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Viewing Media Installation Art

Kate Mondloch

Publication Year: 2010

Media screens—film, video, and computer screens—have increasingly pervaded both artistic production and everyday life since the 1960s. Yet the nature of viewing artworks made from these media, along with their subjective effects, remains largely unexplored. Screens addresses this gap, offering a historical and theoretical framework for understanding screen-reliant installation art and the spectatorship it evokes.
Examining a range of installations created over the past fifty years that investigate the rich terrain between the sculptural and the cinematic, including works by artists such as Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Doug Aitken, Peter Campus, Dan Graham, VALIE EXPORT, Bruce Nauman, and Michael Snow, Kate Mondloch traces the construction of screen spectatorship in art from the seminal film and video installations of the 1960s and 1970s to the new media artworks of today’s digital culture.
Mondloch identifies a momentous shift in contemporary art that challenges key premises of spectatorship brought about by technological objects that literally and metaphorically filter the subject’s field of vision. As a result she proposes that contemporary viewers are, quite literally, screen subjects and offers the unique critical leverage of art as an alternative way to understand media culture and contemporary visuality.

Published by: University of Minnesota Press

Series: Electronic Mediations


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication, Quote

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-9

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pp. ix-x

It is a daunting charge to attempt to thank adequately all of the people who, in ways both small and monumental, helped me to write this book. Miwon Kwon deserves special recognition for nurturing this project in its nascent stages, and Jennifer Marshall and Chon Noriega share the distinction...

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Introduction: Screen Subjects

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pp. xi-xxi

Media screens—film screens, video screens, computer screens, and the like—pervade contemporary life, characterizing both work and leisure moments. If in earlier times our sense of self was constructed through language, discourse, or a print-based culture, the screen-based interfaces...

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1. Interface Matters: Screen-Reliant Installation Art

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pp. 1-19

Art critic and historian Michael Fried’s groundbreaking 1967 essay, “Art and Objecthood,” is best known as a studied rejection of minimalism, or, as Fried preferred to call it, “literalist” art. Fried recognized that this new genre, inasmuch as it compelled a durational viewing experience akin to...

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2. Body and Screen: The Architecture of Screen Spectatorship

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pp. 20-39

Frank Gillette and Ira Schneider’s Wipe Cycle (1969) greets viewers with flickering black-and-white electronic images that rotate through a grid of nine stacked televisions. Commonly lauded as the first work in the field of video installation, Wipe Cycle also numbers among the first to incorporate...

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3. Installing Time: Spatialized Time and Exploratory Duration

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pp. 40-59

It is well known that installations made with time - based media have become increasingly pervasive since the 1990s, aided by the enthusiastic institutional embrace of this now predominant art form and exemplified in celebrated screen-reliant sculptures by artists such as Tacita Dean, Eija...

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4. Be Here (and There) Now: The Spatial Dynamics of Spectatorship

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pp. 60-76

As in everyday life, cinematic and electronic screens in gallery - based installations consistently draw our attention, however fleeting, to the light-based imagery presented on their surfaces. Our cultural habit of immediately looking at media screens and our propensity to view them as windows onto...

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5. What Lies Ahead: Virtuality, the Body, and the Computer Screen

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pp. 77-92

Computer science prodigy Ivan Sutherland’s prescription for the “ultimate display” in 1965 came down firmly on the side of representational illusionism. The computer screen should function as an Albertian window: a flat surface through which to behold simulated, virtual spaces. Only two...

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Afterword: Thinking through Screens

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pp. 93-96

“The limits of my language are the limits of my world,” Wittgenstein once wrote. In The Virtual Window, Anne Friedberg adds new life to the philosopher’s celebrated axiom by mapping it onto the visual register: “The limits and multiplicities of our frames of vision determine the boundaries...


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pp. 97-121


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pp. 123-130

About the Author

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pp. 131-154

E-ISBN-13: 9780816673612
E-ISBN-10: 0816673616
Print-ISBN-13: 9780816665228

Page Count: 208
Publication Year: 2010

Series Title: Electronic Mediations