If you’ve ever walked into a gallery and found a dimly lit space
with a few people camped out along the walls watching a screen, you’ve likely
come across video art. A relatively new medium, video art
is thought to have begun in 1965
with Nam June Paik’
s footage of
the pope, while others view Andy Warhol
stills as the medium’s origin. Regardless of its beginnings, video art is often
richly packed with performances or responses to cultural issues. With subtle
details or carefully timed musical scores, works of video art often feature
themes that might be easily missed by the casual viewer without an introduction
to the medium. In preparation for Moving Image Istanbul
, Artsy has
created a cheat sheet for five films, so you’ll know exactly what’s going on
when you come across a video of a man balancing on a BMX bike in a 7-Eleven
About the artist: Russian performance artist Elena
Kovylina combines film, theater, and activism in her video works. Her bold
style bravely takes on social and political issues and frequently involves
participants, as in Waltz (2001), for example, in which she invited
spectators to dance with her until she was near the point of collapse.
About the film: Equality is a satirical depiction of
democracy in Russia, in which Kovylina displays the double standards present in
post-Soviet society. Her film creates the illusion of equality, expounding on
the idea of the “Procrustean bed,” which is a standard of forced conformity.
Look out for: Through the 8 minutes of the film, viewers are
shown the smiling faces of a long line of people standing on stools. They are
all standing at the same level, suggesting their equality—but on closer
examination of their stools, we see that they are designed according to each
person’s height, to raise or reduce them to the same level. Viewers perceive a
message of equality, though in reality it is a tool for conformity.
About the artist: In his work, multimedia artist Chris
Doyle conveys themes of global technology and its resulting environmental
destruction. Using dizzyingly bright colors and animation, he creates a grim
yet honest portrayal of the devastation of the natural world.
About the film: Waste_Generation
paintings from American landscape painter Thomas Cole
“The Course of Empire” (1833–1836) and turns them into a reflection of
contemporary degradation, transitioning between flourishing natural landscapes
and polluted urban metropolises.
Look out for: Doyle infuses references to wealth and
corruption in kaleidoscopic scenes as a comment on the industrial takeover of
our environments. Watch as a jungle morphs into the filigreed outline of a
dollar bill, and trees grow into fuming smokestacks.
About the artist: Australian artist Shaun Gladwell is
a former pro-skater-turned-digital artist who incorporates extreme sports into
his videos. He is best known for his work Storm Sequence (2000), in
which he filmed himself skateboarding in slow motion at Bondi Beach while a
storm rolled in. Many of his video works incorporate skateboarding and BMX
biking, while simultaneously playing with themes of speed, gravity, space, and
About the film: Study of Stillness shows
Gladwell balancing on a mountain bike in several suburban locations. The film
depicts a difficult and tense balance, leaving the viewer to wonder whether
he’ll touch down with his feet or be able to maintain his careful stance upon
Look out for: At several points Gladwell is able to maintain
perfect stillness—the ultimate goal—but soon loses balance and adjusts his
position. Watch out for the end of the film when he sits back on the bike and
smoothly rides off out of view. Notice how balance is easier achieved when the
bike is in motion, rather than when trying to keep it still.
About the artist: Rob Carter works with photography,
stop-motion, and time-lapse video techniques to document changes in
architectural landscapes. By digitally manipulating images, he creates
portraits of the human impact on the environment. His works often incorporate
plants—to compare the inevitable presence of the natural world and its effects
on manmade structures.
About the film: The film starts with the glowing orb
of the sun, then transitions to its molten surface. Carter then shows the early
settling of Benidorm, Spain. Paired with germinating seeds and the sounds of a
rolling tide, the city grows before the viewer, changing in form and
architectural style through the duration of the film.
Look out for: Watch closely as man-made structures grow out of
the natural landscape of Benidorm. An entire skyline rolls in, sprouting up
like blades of grass. Carter likens the building of a city with the sprouting
of plants, rapidly taking over an area and reaching toward the sky.
5. Allard van Hoorn, 001 Urban Songline
Latitude: 51.44768° N - 51.44729° N / Longitude: 5.45609° E - 5.45529° E,
2009, at Galerie Donatz
, duration: 5:39 min.
About the artist: Allard van Hoorn is a performance,
sound, and installation artist who creates work that examines our relationship
with urban landscapes and our systems of classification. He visually and
acoustically translates the built environment and nature to call to question
our preconceived notions and perceptions of the spaces we inhabit.
About the film: 001 Urban Songlineis part of
van Hoorn’s “Urban Songline” series that explores the relationships between
space, structure, and sound in an environment, following the tradition of the
Songlines, a system used by Aboriginal Australians to map space by creating
music from its topography. His film takes us into a vacant building where a
skateboarder traces lines across the space and music echoes in accordance to
action on the screen.
Look out for: Linear movement and lines are an essential part
of the film. Watch as the skateboarder traces his path, mapping the building
with his wheels; at some points he follows determined paths, at other times he
moves about more freely. The work questions whether or not the act of mapping
grants us ownership of a space.