Rethinking Portability in the Video Revolution
Open any book on the history of video and you’ll read that the medium became “portable” in the late sixties with the Sony Portapak. Indeed, this is at the bedrock of the subject’s historiography: this was the moment when, we are told, the video was democratized, when activists, artists and documentarians took cameras onto the streets, seeking radical social and political change. And yet, if you turn to early documents, you'll quickly notice something odd: throughout the previous decade, video had been described frequently as portable, and moreover, even by the early seventies many still considered the Portapak far less portable than film. This presentation seeks to make sense of this mystery. Moving from the early video vans of the late fifties to major international modernization projects that used videotape in the seventies, I argue that our notion of video as a democratic medium is rooted in a very particular, and troubling, presumption about what places and people should matter.
Cinema Spatialized: Experience of Space in the VR documentary Bridge To Sovietopia
The VR documentary film Bridge To Sovietopia (Marie Alice Wolfszahn, 2020) takes the notion of “utopia” literally: having the root “topos” (place) the term is inherently spatial, thus, it is through the physical exploration of the space (and place) that the remnants of the Soviet imagination are discovered within the contemporary. By intertwining the virtual realm of the film and the actual bodily activity, VR produces a kinesthetic feeling of walking, ‘teleports’ users to the sight of the Soviet Utopia. Uniting the acts of walking, watching and remembering through Benjamin's notion of the flânerie, the paper will investigate the relation between the spatial experience and historical memory.
Mapping Vienna through the moving images of Nilbar Güreş
Analyzing Nilbar Güreş’s video Stranger (2004-2006), this talk delves into the relationship between the moving image, mobility, and spatiality to show how she creates an embodied and gendered map of Vienna as a woman artist from Turkey. Enriched by interviews with her, I examine how walking and using public transport can function as mobile spatial practices and means of critical interaction with the urban. We encounter an imagined Europe and its others, on account of their culture or foreign (or “strange”) roots or looks. Drawing inspiration from everyday urban spaces and experiences, Stranger enables readings of art that speak to the politics of mobility and how they can be negotiated, transgressed, and mapped.