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Michael Rush
Balance and Power: Performance and Surveillance in Video Art
Exhibition curated by Michael Rush
Organized by Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
October 22, 2005 through January 1, 2006

Artists include Jordan Crandall; Sophie Calle; Jenny Marketou; Antenna; Julia Scher; Vito Acconci; Jim Campbell; Peter Campus; Bruce Nauman; Paul Kaiser and Shelley Eshkar; Subodh Gupta; Harun Farocki; Kristin Lucas; Tiffany Holmes; Kiki Seror; Steve Mann; Martha Rosler; Jill Magid; Rafael Lozano-Hemmer; Kevin Hamilton; Tim Hyde; Andy Warhol; Jonas Mekas; Muntadas.

1. In his great, cautionary tract, Crowds and Power, Elias Canetti wrote “Only together can men (sic) free themselves from their burdens of distance; and this, precisely, is what happens in a crowd. During the discharge distinctions are thrown off and all feel equal. In that density, where there is scarcely any space between, and body presses against body, each man is as near the other as he is to himself, and an immense feeling of relief ensues. It is for the sake of this blessed moment, when no one is greater or better than another, that people become a crowd.”

2. “There is no statute which authorizes military intelligence to collect information on the political activities of private citizens and private organizations, but the Army claimed in 1971 that it needed such information in the late 1960s to enable it to prepare for situations in which it was called upon to put down civil disturbances.”

3. “Army intelligence began collecting information on private citizens and organizations in the early 1960s as part of furnishing information to military commanders whose units were dispatched to control racial situations in the South. In the late 1960s…Army intelligence began collecting information on individuals and organizations, without any express authorization, as part of its overall mission to support military commanders with information regarding possible deployments in civil disturbances.”

4. “In the following three years, the number of riots and disorders within the United States increased dramatically. In 1965, there were four major riots, including Watts, California; in 1966, there were 21 major riots and disorders; and in 1967, there were 83. These had necessitated the deployment of National Guard forces 36 times during this period.”

5. In 1965, video art, as we now know it, was first presented by two artists within days of each other. On September 29, at a party in an underground space below the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, New York, Andy Warhol showed raw footage of conversations with his collaborator Edie Sedgwick, taped using a Norelco slant-track video recorder. On October 4, at the Café Au Go-Go, New York, Nam June Paik played a tape he had made that day, using the Sony Portapak, of the Pope and his entourage parading down Fifth Avenue.

6. “The Army began using photographers to take still and motion pictures of the participants in political demonstrations in 1967 during the March on the Pentagon. This rapidly became an accepted collection technique for Army agents across the country.”


Balance and Power: Performance and Surveillance in Video Art is organized at a time when, to say the least, our world is obsessed with security prodded by international terrorism. The benign effects of crowds, as Canetti well knew, can easily yield to riots and challenge, even overthrow, the dominant authority. Crowds can tip the balance of power; surveillance is an instrument of the maintenance of power. In our time, surveillance is also entertainment.

