Public exhibition of single-channel video typically falls under two models: theatrical screening and gallery installation, each with particular benefits and limitations. In theatrical screenings, a relatively captive audience becomes engaged with the rhythms of the work over a predetermined length of time; individual titles in a program can speak to one another in a linear fashion. The cinematic format allows for potentially deeper engagement, but poses pragmatic limits: too many short videos in an extremely long program suffer. Gallery installation lends itself best to shorter pieces, loops and environmental works, and suggests the medium's relationship to the gallery Ur-forms of painting and sculpture, as well as to the architectural space of the white box. Why + Wherefore's online exhibit This One Goes Up To 11 provides yet another way to program video--something like a DVD compilation gone immaterial. Four curators--Summer Guthery, Hanne Mugaas, Lumi Tan and Nicholas Weist--chose ten videos each for the show around the easily malleable theme of "pop and media culture." Hosted by Vimeo, the forty titles range in length from twelve seconds to twenty-four minutes, with a combined runtime of three hours and forty-seven minutes. Alphabetically arranged on a long horizontal window, the lineup functions more like a mere database of options than a conscious progression. With so many choices of widely varying length and quality, user control precipitates a hot-or-not brutality: the best works--Guthrie Lonergan's Artist Looking at Camera, Bad Beuys Entertainment's Champion #4, or Tricia Baga's Season One, to name only a few--will run satisfyingly to completion, while certain others will be impatiently click-and-dragged to their ends. Video needs better attention paid to temporal rhythms and the experience of spectatorship; while an ambitious experiment, Why + Wherefore's attempt collapses into curatorial shovelware. - Ed Halter
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by Elvia Wilk on Feb 18th, 2015