Part ONE: Three Video Artists
1. Liza Bear
I met Liza during Occupy Wall Street. She was deeply involved. Liza documented many of the direct actions. She interviewed many occupiers, bystanders and others involved, such as the police. Liza posted her videos to her own YouTube channel, and shared her videos with other Occupy content publishers, including Occupy with Art, for which I was a co-organizer. In 2012 OwA invited Liza to present a selection of short works in an event at Cinema Arts Centre (Huntington, Long Island) titled "Corporations Can't Cry," part of CO-OP/Occufest.
Liza Bear has been making video art since the 70s. Her work is included in the SAIC Video Data Bank and many other collections and has been shown around the world. She has received many awards, including an NEA Video Artist Fellowship (1983). One piece I would emphasize for this is assignment is "Five Video Pioneers," which contains collaborative artist interviews with Vito Acconci, Richard Serra, Willoughby Sharp, Keith Sonnier, and William Wegman. Liza's practice is multidisciplinary. She is an accomplished writer and art magazine publisher (Avalanche, Bomb). A central thread in her work is tech-enabled, creative-activist transmission, focusing on oral history and illustrated/-ive printed matter.
2. Chris Burden
I'm going to defer to this Flavorwire page - the 10th in the series "50 Great Works of Video Art That You Can Watch Online" (24 June 2013) compiled by Reid Singer. If there is one video artwork that is the gamechanger for the medium, arguably this is it. Chris has done a lot of other neat creative/art things, since he made this video.
3. Cory Arcangel
I would like to include another video artist entry on the Flavorwire list, Cory's Paganini’s 5th Caprice, 2011. Cory Arcangel (see honorable mention list/link at the end of HW#1_1/8 below) has also done a lot of clever projects that succinctly clarify the operative features of creative technology. This particular video piece is very relevant to our New Media/New Forms discourse, because it simultaneously exposes so many dimensions of the video-enabled social media, e.g., virtuosity, amateurism, performance, direct education, remix, etc. The genre of video used as the artist's source material is fundamental to democratized web practice. The makers could be cooking, shooting rifles, skateboarding...the demonstrative video production/formatting is more or less identical for all these activities (and millions of others). The compilation of samples in a unified image/audio/timeline, bound by the supra-unifier (Paganini's 5th Caprice) pinpoints the post-digital, dimensional architecture. This is not an abject-sublime binary. This is guitar hero rock'n'roll!
Part TWO: Presentation and Activity
A discussion of Video/Art (V/A) can adhere to an analysis of the pictorial representation of motion in Western, and now most, art tradition. Such an analysis can be dimensional, and therefore permit progressive analysis of the technology of motion-representation over time, as well as themulti-faceted effects of such technology (i.e., social, political, commercial, psychological, etc.) in communities large and small that create and/or adopt it. "The art world" is one such community. Further, motion-representation technology has generated waves in disciplines like philosophy, especially in the post-WW2 era, as that technology has approached ubiquity. Media philosophy, as practiced by prominent academics and scholars like Geert Lovink, has emerged as a unique critical discipline for V/A, and the video phenomenon in general [See Institute of Network Culture/Video Vortex]. Major cultural institutions have given media discourse, of which video art is certainly part, substantial resources and opportunities to curators, artists and thinkers focused on V/A, as well as exhibition space for such work. New institutions are being established to focus on the field, archives are being created and maintained and collectors, festivals, collectives and "stars" are appearing and gaining notice. For an individual entering the V/A arena "fresh" what might a FAQ for the medium include?
V/A (Short) FAQ
Q1. What exactly is Video/Art? A1. This is an unresolved question. The reasons are manifold. Defining Contemporary Art at all is problematic. A worthwhile followup discussion to Q1 might involve making a list of qualities of V/A that differentiate it from other art and other video, and another list of things V/A shares with other art and other video.
Q2. Who are prominent V/Artists? A2. This is also a complicated issue. By "V/Artists," do we mean artists who use video (among other tools) in their artistic process, or do we mean artists who only use video to express themselves artistically? Are there examples of Video Native Art? Followup to Q2 could involve making a list of V/Artists (Ryan Trecartin, Pipilotti Rist, Steve McQueen, etc.), and viewing/talking about their work.
Q3. Is video "art," (only) if an artist makes it, or is "in" it? A3. For Q3 questions are perhaps the best answer: so what are the millions of videos daily uploaded to social media publishers, the videos broadcast in "Old Media," the videos distributed through online sources such as Netflix (and pirate sites), etc.? What is porn? And what do you call the massive population, consisting of both pros (not artists) and amateurs, who make all these "not-art" videos?
PJM: The McCoys are my favorite video artists. They were visiting artists/lecturers at Claremont Graduate University, while I was an MFA Student there (2006-7). We had a studio visit, I attended their presentation, and their work was covered thoroughly in one of my courses (instructor: photo/video/digital media artist Curtis Stage). To my sensibilities, the McCoys represent the potential of video for a 4D+ art future: They produce collaboratively; they are highly proficient technicians; their work is conscious of media boundaries and blurs them; they engage with what's happening, and their work reflects this; they are keenly aware of the intersections of virtual/actual "worlds;" they profoundly "play" with narrative; plus more.
