I would have liked to know her.
Shirley Clarke has been making videowork in the 70ties and 80ties, that you might think I am building upon, if you didn’t know I only became aware of her work a few days ago.
I was looking for information on a photo where she was kissing with Nam June Paik in a splitscreen installation by David Cort. For this I contacted Deedee Halleck who said I should look into Shirley’s work. She was right. I was especially smitten by what I learned of her participative and open video practice*. It’s somehow very close to how I treat webcam performance.
This is a photo by Peter Simon from a blogpost written by Deedee Halleck. Her post also contains more images and some anecdotes on the inspiring TeePee workshops.
I found Beth Capper‘s interesting article Building The Pleasure Palace Theater of the Future: Archiving Shirley Clarke’s Early Video Work, but unfortunately the archival website she planned to make doesn’t seem to exist anymore.
And there is Andrew Gurian‘s who describes a night long workshop : Thoughts on Shirley Clarke and The TP Videospace Troupe, that contains also this citation from an interview with her published in Radical Software (New York: Gordon and Breach, Science Publishers, Inc.; Vol. II, No. 4, 1973) p. 27.
“Well, one unique capability of video is that we are able to put many different images from many different camera and playback sources into many different places and into many separate spaces (monitors) and we can see what we are doing as we are doing it. We need to develop better motor connections among our eyes and our hands and bodies—we need balance and control to move our images from monitor to monitor or pass our camera to someone else. But mainly we need the skill to see our own images in our own monitors and at the same time see what everyone else is doing. We need to acquire the ability to see in much the same way that a jazz musician can hear what he is playing and at the same time hear what the other musicians are doing and together they make music.”
In Noël Burch and André S. Labarthe’s documentary Rome is Burning: A Portrait of Shirley Clarke from 1970, you can see her talk (Yoko Ono, among others is listening) about the power of the camera (the eye) – Is this reality? – feminism? (7 min. extract)
Complete 53 min on vimeo.
*“Clarke’s workshops revolved around nondirected, open-ended play—of the kind Game Studies would call “paratelic,” as distinguished from goal-oriented or “telic” play.“… “adaptive play systems that allowed participants to develop methods for coping and surviving in the world by proposing that error could be enabling and, even, fun and enjoyable”
Beth Capper (2013) Ultimate Participation Video: Shirley Clarke’s Tee Pee Video Space Troupe, Art Journal, 72:1, 46-63.