From Television Signal to Magnetic Strip: An Archeology of Experimental Television and Video Knowledge

From Television Signal to Magnetic Strip: An Archeology of Experimental Television and Video Knowledge

Jeremy Neal Culler

Language: English

Pages: 364

ISBN: 2:00143491

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

This dissertation proposes a more adequate framework for thinking through a range of
non-commensurable sites within which we find not a unified phenomenon, “Video Art,”
but a set of conceptualizations of video and electronic media that are heterogeneous,
dispersed and institutionally variable. Taking as a model Michel Foucault’s notion of an
archaeology of knowledge, I have sought to analyze the stratified field of experimental
television and video along two axes: along a diachronic axis, I trace debates in five
institutional spaces––public broadcast television, experimental television centers,
galleries and museums, the published record, and academic institutions––focusing on key
disputes or “flash points” that mark significant shifts in the discourse on “video art;”
while across the synchronic axis, I seek to map the discussions and theorizations of
experimental television and video within these institutional sites that constitute the
differential field of discourse on electronic, time-based media. By this means, I attempt
to show that the ever expanding, institutionally dispersed field of electronic media
practice cannot be grasped in the terms offered by the linear narratives that have until
now shaped what has been labeled as the history of “Video Art.” I maintain that the
“archaeology” of video practice I outline is a prerequisite for any critical engagement
with a field of practices that range from experimental performances employing live
broadcast television to works using video and videotape. While an influential critical and
curatorial discourse has sought to subsume these diverse practices under a single category
of “Video Art,” such homogenization elides the diversity of institutional sites and the
incommensurable discursive frameworks that, in fact, have marked the development of
experimental television and video media. A more adequate perspective demands
engagement with the differential, discursive field and the various sedimentary strata
across which multiple and irreducible conceptions of the video medium have been











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