An Exploration of Video Art

Three Transitions
Peter Campus’s ‘Three Transitions’

Peter Campus’s ‘Three Transitions’ is a video work employ visual illusions resulting from the projection or keying of supplementary video. The work contemplates the perception of one’s self, by placing the artist as the narcissistic protagonist; this work has become one of the seminal works in video art. The work was created during the introduction of video as art and thus explores how one may manipulate video like one could other mediums. The work successfully captures the audience’s attention by providing three different scenarios united under a common theme.

Olivier de Sagazan’s piece ‘Transfiguration’

Olivier de Sagazan’s piece ‘Transfiguration’ is a videographic capture of performance art, in an attempt to convey the message of the performer to a broader audience. The work explores the distortion of the human form in a violent and confronting manner, achieved through the live application of masses of makeup. The work explores the ideas of identity and transformation, questioning who we are and how we change over time. The oddity of the work is what captures the attention of audiences, by creating tension and curiosity. The performance of Oliver successfully captures the attention of audiences.

Saute ma Ville
Chantal Akerman’s ‘Saute ma ville’ or ‘Blow up my Town’

Chantal Akerman’s ‘Saute ma ville’ or ‘Blow up my Town’ is a short film work that employs complex narrative structure. The film is an anarchist critique of the unfulfilling nature of domestic life for a young french woman; eventually resulting in the protagonist’s suicide. The film also speaks to the loneliness of the protagonists life, constantly being taunted by a narrator’s voice; the only sound in the film. The piece is a brilliant short that clearly engages audiences through the narratives succinct story beats.

An Exploration of Video Art

How Artworks Represent and Comment on the World

Bram Stokers Chair
Plate 1: Bram Stokers Chair
Leap into the Void
Plate 2: Leap into the Void

Plate one:
Plate two:

The works in plate one and two comment on our world, providing an alternate perspective by which we should interpret stimuli, this is achieved through the explicit composition of elements. The plates share in a common theme of fragility, by postulating man’s insignificance on every scale. Additionally the pieces comment on the nature of time by ‘freezing it’, an idea that is foundational to photography. In contrast to the emotional fragility of ‘Bram Stoker’s Chair’, ‘Leap into the Void’ display a bold confidence. The plates make use of cynicism to contrast the significance of the subject’s actions to their environment. Thus, the works make a grand commentary on our world, coming to represent prolific ideas.

The fragile state of the individual portrayed in both plates comments on man’s relative insignificance on a universal scale, despite our technological advances. ‘Bram Stoker’s Chair’ elicits a nurturing feeling; similar to what a mother must feel, making the audience fear for the subject’s fragility as she is quite literally at the mercy of physics. While plate two ‘Leap into the Void’ shares in this fragility, the protagonist greets it head on with a confidence not present in plate one; taking a different stance on how we should think about the ‘scary unknown’. The use of gesture is significant in both images, in plate one the woman is tense and secluded whereas in plate two then man’s posture is open and stretched out in an embrace of what’s to come. Through the use of gesture and subject matter the works are presenting ideas on how one should confront and view man’s weakness on a universal scale.

An important aspect of the world explored in both the plates is: time; and how at any instant there is an exciting and interesting uncertainty as to what will happen next. The idea of ‘freezing time’, and the repercussions that come with it, is essential to photography and both these works further our understanding of it. Technically both works achieve the frozen time effect by employing high shutter speeds, removing any motion from the frame. In both works the inevitable consequences of the protagonist’s actions is captured, the repercussions of which are never to be observed by the audience; rather we are left to marvel. Through photographic techniques the pieces freeze time which leaves the subject’s in a permanently repercussion-free state.

The pieces present a new interesting perspective on life, moving away from nihilistic reflection towards a brave ‘leap’ into the unknown. During the post WWII context in which ‘Lead into the Void’ was created, the predominant artistic viewpoint was one of skepticism and nihilism. The work is rebelling against that, showing that mundanity can become remarkable with faith and confidence. Additionally the works satire the idea of solemnity, particularly man’s place in an adult world; In the piece ‘Leap into the Void’, despite the protagonist’s adventurous ‘leap’ he displays unwavering apathy – in essence this creates intention comic contrast.