This exhibition explores the complex relationship between voluntary acting for the camera and involuntary taping by a camera on the part of power systems that have an interest in the movements of citizens. Balance (an essential talent for the performer) and Power (the essential currency of surveillance) has particular relevance at this historical moment to an array of factors which may, at first, seem dizzying in their opposition as well as their interconnectedness: “star” culture and people’s delusional identification with celebrities; stalking; identity theft; cultural paranoia; lust for privacy; fears of intimacy; longing for community; decency taboos; cultural narcissism. Many of these psycho-social phenomena are reflected in the current mega-success of Reality TV in which people voluntarily allow themselves to be taped both openly and surreptitiously. Surveillance becomes performance and vice versa. The equation is dramatically altered, however, when we realize that millions of tracking devices are observing us around the globe and close to home. Five hundred thousand cameras alone surveil the streets of London; city-wide, multi-directional, high definition cameras and acoustic detectors (virtual ears) dot the streets of the small city of East Orange, New Jersey; and “thought scans” of people’s brains are available at University College, London and UCLA. It is not news that Big Brother is watching. He’s been polishing his binoculars for a long time and now he’s taking up residence inside our heads. While some of these trends can be catnip for anti-government isolationists, they can also be material for the tireless probings of artists whose interests in the full extent of the human condition can lead, at times, down dark paths.
The complexities of these issues are impossible to address all at once, particularly in an art exhibition. Balance and Power possesses more modest claims, but it does share the same sense of inquiry expressed by media theorist Tim Murray in his 2004 essay, Digital Terror, when he asked “What is the relationship between the production of art by means of digital technologies and the production of terror by the same means?” Murray’s question was relevant even before “the digital” became inextricably linked to “the technological.”
It is hoped that the cumulative effect of Balance and Power will be to spotlight the uneasy alliance between posing and surveillance, performing and being spied upon. The fact that surveillance has been “aestheticized” by many artists suggests a deep tension between desire for the camera’s embrace and repulsion of its intrusions. Cameras, after all, in television and film, are mediums of desire: they capture and deliver dreams. As a few of the artists here demonstrate, we have developed an erotic relationship with the camera and its images. Susan Sontag minced no words when she wrote: “Industrial societies turn their citizens into image-junkies; it is the most irresistible form of mental pollution.”

Much of the first decade of video art was preoccupied with critiques: of television, movies, and political systems. By 1968, in the West, the political and social landscape was in upheaval with student protests as well as gender and sexually based reform movements. As artists were experimenting with a medium that was suddenly available to them via relatively affordable equipment like the Portapak, many reacted to the excessively materialistic value systems promulgated by television and advertising. Nam June Paik’s Global Groove, 1973, a hallucinatory barrage of images appropriated from television and magazines, is a classic example of this. Simultaneously, artists were turning the camera on themselves, documenting studio performances (Bruce Nauman), or creating original scenarios with their own bodies center stage (Vito Acconci). It was only natural that artists would also want to experiment with the conceptual as well as political opportunities of surveillance techniques.

Since the mid-1960s, surveillance and performance have been “materials” for media artists, with performance continuing to dominate the practice of video art to this day. Acconci’s humorous performative videos (Theme Song and Command Performance in the 1970s) were actually preceded by a somewhat eerie surveillance work, Following Piece, from 1969. In this photographic exercise, Acconci followed nameless people as they went about their daily lives.

Nauman performed for the camera in many tapes, including Slow Angle Walk and Bouncing in the Corner No. 1, both from 1968, in addition to his iconic Performance Corridor, also 1968, in which he filmed unsuspecting visitors in a claustrophobic installation consisting of two floor-to-ceiling parallel walls that formed a tunnel. At one end, two monitors were stacked on top of one another beckoning viewers to see what was on them. After the wary participants inched their way down the opening they were confronted with their own image taped by a surveillance camera. Critic Margaret Morse wrote at the time, “To me it was as if my body had come unglued from my own image, as if the ground of my orientation in space were pulled out from under me.” Among the numerous other early uses of surveillance in video art are Les Levine’s first installation, Slipcover, 1966, which showed visitors recorded images of themselves on monitors at the Art Gallery of Ontario and Frank Gillette’s and Ira Schneider’s seminal installation, Wipe Cycle, 1969, a grid of nine monitors, some of which contained live recordings of viewers watching the installation.

During this same time, avant-garde filmmakers such as Jean-Luc Godard and Michelangelo Antonioni created the magnificently paranoid fantasies of Alphaville (Godard, 1965) and Blow-Up (Antonioni, 1966). In Alphaville, Godard’s camera, which functions like an instrument of surveillance in many of his films, monitored the subversive activities of the computer Alpha 60. In Blow-Up, the photographer/protagonist played by David Hemmings prefigured the paparazzi phenomenon so beloved by today’s tabloid press and television. Popular culture now delights in the physical and emotional brawls between the narcissist/subject, victim/subject; photographer/voyeur, photographer/abuser; and viewer/voyeur, viewer/collaborator.

