In the contemporary world, there is a widespread perception that many artworks have developed gradually. Many art viewers might have various problems which are caused by the confusion of artworks. The study of The Aesthetic of Narcissism revealed, “a painter points to the centre of the canvas and, in so doing, to invoke the internal structure of the picture-object. Thus pointing to the centre was made to serve as one of the many blocks in that intricately constructed arch by which the criticism of the last decade sought to connect art to ethics through the aesthetics of acknowledgement.” (Krauss, 1976, p.4) It seems like the point of painting is the concentration on connected materials that is painted. Moreover, the aesthetic experience might be frequent in modern life but many perceivers cannot touch the feeling in logical. However, art experience is still very interesting because many qualifications and possibilities of artworks can provide self- rewarding cognitive operations. It reveals to viewers why the large number of contemporary artworks have positive aesthetic experience such as individual styles. Furthermore, the majority of art challenges including in conceptual, abstract art, complex and multidimensional stimulus specify a part of methods to empirical aesthetics. Therefore, artworks can display an information- processing stated form of aesthetic processing. (Leder et al, 2004)
On the other hand, many viewers might get confused about how to understand the meaning of other artworks such as, media or video arts. As Tribe and Jana (2006) stated that new media art is a form of art which has a forceful parallel to video art. They explained that "the emergence of video art as movement was precipitated by the introduction in the late 1960s of the portable video camera. Previously, video art had been practiced by a few pioneers." (p.9) In addition, some of the artists such as, Vito Acconi, Bill Viola, Bruce Nauman, Joan Jonas and William Wegman are interested in video equipments because of its price; cheap. Then many artists in the later generation are inspired by the web browsers as the new media movement, and new media artists seem to use much more of these equipment as the portable video camera. This is because it helps them to explore changes of cultures and technologies easily. It might result in the fact that the movement of this art form has been driven to the contemporary age. Consequently, the art equipment nowadays is adapted for using the new media equipment which can be seen everyday.
The aim of this essay is to show the process of some video artworks in the contemporary period. Why and how the artists use video to be their materials and mediums. In addition, it is going to show why people are attracted by these video artworks, as well as relating back to the writer’s video installation of how these artworks are working.
In relation to the theoretical in this article, it is obvious that the contemporary art in present have been repressed the relationship to the digital media. It is attributed to the fact that “the contemporary art begin with key currents within contemporary art. The ‘first current’ sits at the ‘top’ end of the art-world scale and comprises three sub-currents: an uneasy mix of ‘spectacular repetitions of avant-garde shock tactics’ (think Damien Hirst, Jef Koons, Julian Schnabel, and Takashi Murakami), a ‘remodernising’ tendency (Richard Serra, Gerhard Richter, and Jef Wall), and ‘retro- sensationalism’.”(McNamara, 2012, p.252-253) However, sometimes the art medium is used to designate the categories of artworks such as, the media of sculpture, painting or video. In case, they are used to mention specific materials by artists. (Barrett, 1999)
In the twenty-first century, people got the email accounts the first time that it might be a starting point of digital art in the contemporary art period. Nowadays many artworks are adapted to use new technology such as, Multichannel video installations, cut-and-pasted files, digital prints and Photoshop images. In addition, this century is dominated by the slow dismantling of traditional cultural hierarchies, and the structure of cultural consumption began to be crumbled and then decomposed.
As Terraroli (2010, p.29) states,
“The concept of avant-grade and kitsch, two fundamental opposites modernist theorists of art like Theodor W. Adorno and Clement Greenberg thus dissolved into a new configuration where “low” and “high” culture, the ephemeral and the lasting developed in a wholly unprecedented shape. The figure of speech now proves obsolete in the panorama of globalised chaos where culture and entertainment, artwork and product art and fashion, pop and highbrow music, airport literature and experimental novels, serious content and frivolity are all mixed in discriminately within the framework of authentic cultural inflation fostered by the development of the Internet.”
It might be a result of the fact that many changes of the culture structure have direct effects on the process of art creativity as well as technological adaptation. Furthermore, the media is as capable of a part of artist’s reputation as it also shows the character of artworks.
