One of the strongest notions in modernity and postmodernity is the idea of confinement. The velocity sensation and the apparent mobility given by transportation are nothing but reminders of a non existent destination.
One of the fundational classics of video-art (and mainly of the big format video-art), Island Song (1976) shows the possibility, arbitrarily and almost accidentaly, of a converging space for the live performance and the documentary.
William S. Burroughs & Brion Gysin lived together at “The Beat Hotel” in Paris. During this period of 1958, Gysin shared with Burroughs the “Cut Up” technique, consisting in aligning paper foldings one over another, then cut random lines over them and reagruping the resulting “pieces” in random or prefigured structures. Burroughs used this techinique since that day to produce either complete novels (as in “Interzone”) or to produce “routines” -as he called the chapters on several of his novels- (as in “The Naked Lunch” or “The White Subway”).
This experimental film by the english director Antony Balch was postumously released after his death and was part of a bigger project he designed with Burroughs as a documentary. The film was deeply influenced by the cut up technique (both on the film editing and on the sound editing) and shows several moments of the work of Gysin and Burroughs at “The Beat Hotel”, as well as several sequences of both artistes “acting” for the film.
Joan Jonas (born in NYC, 1936) brought to video art and video performance the very foundation of its meaning. Her works are as influential as politically compromised, being particularly groundbreaking when it comes to electronic arts and gender prospective.
Vertical Roll (1972) uses a common early television bug (the vertical roll, due to a misconfiguration on the vertical balance of the receptor) to place a question about the construction of the image and, particularly, of the female body; a recurring subject in her work.
Vito Acconci (born in NYC, 1940), although is more related to performance and poetry, brought undisputable advances in the use of video as an artistic experimentation ground.
Open Book (1974) explores a sort of sound poetry and an extreme close up to bring the viewer to an uncomfortable sense of imminence. Acconti miss-pronounces phrases such as “I’ll accept you, I won’t shut down, I won’t shut you out. I’m open to you, I’m open to everything. This is not a trap, we can go inside, yes, come inside”, while suffers the consecuences of an uncomfortable use of the voice.