Balance and Power offers representative works of these trends of performance and surveillance in historical and current practices. Keep in mind that this playing field is quite large, though rarely given its due in the history of art, much less in popular awareness. Needless to say, the millions of Reality television fans and even, lamentably, the critics who are building an industry around it, possess little, if any, knowledge of the fact that thirty years ago artists like Dieter Froese, Frank Gillette, Dan Graham, Peter Weibel and a host of others were laying the foundations for the current craze, and doing it, I might add, with a lot more humor and low-tech panache.

The more than two dozen artists in Balance and Power participate here in this heady mix of seemingly conflicting forces of spectacle, voyeurism, privacy, narcissism, seduction, humorous critique, and exhibitionism. Some use surveillance as an aesthetic device, others explore it as a factor in shifting identities in contemporary culture, others appropriate it in real time exercising their own control over a system that seeks to control them. For other artists, performance is central: they focus the camera on themselves in voluntary, sometimes theatrical, scenarios.

There can be no discussion of the complex relationships between subjects and cameras without Andy Warhol. Though most often identified with what others have called his obsession with fame, Warhol was first an artistic innovator. His Factory was a laboratory. The “superstars,” artist assistants, and legions of friends who populated the Factory on any given day were all co-conspirators in the voluntary surveillance that surrounded the Factory’s activities. Interviews, simulated “screen tests,” and just “being” were all enacted for the ever-present camera. In Balance and Power, a short work by experimental filmmaker Jonas Mekas synthesizes multiple aspects of Warhol’s passion for the camera. In Award Presentation to Andy Warhol, Mekas films Warhol receiving an “award” (a basket of fruit) in the company of several Factory regulars: Baby Jane Holzer, Gerard Malanga, Ivy Nicholson, Naomi Levine, Gregory Battcock, Kenneth King. The absurdity of the situation is exaggerated by Warhol’s fondling of the “award” and the superstars’ primping for the camera as if they were receiving their own Academy Award. Warhol, while participating in the seduction of celebrity, knew well that there was an element of folly in it all. Warhol’s presence in the Mekas film situates him as a kind of ghostly overlord in the midst of the other works in the exhibition. His playfulness, his seeming naiveté, cleverly masking the genius within, oversees the proceedings.

For Warhol and other early video artists the real time immediacy of videotape had tremendous appeal. Unlike film which had to be processed, video was available immediately for viewing: you saw what you got, either right away on the monitor or later when you slipped the tape into a three-quarter inch playback machine. Following Warhol, no one captured the absurdity of television-life more bitingly than Vito Acconci. If critics of today’s Reality TV shows lament the collapse of distinctions between public and private in these programs, artists like Acconci blasted private domains thirty years ago. The difference is when he did it he was pointing to the futility of suggesting that TV or even art could offer real intimacy or real personal revelation. In Centers, 1971, presented here, he literally points his finger to the absolute center of the TV screen as if turning the camera outwards toward the viewer. He disrupts the customary passive viewing experience by challenging the viewer psychologically and verbally. In another work, Theme Song, 1973, we see Acconci lying on the floor in front of a striped couch, cigarette in hand, his face only inches away from the camera. Chain smoking and listening to songs by The Doors, Van Morrison, Bob Dylan and others, he implores the viewer to ‘Come in close to me....come on...I'm all alone...wrap your legs around me....I'll be honest with you....really.....come on...’ His blatant manipulations exposed the covert come-ons of advertisement-funded television.

Among other artists who used viewers as collaborators, willingly or not, in their installations was Peter Campus whose video installations from the early 1970s, including Interface and mem, made viewers the artwork. In both cases, visitors to an exhibition found their own images projected onto large screens as they were being taped by a camera. Placement of the projectors or discreetly planted sheets of glass resulted in the image appearing enlarged or skewed. In his recent video, el viejo, 2004, Campus films an old man walking along a dirt road in Mexico. Part surveillance video (it’s filmed from a window), part tone-poem, it stands as a meditation on solitude and aging. The man moves effortfully, a white cloth strung over his shoulder, and carrying a bright blue bag that might be filled with laundry. The slightly grainy image splits into two frames as Campus reveals a farmhouse tilted to the right of the man. A mustard green background surrounds the two images that seem to float in a timeless space. He calls this technique “time remapping,” a manipulation of the image in post-production (he uses Final Cut Pro). The image looks simple and straightforward enough, but, at the same time, there’s something other-worldly about it.

