[iDC] On Media and Memory

Scott Kildall scott at kildall.com
Thu Nov 1 16:12:23 UTC 2007

Hello everyone,

Trebor has graciously invited me to moderate a new IDC thread. I  
would first like to introduce myself.

I am an independent artist, currently living in San Francisco. Lately  
I have been working with forms of remediation including several  
projects in Second Life, a recreation of the lost Apollo 11 moon  
landing tapes and event-specific video portraits. I have an M.F.A.  
from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago through the Art &  
Technology Studies department. Recent projects include a residency  
focusing on contemporary conceptual art at the Banff Centre for the  
Arts and a 6-month fellowship at the Kala Art Institute. My work is  
at www.kildall.com.

I would like to open up a discussion on the effects of the recent  
blurring between media producion and consumption. Specifically I  
would like to invite everyone to consider how this impacts  
contemporary art production.

We can point to the quick rise of YouTube as the first indicator of a  
total shift; Established in February 2005, it quickly became apparent  
that the means to index and track video content had become  
inadequate. The producers of media now have access to means for  
widespread dissemination; Media has surpassed the means to categorize  

What I am pointing to is not the just impact of Web 2.0 technology  
with its buzz and sharing through feeds and the reblog; it is rather,  
a new type of use of cultural signs derived from collapsed  
catalogues. Hierarchical taxonomies have failed. Tagging mechanisms  
exemplified by del.icio.us act as a sieve-search. We often lose our  
original intent and stumble upon something else. Video and audio on  
the web resemble memories to the human brain — flowing associatively  
and too numerous to list.

Content production now dips heavily into appropriated forms. Mashup  
culture has become widespread and the remix — in music and video is  
commonplace. DVD protection schemes are breakable; web-based videos  
and music can be unlocked. We can no longer identify the original and  
many no longer care.

Certain video works manifest this change in our way of watching,  
listening and producing. Christian Marclay’s “Video Quartet” (2002)  
treats the moving image like a 4-channel audio mixer. Film clips  
trigger flashes of recognition as our memory scrambles. The cohesive  
audio track grounds the visual in a reversal of traditional cinema.

Several years earlier, Pierre Huyghe created “Remake” (1995) in which  
the every scene of Hitchcock’s “Rear Window” is re-acted by unknown  
French actors. This suggestion is that this classic film has moved  
from the realm of the movie studio to the public in the form of a  
script that can be forever replayed. The amateur has become celebrity.

More recently, Phil Collins delivered “The World Won’t Listen” (2005)  
which invites residents of Istanbul to sing karaoke to Smiths songs.  
Crossing cultures and ages both in subject and viewer, I joined a  
crowded room and watched the entire reel in two successive visits.  
Many artists seem to be recreating from what we already have in  
response to the overwhelming amount of available material.

For those that missed the museum exhibitions, clips are available on  
YouTube through clandestine recordings:

I find myself re-reading Bourriaud’s Post Production (2002) as a  
helpful reference. He writes “that artists’ intuitive relationship  
with art history is now going beyond what we call ‘the art of  
appropriation,’ which naturally infers an ideology of ownership, and  
moving toward a culture of the use of forms, a culture of constant  
activity of signs based on a collective ideal: sharing.”

Although Bourrriaud wrote these words just before the advent of  
social media sites, he has pinpointed a significant change in the  
apprehension of cultural forms. Of course, appropriation in artwork  
is nothing new; what has changed is the relationship between  
consumption and production. The media-information culture that has  
unfolded in just the last couple of years has forever altered public  

My thoughts are that this is a seismic cultural event. If art  
production reflects cultural production, then I would expect to see  
an increasing number of works, which eschew notions of the original  
altogether. I would imagine viewing work where I was confused as to  
who the creators were and like with popular culture, I would consider  
this unimportant.

Please do respond with your own thoughts and observations and  
examples of works which supports, challenges or expands upon this.

Scott Kildall

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