Art History: The Pure Switch: Video Abstraction in the 1970s
The Pure Switch: Video Abstraction in the 1970s
Presenter: Nicholas Croggon
Early video was more colourful than we may recall. The 1970s is known in post-war US art history as the birth of “video art”, a periodization often indexed by grainy, grey documentary tapes. Yet much early video was abstract, populated by pulsing geometric forms and splashes of vibrant, non-representational colour.
Within the broader critical discourse of the period, grappling with video’s potential as new unique “medium”, these abstract works were quickly brushed aside, dismissed as, at best, corny imitations of abstract painting or, at worst, naïve embellishments of the mass medium of television.
This presentation seeks to recover the stakes of video’s early abstraction by looking anew at the work of Nam June Paik and Aldo Tambellini. I will discuss how these artists bypassed late modernist debates around the “medium”, instead deploying abstraction as a
technique to negotiate the social turmoil of the period, and proposing radical new visions of the artist’s role in a world transformed by electronic technology.
This event will be held online via Zoom.
Other seminars this semester:
3 September Ivan Cerecina, ‘Montage as Art Historical Method in Post-War France: Malraux, Resnais, and the Animation of Culture’
10 September Richard Smith, ‘From action-image to image-action: telepresence and the cinema of global telecommunications’
24 September Susan Potter, ‘Friendship as a way of filmmaking: Revisiting Blue (dir. Derek Jarman, 1993)’, Cindy Evelyn Magara, ‘The Griot Aesthetic in East African Cinema’
1 October Andrew Ward, ‘Space, time, and the limits of painting in the early work of Vija Celmins’
22 October Ann Elias, ‘Fish-Eye Points of View and Modern Culture’
29 October Stephanie Swanson ‘The Triumph of Death in Trecento Italy’
Ann Sutherland, ‘Two expatriate Australian painters: two continents’
5 November Scholars Forum: ‘At home in the World’
Chair: Kate Davidson, Contributions by: Donna Brett, Kate Davidson, Mark De Vitis, Mary Roberts
19 November Scholars Forum: ‘Museums as sites of civil society: Conversations with audience in the 21st century’, Chiara O’Reilly, Anna Lawrenson, Lee-Anne Hall