Media item

VideoVortex #3 6.Vera Tollman

‘Always on your minds’ (video screening)

How does one address these banally profound issues of everyday life? It seems to me approporiate
to use the medium of television, which in its most familiar form is one of the primary conduits of
ideology – through both its ostensive subject matter and its overtly commercial messages“ wrote
American artist Martha Rosler in 1977 about the conceptual bias of video art. (Martha Rosler: To
argue for a video of representaiton. To argue for a video against the mythology of everyday life,
published in Illuminating Video, 1990)
The artistic videos in the screening programme Always on your minds are dealing with the visual
and textual qualities of amateur YouTube videos, mostly recorded in everyday enviornments. The
programme is looking at the characteristics of YouTube as a successor to television, as well as
showing contemporary video artists appliance of the medium video and the questioning of the
speaker's position, knowing about the 1960s and 70s video works by artists like Richard Serra or
Vito Acconci. So first-person-narrative as a representational strategy appears in the artistic videos as
well as in their references, be it mass culture like YouTube or conceptual video art, and appears as a
mode of both subjective confessions and artistic discourse, while naturalism is taken to be
narrative's central feature. Bernd Krauss parodies the naturalism of documentary, live TV and other
familiar formats. Martha Rosler stated in the same text as cited above that „in choosing
representational strategies I aim for the distancing (ostranenie, the Verfremdungseffekt), the
distantiation occasioned by a refusal of realism, by foiled expectations, by palpably foulted
conventions.“ Karolin Meunier creates such a distance in her video Reading as video. Video as
reading by taking on the spoken text in the video Boomerang (1974) by Richard Serra as well as
the reception of this video by art historian Rosalind Krauss.
Authors of YouTube videos talk and sing straight into the camera. The subject speaking into the
camera, carries the weight of credibility and on the other side tries to catch up with the duty to
entertain. In contrast, artists’ videos proceed according to precisely the technique described here;
they use methods – recombination, delay, distortion – asking for oberservation of the footage of the
amateur masses. For example Oliver Laric: he took excerpts selected from the immense quantity
of amateur raps to a hit by American musician 50 Cent, and edited them together into a sequence
including the original volume and atmosphere of the YouTube clips. This then gave rise to a kind of
master video clip, 50 50, multiplying the fans.
And what does it mean then when video artist Stéphane Querrec takes the aesthetics and text of
amateur confessions and condenses these to form a new rehearsed script? In contrast with Laric’s
work, here a host of different voices merge into one universal voice, changing surprisingly as if you
were zapping through YouTube with melancholy, hysterical and surprisingly witty monologues. The
super-monologue, which is spoken by a non-professional actress with Querrec prompting, is
strikingly pertinent and yet also drives you crazy. same time, Laric’s sampled video puts forward an
analysis of what typical YouTube material offers.
In a way the videos provide visual pendants to sociological observation – picking up the everyday
“language” of YouTube.
Considered artists: Cory Arcangel (Glenn Gould), Martijn Hendriks (Video as Suburban Condition),
Bernd Krauss (diverse Clips), Oliver Laric (50 50), Karolin Meunier ( Reading),
Stéphane Querrec (Flow) among others
Vera Tollmann (1976) lives in Berlin. She works as an independant curator and writes about
contemporary art and internet culture, most recently about YouTube. Vera studied Cultural Studies
in Hildesheim and Liverpool. In 2007 she was researcher for the conference video vortex which
took place in January 2008 in Amsterdam. This spring she co-published the newspaper Was Du
wissen solltest (Die Zukunft) in the framework of Theater der Welt festival in Halle. Recent
exhibitions: Your latest trick at JET, Berlin and Nachvollziehungsangebote (Comprehensive
Offerings, with Sophie Goltz) at Kunsthalle Exnergasse, Vienna in 2007, Katastrophenalarm
(Catastrophe alert, with Sophie Goltz, Christine Heidemann, Anne Kersten, Ingo Vetter) at NGBK,
Berlin in 2008 and Talkmasters [Screening Programme with video art on YouTube] at Badischer
Kunstverein in Karlsruhe in July.

Instituut voor Netwerk Cultuur
Publication date:
17 November 2010


Institute of Network Cultures
Bilkent University Department of Communication and Design
Original format:
Instituut voor Netwerkcultuur