Like Campus, several artists here practice what we might call “aesthetic surveillance,” filming ordinary people not for the sake of exercising power over them, though that is an unavoidable outcome, but in the service of an idea or as an extension of their larger artistic practice. Tim Hyde, relatively new to the art world, has already developed a sophisticated sense of otherness and isolation in his work. In Untitled, Bus, 2005, he tapes nameless, unsuspecting passengers from a street corner as they sit on a bus at night. As with all surveillance shots, these people are utterly vulnerable to the camera’s inspection. To the extent possible, the camera shatters the privacy they believe they have, revealing emotions and inflections the passengers feel, unreflectively, to be private. Hyde turns off his camera when one young man notices him. Once uncovered, Hyde is no longer interested. The thrill of voyeurism has been deflated; tonight’s work is over. Kiki Seror, best known for her sexually charged videos that combine detailed digital effects and appropriation, here turns her camera on a real woman applying make-up. In ModusOperandi, 2005, the woman filmed provides a performance that is at once embarrassingly (to us) personal and garish.

In Jim Campbell’s Library, 2004, all but the faintest evidence of surveillance is erased. People entering and exiting the New York Public Library (a symbol of intellectual freedom) are filmed by the artist and then rendered indistinct by Campbell’s technological manipulations. The work is composed of a high-resolution photogravure of the library printed on rice paper, juxtaposed in an L.E.D with low resolution video images. The result is a haunting testimony to the fleeting nature of life itself and, in this exhibition context, becomes a memorial to all those anonymous people who have been photographed, passed through information systems and then abandoned as useless data. The choice of a library as a setting adds a layer of pathos, suggesting even houses of study are not safe from the camera’s eye.

For Kristin Lucas, the digital age forces identity crises as advanced technologies and communication devices interfere with each person’s quest for a self. With biting humor, in videos, installations, and performances she creates characters adrift in gadgets, radio waves and overstimulation. The young woman (played by Lucas) in Involuntary Reception, 2000, is possessed of “extraordinary electrical forces - a surging EPF (electro-magnetic pulse field)” which renders her a sponge for receiving and being traced by any and every surveillance device in the known world and beyond. She is also capable of broadcasting her unusual experiences to anyone able to pick up her signals.
Lucas was an artist in residence on the 92nd floor of the World Trade Center in 2000. Her Encounters of the WTC-Kind is an ongoing intervention into the “ghosts and waveforms” lurking in the former WTC site. This benign form of surveillance began in 2000, one year before the events of 9/11.
The same aesthetic playfulness that can be seen in Lucas is also found in the work of Jenny Marketou and Julia Scher. In both cases, apparent lightness shields a deep darkness. Marketou’s red balloons installation, 2005, is inspired by the song “99 luftballoons” by German pop singer NENA from the early 1980s. In it a catastrophic war erupts when army generals send planes to intercept a mass of unidentified objects (balloons). For Marketou the installation also refers to pre-aviation “reconnaissance balloons” such as those used in the American Civil War. Marketou places small, wireless video cameras in the balloons which surveil the gallery space. Inviting and sinister, the installation lures visitors into its surveillance web. Marketou was arrested by undercover police when she made this performative installation in New York’s Grand Central Station.
Julia Scher has been unmasking the power games inherent in surveillance video for several years. Her more than fifty projects (often under the title of Security by Julia) have consistently explored issues of control, seduction and containment. “I grew up in LA in the fifties,” she says. “Hollywood is a cult of surveillance and I was happily a part of it. If you were surveyed it was a compliment. Reality was always mixed with TV and surveillance. Of course it only worked for people with nice bodies.”

