had also featured in a well-known street performance of the same year, ...