Essay on Interactive Video

I’m going to be writing an essay about interactive video art.  I will focus on the past present and future of the medium.  I hope to enthrall you with my enlightened wisdom and hopefully have a better understanding of how my own work may find its place.


Post-modernism has taken on an unimaginable trajectory in contemporary audio/video installation Art.  Technological progress fuels this pluralstic approach to art making as lines blur between engineering,science and art.  But how do artists support themselves within this new age of experimental art and design?  One simply doesn’t buy an interactive video art projection for their bathroom. Or do they?

I had lunch with my girlfriend’s best friend while I was in the middle of shooting a video art project in Los Angeles, and had just finished my first interactive video piece.  I showed her and she said my work was interesting, but then asked how do I make money doing video installation work.  I didn’t have an answer for her.  She’s trying to be a film producer and it’s crazy the amount of hustling she has to do.  Therefore in this work I aim to explore the means to which a vide installation artist could support themselves.

After leaving LA, I visited New York City to see my family, I had an eye opening experience, where I realized that my pursuit into the world of video art weren’t entirely in vain.  Isaac Julien’s Audio Video installation “is an immersive film installation projected onto nine double-sided screens arranged in a dynamic structure.”   It is overwhelmingly huge.  There was about 50 people just hanging out below it watching the 55 minute look.  It was so cool that the Moma from floor to floor opens up and a different physical view can be had.

Video installation art began in the 60’s and 70’s as the technology became available.

Also exciting at the moma was a presentation on mechanical video loops in the Images of Infinite Film.  In the age of digital video where the act of looping only requires the clicking of a “loop” button on a video clip, it was refreshing to see film being mechanically looped, stretched 15 feet out and somehow maintaining its tenshion.  There is something quite beautiful about mechanical cameras, a beauty lost in the digital age.  I would love to experiment further with creating my own mechanical camera projectors.  I tried a few years ago, but since then I’ve become much more technically dedicated and capable.

I visited the Boom Boom Room lounge at the standard hotel and there was a video installation.  I looked it up recently and its called Civilization by Marco BrambillaI thought to myself, what a novel idea?  Why can’t video art be everywhere.  And why can’t people sell it for every place.  Selling looping video framed as slim as any picture frame seems rare.  Why aren’t .gif animations sold as video pieces, just as sleek as any photograph.  Perhaps one could hack digital photo frames to speed up the kitchy slide shows to 24 frames per second.  The problem it seems with a lot of the big installation, projection and interactive works is the large scale production of most of the work.  I suppose it’s the same idea every painter wanting to paint huge room size masterpieces like Picasso’s Guernica 1935 349 cm × 776 cm (137.4 in × 305.5 in) (  Seems like most artists try to get into graffiti as it is the quickest way to produce largescale art with the widest audience.  It is absolutely insane what Banksy’s done with contemporary art and the integration of social media through Instagram (

I had a thought…why can’t short looping animations be consumed like paintings?  How could one present a looped animation as an art piece?  Perhaps with digital photo albums, hacked to run 20 frames per second, or old LCDs.  What about broken IPods?  There are a multitude of cheap, hackable LCD displays that could solve the purpose of selling single animations as an art object.

To bring it back to video art, I think that Nam June Paik’s work is absolutely wonderful. We learned about him at the beginning of this semester in the Video Art 510 with Paula Levine.  His walls of TVs, TV instruments, the cello, the piano and the TV bra are not only eccentric and timely but intriguing and brilliant.  Nam June Paik did a fair amount of engineering art, inventing objects such as the video sensor.  He is attributed with basically inventing video art.  That’s insane .

I’m also interested in interactive video work.  Scott Snibbe has started a company specializing in interactivity as well as developed his own company behind his work.  “Scott Snibbe is a media artist and entrepreneur. A pioneer in gesture interaction, interactive music and film, Snibbe’s work spurs people to participate socially, emotionally, and physically. His creations are strongly influenced by cinema: particularly animation and surrealist film; and often mix live and filmed performances with real-time interaction (  I love his use of high definition, vectored projections of silhouettes.  (  The ability to engage large groups of people to play and immerse themselves in the medium he uses to create is a skill I would love to pursue and become more comfortable with.  I think that it is amazing that a tech company can base itself on creating art.  There is definitely a fair amount of engineering, design and programming involved with these spectacular works, but if the artist cannot look at a post modern, capitalist, global marketplace, then being successful seems dismal.

Camille Utterbach, currently at Stanford is another amazing tech artist.  “Camille Utterback is an internationally acclaimed artist whose interactive installations and reactive sculptures engage participants in a dynamic process of kinesthetic discovery and play. Utterback’s work explores the aesthetic and experiential possibilities of linking computational systems to human movement and gesture in layered and often humorous ways. Her work focuses attention on the continued relevance and richness of the body in our increasingly mediated world” (  I think her work is fantastic because it is engaging, intelligent, can teach, is collaborative.  It is unbelievable to me that she can produce such large scale, interactive art objects that are shown all over the bay area.

I really enjoy the work that Golan Levin has been doing.  I looked at his TED talk  on his recursive observation system  and I was just blown away.  He is the director of Creative Inquiry at Carnegie Mellon University and now I am extremely interested in the program, although Philadelphia seems like a strange city; but no stranger than San Francisco I’m sure!   Just no surfing….

Jim Campbell has installations in the MOMA Sf and it is incredible with what he’s done in converting video signals into a matrix of light pixels.  I want to do some experiments with that myself!  A huge part of wanting to dive into the Tech expressions is the computer science background and comprehension far enough to be able to implement.  I’m currently adding an engineering minor, but everything is written in codes if I want to truly be a grand director one day.

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