Montage of Beautiful Things. Analysis.

Jack Goldstein is one of the most influential figures in film art and analysing his work has been particularly beneficial to me during the process of this montage of beautiful things project. It has taught me about the place that video art has in the wider art world and it has also inspired and developed my understanding of creating moving image and how best to display it.

Goldstein worked from the early seventies through until the early nineties. When his work first began to get known he was regarded as one of the pioneers of his genre and this is why it is important that students such as myself study his work. Here I will show you his most famous piece – The Jump

I hasten to add that youtube is NOT the place to watch this or any of his other work but this gives you a flavour. The brightness of the dots in this video rather smudges the image but this is not representative of the video being properly projected.

The piece stood out to me when I saw his recent exhibition at Nottingham Contemporary and the reason for this is the smoothness of the movement created even when being projected through a 16mm projector. I love the simplicity of this visually because it is clear that to produce such a piece is technically very complicated with the limited resources available compared to extraordinarey capabilities todays video eqiupment has. I watched extrememly closely the tape running through the projector and you will notice that at the end there are some letters flashing very quickly across the screen, this is actually text written as a sentence straight down the length of the film itself, when played properly it is far more effective than the digitised version you see before you here. I found the experience of watching art displayed in this way was particularly beneficial to me in understanding the context with which my work is going to be working under. This was art, it documented nothing, it informed of nothing and had no narrative. Goldstein was one of the first to create pieces such as this and it is now a well established genre. I love the idea that more experimental work is being widely excepted and understanding this and analysing the way in which it is taken by the art world helps me to make pieces that are more informed.

Displaying work is another area I have become interested in as part of this process. I have learnt that if my work is being made to look the best it possibly can, which in this instance it is because our brief is very clear on the montage that our pieces must have some form of beauty to them, that it must be shown in a way that best displays its quality. Goldstein’s films were all projected in one high ceilinged, darkened room and this created an amazing atmosphere to watch film. The characteristic hum of reel to reel projectors and the beams of light they were emitting were beautiful in themselves quite apart from the images produced.

Of course nowadays an awful lot of video art is shot digitally and although I fully intend to experiment with some 8mm film in the very near future all of the work I have done for this module is digital. We have occasionally been watching work done for this module through digital projectors displaying web pages with the work embedded and this unfortunately is not the best way to view it. Through a very good projector it would be ok but through a projector where everything looks a bit soft and colour is lost it is a shame. I will always contest to make sure anything showed that is mine is shown off in it’s best light and I am totally sure any artist would be of similar mind.

Another artist I have found it particularly interesting to analyse has been Bill Viola, his work is extremely famous and was also a pioneer of the experimental narrative. Here are a couple of his videos.

The first video of these two epitomises his work. Although with our sophisticated editing systems and magical cameras this would now be fairly easy to re-create, at the time it was like nothing anyone had ever seen and I think this has helped me understand that when contextualising your work it is important that if you see it’s place in the art world it must not only be beautiful but original and something people haven’t seen before. It is then you begin to make an impact

An ocean without a shore is a particularly beautiful piece and although created recently still retains that particular grain so recognisable of film based work as opposed to digital. I cannot wait to begin to use film because I have learnt an awful lot about the place it has in the world of moving image.


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