[ index | VIDEO | 1970 ]

don hallock

One of the few times the work of the [NCET] center was exhibited in the San Francisco community was when Don Hallock built his "Videola" for an exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Art in the summer of 1973. The Videola was a construction that expanded the image from one television monitor so that a large audience could watch it. It was essentially a wooden pyramid laid on its side so that it looked like a huge megaphone opening out toward the audience. At the back, at the apex of the pyramid, was a television monitor. The insides of the pyramid were lined with mirrors, so that the image on the monitor was made kaleidoscopic. However, the facets of the image didn't go off at straight angles; the image bent and became a circle, so that facets seemed to form a sphere. For performances, all the lights in the rooms were turned off and the outer frame of the pyramid was masked with black. The audience could look in and see what appeared to be a huge sphere of shifting, dissolving, luminous colors, suspended in dark space. It was especially successful because it expressed the video images in dematerialized, almost nonphysical terms.

Nam June Paik has explained the difference between kinetic art and video art as the difference between machines and electronics; one uses objects obviously controlled by gravity and the other does not. But the potentially weightless quality of the video image is often altered by its presentation as a small image in a piece of furniture in a lit room. The Videola device allowed the image to float. "Videola" was a very successful exhibition: two hundred people could watch it at one time, and Hallock estimates that 24,000 people in all saw the show. The center's method of operation was to limit the number of people working there so that those people could work very freely and constantly, learning gradually, as new equipment was built and acquired, how to build new patterns of images. This meant that very few people had access to the equipment. Since practically no individual has the means to own such equipment personally, other artists in the Bay area turned to small format, portable black-and-white equipment. As if to fill the vacuum, another center appeared to support this kind of video.

The director of the de Saisset Art Gallery at the University of Santa Clara is Lydia Modi Vitale, who is very interested in exhibiting many forms of avantgarde art. In the winter of 1971-1972, she hired George Bolling as video curator at the de Saisset, and gradually the gallery became the steadiest center of conceptual video in the Bay area. There was a flourishing conceptual art scene in San Francisco at that time, and Bolling introduced several of the artists to video, and even did the video for many of their early tapes. The four most consistent workers in the medium have been Howard Fried, Joel Glassman, Terry Fox, and Paul Kos. Bolling has held a constant stream of exhibitions of video from all over the country. Where David Ross's strength is to organize large, democratic exhibitions that give exposure to a large number of works, Bolling's is to be critically selective, organizing one-person or smallgroup shows.

- Johanna Branson Gill: VIDEO: STATE OF THE ART, 1976

[ index | 1969 ]