PRINT December 1974

The Withering Away of the State of Art

A FEW YEARS AGO, JONAS MEKAS closed a review of a show of videotapes with an aphorism to the effect that film is an art but video is a god. I coupled the remark, somehow, with another, of Ezra Pound’s: that he understood religion to be “just one more unsuccessful attempt to popularize art.” Recently, though, I have sensed a determination on the part of video artists to get down to the work of inventing their art, and corroborating their faith in good works.

A large part of that work of invention is, I take it, to understand what video is. It is a longstanding habit of artists (in the life of the race it might be our most valuable habit) to postulate a present that is more privileged than the past. Video art, which is by now virtually alone in having no past that’s shady enough to worry about, joins in that relentless search for self-definition which has brought film art to its present

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