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Video Art Theory: A Comparative Approach

ISBN: 978-1-118-47544-7
224 pages
June 2015, ©2016, Wiley-Blackwell
Video Art Theory: A Comparative Approach (1118475445) cover image


Video Art Theory: A Comparative Approach demonstrates how video art functions on the basis of a comparative media approach, providing a crucial understanding of video as a medium in contemporary art and of the visual mediations we encounter in daily life.

  • A critical investigation of the visual media and selected video artworks which contributes to the understanding of video as a medium in contemporary art
  • The only study specifically devoted to theorizing the medium of video from the perspective of prominent characteristics which result from how video works deal with time, space, representation, and narrative
  • The text has emerged out of the author’s own lectures and seminars on video art
  • Offers a comparative approach which students find especially useful, offering new perspectives
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

Introduction 1

1 Immediacy versus Memory: Video Art in Relation to Television, Performance Art, and Home Video 20

Gillian Wearing’s Trauma (2000) Juxtaposed to Joan Jonas’s Vertical Roll (1972) 23

Video Art Dealing with the Constant Movements of Audio-Visual Electronic Media, and the Immediacy and Socio-Cultural Aspects of Television 25

The Appeal of Immediacy: Video in Performance Art and Performance in Video Art 45

The Application of the Mnemonic Ability of Video and the Relationship with Activist-Videos and Home Video 60

2 Immateriality versus Three-Dimensionality: Video Art as Sculpture, Installation Art, Projection, and Virtual Medium 79

Lynn Hershman’s Tillie the Telerobotic Doll (1995) Juxtaposed to Andy Warhol’s Outer and Inner Space
(1965) 82

Television as an Object: Sculpture or Part of Architecture 85

Spatial Video Installations and the Relationship with the Space of the Visitor 91

Projections on Spatial Positioned Screens, the Space of Sound, and Interaction with the Visitor 96

Immaterial Projections Interfering in Darkened Sites and Immersing the Viewer 104

Interacting in the Merged Physical and Digital Space 109

3 Moving Images Mediating as Contemplative Images: Video’s Challenge of Photography, Drawing, and Painting 121

Kudzanai Chiurai’s Iyeza (2012) Juxtaposed to Thierry Kuntzel’s E´te´ – double vue (1988) 125

Video Art and Photography 130

Video Art and Drawing 140

Video Art and Painting 147

4 Repetition and Fragmentation in Narrative: Video’s Appropriation and Subversion of Classical Cinema 164

Candice Breitz’s Mother + Father (2005) Juxtaposed to Rodney Graham’s Vexation Island (1997) and Keren Cytter’s Corrections (2013) 166

Aspects of Narrative in Video Art Reacting to Hollywood Films, and Views on Compulsive Repetition 169

The Tension between Images and Verbal Language as Dialog, Voice-over, Voice-off, or Text 180

In Lieu of a Conclusion 193

Index 199

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Author Information

Helen Westgeest is Assistant Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art History at Leiden University, the Netherlands. Her most recent publication is Photography Theory in Historical Perspective: Case Studies from Contemporary Art (co-authored with Hilde Van Gelder, Wiley-Blackwell, 2011). Westgeest is also editor and a contributor of Take Place: Photography and Place from Multiple Perspectives (2009) and joint editor of Photography between Poetry and Politics (with Hilde Van Gelder, 2008). 
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“Westgeest combines synthesis of existing views with original insights to provide an invaluable guide to this unruly art medium. Her comparative approach illuminates video within the broader context of contemporary art and theory. Video Art Theory is comprehensive, accessible and incisive.”
Lucy Soutter, the Royal College of Art, London


“In this eloquent and thought-provoking survey Helen Westgeest offers both detailed analysis of significant video works and insightful comparisons with other media. Original and intellectually stimulating, Video Art Theory will become an indispensable companion for everyone interested in video art and visual culture.”
Alexander Streitberger, Université de Louvain, Belgium


“A highly significant contribution to the much-needed localization of video art within the broader field of contemporary art practices, both aesthetically and culturally. In combining thoughtful analyses of exemplary works with a thorough theoretical embedding, Westgeest’s book is a must-read for anybody interested in video art’s relation to the post-medium condition.”
Katja Kwastek, VU University Amersterdam

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