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Themesicon: navigation pathArt and Cinematographyicon: navigation pathImmersion/Participation
»That’s the only now I get«
Immersion und Participation in Video-Installations by Dan Graham, Steve McQueen, Douglas Gordon, Doug Aitken, Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Sam Taylor-Wood
Ursula Frohne


«Vaste comme la nuit et comme la clarité…» Charles Baudelaire, The Poem of Hashish

«Aber drinnen, keine Grenzen mehr!» Jean Tardieu

«I look elsewhere and differently, there where there is no spectacle.» Hélène Cixous

Dissolving the Picture Frame

In an early Sam Taylor-Wood photograph, the British artist appears in the role of Jackson Pollock, imitating the legendary pose of her historic colleague painting in his studio on Long Island. Barely recognizable as a female, Taylor-Wood restages Pollock’s dance-like rhetoric familiar from Hans Namuth’s photographs, which have become world-famous icons of the modern artistic subject. In «A Gesture Toward Action Painting» (1992), Taylor-Wood directs attention to this key moment in art and media history—the moment in which the artist-subject enters the picture via the physical act of painting («action painting»), indexed and inscribed in the canvas as moving traces of color, and thus bursts through the boundary separating self and representation, art and life. [1] Taylor-Wood’s


appropriation of an artistic gesture that has crystallized into myth can be taken as the starting point for a reflection upon the effects of contemporary video installation: in this gesture and its replication a number of categories circulate such as those of the theatrical, the notion of performance, mise-en-scène, repetition, the transformation of «the image» (the screen) into a theatrical space as well as the transformation of the observer’s perspective to a range of experiences made up of various (art) historical perspectives. Pollock’s working method marked a turning point in the development of art, dissolving the traditional notion of the art work into structures of action and performance. Film, photography, and video—those «new» media, whose history is inseparable from that of the dark room, the technical and metaphorical transparency of the black box—made the concept of the work accessible to a wider public. Pollock’s drip technique, an act of painting liberated from the control of reason, eliminated the boundaries of the picture surface, smoothed the path for a multiplicity of concepts of experience-oriented artistic pursuit, which steadily withdrew into dark environments as contemporary generations of artists

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