New Criticals

Performance for the Computer


I often imagine a sequence of events, occurring sometime after the introduction of the portable video camera. A performer frustrated with their inability to judge their own performance turns to video as a solution to their problem of self-documentation. The artist eventually learns to see a recorded performance differently, realizing that the grainy black and white image does little justice to the original act. Soon the artist realizes that the video image is a performance context in its own right, and invents what we know as the first Performance for the Camera, a magical place where the artist is able to simultaneously view and react to their artwork as it is created. Video art as we first knew it was born and flourished in this new self-reflective environment. Indeed, though other branches of video art have developed and prospered, performance for the camera has remained a consistent presence. I propose that in recent years Performance for the Camera has evolved into what I term Performance for the Computer. This development represents a large shift in thinking which challenges the efficacy and thoroughness of our prior understanding. In this paper I will seek to define the differences and unique properties of this new context.