Video and the Self: Closed Circuit | Feedback | Narcissism

Peter Sachs Collopy, Video Theories: A Transdisciplinary Reader (Bloomsbury), 2022

The introduction to a chapter which I guest edited:

The relationship between video and the self has been one of the central concerns of video theory. Prominent artists such as Vito Acconci, Dan Graham, Joan Jonas, and Bruce Nauman have organized their artistic practice around mediated self-observation, either using video to document and complicate their own expressions of self or building installations with which viewers can see and experience themselves in new ways. Such self-portraiture is the subject of the most widely cited essay in this volume, Rosalind Krauss’s 1976 “Video: The Aesthetics of Narcissism,” and of several essays responding to it.

Even before videotape became an artistic medium in 1965, though, video, self-observation, and narcissism were already the subjects of a theoretical literature produced by psychiatrists and psychologists. If patients saw how disordered they appeared to others, some psychotherapists suggested, they might be motivated to change. Other clinicians rewatched sessions with patients so that either could pause the video to discuss emotions or experiences which they hadn’t articulated, essentially putting themselves back into a moment in the conversation. Some of the most prominent artists and theorists working with video were directly influenced by this video therapy tradition.

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Subjects: consciousness, cybernetics, gender, human sciences, media, medicine, mind sciences, psychiatry, technology, video, visual culture
Category: writing