Bruce Nauman Cruising To Drake On Tha Block

by Will Brand on November 30, 2011 · 2 comments Business/Pleasure

I saw an armadillo yesterday, and it was a lot like early video art. I’d seen armadillos before – I spent a lot of time growing up in Florida’s Green Swamp, where they’re the go-to rodent – but it’d been a while, and the newness and weirdness of the thing made me follow it around the block for a few minutes. To the outside observer, it wasn’t the most rewarding use of my time: all the armadillo did was sniff some car tires, scratch itself, and do a bit of scurrying. To me, though, it was fantastic; it’s the sort of experience that sounds dumb in words, but that produces some kind of teensy-tiny knowledge-like thing that affects how I see the world. Weirdness produces a kind of attention that’s more focused, more open, and less tangible than the attention of labor or the attention of pedagogy. It’s beautiful. And it’s the objective of a lot of art.

Video used to be weird; there’s no other excuse for all the ten-minute films of an artist picking his nose. There’s a weirdness to seeing your own body on video that, in an age of webcams, we’ve lost, and the fact that it’s not weird anymore kind of ruins a lot of it. Reintroducing that weirdness is hard, but failing that, maybe we can at least make it acceptable YouTube material. So here’s Bruce Nauman sashaying to Drake’s Shut it Down”.

Business/Pleasure is Will Brand’s new daily column of the best of Video Art and YouTube crap. Most days will have one business video and one pleasure video, but you gotta admit this one was a gimme. Got a tip? E-mail it to will.brand@gmail.com.

  • http://hereisafantasy.com Here is a Fantasy

    Yeah, early video art’s a good example of how the most boring stuff can be the weirdest stuff. EVA shows a specific type of weirdness, the type that makes you realize how bizarre the ordinary and everyday can be. The lesson for the kids: You don’t need to be theatrical on YouTube to make a good vid. 

    You know who used to be weird in the 1970s? William Wegman. He would hang out with his Weimaraner Man Ray in videos before he decided to start dressing up his dog for photographs. Here’s a long vid of Wegman making out with his dog (http://youtu.be/kiDw2Igua8Q); it’s a great YouTube precursor.

  • http://twitter.com/pixlpa Andrew Benson

    Webcams are still weird, but everybody tries not to think about it.  I’d like to count myself among the artists trying to keep video art wierd.

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