One of the new additions to the Moving Image art fair of video art and film this year aims to harness the new video app Vine for the purposes of high art. Co-curators (and art writers extraordinaire) Marina Galperina and Kyle Chayka have solicited six-second videos from artists including Tatiana Berg, William Powhida (work pictured), Ryder Ripps, and others, which are on display at the fair in the special exhibition “The Shortest Video Art Ever Sold” (#SVAES), where visitors can buy the single-edition works and, for an extra fee, have the artist tweet it at them in recognition of their purchase. Amid preparing the artists’ Vines, Galperina and Chayka took some time to explain the project to ARTINFO.
Where did the idea for the project come from?
Kyle Chayka: Magda Sawon originally approached us about doing a Vine-oriented project for Moving Image after seeing the essays I had written on Vine for Hyperallergic and Marina called for NC-17 entries for her #VeryShortFilmFest. We came up with the Shortest Video Art Ever Sold idea after thinking about the issues around selling digital art and commodification of online media. Vines are frenetic and so many are produced every minute that they need a filter. The #SVAES project gives them a curated focus, showcasing the vanguard of video art in a very digestible form.
Marina Galperina: It’s strange to get so excited about something that is, essentially, a commercial entity, but it’s a great creative tool. Kyle is an amazing cultural critic and understands the medium’s potential for the artist community, but, at first, I just followed the knee-jerk reaction of wanting to screw with it right away. Oh, it’s NC-17? We’ll show you NC-17! And so forth. #SVAES is different. Kyle and I were both very excited to see each new #SVAES work that the artists produced with such specific limitations; their visual pithiness, their personal aesthetic intensity, and even their light trolling.
Why did you settle on the decidedly retro Shopping Network-style format for presenting the project?
KC: To me, it fits the nature of the Vines — they’re quick and expendable, but totally addictive and hypnotizing, kind of like watching daytime TV. By posing the display as a Home Shopping Network-style show, we’re speaking to how digital art is commodified online. Anyone can possess a piece of digital art, so how do you market it as a salable object? You first hype it up as much as possible, and then you get it out the door and into the world. We’re aiming to please.
MG: I’ve been thinking a lot about net art’s problem: How do you monetize something if it’s already online? The “art market” itself is a bit mysterious to me, but, as a blogger, the culture of “Me first!” is crystal clear. So why not sell the “dibs” on premiering a new artwork from your personal collection online, for the world to enjoy? We can’t forget that it’s still a financial transaction, an acquisition of a product — the Home Shopping stylization is our little nod. But why not acquire, own, and liberate?
Do you think Vine is going to catch on in the video art world, or is it more strictly a social media tool?
KC: I think Vine has already shown that it’s a pretty unique medium for video art within the art world as well as for amateurs. There’s something about being able to edit really easily on-screen, which was previously the domain of really complicated software. It demystifies filmmaking and leads to a really fun, improvisational creation process that artists are adapting to immediately.
MG: Any new internet medium is a viable art medium as well — Vine, Twitter, YouTube, code itself! — whether as a tool of production, technical and contextual subversion, or a sharing platform. The social networks allows you to build, interact and incorporate your audience, your own audience — that’s an incredible opportunity for the right artist. We haven’t talked to brand, so we wouldn’t know, but the people have definitely put Vine to some unexpected uses.
Can you reveal any of the participating artist?
Here are the participating artists at the current moment:
If you could reduce any famous piece of moving image art — video or film — to a six-second loop, which would it be?
KC: Turning Eve Sussman’s “89 Seconds at Alcazar” into a six-second Vine would be pretty hilarious, as would Christian Marclay’s “The Clock.”
MG: The documentation of Marina Abramovic and Ulay’s “Light/Dark” performance, 1977. Classic. Slap, slap, slap, ad infinitum. I guess it’s because I’m curious how her passion for formal copyright and ownership of performance art would interplay with being embedded into shareable social media, but mostly because that would be sexy.
The Shortest Video Art Ever Sold will be on view at the Moving Image fair through Sunday March 10.
— Benjamin Sutton
(Top image: William Powhida, still from “Gagosian,” 2013, courtesy the artist and Postmasters; Second image: Laura McMillian, still from “Feast,” 2013, courtesy the artist.)