|DVD Liner Notes for Video Music 2: Electric Current.
A Collectiveye release, 2005
Electric Light is Pure – Video is Reality!
|By Aaron Yassin|
In 1964 Marshall McLuhan in his seminal book Understanding Media proclaimed, “The electric light is pure information.” 1 This aphorism defined the impact of visual information experienced through the use of light in various media from lighted signs, to video, to film and now to countless forms of digital technology; the significant effect light has on informing and determining our experience is unparalleled. When McLuhan wrote this he accurately focused much of his attention on the flickering video image of television and projected with great accuracy the lasting impact it would have. Still, forty years later, countless hours are spent staring at light filled screens, but now, computer screens have added to the ubiquity of televisions and video has, like the tentacles of a hydra, extended itself ever further outward into the sea of possibility.
Video is unique in its ability to relay sound and image directly from camera to transmitter to monitor, but what is it? Video has generally been considered any one of the following: television; a television broadcast; a prerecorded movie, documentary, or other type of program; a “music video”; any system that delivers a video image (video conferencing, video surveillance); any audio and image information recorded on electromagnetic tape, videotape, including movies, family footage, and video art. Now, advancing with the digital age, video comes in new forms on DVDs, cell phones, hard drives, and streaming over the Internet. More than ever, video is far reaching and can educate, inform, document, stimulate and entertain.
From the beginning of television broadcasting in the late 1930's video technology altered the human experience of time and space. Early on, “live” broadcasts of news and entertainment programs brought the world directly into the home. Recently, “reality TV” has given viewers the ability to enter and become part of the televised video world. The immediacy of video – to be able to record and playback images instantaneously – and its accessibility – the low cost of television and video equipment – redefined the world in the second haft of the 20 th Century.
Video in the 21 st Century is increasingly defined by the inter-relationship of media, which converges in digital technology. Advances have condensed video's relationship with photography, film, and other information systems and as a result our visual culture is rapidly changing. Video is now available on demand with direct TV. It is common on websites. It is in airplanes, cars, and buses. It is projected or on plasma screens in public spaces, art galleries, and museums. And it monitors our movement wherever we go. It is more and more ubiquitous with every advance in technology, which is fueled by our insatiable desire to be actively engaged and stimulated all the time.
Since the introduction of the Portapak, the first portable consumer video camera that became available in the mid 1960's, video has been an important medium for artists. With each new technological advance artists extended the medium in new ways. More recently, professional quality (digital) video production equipment has become readily available. Unlike previous developments, each requiring great expense and specialized knowledge, digital video technology is reasonably easy to use and is also affordable. Now, both digital video and sound editing software have made it possible for artists to use video and related media with real flexibility, allowing what was previously impossible or impractical.
The artists featured on this compilation DVD work with video and sound using new technology. The unique selection of “videos” even includes several that have been made without using a video camera. The work is variously grounded in the history of experimental and narrative film, video art, performance art, photography, music video, animation, electronic music, and sound art, but it extends into new territory. The artists, working independently or in collaboration with audio artists or musicians, have created a specific sonic experience for their video that requires careful consideration of the relationship between the audio and visual information. By working in this way exciting sensorial experiences have been created. But in addition, two very important questions are framed. First, how do we understand the relationship between what we see and what we hear? Second, how does this relationship affect meaning?After watching these video works and experiencing their flashing light and vibrating sound McLuhan again comes to mind, but now through the words of Jean Baudrillard, “. . . the merging of the medium and the message (McLuhan) is the first great formula of the new age. There is no longer any medium in the literal sense: it is now intangible, diffuse and diffracted in the real, and it can no longer even be said that the latter is distorted by it.” 2
1 Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1964), 8.
2 Jean Baudrillard, Simulations, trans. Paul Foss, Paul Patton and Philip Beitchman
|all content © 2006 Aaron Yassin|