Guard Ball, 2005, shown for the first time in this exhibition, suggests the form of a 1970s disco ball. In Scher’s view, in the 1970s “American culture began to transpose itself from physical reality into information reality. Electronic interfaces reformulated the body’s coordinates according to quantifiable abstractions, and, by introducing the concepts of ‘data,’ ‘memory,’ and ‘artificial intelligence,’ these interfaces established the syntax of today’s information society.” Scher’s work is essentially performative. She understands well the enticements of humor and irony, and her character Julia, like the proverbial “dumb blonde” of the movies, is most often the smartest one in the room.

Martha Rosler, a pioneer feminist multi-media artist, subjects her own body to hands-on surveillance in Vital Statistics of a Citizen, Simply Obtained, 1977. Based in performance and reflecting also Minimalist interests in “measuring,” Rosler’s video is, in her own words, “a work about how to think about yourself.” Rosler subjects every inch of her body to measurement by a male examiner as a “chorus” of women observe. This radical “objectification” of the female body also summons comparisons with prison and border procedures.

Jill Magid uses her own body in a performative scheme (Composite, 2005) that involves having her image (like the millions of anonymous faces on surveillance screens) rendered accurately by forensic artists based on information she anonymously provides to them. She contacted forensic artists by phone and described a woman who had supposedly disappeared. She sent them detailed descriptions (of herself), requesting a composite, or reconstruction, of the woman’s face. Magid describes herself as “seeking intimate connections in impersonal structures.” Here she inverts the normal surveillance relationship: she surveils herself, in a sense, and gives that information away and then presents it to the world as the mystery of the disappeared woman, who is the artist herself. Her image appears on electronic information screens throughout the Siebel Center for Computer Science.
It is worth noting that the “author” or “director” disappears in surveillance technology. These cameras are planned and placed by humans, but not operated by them. The images captured are once removed from reality. In Magid’s forensic series, the image is irretrievably removed from the original. In her video, Lobby 7, she stands discreetly in a very public place with a camera inside her clothes and moves her hand around her body as her actions are projected on a large screen. Viewers are stunned and perplexed wondering where this seemingly autoerotic imagery is coming from.


