Charles Hagen

  • “Good Morning, Mr. Orwell”

    Why is it that when I think about “Good Morning, Mr. Orwell,” the video variety program broadcast live (via satellite) between Paris and New York on New Year’s Day, the first thing that comes to mind is yodeling? Perhaps because of the yodels and near-yodels that appeared on the hour-long interactive broadcast, conceived and organized by Nam June Paik and coproduced by WNET in New York and FR3 in Paris. First there was Mitchell Kriegman’s banal “blues yodel,” whose echo was supposed to be its retransmission from Paris, delayed by the one second it takes for a signal to go up to the Bright Star

  • Robert L. Bracklow

    The implicit inference some critics seem to draw from the existence of vast numbers of vernacular photographs whose makers have been forgotten—that these images have somehow come into existence of their own accord, by a kind of technological parthenogenesis—is a misleading one. However stereotypical a photograph, somebody decided to take it, in more or less that particular way. Amateur snapshots, weather photographs, surveillance photographs—all result from acts of human intention, even if those intentions may now seem obscure or inscrutable.

    Robert L. Bracklow, a devoted amateur photographer in

  • Juan Downey

    By now the forms of TV are powerful as much because of their familiarity as because of their unswervingly simplistic view of things. In Information Withheld, 1983, as in his earlier The Looking Glass, 1981, Juan Downey borrows aspects of the structure of a very familiar TV genre—the cultural documentary—and proceeds to weave through them a

    The larger screen of a UNEX sign, the future, dateline 1984, with an opti richly textured argument about a subtle subject—in this case, the ways in which people use signs, and the relationship between signs and art. Moreover, these tapes are the first two parts

  • Gary Hill

    The architecture of Gary Hill’s video installation Primarily Speaking, 1981–83, enforces a somewhat distanced response—there’s no particularly good position from which to experience the whole thing. Two white slablike structures face each other, forming a corridor perhaps six feet wide; four video monitors are mounted in each of these monoliths at a little above eye level, facing the four monitors in the opposite wall. Images usually appear on only one monitor on each side at any one time, with the other three monitors showing blank screens of color—the additive primaries blue, green, and red

  • “In Plato’s Cave”

    Given the oppositional rhetoric that has characterized much critical championing of so-called post-Modernist photography, it’s more than a little ironic to find an exhibition of such work here, in the House of Lloyd. But the practice and rhetoric of post-Modernism have been taking distinctly different paths recently. While critics have spoken of this work as exemplifying Roland Barthes’ “death of the author,” the “authors” themselves have been busy achieving public prominence, lending themselves not just to exhibitions such as this one, but to advertisements and magazine covers as well.

    In her

  • Lee Friedlander

    The 56 photographs here included portraits from the past 25 years, covering many of the themes Friedlander has pursued—for example, one wall presented photographs of black jazz and blues musicians, while another featured photographers and artists. Overall the work was hung in a loose order, beginning with a picture of a naiadlike girl standing on a backyard swing and ending with photographs of Friedlander’s wife and children, and a final shot of Friedlander himself seen through the windshield of a pickup, hands clenching the wheel, staring wearily ahead at the camera and the road.

    To some extent

  • Hamish Fulton

    Hamish Fulton’s view of nature has grown increasingly dramatic, now encompassing not merely walks through English lanes but treks across the wilds of central Australia and through the mountains of Nepal and Hokkaido. Most of the eight pieces here are panoramas made up of two or more enlargements of 35-mm frames, butted together or with thin spaces between them; in all of them the sweet rhetoric of pictorialist landscape photography—the use of dramatic lighting conditions and rich chiaroscuro, the references to natural phenomena suffused with emotional connotations—is central. In several the moon

  • O. Winston Link

    If they worked in other media, most photographers would be considered “primitives”—unschooled and unaware of current debates about the esthetics and functions of their form. Commercial photographers or hobbyists, these picturemakers usually combine the craftsperson’s esthetic of clear depiction with a narrative that emphasizes traditional or even sentimental social values. Through years of work they may develop an intimacy with the possibilities of photographic depiction, yet remain relatively innocent of contemporary esthetic questions—which often have to do with challenging the values encoded

  • “The Second Link”

    Almost by definition, a show with six curators is apt to be a muddle, and this was no exception. Organized by Lorne Falk of the Banff Centre School of Fine Arts, “The Second Link” offered nearly 12 hours of videotapes by 30 artists from 7 countries. But no point seemed intended by including this international cast, and none was made. Instead, the selection was idiosyncratic and annoying, producing an ill-assorted grab bag of work.

    Each of the curators was asked to choose artists from a specific region, so that in total the show covered the U.S., Canada, Britain, and continental Europe. Thus there

  • “New Video From Antarctica Volume I”

    Over the past decade video partners Kit Fitzgerald and John Sanborn have shown themselves to be exceptionally adept collaborators, providing a visual fluidity to works by other artists including Robert Ashley, Twyla Tharp, David Van Tieghem, and Peter Gordon. At the end of last year Sanborn, Fitzgerald, and Gordon formed a group called Antarctica to produce music videotapes and “dedicated to the proposition that video and music are created equal.” It’s a nice notion, one that suggests the rich genre rock videotapes could become; on most rock tapes now the video merely illustrates the song.

  • Whitney Biennial Video

    This Biennial once again gave video greater prominence than it has in the rest of the art world, offering a full day’s programming of work by 16 videomakers, shown in a gallery just opposite the museum entrance, as well as two installation pieces elsewhere. Video doesn’t fit into art’s usual marketing structures, and so has remained problematic within the gallery scene, even as new technology continues to increase its significance as the dominant communications and entertainment medium of the culture. In this context of growing social importance and general art-world neglect, the handful of


    IN ROBERT CUMMING’S UNIVERSE the forces of order and the forces of chaos are locked in struggle. Not only is it impossible to tell whether either is winning, it’s hard even to tell the two apart Cumming’s method is to focus attention on what he calls “perceptual glitches,”1 test cases at the extremes of meaning. Like a willful child constantly testing a sore tooth with the tongue, he jabs away at the shimmering fringes of reality, folding systems of understanding back on themselves to confound apparently distinct categories. “Without a constant misuse of language there can not be any discovery,”