The works postulate the importance of man, by showing our fragility when viewed from other points of reference, bringing into play the importance of time in life. Additionally, the works employ a subdued use of cynicism by contrasting the grandiosity of the character’s gestures with their exceptionally unexceptional environment. Thusly, through the culmination of subject matter, technical processes and cultural context the work’s provide the audience with an alternative viewpoint by which they should see the world.

How Artworks Represent and Comment on the World

Art History and Criticism

orse in Motion
Steven Pippin: creating the work ‘Horse in Motion’

Each of the works in question present technically interesting composition especially relevant to the techniques involved in producing such photographs. Each invokes a different set of emotional responses including: surprise, mundanity and awe but still sharing an underlying theme of technical complexity.  The art making process involved in created these images is a complex one that had never been done before at the time, thus resulting an image with a story attached. These pieces push the boundaries of what photography is possible and in doing so have redefined the medium photography forever.

Since each of the artworks by Steven Pippin and Eadweard Muybridge are highly technical thus there is an underlying feeling of amazement intrinsically linked with the works, though each invokes a slightly different emotion reaction. For the work ‘Walking Backwards’ an initial reaction is that of mundanity, as a result of the laundromat setting, though on closer inspection there is clearly something technically interesting about the production of this piece. This is in subtle contrast to Pippin’s other work ‘horse and rider’ where despite there being similarity in reaction to the technical elements of the work, the initial reaction to ‘Horse and Rider’ is of surprise at how such an uncontrollable animal such as a horse has been photographed in such a way. Eadweard Muybridge’s work ‘The horse in motion’ elicits a completely different reaction, it is one of awe at the beauty and brilliance of the horse’s motion. This effect of awe on the audience would only be amplified to those viewers of the time, as motion sequences were a new concept. Thus each work creates a unique personal psychological experience, but each shares an underlying theme of technical complexity.

Though each of these works contains unique structural features, particularly in the way the photographs are produced, they shares a commonality in being structurally different for the time of production. Steven Pippin’s works ‘Walking Backwards’ and ‘Horse and Rider’ share a similar photographic composition. The subject, a horse/man, is in the center of a fish eye style frame which in turn leads the viewer’s eye around the piece. As a result the composition of the works are heavily focused on the center of frame, this is in contrast to Eadweard Muybridge’s ‘horse in motion’ composition, where the extend of the horse’s body leads the viewer’s attention across the silhouette like form. Despite a significant difference in the time of production, all the works are created using a chemical process, it is possible that Steven Pippin’s photo processing method is a homage to Edward Muybridge’s art. Adding to this, all of the works share a subversion for what photography is possible: Eadweard pushed the limits of the time by introducing motion while Steven Pippin has redefined what a camera can be. Thus these works have interesting structural qualities both in the process of creating the photographs, as well as how the photographs are composed.

Though these works lack some kind of political message of cultural representation, there is an element of rebellion for the time. Steven Pippin’s work ‘Walking Backwards’ has an early 1970s feeling to it despite being captured in the late 1990s, the same applies to the work ‘Horse and Rider’. The choice to take the photograph in a laundromat setting was an intentional one, though it is obviously in reference to how the photograph was captured, it also gives a peek into the mundanity of life. For Eadweard Muybridge’s work ‘The Horse in Motion’ the need for the work was presented in order to resolves a common debate at the time ‘how many legs of the horse leave the ground in an instant’. So, each of these work: ‘Walking Backwards’, ‘Horse and Rider’ and ‘Horse in Motion’ has cultural reason for it’s existence, weather that be to convey a message or to solve a common question.

