Media Digest

May 1997

Since the moment when video recording was invented, many of the practices associated with it have been intimately tied to the recycling of mass media material and to the simulation of phenomena typical of media environments in order to reprocess information and procedures, and thus open the door to new ways of critical interrelating with mass media.

In the independent videographic production this reorientation in relation to the media inertia is a form of critical observation of the medium by itself,  a demonstration of the capacity of video to develop itself on the margins of the industrial television web, locating itself without immediate mainstream referents. In this sense, the survival capacities of video depend on its iconoclastic potential, derived from its condition in the exile.

Media digestion has to do with the necessity of converting in constructive what was conceived a priori as only destined to seduce, distract, coming out of monumental power structures difficult to cancel or contest.

Media Digest 1 is a video program about  the idea of media digestion, grouping together works related to the use of mass media materials and procedures. The program seeks to show a broad spectrum of points of view, historical and contemporary, from which it is possible to understand the mechanisms which articulate media and the directions that can be extracted from them in order to alter pre-established codes.

Nam June Paik y Jud Jalkut, Videotape Study #3. 4', 1967-1969. USA.

In the 70’s, the first attempts at critical observation of television were conditioned by the development of the initial recording formats. This historic piece by Nam June Paik must be understood within this context. It is a document on the relationship of “retro-alimentation” of video and television and the mechanisms used by the latter to filter and pixelate information.

Dara Birnbaum, Technology Transformation: Wonder Woman. 7', 1978-1979. USA.

Once technology had created the first recording standards, video attained a level of ease of management which allowed it to develop as a reflective mechanism returning altered media icons, contrasting the simulated object and the dark and sinister original. Exploring this development, in the late 70’s Dara Birnbaum created a classic piece, Technology Transformation: Wonder Woman, an intense reconsideration of the role of woman in the TV of the era, using fragments of the eponymous television series.

Klaus von Bruch, Das Duracell Band. 10', 1980. Germany.

Using the corporate image as an immediate reference, Klaus von Bruch radicalizes the basic schemes of media persuasion. In Das Duracell Band, Von Bruch uses video as a hammering mechanism, repeating the advertising images, in a loop only interrupted by brief fragments from war documentaries.

Rafael Montáñez Ortiz, The Kiss. 6', 1991. USA.

Formally similar to Von Bruch, in The Kiss, Rafael Montañez Ortiz creates an hypnotic, almost musical atmosphere from a brief film sequence from the 50’s, lengthened in the form of short loops which put off the climax or end of the action, and as such lenghten its original duration.

Matthias Müller, Home Stories. 6'. 1990. Germany.

In Home Stories, probably the best known piece by Matthias Müller, the artist uses parallel secuences (with the same central motif) played by classic Hollywood film actresses, to parody the obsessive atmosphere of the thriller.

Ron Rochelau, Dance of Death. 4', 1994. USA.

Also using thematically related extracts, Ron Rochelau reflects on the paradoxical treatment of violence, its manipulation by the media and the festive character it is given.

Nora Ligorano y Marshall Reese, The Bible Belt. 5', 1994. USA.

The Bible Belt fits into the category of the simulation of television genres. It is an ad selling the “Bible Belt”, a belt which holds a small, portable Bible. The Bible Belt is a part of a comprehensive project of the same name, which sets forth the integration of religion within the media spectacle.

Fernando Larraz, Sergio Brito y Juan F. Alemán, CAAMI. 3', 1995. Spain.

CAAMI sets up the relationship between the hermetic world of culture and the consumption of television, the sacred nature of the museum space and TV shopping, in a video infomercial about the Atlantic Center of Infatable Modern Art, a parody of the culture industry and the TV genre.

Craig Baldwin, Tribulation 1999: Alien Anomalies Under America. 55', 1994. USA.

As a finale for this Media Digest 1 we present a fundamental tape in the independent videographic production of the United States in the last few years. It deals with American paarnoia, collective fears and their media justificattions, through a fictional documentary of the hypothetical alien invasion of South America.

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