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New Left Review 80, March-April 2013


sven lütticken

PERFORMANCE ART AFTER TV

Television is video, video is television; they are part of the same technological dispositif. What is a video artist, if not a television producer without a channel at his disposal? The formal characteristics of much video art are hardly compatible with the dominant regime in tv programming; video art has developed its own modes of distribution, mostly based on tapes or dvds sold in limited editions. In the 1970s, René Berger distinguished between macro-tv (broadcast television), meso-tv (local cable) and micro-tv (video); at most, some artists managed to infiltrate and utilize the meso level of local cable tv, whose democratic potential was never fully realized. [1] René Berger, ‘Video and the Restructuring of Myth’, in Douglas Davis and Allison Simmons, eds, The New Television: A Public/Private Art, Cambridge, ma 1977, pp. 206–21. While in general it failed to penetrate even this level, video art at its best pushed the logic of television to a point where the medium’s potential and its failings, its complexity and its contradictions, were illuminated.

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