Saturday, April 15, 2006

VJ Researchers Movin' On

In his “Nontheatrical Performance” essay, Allan Kaprow, who recently passed away, makes an interesting case for the artist as researcher:
[…] suppose that performance artists were to adopt the emphasis of universities and think tanks on basic research. Performance would be conceived as inquiry. It would reflect the word’s everyday meaning of performing a job or service and would relieve the artist of inspirational metaphors, such as creativity, that are tacitly associated with making art, and therefore theatre art.
Kaprow left us less than four months after Nam June Paik passed away, and for some reason I am reminded of the first VJ show back in 1970, coming out of WGBH in Boston, where Paik, who the year before had exhibited video art on the series of PBS broadcasts called "The Medium Is The Medium" along with Kaprow and a few others, started performing his live, fluxus-styled VJ set over the live wire. Paik inaugurated this first VJ scene in Boston with his massive and unkempt Synthesizer, which I recently saw again at the Kunsthalle Bremen as part of the 40 Years of German Video Art exhibition.

Others soon followed and built on these early VJ experiments, including my Sydney friend Stephen Jones, ex-member of the 1980s Aussie VJ-band The Severed Heads.

They're still around - here.

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