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MIRROR SPACES A Review of VIDEO SPACES: Eight Installations

Clay Debevoise

Printed in MFJ No. 29 (Fall 1996) Video Installation

For an exhibition entitledVideo Spaces: Eight Installations, at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in the summer of 1995, curator Barbara London brought together installations by some of the most prominent names in the field. In fact, artist's reputation must be counted an institutional player equal to corporation, foundation and museum, born of their pressures, and influencing formulation of the exhibition. I assume none of them were unusually influential, but they dictated a safe show, with more evidence of the current climate for art than of "the current state of video."1 Creation, selection and placement of the works signaled high value on audience appeal and kept tight reigns on whatever subversive content got through the gate. To the extent that oppositional flavors existed inVideo Spaces, tastes of "all is not well," most were merely aromas of requisite complaint harmlessly rising from art's minimized position in our culture. Ingredients of depression were routinely baked by our artists into delicacies, bland and spiced, gorging us on the the problematics of being human today, as always. The deeper problem here is that focusing on video installation as a medium, the announced raison d'Ítre for this exhibition, actively distracts attention from issues broached by particular works.

1. Chris Marker, Silent Movie

Past the ticket taker, down escalator, by framed cells of Pochahontas heading MoMA's Disney retrospective of anonymous animators downstairs, straight ahead toVideo Spaces: a heavy-metal erector-set style tower of five large monitors guy-wired to the ceiling flashes black and white female star faces: eyes made- up, veils, hats, leading men, legs, typewriters, trains, industrial landscape, cozy room, chess, poker, Frankenstein, cowboys, madman, owl, clocks, cameras, eye, words: sayings. Stop. This tower of Silent Movie Babel wants attention. Framed posters on the wall, in color: Disney again? Closer: "Suzanne Rocquette in The War That Wasn't: I woke up and the world had changed!" The war that wasn't! This rings the wrong bell; how far, and in what direction, should we go, reforming history? "It's a Mad Mad Mad Dog, with Rin Tin Tin, by Oliver Stone." Shall we belittle Oliver Stone? Among the "Great Premakes," more framed posters: "Hiroshima Mon Amour with Greta Garbo and Sessue Hayakawa." Is this "humorous" as reviewers have said? How esoteric have we become? Addressing whom? The next wall doesn't encourage me: several rows of framed, glossy black and white 8 by 10s, Marker's recreated headshots of glamour-lit women. Am I to get Sherrie Levine and forget feminist insights about the objectifying distortions of the lens?

The tower of five screens digitally recycles clips Marker has digitally reworked, sympathetically parodied, with special effects and piano music from the era of black and white movies. Headlines periodically alone on a screen include, in English, French or German: "Journey," "Desire," "The Face," "The Gesture," "The Waltz." And lines: "As the train rolls on toward an uncertain future, haven't I been here before?" Yes, watching old movies in film classes. "Wait till you learn you were a frog after all." Boiled by then! At least my heat is slowly rising; just because Pepe Carmel announced in "Anything Goes-As Long As It's Not Boring," October '95 ARTnews : "Postmodernism is everywhere dead," it doesn't mean we have all been kissed! "Watch your mirror." You're it for now. "They can't take that from us can they?" No. But who are we/they, playing with the past? Devoted modernists? "Things have a way of happening by themselves." If you don't stop them. "Seems your soul is restless." Yours nostalgic? "Tears are perfect for coded messages." Three short, three long, three short. "When she looked back she saw something unusual." Mastery? "In those days cats were worshipped." And now. "Thou hast murdered sleep." You resuscitate daydreaming. "Nights belong to the Gods." Coy calls to memory, encouragements to passivity and escape inform Chris Marker's Olympian recreation. "Can this hand write the future?" There's the rub. Are we learning from history here, or merely privy to the charades of a boy with his toys?

Our gatekeeper, Chris Marker, a long way from his experience fighting in World War II and making critical documentaries, demonstrates the power of video and digital tools to extend an author's reach, or reform history. Silent Movie might make sense in an exhibition devoted to Marker's career, indicating his range, mastery and humanness, a key to appreciating his energy. But to show it alone and grant it-a crowd-pleaser?-first place inVideo Spaces sets a tone of entertainment for the whole exhibition, and puts a disappointing spin on London's idea that video art's maturity means more attention to content.2 Marker's compulsion, the significant content here, positions artist as megalomaniacal Orpheus, supplying the fantastic look back. The relationship of video to film enhances this positioning, but leaves us twice removed from actual experience: what could we see but the alluring, irretrievable beauty of dreams? Marker deserves credit for his focus on playing with visions instead of at being the visionary genius, but the audience is left more like Sisyphus, not implicated in the artist's mortality yet doomed to lift his elusive load of eyes up hills which, we always realize at the summit, don't exist. I will begin again in the next room.

