Academic journal article Afterimage

Jud Yalkut: A Video Beachcomber

Academic journal article Afterimage

Jud Yalkut: A Video Beachcomber

Article excerpt

"Communes", "hippies" and "anti-establishment" sometimes define the 1960s in America. Jud Yalkut, a pioneer in video art, embraced the counter-culture movement of the 1960s and created poignant works that attempt to define these times. Underknown in today's books on video art, he has collaborated with such notables as Nam June Paik, choreographer Trisha Brown and composer John Cage. The guiding theme within Yalkut's forty plus year career as an image-maker has been "spiritual transformation." His work has been described as "psychedelic" but it goes much deeper than mere physical perception. Yalkut states that he views his art, "as a possible means of conveying the transcendent nature of life and the observed universe through the media."

Yalkut's work is abstract. Images disintegrate, intermix or transform into new forms within a multi-layered environment. Colors may flare, vibrate or meld. Rather than attempting to create a clear, crisp narrative film, he seeks to manipulate, abstract and transform filmed events, objects, and people from popular culture and the "natural world." Yalkut hopes that his work has an impact on his audience so that they start, "seeing things in new lights with new nuances and new meanings ... [transcending] ... surface perception that hopefully goes far deeper into an inner realization of oneness and beauty in the universe."

Yalkut describes himself as a video beachcomber. He canvases the physical and cultural landscape--gathering imagery with his camera to be manipulated in post-production. His montage-like work has basically four stages of production: shooting and gathering imagery; initial edit of shot material; image processing or "image transformation through electronic transformation"; and finally editing everything together to make it flow as a piece. His current work likens a disjunctive flow where the "elements wake up the art." Yalkut states, "In media you put down two pieces and then they have a relationship to each other and they start to talk to you." He likens this "disjunctive harmony" to a sunset that appears to be tranquil but goes through so many violent and radical changes.

Born in New York City in 1938, Yalkut graduated from high school at the age of fourteen. A month before his fifteenth birthday, his parents tragically died--his mother from cancer and two weeks later his father had a heart attack. He spent a year at City College and then transferred to McGill University in Montreal to become a nuclear physicist. Disappointed by the fact that he was surrounded by engineers and "drill sergeant" instructors, he decided to change majors to English Literature to study and write poetry--a passion he had been interested in pursuing. Montreal was a hub for avant-garde poets both within the academic community and cafes. After his third year at McGill, he left college to concentrate on his poetry. He decided to use the remaining money from his parents' trust to explore life outside academia. Yalkut moved back to New York for a year and then decided to head west.


In an email interview Yalkut writes, "Hitchhiking from Los Angeles to San Francisco after being in California for a couple of weeks in 1957. I got a ride with the Big Sur mailman who stopped at Partington Ridge, the mountain road on which Henry Miller and many other local luminaries lived. I met Henry Miller there, as he was one of the people who came down to meet the mailman. We talked for three-quarters of an hour about many things, including the great used books shops, which used to dot 4th Avenue in New York City, the home city for both of us. When I returned from San Francisco a few months later on a short trip with two old friends from New York City who had turned up, they left me a sleeping bag and I decided to stay in Big Sur, which lasted a full year." For Yalkut, it was a time of self-discovery where he learned about meditation, Hindu cooking and "living life. …

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