As a consequence, there is one form of artworks, which is a Video art. It is considered as one interesting form in this contemporary period. To describe artworks that can use both the equipments and processes of video and screen. It can be presented in many different ways. For instance, viewing in galleries, recording to show on broadcast, distributing CDs or DVDs, posting on the Internet and showing installation, which might set one or more monitors or screens in space. In addition, Hartney (2009), Nam June Paik is well known with his video artworks and is an important happening in video art period claimed that the information in Video art can record images, sounds, performances, dialogues, interviews or other art elements in which video representations can be included. However, he was not the only one who has potential to create artwork by new media. There were various American filmmakers such as, Stan Vanderbeek (1927) and Scott Bartlett (1943) who tried to implement the new use of film imagery but it always results in the wrong way. Other artists such as, Vasulka and Steina, also made camera image transformations of monitor on videotape.
In 1980, the video artwork formed its own context of criticism, production, exhibition to encourage and promote video culture to be the emergence of art form in Western Europe and North America. Various television producers tried to make marketing from artists, specialists, workshop, and festival for spreading the video arts. More artists turned to use videos to show the community movement of the 1970s including topic relating to racial, sexual or social issues. Then in 1990, the video installation played an important role because there were more international exhibitions occurred. Therefore, more art viewers were familiar with galleries and museums towards to the artworks of artists like, Gary Hill and Marie-Jo Lafontaine who were popular in art community at that moment. Single screen artworks were shown on television increasingly and other media were included in a computer. Hence, video artworks did not only appear in gallery but they became a part of electronic community as same as ‘the Internet’.
This form of artworks might have been the strong representative of many artists who like to make a process as same as art movement. It is also touching the real time imaged movement in installation which effects on the direct perception of perceiver. In addition, it might be attributed to the fact that video art can responds processing by place, time and installation to viewers as well. Consequently, the next paragraph is going to explain on why and how the artists choose video to construct artworks by some of the artists’ examples.
For instance, there is a Korean-born visual artist who names Nam June Paik, who is known as the father of video as same as the words are “electronic superhighway” in the twentieth century by the BBC’s Matt Danzico and Jane O’Brien (2012). He created many artworks which are driven by the scope of television as video installation. He was the first artist who has done the experiment with the platform of television as same as seeing on canvas, and his artworks are also the inspirations to construct for many other artists. As Smithsonian American Art Museum director Betsy Broun says “the futurist was like an antennae that was pointed out into the world, absorbing ideas.”
According to the Washington City Paper (Anderson, 2012), In 2002, his artwork (figure.1) was showed in the Smithsonion American Art museum, and it was called “Electronic Superhighway” which is component of a neon-outlined wall with televisions and forming the United States map. In addition, it arranged three hundred and thirty six televisions on a scaffold and overlaid it with almost six hundred feet of neon, and it was screened to populate each state by fifty DVD players. Moreover, when he manipulated his artwork, he didn’t use only the movement of movies on screens. He constructed many televisions as, creating a piece of video wall or sculpture to be his art objects. Sometimes, he created televisions with eyeglasses, crude jockstraps or bras to tell his art story. His televisions in artwork were used as a medium, disrupting its magnetic distribution of electrons for non-image, light-based works.
To consider his process of artwork, it can be seen that his composition of artworks are like painting on canvas such as, form, shape, colour and so on. Moreover, all of the media in this artwork can effect directly on perceivers than a painting by working processes of movement as the real time on imaged movement in installation. His idea of this work is like the question to reflect viewers. As Hanhardt (2013) stated to his concepts that everybody can creates their own collages of state historical and geographic facts, and relate them to the questions of this concept which is “What makes the place you live unique? What role has your state played in the history of the United States? What events or contributions make it stand out?”
Furthermore, there is another video artist who has played an important role in the contemporary art period. He is Bill Viola who uses big screens to communicate with viewers in the dark room. He usually constructs his artworks about the pressure of social condition by video including in performance. As his artwork is the passions series which propagate emotions to viewers in silence by slow motion. In addition, the fascination of this artwork is connected with older European paintings. It uses new media to show the complication and power of emotions which have been captivated.
