New Criticals

Krauss outlines two tangential (yet contradictory) ways out of this psychological squeeze, the first are videos 'that exploit the medium in order to criticize it from within', and the second are videos 'that represent a physical assault on the video mechanism in order to break out of its psychological hold'. (Krauss R, p186)

Perhaps in Krauss' ideal case the video device is behaving more as a tool, whereas in its exceptional form it appears to be acting more like a machine. Karl Marx distinguishes between the two as follows: that in the case of a tool, man is the motive power, while the motive power of a machine is something different from man. (Marx K, p352) In the former, the video instrument behaves as an extension of the human body, while in the latter the video instrument imposes its rhythm on man. Krauss specifically asserts that the video mirror acts against the 'other', therefore more like a tool, and yet rejects that the video mirror acts as an extension of the body and emphasizes psychological internalization. Despite Krauss' assertion, many artists at the time were experimenting in ways that forced the rhythm of the machine upon themselves. Joan Jonas' Vertical Roll serves as a good example. In her 1972 video, the machine is literally transposed upon her body in the form of a forced vertical roll, the result of desynchronizing the frequency of the tape. Peter Campus, the Vasulkas, Bruce Nauman and many others also made tapes that closely acknowledged the integral presence of the machine to their performance. Herein the mechanics of the video mirror are more than just an "appurtenance", as Krauss dismissively asserts. Even then and especially now, the machine is everything.