Cover

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Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-iv

CONTENTS

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pp. v-viii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xii

This book exists only because of my wonderful and varied contributors; I want to thank them for entrusting me with their writing. Several helped to shape my ideas for this anthology; several I have yet to meet; and several I’ve worked with over the years. It has been quite an odyssey communicating...

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Foreword

Kate Mondloch

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pp. xiii-xvi

Gabrielle Jennings’s preface to this book issues a playful challenge. Ever notice how sparse the literature on abstract video is? Google it, she suggests.
I took the bait. “Abstract video” [enter]. She’s right — the top results offer links to a disordered avalanche of moving images. I refined...

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Preface: Abstract Video Art

Gabrielle Jennings

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pp. xvii-xx

I conceived of this book while hunting for writing that addresses abstraction in video. Try it — there’s not much out there. Google it. Texts don’t even appear on the first page; YouTube videos come first. I soon realized that in order to fully understand contemporary video art, it is necessary to understand abstraction. I’ve since come to realize...

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1. Introduction: On the Horizon

Gabrielle Jennings

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pp. 1-16

Video art has rarely been analyzed through the lens of abstraction; it is often amorphous, ungovernable, and disembodied with spaces that confound Renaissance perspective and encourage contemplation. As the late art historian Kirk Varnedoe put it, “pictures of nothing.” And of everything. In light of scholarship on abstraction in other mediums...

PART ONE. TRANSMISSION

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2. Film Image / Electronic Image: The Construction of Abstraction, 1960–1990

John G. Hanhardt

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pp. 19-28

The past three decades have witnessed remarkable changes in our thinking about film and video as art forms. The avant-garde cinema enjoyed critical acclaim during the 1960s and 1970s, one of the greatest periods in the history of independent film in America. In the 1980s, filmmakers, critics, and historians, who viewed the artists of the previous two decades...

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3. Joseph Kosuth's The Second Investigation in Vancouver (1969): Art on TV

John C. Welchman

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pp. 29-49

The following discussion of Joseph Kosuth’s exhibition at the Douglas Gallery in Vancouver in the fall of 1969 has two important contexts. The first is defined by the situation of this show as one of the exhibitions at “15 Locations” in North and South America, Europe, and Australia that made up The Second Investigation...

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4. Abstract Transmissions: Other Trajectories for Feminist Video

Siona Wilson

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pp. 50-65

A scholarly consensus seems to have emerged that the Korean artist and composer Nam June Paik is the formative figure for our understanding of abstraction in video art. I don’t contest this, as far as such narratives go. But the art-historical investment in linear, great-name histories leaves women artists in the margins when it comes to...

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5. Abstract Video

Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe

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pp. 66-78

I have suggested elsewhere that nowadays, when thinking of ourselves as part of the world seen from outside and by others who are like us, we think of ourselves as a video image. For a long time we sought to embody the qualities in photography that enhance appearance (lightness rather than heaviness, for example) and before that...

PART TWO. INTERFERENCE

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6. Visual Music's Influence on Contemporary Abstraction

Cindy Keefer

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pp. 81-97

Contemporary abstract media artists as diverse as Björk, Jeremy Blake, Scott Draves, Steve Roden, Robert Seidel, Scott Snibbe, Vibeke Sorensen, Jennifer Steinkamp, and Jennifer West share the influence of historical Visual Music films, specifically those by German American Oskar Fischinger (1900– 1967). Most of these artists have publicly acknowledged Fischinger’s impact on their work...

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7. Getting Messy: Chance and Glitch in Contemporary Video Art

Gregory Zinman

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pp. 98-115

“The digital,” a phrase that pervades present scholarship in the fields of film and media studies, is often employed as shorthand for a set of conditions — and even aesthetics — encompassing that which is programmatic, precise, automated, and endlessly replicable. These notions of the digital are also often set in relation or opposition to...

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8. Delirious Architectures: Notes on Jeremy Blake, "Liquid Crystal Palace," and Digital Materialism

Michael Connor, Johanna Gosse

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pp. 116-128

This interview with curator Michael Connor by art historian Johanna Gosse focuses on the exhibition Liquid Crystal Palace: Recent Work with Jeremy Blake, curated by Connor and Nate Hitchcock, which opened at Honor Fraser Gallery in Los Angeles in early 2014. Gosse and Connor discuss the role of abstraction in Blake’s work, particularly his video Liquid Villa...

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9. Abstract Video: net.video.abstraction

Tilman Baumgärtel, Sarah Cook, Charlotte Frost, Caitlin Jones

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pp. 129-144

In this roundtable conducted across four time zones and via several platforms including e-mail and Google Docs, four theorists, historians, and curators of media art attempted to come to grips with Internet abstraction. It might be fair to say that the asynchronous nature of the discussion itself at times demonstrated some of the forms of abstraction...

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10. Interactive Abstractions: Between Embodied Exploration and Instrumental Control "Underneath Your Fingertips"

Katja Kwastek

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pp. 145-160

This essay discusses abstract moving images generated or shaped by means of real-time audience interaction. As such, they differ from prerecorded compositions as well as from generative works based on preprogrammed operations, which cannot be influenced while being executed. The focus on audience interaction also excludes animations reacting exclusively to...

PART THREE. RECEPTION

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11. Real Time, Screen Time

Lumi Tan

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pp. 163-175

For visitors to any major museum in the past two decades, the process of viewing contemporary video art is one that is familiar. You round a corner or step through a curtain into a darkened space, starkly separated from the white cube of the galleries exhibiting objects. Temporarily displaced as your eyes adjust, you follow the light until you’re faced with one or more large-scale, projected, high definition moving images. The wall label...

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12. The Spreadability of Video

Christine Ross

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pp. 176-191

In the fall of 2013, the Centre Pompidou in Paris held an exhibition eponymously entitled Pierre Huyghe. Although the exhibition was conceived as a mid-career retrospective of Pierre Huyghe’s artistic production, it took the form of an ecosystem — a living environment that evolved according to the performance and media experiments that took place throughout the duration of the show. These transformations were reinforced by...

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13. Spectral Projections: Color, Race, and Abstraction in the Moving Image

Maria-Christina Villaseñor

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pp. 192-204

The world as we perceive it is one teeming with beings, landscapes, and objects in all shapes, sizes, and colors. It is upon the latter, color, that we make critically important determinations about the essential nature of these characters and settings and their place in our world. Yet the scientific definition of color — as a perception or sensation — differs substantially from...

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14. Go with the (Unregulated) Flow: Fluidity, Abjection, and Abstraction

Trinie Dalton, Stanya Kahn

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pp. 205-221

TD: At first I thought we should start with Kristeva because she gives a literal translation of abjection in terms of fluids, but when we were talking about projection and dreams, I was reminded of how we both translate the projection in a dream into a visual or narrative aspect, not literally but in a sensory or tonal or mood way. Projection is tied to...

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15. Sine Qua Son: Considering the Sine Wave Tone in Electronic Art

Philip Brophy

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pp. 222-236

In the long gone nights of broadcast television, the transmitted signal would be terminated around midnight. The home television set would keep receiving, tuned in as it was to the chosen channel’s frequency, but the broadcasting station needed to notify the home audience that its shows were over for the night. An announcement might be made; a title or graphics card would be positioned...

Mediography

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pp. 237-250

Bibliography

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pp. 251-264

List of Illustrations

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pp. 265-268

Contributors

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pp. 269-272

Index

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pp. 273-289