Video Art Renaissance –? 2011

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Video art seems to be undergoing a renaissance. Challenged by the less cumbersome immediacy of the internet and a trend towards more conventional artforms at various teaching bodies, its popularity seemed to wane in the early naughties.

Yet a plethora of shows incorporating video suggest its spark has been reignited. The cost effectiveness and accessibility of the technology now sees artists using it as a component of their repertoire.

Artists of worth are now enriching their creative pallet via various media to express their vision and creativity. In turn they show versatility by combining video with other form’s such as installation, painting, design, sculpture as typified by the likes of Mike Kelly, Cindy Sherman and John Baldessari

Korean artist Nam June Paik, a member of Fluxus, is often attributed as having played a pivotal role in introducing artists and audiences to the possibilities of using video for artistic expression. With early work haring back to 1967, he combined use of video with music and performance.

While not quite as confronting or profound as the work of June Paik, several current LA shows incorporating video art are still bags of fun and well worth a look.

Fittingly described as “painfully hilarious,” by the LA Times, Kirsten Stoltmann’s show at the at Emma Gray HQ, 2600 La Cienega Blvd is a nice Pythonesque homage – exploring the determination of a devoted suburban jogger, who casually endures a barrage of arrows and bullets while on a seemingly mundane quest for her daily endorphin fix.

Stoltmann has had an impressive run of shows. Solo Exhibitions at Cottage Home and Sister, Los Angeles, Guild & Greyshkul and Wallspace, New York, Exhibitions at the Saatchi Gallery, London, The Center For Photography, Stockholm, Honor Fraser and Overduin and Kite, Los Angeles, and Western Bridge, Seattle, among others. Her new LA show at runs concurrent with her solo show at Brennan&Griffin New York.

Removed from predictable commerciality, Connie Samars draws from an arsenal of themes and visions, from futurism to industrialization and beyond. Her show, ‘After The American Century,’ offers a more literal focus on architecture and geography than Stoltmann’s cinematic, comedic narrative . Devoted to “built environments, speculative landscapes, and global capitalism,” it has a focus on the inanimate, though still belies admirable humanism.

Other digital exploits this month include Jennifer Steinkamp at Acme gallery. Steinkamp creates interactive video environments that are designed for specific architectural spaces, using digital projection to transform architectural space.

While her career began with brightly colored abstract projections, since 2003 she has increasingly incorporated nature-based imagery into her work — gnarled trees that twist, turn, and change seasons; rooms filled with undulating strands of flowers. Offering insight to describe her work, she says, “It's kind of this ambiguous state between representation and abstraction."

In addition to her job as a Professor of Design and Media arts, Steinkamp’s work is part of the collection at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles and MOCA, North Miami. She has been the recipient of two NEA grants, the Getty Individual grant, a research grant from Art Center College of Design, and two Art Matters grants.

LA Louvre plays host to Terry Allen, an artist and country music songwriter who uses video as a core component of his work. Since 1966 Allen has worked in in a wide variety of media including musical and theatrical performances, sculpture, painting, drawing and video, and installations

His work Ghost Ship Rodez, comprises a musical and narrative component, as well as a sculptural installation resembling a ship. Allen pursues a fictional investigation of what may have happened to French artist, playwright and actor Antonin Ar­taud during a 17-day journey restrained in the dark hold of the freighter Washington in 1937, and later, in various mental institutions.

The work features two large-scale video/sculpture works metaphorical vessels constructed using books as a bough, with a metal frame mast on which sails serve a projection surface evoke the environment of the ship hold and the cot to which Artaud was laid captive: These sails or screens display projected excerpts of films in which Artaud performed.

The Momo Chronicles also includes a 40-minute recorded performance In this sound-based piece, a actress, writer and artist Jo Harvey Allen performs as the voice of “Daughter of the Heart,” a clairvoyant chameleon and multi-voiced narrator.

Performance/ video artist Tiffany Trenda, serves up an installation at the museum of Art And Design. Trenda is a video installation performance artist based out of Malibu, CA. She received her BFA from Art Center College of Design. She has exhibited at Robert Berman, Farmani Gallery, Photo San Francisco, Los Angeles Center for Digital Art, Korean Cultural Center, Highways, and Track 16.

Her process is to take technology (LCDs, video projectors, cameras, etc.) and create a digital environment with an embodied performance that simulates the human psyche. Her work is an investigation of how we are defined and redefined through the integration of technology. Trenda amalgamates LCD screens and her body making her identity interchangeable.

Another worthy contender, downtown’s diamond in the rough venue LACDA will stimulate and accommodate with their forthcoming show entitled “Analog to Digital” exploring conceptual relationships between the two forms will feature work including artists Joel-Peter Witkin, Mark Mothersbough and John Baldessari amongst many others.

Written by Craig Stephens

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