The following is the presentation text for the catalog of
the video art festival Video Appart Paris-Dubai,
March 10-28, curated by Mamia Bretesché
Video’ Appart, a video art festival, started in Paris during 2006. Its unique concept intends to bring together an experience of conviviality and the appreciation of contemporary art. According to the organizers, Video’ Appart fosters a “dynamic sense of exchanges" by a shared experience of art in social settings not restricted to the usual specialized spaces, but including private homes and artists studios.
Such an approach, we can observe, recapitulates in a different context an important element at the historical sources of video as an art form in the late 1960s. A marginal project within the art world of the time, video developed trough a network of artists' initiatives in unconventional spaces such as coffee houses, artists associations, etc. Beginning as a "peripheral" form, video art was able nonetheless to express and foretell, directly or indirectly, present and future mutations at the foundations of contemporary culture which arise in the crossroads of technology, new forms of sociability and forms of production.
The development of video art in the 1960s and the 1970s, jointly with other artistic currents and conceptual innovations of the period, brought important challenges to common understandings and established notions of the work of art, including those of the institutionalized modern or modernist tradition. Video art was one of the new artistic practices that contributed to defy and upset the contemporary system of the arts within which notions about what constitutes a work of art were elaborated. From the start, video art incorporated and was incorporated into different forms, genres and disciplines, such as performance, installation, etc.
As a technological form, a new practice of the image and a new regime of visibility, video represented at the same time a development and a rupture in the field of the moving image previously exemplified by film and TV.
Flow (as originally conceptualized by Raymond Williams) and “real time” are two central ideas for the understanding of the specificity of the video experience. The continuous flux of images, the simultaneity of production and reproduction of the moving image, are characteristics of the technology and the processes of television. The advent of the recorded video process exacerbated the process of automation / autonomization of the image proper to television: real time, observed Frederic Jameson, was henceforth the time of the machine itself, and the flux of images constituted the perpetuated, ever recurring, 'perpetual present' and presence of the image. In this way, following Jameson, we can observe that video translates the spatialization (objectification) of time and the concomitant temporalization (subjectification) of space at the core of the postmodern experience: the "trading of places" between the subject and the object, or, the “neutralization” of the real.
In this regard, we can point out that in the artistic context of early video art, the developments from Minimalism to Conceptual Art, commonly interpreted as the progressive “dematerialization” of the art object, can perhaps be better designated and understood as a process of “virtualization” avant la lettre. These movements preceded technology, which would eventually transmute and recreate the image and transform image practices and processes, artistic and otherwise, within an emergent new space: the digital space of computer technology.
Video art as a dynamic, mutant, multiple and multipliable form, anticipated the era of the digital image and of digital art forms. More than ever before, the mutant and multipliable characterize both today's economy and today's ontology, or more appropriately perhaps, the ontologies of art. Incorporated by and incorporating digital processes, products and strategies, video art turned digital video art continues to unfold its powers of transformation and hybridization, together with the extended capacities of simulation and modelization at the core of the artistic concepts and practices of the present.
With the expansion of digital technology within diverse spheres of life, the hybridization of forms in the visual domains entails the crossing over not only between diverse disciplines, but also between diverse institutional domains, different spheres of social practices, that often involve convergent and/or contradictory uses and functions.
Video art reflects, and contributes in its turn to the process of “neutralization” of the categories of art and of the aesthetic experience of a not so distant past. As with other forms of digital arts, it presents and reproduces itself as intrinsically or necessarily a non-canonical art form, that is, a form that can only be conceptualized horizontally, as a series, in a non-hierarchical way.
From what we may conclude that video festivals, such as Video’ Appart itself, are indeed the proper locus for the appreciation of video art. Only a multiplicity of works can show concretely a multiple art form.
Video’ Appart connects together artists and viewers from Paris and Dubai. To my knowledge it is the first event of this genre, linking two cities with their heterogeneous histories and diverse cultures, in a shared experience of contemporary art. As to indicate that perhaps the very identity of these postmodern times is to be located in current and future processes of amalgamated or “hybrid” forms of experience.