[MFJ ordering] [MFJ Special Ordering] 2. Gary Hill, Inasmuch as It Is Always Already Taking Place

In the next space there's a deep recess in the wall, like at a morgue maybe, but nothing slides out. It's glowing. To see all sixteen monochrome picture tubes, if you're more than five feet tall, you need to stay back so the top edge of the cavity doesn't clip your vision of larger rasters in the back. But the images on screens in front are too small to make out from back here. Now my view is blocked by someone taking a closer look. Parts of Gary Hill's body are reproduced life-size, scarcely moving, not adding up to a whole body, too mixed up to suggest reassembly. There's an ear on one raster, ankle on another, neckä, stomachä, etc.; of course an eye on one keeps an eye on us. We go forward and partly squat or lean forward-helpful to have your joints intact and flexible. Side by side so close we are apt-even with a stranger, a benefit of public installation-to share some comment: "That's part of his collarbone." Hill was careful so you can't seem to tell where loops begin or end; there's always no skip. We see "äthe image of smoothness, which has the semiotic function of marking the producer's competence by emphasizing his mastery and control."3 The drive for mastery stands in for the death drive, which illuminates Hill's cyborg: "äthe awful apocalyptic telos of the 'West's' escalating domination's of abstract individuation, an ultimate self untied at last from all dependency, a man in space."4

On one tiny monitor you can read a word on or through the page a thumb and finger are lifting and lowering, looping, always about to turn the page-no new leaf. And there is a subdued, looping soundtrack (let 'ä' s be softly shuffling body sounds, pages, wateräsounds of smoothness): "äit seemed there wasä nothingä ä äbut fall, ärise and fallä this pathä.' This artificial nod to Taoism goes beyond smoothness to an "äideology of oneness and completion which, for Lacan, closes off the gap of human desire."5 What can we do with tinted skin on rasters breathing smoothly? Hill says, "The anatomical site of the body with its utterances, however fragmentary, becomes incessant." Actually this is Hill on a life-support system which is not, as London writes, "äa metaphor for a human being's invisible, existential center: the soul"6 so much as an instance of our art institutional system. In Hill's mirror we find untenable space: to enter is to exercise our problematic (psychotic) capacity to split, and deny splitting. It is a skill the first net generation needs, but to locate its practice in contemplation of the authorial body is a deception evoking a cult of genius. Hill, far from naked in reflections he offers, misrepresents himself; the wholeness he projects, completed by inclusion here, is a dispiriting conceit.

Hill's poetic title: Inasmuch as It Is Always Already Taking Place, collapsing incessance and essence, instances the legalistic evasion of responsibility which naturally characterizes corporate sensibilities. Corporations, created by laws not ethics, designed to transcend individuals and shield them from liabilities, oriented to profit and only incidentally to social needs, fulfill human longings for order (and more). But their model doesn't provide the potential fullness of human intimacy or art. If we want to take Hill's title beyond a pedantic translation: "Since it's always happening anyway... " then we can follow the expected syntax "inasmuch as xä then y." "Why?" is left to the determination of audiences present, roiled instead of gratified by art institutional essences. Hill's often technologically experimental work, at which naive or myopic art world audiences coo, does nothing to further London's contention that content can now be queen. More, it reflects the superfluous focus and inbreeding of the distillation process for contemporary art.

3. Judith Barry / Brad Miskell, "HaÆdCell"

Around the next corner you can sit at a counter along the wall and read books about video art and catalogues on all these artists chained in place, or notice: a funky crate, a hall, doors. I have to approach the damaged present. Maybe someone wanted it at some pointä or its contents. Something spilled on the floor from a burned, splintered hole low on this side of the crate is swelling and shrinking, organic, with lots of colorful little wires. A flickering glowing comes from that same hole and another higher up. "HAÆDCELL" is stamped in big black letters on all sides, as are black arrows pointing up. Only one at a time can comfortably look through each hole from close up, to see monitors with different texts and kinds of images on them in the midst of a total tangle: wires, tubes, cables, chips, stuff. The upper right corner of the crate is blown away-the trials of reentry-and another something like a long rubber balloon stands straight then again deflates: inä outä inä See others through other holes. One might think of Duchamps' "Štant DonnÈs," content excepted.

