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Technology and spectacle : an investigation of the obsolete through video art
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posted on 17.02.2017by Kennedy, Zinzi
Video art is a continually developing practice that evolves alongside ever
changing technological advancements. Rather than consider these ever-present
developments my research considers what contributions can be made to the
relationship between art and technology by revisiting the use of'obsolete' analogue video equipment. What can an investigation into the history of equipment in early video art practice reveal about the use of recording technology in the digital age? What can a reexamination of analogue equipment contribute to the current ecological dialogue? And how would the production, reception and development of an outdated discourse contribute to practice in the current age of abstract digitisation?
Society's consumption of electronics has prospered since the initial retail
introduction oftelevisions, cameras, mobiles and computers. Electronics are freely disposed of due to the growing desire to own the latest gadget or update.
Guy Debord founding member of the Situationists critiqued this commodity
culture and its social organisation in his key theory of the spectacle. Illustrating
the hegemony of the media industry and the economic driving force of capitalism. Debord articulated that technology is a core proponent of modern societies existence in the spectacle causing widespread alienation. The false privation instilled by commodity culture has contributed to an unsustainable
over abundance of electronic waste becoming a significant ecological concern.
The disposal of analogue equipment specifically CRT television's is a growing
issue due to the progressive closure of the analogue signal across Australia.
Electronic waste from televisions to computers contains hazardous substances
as well as valuable minerals, which can be recycled. This unsustainable growth in
waste gives cause for a reexamination of analogue recording technology that is
swiftly being replaced by the digital due to it being considered merely a transitional phase between film and hypermedia.
The use of obsolete technology has been central to my own practice-led research
projects. A key concern is analogue specificity, its historical positioning in the meta-narrative of video art and how this can contribute to the current digital
field of discourse. Through a discussion of seminal works by John Cage and Nam June Paik as well as contemporary installation practices I will examine how the inherent reflexivity of the pictorial field provides rich terrain for an investigation into the potential subversion or manipulation of obsolete viewing and recording technologies. This ability to subvert and manipulate the audiovisual language of obsolete technology engages with the inherent reflexivity of video, opening the medium toward transformative phenomena that is unique to this obsolete analogue technology.