Through complex technological techniques the artists Steven Pippin and Eadweard Muybridge have pushed the limits of photography with their works ‘Horse in Motion’, ‘Horse and rider’ and ‘Walking Backwards’. The horse in motion introduced something never before done in photography, motion. In doing so Eadweard Muybridge added a new dimension to the photographic process, time. Steven Pippin has also questioned the artistic photographic process by turning everyday objects into cameras, changing what the medium of capture is. Much like Eadweard Muybridge, Steven Pippin chooses to use a wet process where images are developed using a series of chemical baths. Though unlike Muybridge, in doing so Pippin is rejecting the perfection present in modern digital images, instead opting for a less perfect but more hands on photographic experience. Thus the works by Steven Pippin and Eadweard Muybridge have pushed the limits of photography can be, Steven has redefined what can be considered a camera and Eadweard has added a new dimension to photography, each through complex photographic processes.

Subjectively each image elicits a unique set of emotions, as well as sharing an underlying theme of technical innovation. The works are structurally complex in their own right, and while pippin’s works are challenging modern photography by redefining what a camera is, as well a reverting to old photographic techniques. Eadweard introduced a whole new dimension to the art of photography, time. Thus each of these works present an interesting technical artmaking process in order to achieve an emotionally and subversive piece.

Art History and Criticism

Art Gallery of NSW

Consider the way art is installed at the Art Gallery of NSW. Document 3 artworks from the Art Gallery of NSW. Artworks at the Art Gallery of NSW are categorized into exhibitions, showing many works created by one artist or movement.

  • Rose (2004) – Suda Yoshihiro – Time, light, Japan
  • Flowers and people – gold (2015) – teamLab – Time, light, Japan
  • Meeting you halfway II (2009) – Anthony McCall – Primary structures and speculative forms

Details of the Artists. 

Yoshihiro Suda is a Japanese artist known for detailed wooden sculpture works of flowers and plants. His works incorporate the notion of “ma”, meaning ‘in between’. Yoshihiro is very particular about the placement of his sculptures, making them unobvious which becomes part of the artistic concept. This aims to direct the audience’s attention towards something that might be otherwise overlooked. Yoshihiro uses ancient techniques and crafts based on the works of old master and like many Japanese artists, Yoshihiro tries to find the beauty in ordinary things.

Anthony McCall, responsible for the Primary structures and speculative forms work ‘Meeting you halfway II’ is a New York-based artist known for his ‘solid-light’ installations. Anthony is able to make light into a three-dimensional volumetric form through a clever use of light projection. His works occupy an interesting space between cinema, sculpture, and drawing, and have thus had a major historical significance in the art world.

The group, teamLab, responsible for the digital work ‘Flowers and people – gold’ is interested in practices relevant to the information age. The group comprises of artists, editors, programmers, engineers, mathematicians, architects, web and print graphic designers, and CG animators. In their art, they try to create a harmonious balance between technology and art. Their works use a variety of artistic forms including animation, sound, performance, internet, fashion, design, and medical science

Information on the artworks.

Rose by Yoshihiro Suda uses the medium of delicately carved wood to create ultra-realistic sculptures of flora, usually flowers or weeds. The scale of the work is emphasized by being placed in a large empty space, giving it a powerful presence. The lack of anything surrounding the object is an important element of the work. The works are also placed in a location that may be easily overlooked, encouraging viewers to notice things they may otherwise overlook. The work was created as a 30.0 x 30.0 x 20.0 cm wooden sculpture painted with mineral pigments in 2004. This artwork is heavily influenced by japan and the Japanese ideas of ‘ma’, the space between things.

Meeting you halfway II by Anthony McCall is a light-based installation that uses the ideas of 1960s minimalism to create make light into a volumetric form. The work gives the audience a sense of wonder, entering a room with nothing but a three-dimensional smooth form, that you can walk inside of is an other-worldly experience. The work is a time-based installation that uses single channel digital video projection, black and white, silent, haze and runs for a duration of 15:00 minutes. The work is heavily influenced by artists associated with 1960s minimalist art movement and contemporary artists whose works question or expand upon traditional minimalism. The work incorporates a variety of artistic techniques to produce a visually hypnotizing experience.

