Video Art, Authenticity and the Spectacle of Contemporary Existence: an exegesis
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Edmond Husserl’s notion of ‘first sense’ experience is a phenomenological and experiential interpretation of the world based on immediate pre-theoretical and precognitive reflection. For Husserl, the apperception of the world using ‘first sense’ presupposes any scientific or theoretical understanding of it and presents a more meaningful and truthful experience because it is based on the fact of being. Authentic experience, in this exegesis, is considered a form of immediate and intuitive experience in which the certainty of the ‘first sense’ world contrasts to the obedience and homogenising effects of the spectacle and consumer society. For Guy Debord (1967) and Jean Baudrillard (1970) consumption and production combined with the omnipresence of mass media and advertising in contemporary existence is the source of debilitating and homogenising behaviour. The monotony and regularity of the work place, the separation of individuals through the comfort of television and the focus on the accumulation of goods that is commonplace counteracts immediate and intuitive experience and desecrates authentic living. This exegesis examines how the video works of two international artists, Anri Sala (2002) and Francis Alÿs (1999), and a selection of my own videos communicate the concept of authentic experience by exploring familiar and unremarkable subjects. The research hypothesises that although contemporary patterns of existence subsume individual behaviour for economic gain (as theorised by Debord and Baudrillard), authentic experience, in terms of immediate and ʻfirst senseʼ experience is a primary source of meaning. The work of Bill Viola is used in this research to contrast the use of video by Alys, Sala, and myself. Viola’s work demonstrates, through its theatricality, high production values and grandiose themes, concerns that are otherworldly and metaphysical as opposed to the immediate and of essentially human character of the works that are central to this discussion. By using the visual language of television and other time-based entertainment, video has the ability to focus on individual and specific circumstances and spontaneous behaviour in ways that viewers can easily recognise. Video art, paradoxically, highlights the affect that technology, consumerism and homogeneity has on individual experience through technology itself. In the videos of Sala and Alÿs, natural, or actual, time, evidenced by the passing of the sun over billboards (Sala) and Mexico’s City’s square (Alÿs), reveals social and political circumstances as well as our relationship to a much larger cosmological system. My videos aim to demonstrate authentic experience in the form of an immediate and intuitive response to banal events, whereby the familiar is dislodged from its role as an apathetic misnomer to the Spectacle through the combinatory use of video, audio and performance. The majesty of ordinary experience is revealed in my videos through expressions of bashfulness, giggling, and waving in The Quick Step (2005), the rupturing of a cyclic and repetitious sequence in When The Rain Comes (2007), highlighting consumer behaviour and disrupting its rhythm through the use of play in Name That Tune (2006), the use of audio to induce a sense of self-awareness in the viewer in Our Communication Recorded (2006) and by displacing recognition with a mesmerising, non-distinct form in The Alien’s Back (2007).
Thesis (Professional Doctorate)
Doctor of Visual Arts (DVA)
Queensland College of Art
Item Access Status
Video in art