Tactile, Participatory, Interactive Video

Video Touch by Andreas Treske/ The Capture and Understanding of Participant Experience in a Breath Controlled Interactive Video by Jian Hughes/ The Rendezvous with Cascades of Light by Nagehan Kurali/ The Aesthetics of Private footage and Youtube within Avantgarde Video Art by Paul Wiersbinski
Wednesday, 21 September, 2011 - 17:00 - 18:20
Chair Person: 
Margarida Carvalho
Andreas Treske
Jiann Hughes
Nagehan Kurali
Paul Wiersbinski

Video Touch

by Andreas Treske

It seems like that at this point of our timeline a lot is already written about the object named “video”. Video in itself therefore appears as not questionable or not questioned. Video is an undiscussable companion of the everyday. It is an attachment in a variation of practices. It is a relation, a relative. Rather than an object it is an appearance, a fog, a cloud. May be it is just a definition.

Of course, these statements need to be discribed, elaborated, explored further in depth. Underlaying as a motivation is a question hardly to ask: “What is video?”. The question is closely formulated, such to speak with the eye directed to and being on the historical work of Andre Bazin and his collection of essays named under the title ‘what is cinema’. Of course, once again suggesting that cinema is an ancestor or at least a close relative of the object in question. But it is understand as just setting a direction. Object ‘video’ and the direction of the question ‘what’ creating a vector, which is traversing various kinds of environments. In other words formulated walking along a path, following a road of exploration from the moving image as electronic construct or built by code towards its cinematic forms and further to its various applications as a tool and medium … and more forward seeing video as crystallization of time. In our daily life we not only can touch video screens, we touch the video itself as the video touches us through various kinds of gadgets, smart phones, navigation devices, tablets and further more to come.

The Capture and Understanding of Participant Experience in a Breath Controlled Interactive Video

by Jian Hughes

This paper will explore the video-cued-recall method as an ethnographic tool in the evaluation of an interactive installation utilising bio-sensed data. It builds on a body of research by Lucy Suchman and Randall Trigg, Bridget Costello, and George Khut and Lizzie Muller who have used this method to document interactive art as lived-experience. The artwork which forms the test-bed for this paper is Inspiraction, an interactive video installation that uses bio-sensed data to enable participants to explore how their breath affects their engagement with others.

It has been eighty years since John Dewy pointed to the importance of audience experience in completing an artwork. More recently Dourish highlighted the need to capture user experiences of interactions to fully understand their generative nature. Only then can a fuller understanding of the artwork be gleamed, as Dewey put it, “in experience”.  Dialogue with participants provides the only way to understand these lived experiences. While self-reflexivity in the interviewer is paramount, the biggest challenge in understanding these experiences, for both the interviewer and participant, is the limitation of words to describe an embodied experience. The interviewer must find creative ways to help the participant verbalise their body language and taking time to unearth meaning where ambiguity exists.

The video-cued-recall method uses video to record participants during their interaction. The recording is then played back to support participant recollection of the reflexive, conceptual and reflective aspects of their encounter with the work. Using video to record individual experiences honours the temporal, embodied and emotive nature of inward focused interactive artworks. The medium can record all the tonal and rhythmic subtleties of the participant’s voice as they articulate their experience. A video record preserves body language, gesticulations and breathing quality, simportant elements in a work focusing on embodiment. However the performative nature of this evaluative method affects the encounter and the sharing of lived experience when participants preempt the expectations of the interviewer. This paper presents a critical analysis of the video-cued-recall method’s advantages, disadvantages and characteristics, using the Inspiraction work as its test-bed.

The Rendezvous with Cascades of Light

by Nagehan Kurali

In this paper, I would like to discuss the public practice of video mapping and urban screenings through a specific project that I developed as my Digital Media M.A. Thesis. The paper provides the conceptual framework of the urban screening project “Would you like to swim in Umgedrehte Kommode (Upside Down Commode)?” which was realized on the historical water tower “Umgedrehte Kommode” in Bremen, Germany on 10th of April 2010.. The paper analyzes the necessary conditions of urban screenings in order to succeed within city space. It is also going to focus on the illuminative quality that it brings to the cityscape transforming architectural structures by emphasizing their unique identity.

A video work was specifically produced according to the architectural structure of the building and it was projected onto the four windows of the water tower. The aim of the project was to achieve designing an illumination project which would attract the public eye with moving images that are technically projected onto the surface of the architectural structure. This way, the spectators of the city would experience the water tower in a spectatorial visual setting which would let the building gain a unique identity in cityscape.

The visuals of video work consisted of people swimming underwater and giving an impression of looking outside of the windows of the building. During the production process of the video work, the citizens of Bremen was approached and asked if they would like to swim in the historical water tower: “Umgedrehte Kommode”. On a weekly basis, various citizens were filmed in a local swimming pool. While swimming, the volunteers casually and freely acted in front of the camera whenever they would feel to do so. The project aimed to create an intimate link between the citizens of Bremen and the historical water tank, which currently does not hold an active place within public space without any illumination agenda.

Through this specific urban screening project, this paper aims to discuss the transformation of architectural structures in public space through public involvement.

The Aesthetics of Private footage and Youtube within Avantgarde Video Art

by Paul Wiersbinski

“video art is a subdivision of home-made video“ - Vito Acconci

Looking at the early video works of fine artists in the 60s and 70s the connection to today’s aesthetics in Youtube is more than obvious. Often the tapes have been documentations of performances and it is stunning to see the connecting of reoccurring standards, such as a fixed camera (today’s webcam), lack or complete absence of editing or the focus on the performer and his or her body. Today the works of Maria Abramovic, Vito Acconci, Bruce Nauman or the Vienna actionists have become cultural classics, shaping the identity of one of the youngest art forms. It is interesting to see that technical limitations and the lack of professional education led to the production of many of these early video works.

After introducing some of these tapes and comparing them to Youtube classics, I would like to focus on the question of aesthetic relevance, as it is often argued that only a few members of the elite have access to the fine art system and therefore it cannot have any real impact on a general public. In opposition to this preconception, art historian Boris Groys argues in his famous text “The body of Guantanamo”, that the pictures of tortured Iraqis by US troops would not have acclaimed such high media attention without a collective consciousness being “visually educated” by the works such as the Vienna actionists.

The successes of Youtube have not been unnoticed by the art community and even though it does not pose a direct threat for the aesthetics of video art, it is already noticeable that the trend towards technical perfection, represented by Matthew Barney or Bill Viola seems to be over. Today’s successful tapes (e.g. by Nathalie Djurberg or Ryan Trecartin) often play with bad quality and deliberate imperfection not out of a lack of recourses but because of aesthetic consideration.