Alfredo Cramerotti, Ken Hollings, Michelle Kasprzak, Mark Nash, Alexei Shulgin (2011) Every Artist, a Journalist
In this, the second edition of the Blowup Reader series, each of our participating speakers is represented along with two additional texts. The Reader begins with an excerpt from Alfredo Cramerotti’s book, Aesthetic Journalism, followed by an essay by Ken Hollings delving into the history of the Dounreay Fast Reactor, which is the subject matter in Gair Dunlop’s latest work. A text I have written, written deliberately in newspaper journalism style, gives context about the beginnings of Lino Hellings’ Participating Artists Press Agency project. Also included in this Reader is a key text about truth, reality, and the ‘documentary turn’ in art by Mark Nash, and from the V2_ archive, a text by Alexei Shulgin, exploring fundamentals of how we communicate and manipulate with art.
While in the final stages of preparing this Reader, by chance I came upon an essay entitled “A Brief History of American Documentary Video” by Deirdre Boyle. In this essay she states: “The 1960s was an auspicious time for the debut of portable video. The role of the artist as individualist and alienated hero was being eclipsed by a resurgence of interest in the artist’s social responsibility, and as art became socially and politically engaged, the distinctions between art and communication blurred. At first there were few distinctions between video artists and activists, and nearly everyone made documentary tapes.” I found these statements very revealing. Here we are in 2011, with the notion of “portable video” taken to an extreme as lenses are embedded in every mobile phone. Naturally in the intervening years there have been points where social and political engagement in art has waned, making the blurring between art and communication that Boyle mentions less of an issue. At this point in time, with the rapidity of technological advancement making image making easier than ever before, we are still presented with issues of the boundaries around notions of art, and what role documentary making plays in the art world and the world at large. The texts in this Reader, and the presentations at the Blowup event, serve to illuminate where we are now, some fifty years after Nam June Paik bought a Portapak and Chris Burden made video art expressly for TV.