Thursday, March 20, 2008

1 year performance video

I spent some time thinking about MTAA's '1 year performance video'. I thought about its relation to Tehching Hsieh's original 'one year performance' (also known as 'cage piece') and about what the piece did for me during my minimal viewing of it.

According to the website, '1 year performance video' is supposed to be an update of Hsieh's piece. I'm not sure I get how it's an update, or, if it is one, why an update like this would be necessary. I get the idea of switching the work from the artist to the viewer. The artists don't have a one-year commitment in this, and instead the audience does. This seems like an interesting idea and something MTAA want to play with. But there's not really any work or strain transferred to the viewers. We don't have to view it all at once; we can log back in anytime and have our exact time saved. Even more importantly, we don't have to watch it at all. We can just log on and then minimize the window for however long we leave our computer on. They do point this out, saying "No one needs to suffer on this one," but that seems to clash with the idea of transferring the work to the viewer. When you start the video, it says 'please watch for 1 year' at the top, so they seem to at least want to keep an illusion of wanting people to do that. This confuses the piece for me.

By eliminating the need for anyone to do anything for very long or put in any effort, the piece seems to be pushed pretty far away from the original. Additionally, the illusion of continuity in the videos is broken by the obvious cuts to new pieces of video. I guess these aspects of the piece are part of the concept maybe. Is the idea that there's no necessary effort anymore for artist or viewer? If this is the point, it doesn't do much for me. I found the original 'one year perfomrance' and some of his other variations of it much more interesting.

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