Bruce Nauman is credited with being among the first to turn the camera on himself both as an extension of his sculpture and as an exercise in the importance of “process” and the body in his work. In Thighing, 1967, he repeatedly and forcefully rubs his thigh and breathes heavily. This gesture, which is suggestive of many things, including the athlete or dancer soothing an injury and the sculptor kneading clay, appears simple to us now, but in the late 1960s it was a forceful statement about the collapsing of boundaries between art, performance, the artist’s body and the object. Walk with Contrapossto, 1968, features the artist, filmed from the back, walking down a narrow space between two wooden walls. This space was the set for his interactive installation, Performance Corridor, referred to above.
Subodh Gupta often uses his own body in photographs and videos, surrounding himself with props of working class Indians or behaving in an aggressively male manner. He embraces the mysterious, erotic potential of self-surveillance in Pure, 1998, becoming complicit with the camera’s gaze. Sophie Calle has made a career of her own detailed accounts of love and loss. In Double Blind, 1985, an early video work with Gregory Shephard, she films herself and her boyfriend on a trip across the United States in a convertible. This excessively close analysis of a relationship is a harbinger of the break-up to follow, something of a theme in Calle’s work that endures to this day. What sets Calle apart from many other diaristic artists is her uncanny ability to make her very personal experience seem universal. In the same year as Double Blind, Calle asked her mother to go to a detective agency and hire them to follow her. In the photographic series, The Shadow (Detective), Calle up-ends the conspiracy implicit in surveillance-for-hire. She not only knows she is being followed and photographed. She arranged it, and the detective didn’t know it.
Kevin Hamilton and Tiffany Holmes involve viewers directly in their interactive installations. Hamilton investigates the potentially communicative powers of surveillance in Mirror Site, 2005, in which participants in different locations willingly submit to being filmed and seeing their images mysteriously engaging with each other in the same space, in this case, the large video wall in the Siebel Center for Computer Science. Visitors to the building are surveilled as are “performers” in an undisclosed space in New York. Their images interact on the video wall, thus suggesting that surveillance material, like the common still photograph, can be manipulated to the point of complete falsity. For several years, Lozano-Hemmer has examined the individual in the public sphere, often attempting to create connections where there were none and performances that enhance interaction or serve as a critique of existing structures. In Surface Tension, 1993, an all-seing eye spies on viewers and follows them around the space. This early example of digital trickery is both fun and terrifying. Tiffany Holmes commandeers the closed circuit television system in the Siebel Center for Computer Science to submit images of visitors to her own digitized fantasies in Your Face is Safe with Me, 2005. She processes live taped footage into re-designed video games (e.g. Pacman, Space Invaders) and projects the spliced images of visitors onto a plasma screen. Holmes’ performative interventions enable her to control the management of the information she gets from the camera. Though humorous in its execution, this installation also suggests the variety of uses, not always funny, to which our captured images can be subjected.
Interactive media pioneer and longtime agitator (he might be called the Michael Moore of surveillance artists), Steve Mann has been confronting Big Brother since the 1970s when he conceived the “wearable computer.” He has now created an elaborate system of “sousveillance,” or “viewing from below” (as opposed to “surveillance: viewing from above”) that involves camera phones and pocket organizers with sensors, personal imaging systems, electric eyeglasses and other computational seeing and memory aids, all in an attempt to reverse the seemingly irreversible onslaught of organized surveillance. Mann’s “tactics for deconstructing the video surveillance superhighway” are easily accessible at http://wearcam.org/steve.html.
In the haunting animated video, Arrival, 2003-4, by Paul Kaiser and Shelley Eshkar, human forms perform daily routines in an unidentified space (an office or an airport). We see them as on a surveillance screen as they are being monitored by unseen authorities. For the artists, “Arrival mirrors the networked surveillance systems forming at our borders and in our minds.” Though not immediately evident, some of the characters are moving forward while others are moving backwards. Viewers become somewhat disoriented without knowing why. This strategy recalls the manipulations of perception practiced by Nauman, Campus, Michael Snow and others in the 1970s.
Harun Farocki’s more than eighty films, beginning in his student days in Berlin in the 1960s, have challenged prevailing myths about a wide range of societal issues from advertising to architecture to war. For this artist, film is both research and critique. He functions both as a documentarian and a highly subjective commentator via archival and original images. In two works from 2003, War at a Distance and Eye Machine III, Farocki exposes military surveillance techniques (some from the 1991 Gulf War), but in such a way as to demonstrate how instruments of war have become part of our everyday reality. Mapping and listening devices, both obvious (think of Onstar automobile guides and Google aerial maps) and sequestered are infiltrating many aspects of “normal” life.
Since the early 1990s Jordan Crandall has been creating a body of work (films, books, essays, interventions) that is unified by both sympathy and fear for the individual in the contemporary world of dense communication and surveillance systems. In works that can be described as digital documentaries (Heatseeking, 2001) or fictive narratives divided into multiple screens (Trigger, 2002), Crandall employs the discipline and tools of a filmmaker – he sometimes shoots on 16mm, works from story boards, uses moody lighting and widely diverse camera shots – to heighten the viewing experience as well as emphasize the terror we all face in a world where so many unseen eyes are following us. In his most recent work in progress, Homefront, actors are used, in Crandall’s words, to “analyze, deceive, and solicit one another (and themselves).” Normal activities are imbued with a Hitchcockian sense of foreboding as the actors engage in a dance of seduction and combat. In Balance and Power, Crandall provides a two-monitor installation that features auditions for the lead roles in the movie and unedited scenes from the film to be completed later this year. This presentation is particularly cogent in the present context as it exposes the willingness, indeed eagerness, for actors to submit to a scenario that will require them to conjure feelings of utter fear, ambivalence, suspicion, sensuality and whatever else in submission to a director’s vision, a director extremely attuned to the vicissitudes and erotics of surveillance.
On a lighter note (although it may be the most sinister of all), Political Advertisement VI, 1952-2004, by Antonio Muntadas and Marshall Reese, is an anthology of television advertisements from presidential races since the 1950s. It is a fitting companion to Warhol’s and Acconci’s love fest with the camera, but, like all of Muntadas’s work during a long and distinguished career, it reveals the power of the media to market politics and, in some cases, to brainwash viewers into believing blatant lies. In the context of Balance and Power, the performances in Muntadas’s video remind us, powerfully, that we cannot have a passive regard for the televised image. Advertisements are not in themselves suspect, but, when seen in the context of ever-increasing surveillance of our lives and governments’ attempts to control information, which, after all, is the essence of power, advertisements of this kind need be regarded with a critical eye, an eye more powerful than any electronic eye that might be recording our movements in the world. If we regard advertising as a type of surveillance we can begin to develop resistances to its ubiquitous, mesmerizing appeal.
Antenna, the design team of Masamichi Udagawa and Sigi Moeslinger (www.antennadesign.com), is responsible for both the overall design of the exhibition and for their own interactive art installation. Their work is characterized by a sleek beauty that combines new technologies and practicality. As artists, Antenna shares with several others in the exhibition a sense of the potentially positive communicative powers of surveillance technology. In their installation, Nosy Parker, 2005, as unsuspecting visitors sit on benches and experience their own image floating over another visitor, reactions, both positive and negative, are sure to follow.
Performance and surveillance, the two sides of the same mask which is this exhibition, assume a heightened reality on the day this essay is completed, September 11, 2005. In lower Manhattan, on the contested site of the events of 2001, Julian LaVerdiere’s vertical light installation, rising from the silent base of the World Trade Towers, haunts the night sky. Buses still proceed uptown on Madison and Eighth and Tenth Avenues. People still descend to the massive underground subway system. But the world has changed, forever and radically. London, Madrid, and New York have replaced Belfast, Beirut, and Bosnia as markers of the new, terrifying order. New armies, new methods, new forms of patriotism have been deployed to save the old order. If, on reflection, it seems as if several of the artists here have chosen humor and irony as their artistic defenses, surely we can understand, even as we try to conjure our own ways of coping.