Flowers and people – gold by teamLab is a reactive technology video piece. Through the use of three – eight channel computer generated interactive program, colour, sound, motion sensors the work reacts to the audience. Flowers moving about the screen flow in a looping animation, until a viewer steps close, which cause the flowers to wither and die. This creates an endless cycle of life and death that at no instant will be the same for any observer. The work draws on influence from traditional Japanese art such as the 17th-century Rinpa school work ‘Flowers of the four seasons’. Thus the work is exploring ideas of traditional Japanese art while using the advent of digital technology to create an interactive experience.

Reason for documentation of the artworks.

Flowers and people – gold is a large video piece that immediately draws the attention of the audience. To make the work more engaging, upon stepping closer, the hypnotic looping animations change and evolve making it unforgettable.

Rose by Yoshihiro Suda was initially unnoticeable, as it was hidden in a corner of the room, but once noticed, the beauty and intricacy of the work, as well as the artistic message, result in a thought provoking piece.

Meeting you halfway II, the volumetric light-based work, would easily be missed as it is hidden behind a black wall. Once entering the room, the work is encapsulating and incredible.


Flowers and people – gold
Meeting you halfway II
Art Gallery of NSW

Museum of Contemporary Art – Sydney

Consider the way art is installed at the Museum of Contemporary Art Sydney. Document 3 artworks from the Museum of Contemporary Art Sydney.

The Museum of Contemporary Art or MCA is a gallery space where groupings of artworks by specific artists are organised into galleries. Each exhibition may contain artworks grouped by similar theme, cultural influence, time period etc..

The three artworks are:

  • tall man (2010) by Vernon Ah Kee – multi-channel digital video, colour, sound
  • Soft Kiss (2011) by Sanné Mestrom – urethane rubber, plastic, timber, metal
  • Monument #28: Vortex (2011) by Callum Morton – polystyrene, epoxy resin, sand, wood, synthetic polymer paint, enamel paint, glass, steel, vinyl

Details of the Artists.

Vernon Ah Kee is an Australian Aboriginal male, who is a proud member of the Kuku Yalandji, Waanji, Yidinji and Gugu Yimithirr tribes. In his works, he wishes to highlight the history and languages of colonisation as well as black and white political issues with relevance to race. Structurally his works vary, from drawings of his Aboriginal ancestors on a large scale to text-based works that use clever irony, puns and comedy to convey a core message. Through all of this Vernon Ah Kee aims to expose a degree of underlying racism in Australian society.

Sanné Mestrom often reworks other artworks of unknown origin that she finds at garage sales. When reworking these originals she is interested in their psychological, emotional and cultural significance. While recreating she creates purposefully imperfect casts and moulds in contrasting materials to show the imperfect nature of a copy.

Callum Morton experiments with humans interaction with architecture as well as the artificial environment created by humans. He achieves this through a use of scale models and fake clones of famous buildings.

Information on the artworks.

Soft Kiss by Sanné Mestrom showcases simplistic, elegant forms reminiscent of the works of Modigliani and Brancusi from the beginning of the twentieth century. The work is a presentation of both a found item and a purposefully imperfect cast of the original in a different material. The sculpture aims to reduce every feature of the face down to its essential lines and curves. The work is heavily influenced by the iconic modernist pieces by Modigliani and Picasso.

Monument #28: Vortex by Callum Morton is a life-size sculpture of a vortex twisting into a window surrounded by a glass housing, that aims to replicate a 1960s shopfront with plate-glass, white timber and blond brick. The shop may house a small family run business on a suburban street. Though this flow is disrupted by brightly colour rock, with a twisted tunnel carved out. This is showing a struggle between the man-made and natural world. The work is created with: polystyrene, epoxy resin, sand, wood, synthetic polymer paint, enamel paint, glass, steel, vinyl, taking up 330 × 380 × 132cm. The work replaces the expected human element with a natural one, potentially referencing Australia’s mining boom.

tall man by Vernon Ah Kee is an 11-minute looping digital video played on 4 screens, documenting a crisis of race relations on palm island. The documentary uses footage from mobile phones, hand-held cameras and local news reports. During 2004 residents of Palm Island rioted and burnt down the local police station after the publication of the autopsy of Cameron Doomadgee who died in police custody. Doomadgee had been arrested for swearing at a senior police officer, less than two hours later he was found dead in his jail cell from internal bleeding. This resulted in tensions between the community and police of Palm Island, eventually, the police station, courthouse, barracks and home of the Senior Sergent were burned down. After the riots, the Senior Sergent was found not guilty of manslaughter, and weeks later the police were awarded bravery awards. The work tall man is their to inform of the ongoing racism in Australia through the telling of the Palm Island riots.

