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Art: Is This Thing On?

By Steven Rosen · November 16th, 2011 · CityBeat Recommends
My dream is to see some new museums — maybe even one right here in Cincinnati — devoted just to video art. 

I’ve mentioned this before to arts professionals, including curators, and have heard the reasons against: video art is an integral part of the contemporary-art world and shouldn’t be separated; it’s an offshoot of photography, which itself has a long history of being collected and displayed by art museums; and as artists use video/digital/virtual imagery/time-based elements with other media, old and new, there is no such thing as pure “video art.”

Good points, all.

And yet so often when I watch video art in a gallery or museum not exclusively dedicated for it, I find problems. If the institution has set up a dedicated space for it, it’s often too small, allows for too much light or lacks good seating. If the works are just out there in close proximity to each other or to non-video work (and especially if they have sound), they can be distracting and even annoying. You quickly wind up with sensory overload. I so often feel like the surroundings detract me from spending the time with these works that they deserve.

Jordan Tate, who teaches photography and Internet art at UC’s College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning and who co-curated the Contemporary Art Center’s current Is This Thing On? video-art show, has some of the same complaints.

Is This Thing On? continues at the CAC through Feb. 29. Go here to read Steven Rosen's full review.



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