This strong, shabby box is alive strangely, with past presence of mind shouting, more body via prophylactic, corporate/museum-friendly suggestions of body, than installations full of (parts of) bodies. Audience encounters are different here; we are walking around and peering in instead of being faced. Another hole around the corner at squatting height with a monitor in full view, text scrolling jumpy: "ä there is bleedingä internal I can feel it, trickling down my interface and the gaps, chinks, subliminal skips in my siliconscious armorä surely you've noticedä the flickeringä I believe it to be the play of free radicals in the guise of intermi tant photonsä and this disconcerting light head ed ness the result of blood poooolingä it's hard to be sureä."

Judith Barry and Brad Miskell present this cyborg as a "kind of dissembled and reassembled, postmodern collective and personal self,"7 a timely intricate sculpture with self-proclaimed "äemergency self- extracting endtime archiveä," not the foundation for a "myth of original unity"8. You can extract: "äthe true new world order bringing a steely boot down to grind you into the fucking dirt." So much for love, reflections, and ambivalence. WhileSilent Movie proscribed a tone of exciting, darkly romantic time travel deflated by Hill's whispers, and consummated by Lovers , linguistic overloads in HaÆdCell broach social, ethical concerns. These might be lost in the box's effulgence of wiring. Art is not expected to connect, but Barry and Miskell make several points explicit: going to the trouble to transcend our bodies, we die, just as when we dwell in them. Corporate desires, consuming visions of purity, actuate disintegration. Instead of using technologies to escape the messiness of being, or to translate it as some abstract beauty, danger or gloom, HaÆdCell presents the cautionary voice of one who has experienced the denouement of that desire, giving humane advice, though wired. The spectacular chaos of the installation, which qualifies it as art, may put the message at risk, but HaÆdCell is not a wayward bottle.

Politics rests on the possibility of a shared world. äon the possibility of being accountable to each otherä9

4. Teiji Furuhashi, Lovers

Close by, a sign near the door says "Lovers." Bells or a bell, high, varied, intermittent and maybe a wave maybe an engine have been sounding faintly and, through the door, are more clear, sporadic, in a darkened room with some silhouettes standing (you and me) while on the four walls full-length, interlaced, naked monochromes stand, gracefully walk, sprint and stand again minding their own business, looping their arms to embrace torsos of air and end arms-across- chest in empty self-embrace. When such hugs are repeated by the nude figures projected on top of one another it looks futile but not silly. The colorless ones moving on the walls are reminiscent of Becket's denizens, earnest puppets. Reviewers described it as "elegant," "ghostly minuet," "lyrical and even elegiac," "messengers from another realm where humans no longer require corporeal bodies:" yes, the realm of death, or of a profit-centered society to people with AIDS. Six times as many people (over 250,000) have died with AIDS in the United States as US soldiers died in Vietnam (55,000), yet the personal and social devastations of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome remain relatively invisible, ineffectively addressed. Furuhashi doesn't specify this plague, but portrays beings in the corresponding world of silent detachment and doomed yearnings.

One of Teiji Furuhashi's central projectors that turn independently, projecting lovers, occasionally emits crosshairs (modern equivalents of Muybridge's analog grids) which double as a cross upon which walled figures facing us spread and raise their arms, are crucified and fall away, evaporate, expressionless. One of us standing around becomes briefly an inadvertent screen for a beam. Thought of intercepting or escaping projectors, experiencing implication as stars in their spotlight, playing roles we might know not to want, is the most interaction we've had. Otherwise there is no skip in the motion of ghostly beauties into, out of corners, along or sometimes into deepening walls. Contact is all on surfaces, formal. Graceful mastery, indeed: lovers?

Love belongs to the pleasure ego which disguises that failing in the reflection of like to like (love as the ultimate form of self-recognition).10

[MFJ ordering] [MFJ Special Ordering] Furuhashi's accomplishment is more western than western in its transcendentally accomplished desire (for death), leaving no trace but sleek equipment centered. In the failed embraces of this nether space we are already dead, imbued with the corporate dream of sleek perfection, distracted by its "interactive" games but immersed in its essentially non-interactive nature. Now that Teiji has died of AIDS, Lovers might be addressed more perceptively, as a tragic account of our era, more tragic for its pervasive irony.