2 McCoy Interviews and documentation of an early show:
V/A: BASIC AESTHETIC ASSUMPTIONS AND PRACTICALITIES
V/A raises interesting issues that confront traditional notions of Western art and artist models and logistics. The romantic notion of the artist and artist studio posits an individual toiling alone or with apprentices in a workshop/studio. Idealism pertaining to this narrative project secondary narratives (artistic genius, heroism, for example), which feed a market system based on object scarcity, but also the rarity of "true" artistry. In significant ways, especially today. given the ubiquity of video/video-making, V/A offers a divergent model of artistic production. Another issue for V/A pertains to archival concerns. Is V/A durable enough to be art, as it has existed in Western civilization through at least eight centuries? A follow up discussion might include a conjectural exercise: imagine an artist like Rembrandt, van Gogh or Michelangelo as a V/Artist; imagine (maybe sketch) how their famous works might - might not - translate to V/A output; explore the implications of this speculation in a conversation.
2. ACTIVITY [Hand Signs]
This in-class activity is designed for teams of three (3) participants. The program consists of a short video-making exercise that can be expanded to include post-production, publishing, presentation, real-time documentation, etc. The main conceptual/theoretical/aesthetic components are The Portrait, Signs, Media/Technology-As-Collaborative-Presence-and-Facilitator. The participants do not necessarily need to be familiar with art history, theory and aesthetics to participate in the exercise, which is designed to be a fun team-building exercise. Skill-building aspects of the basic exercise include:
- "Doing Video/Art" (collaboration)
- Framing the subject with the device (seeing)
- Making a portrait (genre)
- Developing a concept (synthesis)
- Understanding production (input-output processes)
- Connecting technologies (multimedia)
- Representing identity (artistic objectives)
- Plus more
The exercise requires each participant to have a smart phone with video-making capacity. Additional/optional steps (post-production/editing) require workstation with video-editing software, a shared web platform, and means of presentation [screen or monitor(s), exhibit space, etc.]. Storyboarding can be integrated into the activity, too.
The team creates the staging scenario. This scene can be as simple as sitting around a table or standing around a room, but can be conceived in much more elaborate scale and scope. The participants take turns taking short videos of each other, sitting or standing, framing partners from the shoulders-up in 15 or 30 seconds each segments. Each participant thinks of or chooses two hand signs. One is "positive," such as a wave, peace sign, etc. One is "negative," such as a "stop" sign or "pointing" at the camera. This sign-selection can result from a brief brainstorming session. The participants then shoot 15 or 30 second segments, with the camera focus on the hands. Both shoots basically consist of close-up shots. If the activity extends to post-production, the prime focus in editing will be on sequences the shots. How the shots are sequenced can be a collaborative or group process, or each participant can be given the source material and all can edit the segments as they wish. Afterwards, in either case, the group can gather to view the results.
Part THREE: Lesson Plans 
TITLE: WHAT IS VIDEO ART? (Part 1): The Rectangle, the Circle and the Record
Building on the in-class activity above, we can begin to formulate a performative, meta-space for dimensional [4D+] Video/Art. The initial phase is structural, and the basic "tools" are analog. In a sense the practice is pretense. Participants pretend to create video, as the means by which the complex architecture of "creating" video with a "capture" device is a complex procedure, ripe for analysis, if not critique. The purposes of the machine for animated representation of vision and experience (the camera + screen/projector) are convoluted by many dynamics that are discursively autonomous, such as illusion, truth, extraction, exploitation, productivity, and so on. The superimposition of artificial, layered time features on the image shapes the spectator aspects of the social actions attached to V/A production. By stripping the protocols of the production to their minimal, analog abstraction, a metaphoric geometry plus "real" wetware, the human elements clarify. The exercise begs the question, why is this added mechanical layer needed?
- Form a multivalent artist collective
- Create the apparatus for simulating V/A activity out of rudimentary materials
- Improvise a performance
- Develop peripheral vision for creative side effects
- Enhance their comprehension of appearances/disappearance in artistic production
- Intertwine impulse with progressive constructive ordering
- Balance the scale of impermanence and permanence in the context of creativity
- Confront the reality of infinite variation
- Plus more
- Sheets of paper or museum board
- A lens or lens-simulator (opaque or transparent)
- Sketchbook or pages
- Cutting instrument
- Clock (functional or not)
Step 1: KSA (Knowledge & Skills Assessment): Engage students in an open, playful Q & A to determine their knowledge of and technical literacy in V/A genre.
Step 2: (Research Phase): Assign research modules to improve knowledge of V/A. Participants should be encouraged to follow their interests and explore identity.