Michael Rush. Balance and Power- Krannert Art Museum, Illinois, October-November 2005.

Balance and Power is guest curated for Krannert Art Museum by Michael Rush, a curator, writer, critic, and former director of the Palm Beach Institute of Contemporary Art (2000-2004). Rush is the author of three books from Thames and Hudson, London: Video Art, 2004, the first major survey of the field in more than twenty years; New Media in Art, published in May, 2005, which is a fully revised version of his best-selling New Media in Late 20th -Century Art, 1999. He has been a regular contributor to The New York Times, Art in America, artnet and several other publications. A former award-winning experimental theater and video artist, Rush’s work has been seen throughout the US and Europe and is in the collections of museums and universities, including the Centre Pompidou and the Whitney Museum. He holds a doctorate from Harvard University.

Footnotes
Elias Canetti, Crowds and Power, (New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1984), 18. First published in 1960 by Claassen Verlag, Hamburg.
Testimony of Robert F. Froehlke, Assistant Secretary of Defense (Administration), in “Federal Data Banks, Computers and the Bill of Rights,” Hearings before the Subcommittee on Constitutional Rights, Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, 92nd Congress, First Session (1971), 376.
“Supplementary Detailed Staff Report on Intelligence Activities and the Rights of Americans, Book III: Final Report of the Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities,” United States Senate, April 23 (under authority of the order of April 14, 1976), Section II, Heading B. http://www.icdc.com/~paulwolf/cointelpro/churchfinalreportIIIk.htm Testimony of Robert F. Froehlke, 377.
Michael Rush, Video Art (London: Thames and Hudson, 2003), 52ff. Supplementary Detailed Staff Report on Intelligence, op. cit.
Tim Murray, Digital Terror
Susan Sontag, On Photography (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1973), 24.
See Rush, 63 and ff. For historical reference, see Thomas Levin, Ursula Frohne and Peter Weibel (eds), CTRL SPACE: Rhetorics of Surveillance from Bentham to Big Brother (Karlsruhe: Center for Art and Media, 2001)




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