5. Bill Viola, Slowly Turning Narrative

Back through the door, more like Alice, past the damaged box of our present, we can choose a left turn to a large hall with scattered headlines on one wall and a few more doors, or the proximate door, catty corner: into the slowly turning narrative of a monotonous, omniscient male voice: "äthe one who conversesä the one who diesä the one who dreamsä the one who repeatsä the one who masturbatesä the one who possessesä the one who monitorsä the one who cutsä the one who weepsä the one who robsä the one who escapesä the one who concentratesä the one who breathesä the one who discoversä the one who caresä the one who fallsä the one who feelsä the one who knowsä the one who goesä [always, "the one whoä"] doesä complainsä confidesä livesä turns awayä sleepsä standsä dropsä silencesä distillsä thirstsä embracesä desiresä (etc.)" Instead of Teiji's multiple projections of bodies here a voice projects multiplication, and, instead of coming from the center, we see, atttached to a big panel in the center of the room, a mirror slowly rotating clockwise, images reflecting off one side, and in the mirror we periodically glimpse each other watching. On each end wall of the large room are two of those three-color video projectors I always want to play ball with the lenses of, if they would keep their roundness and striking red, green and blueness. The other side of the panel is a standard screen on which the projections distort as it turns. Walking around the room gets a little tight on the sides when the panel is flat to the projectors. Light on the walls here is the unfocused glow from one side of the panel and shards of color from the mirror, sometimes reminiscent of light shows. An active environment.

While "the one whoä " is so busy absorbing energy, we see projected on the screen side, a burdened visage belonging to the artist, a black and white video image, soft from NTSC standards and magnification, that slides or flashes off the panel onto walls. It is up to us to make this a talking head, attribute the voice to the unmoving lips. On the other side, often in vibrant color, there are peak scenes, insistently observed, and their sounds of amusement park and emergency, fireworks and house-on- fire. Through our eyes we can walk in fire or water with others' feet, our feat. In the myriad flashes and slidings of colored light from this projector that is not Bill, does our world slow from the 8oo mph spin we never feel? What do we get? Distance and fascination. The white male hero/victim practices being a medium, or ideal analysand: dissociated, showing stressä "Narcissism is characterizedä as the unchanging condition of a perpetual frustration."11 Is the artist's ponderous posture, cropped at the heart, intended as caveat to the artist's life? More absent because the image of him is so present, reflecting "the revelations of a constantly turning mind absorbed with itself,"12 Viola remains the silent key to a narrative we are told to expect.

In the central tableau of Deserts, his recent single- screen production, interlaced with cuts to extended Viola-trademark visual journeys, Bill eats with his back to us, the camera. At the completion of his ritual of incorporation, he slowly rises, turns and topples into the camera, the audience, us, rousing a magical splash. Having representationally met us, his narcissus-reflection, all wet, are we supposed, though we couldn't share his meal, to have incorporated his insights? His sightings of heat rising from the desert and other effects in situations enacting natural and typical distortions related to vision, time and place were contributions to art production during the youth of a technology, when perceptual exploration was all. But video turns out not to be the medium of immersion, identification or enlightenment more than any other. Is the voice of "the one," if it remains in our ear, to encourage slow turning? You could also listen to Gregorian chants, and gassho Buddha figures idealized to represent a harmony in us all, for "revelation." Bill cannot make it both ways: emphasizing his "real" burdened body and creating a site of identity flexible enough for us to realize. Viola's conceit of parading his own sense of realization can only amount to spectacle for us, and extend the aura of "artist" as removed genius, projecting two irreducible sides. "The process of analysis is one of breaking the hold of this fascination with the mirror; and in order to do so, the patient comes to see the distinction between his lived subjectivity and the fantasy projections of himself as object."13 Viola may have found the distinction for himself, but MoMA should maintain his installation for others to put in their two tapes.

6. Tony Oursler, System for Dramatic Feedback

Back out, around the corner, another glimpse of the crashed present, and down the hall, in the first door on the left. A screaming fills the room. A little doll with a little, video-projected, anguished face is propped on a stand at our feet. No matter how many hills or lovers slowly turn watching cycling images, Oursler's system posits this wise child in us not chanting but screaming.