Step 3: (Gear): Introduce participants to the making tools of V/A. These include cameras, tripods, lighting and audio equipment, production hardware and peripherals.
Step 4: (Software): Introduce participants to the available post-production/editing suites for V/A.
Step 5: (Staging): Introduce participants to a range of concepts, practices and samples applicable to the establishment or selection of V/A stages/studios/locations.
Step 6: (Budgeting): Introduce participants to the economics of V/A production.
Step 7: (Presentation): Survey the spectrum of venues for exhibiting V/A.
Step 8: (Forming V/A collectives): Participants will self-assemble into teams, or, alternately, be assigned to a team by the instructor. Considerations include individual skill sets, compatibility of team members, experience and so on.
Step 9: (Brainstorming): Teams will brainstorm together, then separately in timed sessions with the goal of arriving at a narrative for the project. Once the narrative is settled, the teams will discuss what materials might be helpful to develop the narrative within the performance.
Step 10: (Practicing performance): Teams will in timed improvisational exercises practice "call and response" performative action.
Step 11: (Scripting and storyboarding): Introduce teams to sample scripts and storyboards for performance/production. Teams will create simple scripts and storyboards for their concept project.
Step 12: (Assignment of roles): Teams will (s)elect participants to enact aspects of the production. Eventually, each participant will practice each role.
Step 13: (Rehearsal): Teams will deploy their knowledge and skills to refine the project in rehearsals.
Step 14: (Peformance/presentation): Teams will perform/present the project for other teams on a rotating basis. Post-performance discussion can be structured as critique and/or analysis. The instructor serves as moderator.
Step 15: (Publication): Teams will perform/present the project for the public (audience). The audience will be invited to critique/analyze the performance/presentation. Teams, if possible, will perform/present in multiple/variable venues and contexts.
Team [suggested size: three (3) participants)] cuts a rectangle out of the rectangular sheet of paper/museum board to create a "frame." The columns are affixed to the vertical ends of the sheet. The string is affixed to the "lens" and the resulting construct is suspended from the top leg of the "frame." This apparatus is the "camera." One participant plays the V/Artist. The other plays the "subject." The third participant chronicles the action/dialogue in the sketchbook, via drawings and text.
(Proportionate) Instructor evaluates participant/team on relative (internal) scales to gauge aptitude, openness, performance and work habits. Synthesis of concept/tasks/craft/research samples - all elements in process - critical.
- Research profiles/essays
- Proficiency with tools (observed and tested)
- Participation and attendance
- Peer2Peer and audience evaluations
2. WHAT IS VIDEO ART? (Part 2): Tripartite Supra-/Hyper-documentary
In this seminar we will apply a meta-layer to the in-class V/A activity, Lesson 1 and an additional exercise, in which team participants employ actual video cameras and V/A processes within the architecture(s) developed in the first two "performances." The extrapolation of design-fiction theory (ref./ Bruce Sterling) to create simultaneous true/false conditions in the social organization will translate to "art" in practice. The candidate will select and hire a professional-grade video documentary crew to effect the concept. The output will be a finished 4D+ V/A.
- Serve as lead artist at all stages of production
- Assign tasks
- Manage budgets, personnel, workflow, timelines, deadlines, tool maintenance, deliveries and transport, etc.
- Maintain project discipline and focus
- Communicate necessary instructions, make adjustments to production parameters, negotiate for and secure exhibition space(s), handle all aspects of distribution, produce marketing materials, attract positive press, monitor audience development, etc.
- Secure funding for the project, disperse stipends and pay, and document the economic model used in production for future template purposes
- Be responsible for employee/participant morale and relations
- Protect project integrity and ensure consistency of vision throughout the process
- Plus more
Phase 1: Conduct In-class Activity/Lesson 1 & 2, as directed.
Phase 2: Integrate documentary crew with participant actions.
Phase 3: Database all content.
Phase 4: Produce the documentary. [The MTV "Real World"/Reality TV model is the key reference.]
Phase 5: Sell the product.
Phase 6: Invest the proceeds.
Phase 7: Develop/Produce the sequel or series.
Phase 8: Manage project brand/identity.
Phase 9: Produce secondary market materials (how-to/making-of documentaries/texts, exhibition of artifacts attaching to production, etc.)
Phase 10: Maintain audience/sponsor attention throughout process via social and tactical media.
Phase 11: Syndicate.
Phase 12: "Come out" as an/the artist (in traditional media).
Phase 13: (Extra credit) Create fictional "flame-out" and subsequent "comeback" scenarios.
Phase 14: Retire rich and famous to secluded and/or exclusive/exotic locale, and/or the Upper West Side, or similar.
Phase 15: Compensate instructor accordingly.
EVALUATIONS AND ASSESSMENTS will be market/competition-based, and revisited over the project duration. Necessary adjustments for evolving standards, media topology and practices will be made. Candidate/project longevity is prioritized.'
PJM's online V/A archive is here: https://www.youtube.com/user/artforhumans/videos