”Before Projection” shines a spotlight on a body of work in the history of video art that has been largely overlooked since its inception while simultaneously placing it within the history of sculpture. Exploring the connections between our current moment and the point at which video art was transformed dramatically with the entry of large-scale, cinematic installation into the gallery space, Before Projection presents a tightly focused survey of monitor-based sculpture made between the mid-1970s and the mid-1990s. [source: Sculpture Center]
Maria Vedder’s ”PAL oder Never The Same Color”, a video installation with twenty-five monitors, was first presented in 1988. PAL (Phase Alternating Line) is the system used to standardize color broadcasting in Europe, developed for analog television. NTSC (National Television System Committee), mockingly dubbed “Never The Same Color,” is the competing standard in North America.
Ernst Caramelle’s ”Video-Ping-Pong” (1974) examines the relationship between the human body and video through a recording of a Ping-Pong match, which plays on two monitors mounted on AV carts at approximately eye level and positioned in front of a “real” Ping-Pong table. Sounds of the bouncing Ping-Pong ball are audible, although no ball is visible between the two monitors. The result is a disarming sense of the players’ presence in the space of the sculpture.
”The New Embodied Sign Language” comprises four monitors displaying close-up videos of the artist’s body altered by theatrical makeup. The videos (subtitled Augenwerk [Eye Work], Mundwerk [Mouth Work], Bruststück [Breast Piece], and Schamwerk [Pubic Work]) are shown on monitors stacked on top of each other to reach roughly the height of a human body.
In Takahiko Iimura’s ”TV for TV” (1983), two monitors are positioned face-to-face, each tuned to a different broadcast station or to static. Their respective streams are only directed toward the other television set, rendering their images nearly invisible to the viewer.
Shigeko Kubota’s ”River” (1979–81) is composed of three monitors hung at eye-level above a curved, stainless steel trough equipped with a wave motor. The monitors alternate footage of Kubota swimming with brightly colored graphic shapes, which were created with state-of-the- art postproduction equipment of the time. Reflected on the surface of the water, the images’ legibility is periodically disrupted by the wave motor. The work typifies Kubota’s recurring interest in water and video as apt mediums to represent cyclicality, as well as her idea of video as “liquid reality.”
Before Projection ran between September & December 2018.
Sculpture Center, Long Island City
December 14th, 2018