Here it is sometimes difficult to make out images of parts of real bodies shining from little video projectors onto variously patterned materials that clothe appendages of larger dolls, more or less stuffed, rising on a multipod structure almost to the ceiling: the one who is spanked, the one who is pregnant, the one whose head is being stepped on, the one who skippingly tumbles, the one who slowly grows erect, then flaccid, then erectä, etc. Why was there always a security guard, usually near the doll torso with the projected phallus, when I went in this room? I saw no guards in other installations, even Odenbach's with its tape of fellatio-subtle enough that viewers would miss it unless a guard's presence called attention to it? Was the uniformed presence the embodiment of a "parental discretion" notice-a line of defense against accusations of museum indecency? These dolls are not what we might expect, but how dangerous?

The videos of human parts are effectively camouflaged but their loops are disjunct and in the glitch of each skipping restart we might catch a quick sense of remorse, not resolve, returned to ourselves. Busy responding, trying to think through the screams, supplying one program or another, extending loops, looping responses, seeing little videos we are constantly interrupted. This follows Brecht's prescription for the disruption of theatrical illusion by obvious artifice, to activate conscious audience participation. Dolled-up technology brings me to me where only I can be in my body and respond. Oursler's system, like the decrepit cybernaut, HAÆDCELL, leans us forward into enigmatic visual gaps releasing unambiguous cries, vocal now.

On the other hand, larger than life on the back wall, System for Dramatic Feedback includes the projection of an old tape of a movie audience seen from below so that its members, on high, not knowing or caring about us watching (ourselves), look up and away at their screen. We are located as explorers in a scene of multivalent violence, and simultaneously as objects conveyed in the flickering light of entertaining spectacle to (our) buttered faces, which we also watch. Oursler exploits the nature of projection, in which we endlessly shift screens practicing omniscience-expecting completion. We are always diving into our reflection, partly hoping to drown as in Hill's murmuring waters, entranced, as by Viola's spectacular non-narrative, determined in our allegiance to the quest for a personal whole hole which, as reflected by Marker's reconstructions, remains fleeting. Or we are repulsed: this room reverberates with voices (groans) of pleasure and terror we can shut out but not deny. Ousler fails to deliver the depressing condolences we're being taught to want from art. At the bottom of the pile is a woman's (androgynous image, feminine moans) head being stepped on by Sisyphus climbing. Feedback. No exit but the door.

7. Stan Douglas, "Evening"

What is left to help us with this pain? Into Evening for a problematic response: omniscience-the promise of narrative and rule in all eight installations ofVideo Spaces-now reconstructs incipient "happy talk" television news programs of 1969-70, in Chicago. Douglas presupposes a forbearing, socially conscious and interested audience, which did not materialize (or stay long) during my visits and would primarily have enabled preaching to the converted. The way news studios create front ends to package news, playing down subjectivity, Douglas used actors as anchormen to simulate three news programs, interfaces for his presentation of archival material. One could credit Evening as a parody, or for "usurping hegemonic tools," but in fact "happy talk news" is an insufficient basis for grasping deployments of color, rhythm, events and celebrities, in (advertising on) contemporary news productions, to capture, direct and hold publics. The appropriated style may suit Douglas' "understated manner,"14 but proves daunting, failing the "formal task to give these educational operations an interesting turn, i.e. to ensure that these interests interest people."15

Audience again, we enter and face straight ahead three video projections from projectors centered in a big space, hanging above us, nothing on the other walls. Above the projectors are curious concave dishes which turn out to focus sound so that when you move under one you escape the hubbub of broadcasts ("music" to whom?) and hear announcers individually, a modest incentive to stay. You will hear news of a bygone day, learning or recalling some names, dates, events and attitudes. Listening under each of the projectors in turn, you can compare content and styles which, by our standards, are all business-like, not happy. I could not tell, if not told, that I was watching "happy talk."

Douglas' announced and implied theses: that a new degree of manipulation was being implemented and that ancient rhetorical techniques gain significance applied to the media of our era, and flatter our sense of ourselves in time. Only the means and degree of (art and) censorship vary, largely driven by socio- economic factors Douglas doesn't care to explore. He doesn't mention the direct lies convincingly endorsed by "the bone-dry styles of recitation passed on by radio announcers."16 And of course he might not be interested in exploring how the art world has shared the motion of television news, "increasingly obsessed with its own internal logic."17 His emphasis on style means leaving the content originally subjected to "atomization" still unexamined. It might be enough to re indicate events about which more information is now available, but the material here is effectively buried in ineffective aspersion of already antique television news. Dryly coy "Place Ad Here" titles periodically inserted in Douglas' news shows carry the flash: news shows are sponsored by advertisers! Which corporations, by the way, brought the news to Chicago in 1969? Substantive issues surrounding control of communication channels (the museum, which Evening occupies, is one), are eclipsed by Douglas' choice of focus. Given his material, he has foreground and background reversed: he could have articulated telling historical tapes (ideal material for interactivity-letting a user follow his/her interests) and relegated mawkish network commentaries to the background babble in which, as Evening stands, vital history remains.

