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Expanded Media in Context

One thing that is important to consider when discussing any medium is not just
its physical nature, which obviously conditions how it is read, but also the
social and praxis context within which it exists. Example - the cinema is more
than film, light, dark space and big pictures. It exists at a nexus of social
patterns and expectations. Film makers, most of them without thinking about it,
work as much within this context as they do the physical characteristics of
their medium. Of course, the physical and social are linked.

The same holds true for the "small screen". When "appropriating" a medium into
a context where it is not socially normalised (or should that be nominalised)
this should be considered. The whole idea of expanded media is based on two
precepts - firstly, disrupt the social field of the medium by altering the way
it is manifested in some way, or else recontextualise it in an unusual
situation (eg: television or CRT's in a gallery). Here I am only talking about
the medium itself, and of course there is another whole discussion about how
"content" can be used to achieve these ends (IMO, this is the more interesting
strategy).

But keeping to the limits of a discussion of the medium itself: IMO video art
(defining video art as the recontextualisation of the televisual by artists)
has failed in most of its objectives. The classic example of the video
installation is a point here. Overwhelmingly the art viewing public has
resisted the notion of the video monitor within a gallery setting as a
signifying space with which they are willing to proactively become involved.
The recontextualisation of the monitor did not succeed. Of course, this could
be seen as a success of sorts. If this had succeeded then the social envelope
around the monitor would have been generally modified, in such a way that it
would "read". As such, it would have been normalised. I assume that most
artists, especially those who consider themselves experimental, work against
this process. It's a catch 22.

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