Re: Michael Rush's video art text

From: Tony Conrad (email suppressed)
Date: Wed Dec 09 2009 - 21:16:38 PST

Hi Bernie--------

Actually I'm pleased to find this opportunity for a needed clarification.

I agree totally that Rush's _Video Art_ is critically/theoretically thin.
However, it is as you say a "coffee table book" -- which is to say, an _art_ book
-- in the sense that Artforum is an art magazine, that _Shape of Things to Come_
(Saatchi Gallery) is a sculpture book, etc. That is, it is prolifically
illustrated with idiomatically significant stills, and these are images taken
from a wide range of generally highly-regarded contemporary works.

The value in such a picture book lies in its ability to convey something of the
visual character the artists are pursuing, albeit in the absence of the
moving-image works themselves. Students here in Buffalo don't have much access to
the cultural resources of NYC or LA galleries and museums. However, my classes
may be able to connect with more contemporary video art than others whose
teachers have less access to contemporary work than I; it happens that I share
resources with artist friends and I acquire lots of small-publication DVDs

Nevertheless, I can only show so much; beyond that, as incomplete and tentative
as Rush's representations may be, he offers a catalog of beautiful and memorable
illustrations that help to iconicize the various artists' critical and pictorial

On the other hand, I accept the tentativeness of this solution -- and as online
access to artists' work has improved, I have recently steered away from Rush, and
have turned instead to the use of diverse critical texts.

Best wishes,



On Wed 12/09/09 9:11 PM , Bernard Roddy email suppressed sent:
> You're probably not going to like this, Tony. You said your students
> didn't seem to read Michael Rush's book, Video Art. I took a look at it.
> This is what I consider journalism, a coffee table book. It is certainly
> sexy and up-to-date, but what are the issues taken seriously?
> Opening it at random to p. 214, I am told that video has reached the
> "saturation" point:
> "Artists, to be viable, and not considered precious by seeking the
> relative protection of the art world, must make a good case for why their
> work should be seen in the context of the visual arts and not subjected to
> the harsh realities of the film world, even the 'art film' world."
> Rush believes this is an important issue. He goes on to say
> "the challenge for artists is to differentiate themselves from both
> the low-quality amateurs and the practitioners of narrative (or commercial)
> cinema."
> I can't see any difference between this and the palaver handed out to the
> typical narrative film aspirant.
> We might compare this with a book translated from the German, Video: A
> Reflexive Medium (MIT, 2008) by Yvonne Spielman. It has chapters entitled
> "Media-theoretical considerations," "Artistic video,"
> "Guerilla Video," and "Video Cultures." It might be
> said that this is not the "intro" variety under discussion. But
> I believe it is better as an intro book than Rush's. The writing is clear
> and does not presuppose any familiarity with the language of
> scholarship.
> Bernie
> __________________________________________________________________
> For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at om>.

For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.