Reason for documentation of the artworks.

tall man initially attracted me with an interesting display of a traditional documentary style video, where four screens were used, which often cut out to bring focus to a single element. But the story that the film told, of the Palm Island riots was entrancing.

Monument #28: Vortex is a visually engaging artwork, with bright, solid colours contrasted against 1960’s shopfront architecture, it is unmistakable.

Soft Kiss was a particularly noteworthy artwork because it used simple edges, lines and volumes to communicate such a complex message about copying and reproduction of art. The purposeful lack of symmetry between the two identical forms in their material, construction and composition visually conveyed this message very effectively.


Soft Kiss
tall man
Monument #28: Vortex
Museum of Contemporary Art – Sydney

Art Express 2017

Compare two artworks from the Art Gallery of NSW.
The two chosen works are:
– ‘Suburban Dreaming’ by Jasmin Loke-Jeffery
– ‘Illusione verniciato’ by Peggie Pantsos

Illusione Verniciato
Suburban Dreaming

The two works: ‘Suburban Dreaming’ and ‘Illusione verniciato’ were selectively presented as part of the ArtExpress exhibit in the NSW Art Gallery. The exhibit shows the works created for the 2017 HSC final project, thus displaying a wide range of artistic ideas.

‘Illusione verniciato’ or ‘Painted Illusion’ by Peggie Pantsos has an otherworldly feeling as a result of the use of highly contrasting colours. The work combines two traditional artistic mediums: photography and painting, where the canvas on which paint is applied is the human form. This collapses living, breathing three-dimensional objects into two-dimensional painted portraits. The major cultural influences for this work come from the artistic explorations by Alexa Meade and Emma Hack who photograph the human form painted with traditional paint. This work also seeks to challenge art by combining two otherwise unrelated mediums.

‘Suburban Dreaming’ by Jasmin Loke-Jeffery explores the architectural value of buildings created as a result of mass suburbanization in Sydney. Australia’s suburbia is home to a multitude of otherwise uninspired architecture, but after exploring further Jasmin found a hidden beauty inherent in each. The work is made of a series of 16 different square oil paintings placed in an ordered 4 by 4 grid, each individual pane presents a section of a building painted in a clean flat colour style – representative of the buildings themselves. The artistic influences of this work are a combination of the: The flat colour album covers of Peter O’Doherty, the wide color exploration made by Howard Arkley, the clean and precise representations of suburban landscapes by Jeffrey Smart and Todd Hido architectural photography. This work seeks to discover a dormant beauty laying present in the architecture that surrounds us.

Differences in the artworks.

The two works, ‘Suburban Dreaming’ and ‘Illusione verniciato’, though vastly different in their structural medium and emotional meaning, both attempt to bring new interesting ideas to the art world. Jasmin’s work aims to explore suburban architecture, whereas Peggy’s is contrasting the painted and real world. There is a structural difference between the two works; ‘Suburban Dreaming’ is constructed as a hybrid of paint and photography whereas Peggie’s work is a grid of individually painted squares. Though both of these works were created during the same time period, by artists under similar circumstances, the artistic influences that inspired the works vary greatly. Thus these works are greatly different in structure, influence, and meaning.

Art Express 2017

Cindy Sherman

Cynthia Sherman, or Cindy was born on January 19, 1954. Her occpation is as an American photographer and film director, best known for her conceptual portraits. Her quality of work has been noted, as in 1995, she was the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship.

Untitled Film Still #58 – 1980
Untitled (2010, 2012)
Cindy Sherman Self Portrait
Untitled Film Still #21 – 1977
Cindy Sherman