Feedback and Other Signals: Early Video Experiments of the 1970s | Chicago Reader

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Six tapes from the era when artists were just beginning to explore the potential of video. In Five Minute Romp Through the IP (1975), Dan Sandin demonstrates the possibilities of his invention the Image Processor: in one sequence he transforms a black-and-white image of himself by altering the contrast or the intensity of different grays. Richard Serra's Anxious Automation (1971) rapidly intercuts several different views of a reclining woman (artist Joan Jonas), changing focal lengths in a way that recalls Ernie Gehr's 1970 film Serene Velocity. In Violin Power (1970) video maker Steina shows herself playing the title instrument, its sounds apparently generating new imagery as the picture twists into wavy patterns or becomes abstract moving lines. Two tapes are relatively unmanipulated: Theme Song (1973) is a single 33-minute close-up of video maker Vito Acconci addressing the camera as if trying to seduce a woman (“I know you need it as much as I do”). It quickly becomes tedious, obnoxious, and imprisoning—which seems to be the point. Steina and Woody Vasulka's Don Cherry (1971) shows the legendary musician singing and playing various instruments against anonymous urban settings, his subtle melodies suggesting old-fashioned words like spirit and soul. On the same program, which totals 101 minutes: Jonas's pioneering Vertical Roll (1972).

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