pixels and places - video art in public space Pixels and Places - Video Art in Public Space

Catrien Schreuder, Jorinde Seijdel, Noud Heerkens, NAi Publishers, Rotterdam, 2010
English edition: ISBN 978-90-5662-738-6   Dutch edition: ISBN 978-90-5662-737-9

Video art is to be seen ever more frequently outside the walls of art institutions in public space. Artists infi ltrate advertising screens on the street, project moving images onto edifices or enter into far-reaching collaborations with architects. At unexpected spots this video art shakes chance passers-by out of their reverie or merges effortlessly into the streetscape The images provide a critique of the advertising messages in the city, underscore the aesthetic of the built environment or make visible the skewed power relations on the street. Without exception, such video works establish a relationship with the architecture and the immediate surroundings.More than 80 video works, initiatives, organizations and artists from the Netherlands and abroad are described in this book. The moving images enrich, transform or mask the public space and inject the city with a healthy dose of imagination. In Pixels and Places, art historian Catrien Schreuder situates video art in public space within an art-historical and theoretical framework for the first time.

Featuring among others:  A Little Meditation Strictly Public, Flag Metamorphoses


For Ann Bray, artistic director of the new media festival 'LA Freewaves' in Los Angeles, this possibility of using the media for one's own purposes has been the motive for 20 years now. In the heart of the Western film industry, Hollywood, she offers resistance to the dominance of commerce and the mass media. The festival takes place in museums and art institutes, but also on less traditional platforms. From 1991 onward, she has been showing art videos on billboards and squares in all quarters of the city, including in karaoke bars and in city busses. In 2004, video art could be seen on monitors in stores and on billboards on Sunset Boulevard. One of the works was the animation video 'A Little Meditation' (2002) by Myriam Thyes. Here we see a yin yang symbol continually moving back and forth, seeking the proper balance. Against the background of the commercial logos in the streetscape of Sunset Boulevard, this search for the proper balance is extra significant. 'By now, the media could have ended racism, sexism, classism, even capitalism,' says Anne Bray. The media are capable ot appealing to our dreams, 'but our public dialogues are framed by six corporations worldwide, earning over one trillion dollars a year, decided by individuals making million dollar salaries, afraid of losing their jobs and concerned more about profits than our culture.'[651 With her festival, Bray wants to otter a platform for the personal, countervailing voices of artists and non-dominant standpoints ot groups such as the civil rights movement, feminists or ethnic minorities. In using public space as a platform, Anne Bray criticizes the homogeneity of the streetscape, in which commerce calls the shots visually. Artists in particular are capable, if only because their actions are personally motivated, of offering stimulating and authentic points of view as an alternative for the media's monotonous and one-sided representation. Some works can be effective in that regard, as 'Flag Metamorphosis' by the above-mentioned Myriam Thyes indeed proves. In collaboration with artists from all over the world, she made a series of short animations in which the history of a country is portrayed through the universal idiom of the flag. With this, Thyes gives a clear commentary on the changing relations in the world under the influence of globalization and colonization. The fact that the work is a good supplement to the streetscape is demonstrated by the great number of public screens on which it has been shown, including the screens in the train stations of Dusseldort, the Victory Park Screens in Dallas and various screens in Bern, Bosnia, Melbourne, Manchester and Dublin.


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