There is an artwork in his Passion sets which is namely The Quintet of the Astonished (figure.3). It was exhibited by the national gallery in London, and the inspiration of this video artwork is from Hieronymus Bosch’s painting which is about quartet of executioners inclosed Christ. A shot on this film was constructed to high speed, and permitted to play slowly back. The action of this video is emotionally intense from the movement of momentary emotion. (Getty, 2003) In addition, this artwork was appeared in Los Angeles where the J. Paul Getty Museum’s Research establishment in 1998 was located. During Viola participated in the probing program which described the emotional way of visual art since medieval period. (Rhodes, 2011)
To consider six heads (figure. 4), it is a single individual as similar as the subject of learning. On scrutiny, however, the discussion of this study seems to develop rapidly to express in the near images. As Getty (2003) states, “In abandoning the rich colour of the majority of The Passions works Viola makes reference to Le Brun’s engraved studies and perhaps even to later 19th century experiments of a darker nature, including those by Dr Guillaume-Benjamin Duchenne de Boulogne. In the French neurologist’s study patients with psychological disorders were subject to electric shocks in order to elicit a full range of facial expressions.”
As a consequence, it can be seen that the process of these contemporary artworks is communicated by performance art and intermedia which explore many links of human perceptions. In addition, his artworks might be stronger than many paintings or other media, and it was adapted from other artworks in the previous period. It is the result of the fact that the connection between performance and video can reveal processes of emotion, time, place, picture, sound, smell and expression as well.
Another video artist is Gary Hill who has many awards and exhibitions including in Moma, solo exhibition in New York, a Golden Lion at Venice Film Festival in 1995 and others. His artworks target on between the perceiver, image and language. He uses these media equipment such as, projector, screen monitor and others to explain his concepts which are the capable of texts as the connection between the text and the images, and the rhythm of spoken words. (Laurenson, 2001) Furthermore, one of his artworks which use big screens to show many labours on the wall in the dark room that is very interesting. It is controversial in the contemporary art period that is namely “Viewer” (figure.5). It is also the case study of the writer about the migrant labours. This artwork is relayed to viewers by five screens merged together and becomes one of his largest works. He shows the line of these labours which are different ages and sizes, and their height are at the same level of viewers, and standing in front of viewers, and not moving. He shows the line of different ages and sizes of labourers; their heights are at the same level of viewers. These labours are standing in front of viewers and not moving. It likes when viewers analyse them on the screen as the artwork, they are looking at viewers at the same time. As can be seen, the artist made a process to capture the moment when passive contemplation changes into individual activities. “The confrontation of contemplators (spectators on the screens, and the real spectators) begins from the moment of adaptation when people at an exhibition gradually start to look in the eyes of the heroes. Logic and sight, which supposedly can attain everything, create the world on the basis of existing information, pondering and creating for itself an objective picture of the world, but they begin to digest themselves and to be lost in an effort at self-analysis. This is the ideal form without a narrative, and with the story excluded.” (Stampa, 2010)
Consequently, this video artwork can create the engaging feeling of viewers that seem to stay with these people in the artwork presented in a dark room, and ready to go straight into the viewers. It delivers a very strong feeling which touches the viewer’s emotions through a new media, and the images on screens can work by themselves as a perception.
In relation to the writer’s video artwork and researches (figure.6), as one of the radicalised minority, this artwork shows individual story of Thai labours in the UK by representing their thoughts through documentary arts in the form of video interviews. The video interviews focus on participants’ thoughts and aims in life from their own points of view.
The artwork is the documentary art that has been developed in studio practice in Winchester school of art, together with a study of some role video artists to become this video installation. In addition, it might be an art form that can be a powerful artwork that show the connection between real human being, and social issues which people are consciously aware. It might be a result of the fact that it can record reality, which the viewers cannot experience themselves. Hence, it is a representational medium (Arneson, 2012). Documentary can reflect and mimic expository argument. It is the effective mean to convey an argument about the world (Nichols, 1991). Additionally, there is a sensation for the viewers to get the feeling of being here, now looking at the artworks and there, looking at what is behind, what the artworks represents (Dant, 1999). Thereby, it is effective to encourage point of view about something. A documentary video is used to signify truth so the audience can understand and reconstruct the ideas of forced labour from the labours’ point of views and convey emotion of reality. As The Gray Circle (2012) stated, “the documentary filmmaking as video art, they are intended for video and film that could be considered "documentary art". This is not for documentary films on the subject of art, but rather documentary films that use elements of film or video art to help express their meaning.”
