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Keren Cytter, Video Art Manual, 2011, still from a color HD video, 14 minutes 42 seconds.

Keren Cytter

Feuer/Messler

Keren Cytter, Video Art Manual, 2011, still from a color HD video, 14 minutes 42 seconds.

Keren Cytter’s Video Art Manual, 2011, begins with the self-deluding slickness of an infomercial. From behind a glass-topped table in a generic office, a bearded man in a suit confidently addresses the viewer. He explains that new technologies enable the production of user-generated content, and that Cytter’s video will “reveal the utopian anxieties of the common man.” Midway through his portentous speech, the sound track switches from synched sound to a bad, hollow-sounding postproduction dub: His voice fails to match the movements of his mouth and becomes inexplicably loud and echoey. The man concludes his remarks by reassuringly patting a phone in the shape of a mallard duck-hunting decoy that rests on the table to his left.

Is Cytter’s work a cipher wrapped in a farce—a “manual” that instructs the viewer by way of its own amateurish failure? It may seem so at first, but

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