[-empyre-] July on empyre: Sceens (week 3)

Scott Mcquire mcquire at unimelb.edu.au
Wed Jul 18 15:39:12 EST 2012

Don’t know if we’re ever going to ‘throw out’ the frame  — this is a key aspect of the continuity I was evoking between earlier screen forms and contemporary devices including mobile phones and tablets.

In an earlier post Kriss Ravetto mentioned Eisenstein, who of course relates the (cinema) screen to both the printed page but especially to painting (the aesthetic of the golden section etc).  The standardisation of the rectangular screen is certainly integral to the current production of screens as commodity form, but the frame (which does not have to be rectangular) as a function pre-exists this relation, and hence shouldn’t be reduced to it.

But I take your point about the assimilation of video art — this where the shift of the screen beyond the gallery starts to ask interesting questions about protocols of display.


On 18/07/12 6:54 AM, "Simon Biggs" <simon at littlepig.org.uk> wrote:

Video needs to step out of the frame, like sculpture needed to step off the plinth 50 years ago. The thing is, from the beginning, video (art) stepped out of the frame (Vostell, Jonas, et al). Ironically, video art seems to have gained acceptance in the mainstream of the art world as it has chosen to step back into the frame again, aping (home) cinema. Sad, really...



On 17 Jul 2012, at 19:35, Sean Cubitt wrote:

Ciao Salvatore, salut Karen, G'day Scott, hello

I just visited Sung Hwan Kim's installation in the new Tanks space at Tate Modern, which attempts something like the open space of fixed screens Salvatore talks abut: perhaps not as vividly as the Guangshen Superhighway market (though they have tried to keep the ambience of alternative industrial spaces / lofts / warehouses and the other marginal spaces used by performance and video artists for decades). The social structuring of space is what Kim's installation is 'about' rather than what it achieves

Coming up at the tanks is a day showing Anthony McCall's four cone films (one of which is in permanent display at ACMI in Melbourne) - abstract works where a shifting line projects through haze creating a 3D projection space – hints and memories of works like Andrea Zapp and Paul Sermon's Body of Water, part shown in a derelict mine building where archive footage of miners in the showers after their shift was projected onto a 'screen' made of falling water (http://www.artdes.mmu.ac.uk/~azapp/art_works.html)

What's intriguing for our discussion is that there might be another distinction to make. On one hand the socialised screen-space of the market as a kind of DIY installation, a way of populating and inhabiting a space (non-lieu), turning what appears to be the void under a motorway into a Place, a process which also describes what Sermon and Zapp did (the installation also involved telematic elements but "The shower room is the heart of the installation, all the visual and conceptual layers meet here" as zapp writes on her site)

On the other McCall's magical transformation of the black box into a kind of sculptural space. Lis Rhodes' Light Music, which has a related aesthetic, wasn't working when I visited the Tanks today – hopefully it will be soon).

Both suggest something important about screening as a practice: that the boredom so many people report about biennial-style video art is based on the uninteresting mode of projection, four-square on a white wall, only occasionally improved when curators have enough nous to silver, or to project onto grey or black

As Karen says, work like Bill Viola's can rescue themselves from this tedium by sheer visual power, and perhaps by evoking other kinds of screen (the reredos or altar screen, other decorations which hide while hinting at the sacred ritual space behind them). Viola is one of the few who seems ready to pry apart the foveal concentration, the selection of what on the screen we should be attentive to, for example by masking or otherwise making  obscure his angel's faces, so that the peripheral vision opens out not just to offscreen space but to the nuanced tonalities of the 'background'

I've grown to dislike the banal four-square projection: there have been such brilliant uses of keystone effects (Stansfeld and Hooykaas for example) - now all DLP projectors come with automatic anti-keystoning which can be a bugger to switch off -  or of projecting onto corrugation (the People Show), curved or textured or otherwise tactile, sculptural, 3D (smoke, water, bodies) surfaces and objects . . .

Should we think of the rectangular screen, bounded with a frame, as a prison? Or should we consider it as something like the form of the sonnet, a rigid construct into which, however, from Petrarch to Wordsworth, for several hundred years, or like the 3-minute pop song, an amazing variety of poetic and musical action has been perpetrated? But even so, we need to understand what that is

William Carlos Williams wrote of the beginning of free verse
"To break the pentameter, that was the first heave"
Which is itself a pentameter . . . Do we need to throw out the framed screen, the regular and normative rectangle? Is that enough (eg in Gary Hill's or Tony Ousler's work)? Or can the pure proliferation make the relation with screens open out onto other modes of relationship, ways of relating to each other otherwise than through the object/commodity?


From: "xDxD.vs.xDxD" <xdxd.vs.xdxd at gmail.com>
Reply-To: soft_skinned_space <empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au>
Date: Tuesday, 17 July 2012 17:06
To: soft_skinned_space <empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au>
Subject: Re: [-empyre-] July on empyre: Sceens (week 3)

hello everyone,

On Tue, Jul 17, 2012 at 3:15 AM, Scott Mcquire <mcquire at unimelb.edu.au> wrote:
What was really interesting was the way the audience shifted around the space to watch.  It wasn’t the platform that moved (like the old diorama with rotating floor) but the people who would stand, sit, lie in one place then turn around or get up and move elsewhere as another came on. The afternoon I saw it there were about 60 people doing this together for over 30 minutes. This creates a really fascinating spatial ambiance, where screens are simultaneoulsy material objects (blocking passage, blocking view) and surfaces that open into heterogeneous spaces.

At one stage, all the screens are just red, then pale with no image, while the sound is dispersed throughout the entire gallery.  Everyone kind of wandered around, not really looking for or at anything, but enjoying a promenade among the screens in each other’s company.

in this market, in China, under a highway,


dozens of screens are lined up on one side of the space, each tuned in to a different channel or dvd

instead of using a remote to change channel, people move to a different table.

screens, in this case, are a platform built into public space and into people's perceptions. in-between the two, actually.

both for people who watch them, and for people who use them to propose services of various types: as soon as enough people gather around a single table, watching something on that channel or dvd, other people immediately arrive, offering services of various kinds, videogame consoles (to be attached to screens, as well!), board games, food or even internet connections.

i particularly enjoy this example, as it is a peculiar way in which screens modify our perception of space (they are un-movable, yet they suggest how people move and reassemble and relate in public space), and their configuration suggests the affordances of public space and, thus, also the economic (business) models which can be built into them.

In more than one way it is not different from many geo-referenced mobile applications :)

all the best!

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