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Three empty walls of this installation dumbly wait, absorbing what they know: facing dramatic change reactive forces crystallize, and flat left art serves a desired inertia. The long history of happy talk equivalents is elided; every decade of our country's history holds its own ample set of new techniques to channel information. If "happy talk" were a crucial key, then Douglas could have made his point better by looping three seconds of the ad for CBS news, run during the winter Olympics several years ago, with Dan Rather and Connie Chung in comfortable chairs, saying "We make you feel good." CBS? Connie?

8. Marcel Odenbach, Make a Fist in the Pocket

But the story goes on across the hall through a door straight ahead blocked by one of those entry walls you have to go around to get in Marcel Odenbach's big room, where light is low and there's a din. On the back wall you see a row of seven medium-sized, black and white monitors looping images of hands typing on an old, mechanical typewriter. The view on each monitor is from a different angle; soundtracks overlap so we get the noise of a whole newsroom. Through the typing on each monitor other noisy scenes appear, looping, of confrontations between various crowds and authorities (1968 uprisings in several countries), equally staccato by the nature of newsreel-style cutting and jumpy playback, plus the omnipresent, periodic loop of a Third Reich book-burning.

Behind us, the wall that mediated our entrance holds a large screen for a warm color video projection that turns out, if you submit to the racket long enough to be a seven minute loop, marked by opening titles. Most of this tape shows two legs of a body out in the sun, with someone else's feet from the top of the frame firmly massaging one thigh. This slow, sensual image gains depth from vignettes subtly embedded or overlaid (so much for amateur vacation video suggested by the vibration of a hand-held camera), such as a close-up of fellatio being performed, and monks and prostitutes carrying on (separately). Corresponding soundtracks, relatively quiet, get lost in the typing. Elements mirroring the opposite wall's "real" world, marked by color as more recent, are also sequenced with the massage and a scene of males sleeping. A boxer sits alone watching television news of German skinheads, and the sequence ends with refugees on a debris-strewn street, others looking on from windows of burnt-out tenements.

Odenbach's Make a Fist in the Pocket (colloquial, in German, for 'restrain your anger') and Douglas'Evening insist on comparison: both use archival news footage, driving sound and standard video-presentation technology. Offering the exhibition's only foregrounded political content, they found their way to the rear ofVideo Spaces where I, for one, when I arrived the first time, was saturated. The directness and demands of Evening would have played better closer to the show's entrance, where we were fresher for exploration. Make a Fist in the Pocket might threaten overdose in any position but, contrary to the proposition made by several commentators that Odenbach's German angst brought him to take on too much, his intent is plainly to convey the overload of modern life, with the weight of histories not unique to Germany. With much imagery repeated his installation delivers its import readily, in its parts and as a whole.

The individual typist, replicated on seven monitors, reporter or author (artist), works incessantly and can't restrain conflicts surging around and through the effort to mark them and possibly avert or divert devastation-as surely as pages are typed, books are burned. Odenbach counterpoints historical and contemporary episodes from around the world with scenes from Thailand signifying sensuality and settled social practices. Violence and sex are simultaneous, ongoing activities he brings together dramatically, for the audience to juggle. He uses "sexuality (as) the vanishing point of meaning."18 Odenbach poses a spectrum of modern life, not resolution, a glimpse through a mirror for world citizens now.

It is not holism (he's) insisting on, but rather on fragility and limitation by avoiding narratives of completion. äThe [balancing] pleasureä derives from being reminded of one's materialityä being at home in the world, rather than needing transcendence from it.19

Video Spaces, like the "human interest stories" Douglas decries, with the careful embedding of its protests and authority of its presence at MoMA, tended to OK our world. As foregrounded by London, Marker and Hill, nostalgic and techy, provided the escapist entries. Respectively self-indulgent and academic, Viola and Douglas contributed perfunctory works. Barry and Miskell, Furuhashi, Odenbach and Oursler created memorable encounters with our condition, using video tools to advantage, but leaving aside the possibility that art's mirrors might be proactive.

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Printed in MFJ No. 29 (Fall 1996) Video Installation

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Last revised on 10-16-96 by Dayoan Daumont

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