net art, video, performance

Annie Abrahams

Shirley Clarke – Is this reality?

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.
ShirleyClarke
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.

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Filed under: Articles / Texts, Of interest, performance, Video, , , ,

precursor of The Big Kiss

In 2017

HalleckKiss

A The Big Kiss avant l’internet : A few days ago Randall Packer pointed me to what might be a precursor to my piece The Big Kiss from 2008. In his article Videofreex Chronicles #1: TV as Social Media he shows an image (by Deedee Halleck) of Explorations in the Videospace, Part I from 1974. It’s a splitscreen kiss performed by Nam June Paik and Shirley Clarke. The technical design is by David Cort of the Videofreex.

I am surprised and wondering if I would have been able to make The Big Kiss if I had know about it. Would it have been appropriation? And would I have been bothered by copyrights? Now, I know about it, I want to see these videos / TV images – do they still exist? Where to look for them?

I also found this one on pinterest posted by Rachel McBrinn. I wrote her and she answered that she pinned the image from teepeevideospacetroupe.org, which is now not a registered domain and didn’t know anything about the image.Nam June Paik Shirley Clarke Kissing - David Cort installation.

Andrew Ingall, the curator of Videofreex: The Art of Guerrilla Television at the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art, SUNY New Paltz reacted in a twit to my call for more info : @annieabrahams @ShirleyClarke Not aware of video documentation of Cort’s exhibition at The Kitchen. Read more here: amzn.to/1I9citt.

And so I googled “David Cort The Kitchen” and found another same image with a Greek text that google translated : “In this Polaroid, the Nam June Paik and Shirley Clarke trying to kiss in an installation created by David Cort (the Kitchen, 1974). See. Pleasure Palace Theater of the Future.” So I have to look for an installation in an exhibition in 1974.

A few days later again I found the same image on a blogpost by DeeDee Halleck, and it turns out she was indeed the one who made the photo.

When looking further into Shirley Clarke’s video practice (Shirley Clarke – Is this reality?) I found that teepeevideospacetroupe.org was an archival website on her workshops made by Beth Capper. When I wrote Beth, she told me she couldn’t help, but that I should ask Andrew Gurian, a member of the videospace troupe, who gave her a scan of the photo.

So I wrote Andrew Gurian. He told me he owns what he thinks is the original Polaroïd, made by David Cort himself.
At David’s show–really more an on-going installation–the live video images of two people, sitting on opposite sides of the room, were combined into one by a special effects generator or similar device, as you can see in the photo. If I recall correctly, David was present and had a Polaroid camera. He snapped photos of any of the show participants who wanted one as a souvenir. I believe the photo is question is one such example.
David Cort is very ill and cannot be joined, maybe, maybe Tom Colley of the Video Data Bank, in Chicago may have more information; the Video Data Bank now has the archives of the Videofreex. Continues …

labise

In 2017 Kit Galloway pointed me to other precursors. Here is the timeline / the kisstory that resulted from that.

Filed under: Of interest, , , , , , ,

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  • Bientôt parution : L’Agency Art ou une Éthologie Participative dans des Environnements Artificiels ? dans LINKs série 1.

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Annie Abrahams
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