According to the aim of artwork, the writer is interested in the so-called human rights in developing policies to protect ethnic minority (Ram and Smallbone, 2002), relatively little attention paid to these minority labours and there are still several pending issues that still need to be solved. This project focuses on exploration and assessment of in-depth of the ethnic minority, Thai labours’ personal thoughts toward being formerly known as a third-world labour in the first-world country and represent it through the video interviewed as documentary art in installation show. A variety of analytic perspectives from both the researcher and the labours themselves have generated a conflicted view on these controversial issues.
For some speeches of Thai labours’ interviews, The participants will be chosen based on Thai labours in the UK who work full-time and part-time from the restaurant industry. Moreover, the participants will be from different cities around the UK. It is attributed to the fact that the majority of Thai labours works in restaurants. In addition, a writer is a part-time Thai waiter in a Thai restaurant in the UK. Therefore, it might be easier to get access and understand their feelings as well.
For instance, the interview of a Thai restaurant second chef in Winchester, he has been in the UK for 8 years. Firstly, he said, “ If I talk about a purpose in my life, it does not have a specific target in the past. This is because I followed my parents to come here 8 years ago. They are chefs. I tried to work and study at the same time but unfortunately, my family and I had many financial problems. So I had to work hard, and cannot continue my study. After that, I started to ask myself, what would I do when I am 40 years old? I cannot be a waiter or stay with my parents forever. I thought my father is a chef and my mother is a chef assistant so, I might be like my father or mother. However, the turning point of my life is when my farther got a heart attack 2 years ago. Consequently, I had to spend all of my money to cure my father. It made me think that life is not certainty. It is a result of my thought that I had to find something in my life which is permanent to endure. I thought the majority of workers, whether you are an engineer, architect, doctor or whatever you are, they must have something like that you have to do as your target of life. Finally, now my aim is to have my own restaurant. I do not need the best or the number one restaurant in the world. I want to make my own restaurant to be a Michelin star. That is my aim at this time.”
Another interview is one of a part-time worker in Southampton. He has been in the UK for 3 years. He is now studying about engineer for Doctor of Philosophy. He was a navy in Thailand. He said, it is very different between Thailand and the UK. He said, I started doing a part-time job because I just need money like other people who is studying and working at the same time. However, I have been a part-time waiter for 2 years. Now I am feeling to staffs in the restaurant as same as my family. In fact, I do not need to work because I got a scholarship for study. I do it because I feel happy to stay with Thai people in the kitchen. It seems that I can live in my hometown when I work. Finally, now I never think about money that it doesn’t matter for me in this restaurant. Likewise I get a good connection with people who seem to be my family.
These are examples of how the rest of the interviews have done. Even though, interview method is a time consuming process and requires careful analysis, the richness of collected information not only from what interviewees had said but also through their expressions and reactions warranted such an effort. As the first impression of viewers, they can see the connection between imaged movement on screens as same as participants are talking together.
In conclusion, there has been a significant change to the art world in the contemporary arts period. All of the artworks in this world have many advantages for who interests in them. In addition, media become useful and popular art equipment for many artists. The process of video art can reveals emotions, texts, sound, movement, representation and many human perceptions by the installation or image on the screen. As a result, video artworks will create and deliver a solid sensation to viewers and then appeal to viewers’ emotions. Thus, it can be seen that many art viewers are persuaded by electronic media such as television, DVD screen, projector media and social media because of place and time where effect on art processes. Therefore, in the contemporary world, video is the great choice to construct artworks because of high technology such the portable camera video which can bring them to record wherever artists want to go. Moreover, the movement of screens is one of the strongest media as seem as viewers can be a part of the artworks.
Anderson, J. (2012). How the American Art Museum Acquired and Rehabilitated Nam June Paik’s Work. [online] Washington City Paper. Available at: http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/artsdesk/visual-arts/2012/12/17/how-the-american-art-museum-acquired-and-rehabilitated-nam-june-paiks-work/ [Accessed 7 May. 2014].
Arneson, K. (2012). Representation through Documentary: A Post-Modern Assessment. 6: University of Missouri.
Barrett, T. (1999). Understanding the Contemporary. CRITICIZING ART.
Dant, T. (1999). Material culture in the social world. Value activities, lifestyles. Philadelphia: Open University Press.
Danzico, M. and O'Brien, J. (2012). Visual artist predicted the web. [Online] BBC News. Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-20649028 [Accessed 3 May. 2014].
Getty, P. (2003). Bill Viola and The Passions. [Online] Nga.gov.au. Available at: http://nga.gov.au/viola/passions.cfm [Accessed 10 May. 2014].
Hanhardt, J. (2013). Nam June Paik: Global Visionary. [online] Smithsonian American Art Museum. Available at: http://americanart.si.edu/exhibitions/archive/2012/paik/ [Accessed 10 May. 2014].
Hartney, M. (2014). MoMA | The Collection | Video art. [Online] MoMA.org. Available at: http://www.moma.org/collection/details.php?theme_id=10215 [Accessed 1 May. 2014].
Jana, R. and Tribe, M. (2009). New Media Art. Taschen America, LLC.
Krauss, R. (1976). Video: The aesthetics of narcissism. October, 1, pp.51--64.
Laurenson, P. (2001). Developing strategies for the conservation of installations incorporating time-based media with reference to Gary Hill's Between cinema and a hard place. Journal of the American Institute for Conservation, 40(3), pp.259--266.
Leder, H., Belke, B., Oeberst, A. and Augustin, D. (2004). A model of aesthetic appreciation and aesthetic judgments. British Journal of Psychology, 95(4), pp.489--508.
McNamara, A. (2012). What is contemporary art? A review of two books by Terry Smith. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Art, 12, pp.252--258.
Nichols, B. (1991). Representing Reality: Issues and Concepts in Documentary. Indian university Press: Bloomington. pp.4.
Ram, M. and Smallbone, D. (2002). Ethnic minority business support in the era of the small business service. Government and Policy. 20(1), pp. 235-249.
Rhodes, N. (2011). Stone Canoe | A Journal of Arts. [Online] Stonecanoejournal.org. Available at: http://stonecanoejournal.org/issues/2011/toc.html [Accessed 10 May. 2014].
Stampa, C. (2010). Gary Hill GMG Gallery Moscow. [Online] Undo.net. Available at: http://www.undo.net/it/mostra/103457 [Accessed 10 May. 2014].
Terraroli, V. (2010). 2000 and beyond. 1st ed. Milan: Skira, pp.29.
The Gray Circle (2012). Documentary Art. [Website]. Available from: <http://vimeo.com/groups/documentaryart>. [Accessed: 8 January 2014].
Figure.1 Washington City Paper, (2014). Nam June Paik 'Electronic Superhighway'. [Image] Available at: www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/artsdesk/visual-arts/2012/12/17/how-the-american-art-museum-acquired-and-rehabilitated-nam-june-paiks-work/ [Accessed 10 May. 2014].
Figure.2 Sean, (2011). Nam June Paik. [Image] Available at: http://seandeyoung.blogspot.co.uk/2011/04/nam-june-paik.html [Accessed 10 May. 2014].
Figure.3 National Gallery Of Australia, (2005). Bill Viola, ‘The Quintet of the Astonished’, video rear projection on wall-mounted screen, artist’s proof. [Image] Available at: http://nga.gov.au/viola/passions.cfm [Accessed 12 May. 2014].
Figure.4 National Gallery Of Australia, (2005). Bill Viola, ‘Six heads’ 2000’, video on wall-mounted plasma display. [Image] Available at: http://nga.gov.au/viola/passions.cfm [Accessed 12 May. 2014].
Figure.5 Gladstone Gallery, (1996). Viewer, 1996 Video installation Dimensions variable. [Image] Available at: http://gladstonegallery.com/artist/gary-hill/work#&panel1-3 [Accessed 13 May. 2014].
Figure.6 an example of the writer’s artwork.
Figure.7 an example of the writer’s artwork.
Figure.8 an example of the writer’s exhibition 2014 in Winchester school of art.
Figure.9 an example of the writer’s exhibition 2014 in Winchester school of art.
Figure.10 an example of the writer’s exhibition 2014 in Winchester school of art.