Academic journal article Afterimage

Network(ed) TV: Collaboration and Intervention at Fernsehgalerie Gerry Schum and Videogalerie Schum

Academic journal article Afterimage

Network(ed) TV: Collaboration and Intervention at Fernsehgalerie Gerry Schum and Videogalerie Schum

Article excerpt

In 1969 Gerry Schum short-circuited the conventional mode of art production and exhibition with a broadcast of contemporary artist films on television. Schum--a documentary filmmaker for West German broadcast television--saw the traditional hierarchies of painting and sculpture as outdated, and the institutions in which they circulated as an inaccessible system. He sought ways to challenge what he referred to as "the eternal triangle of studio, gallery, collector," (1) and employed network systems via conceptual means to achieve new forms of communication. The Fernsehgalerie Gerry Schum (1968-70), a conceptual "gallery" that produced and exhibited artist films for broadcast on television, and Videogalerie Schum (1971-73), the first commercial gallery dedicated to the production and sale of editioned artist videotapes, were animated by a networked sensibility born from the dynamic nature of film, broadcast television, and video technology, that was also a major precursor to the rise of new media and video art collectives in Europe and the United States in the following decade. The apogee of this strategy--democratizing the art object and exhibition--served to decentralize and decommodify the work of art, and in turn reclaimed the agency of artists and audiences from the institutional confines of galleries and museums. Despite Schum's innovative and prescient articulation of art and technology, there has been very little critical writing about Schum and his pioneering experiments in television and video distribution outside of Europe. To reexamine Schum's pursuit of artistic collaboration and networked communication in the postwar landscape is an effort in recontextualizing the historic understanding of his work--away from the traditional concept of a single creator and toward a new understanding of collaboration. Thus, Schum's approach to time-based art and democratic aspirations, as well as the dynamic nature of the loosely organized group of artists he worked with, require further study. The strategies were revolutionary, and are especially relevant to the ever-changing landscape of contemporary art and technology today. This (overdue) study examines Schum's network of artists and the system through which their work was produced. Faking specific works as examples of what I identify as "networked collaboration," and Schum's role as proto-curator of screen-based art, this essay will provide a comprehensive exploration into the televisual activities of Schum's projects that have yet to be discussed elsewhere. Is it possible to create a virtual network through television? How can a nexus of transmitted art maintain cohesive impact or influence? What does it mean to curate for the screen? These are some of the questions 1 intend to pursue, while analyzing themes of authorship, collaboration, and curatorial tendencies that emerged from art's relationship with TV.

In the tradition of the futurists, the surrealists, and Dada--collective artist practices that experimented and exploited new media, like sound, radio, and film--the Fernsehgalerie (translated in English as "TV Gallery") attempted to conjoin innovations in technology with new artistic modes of collaboration. Separated by nationality and discipline, the artists involved with the TV Gallery did not interact with one another, nor did they see each other's work before each broadcast exhibition. Similar to a network like Fluxus, artists working with Schum and his wife, Ursula Wevers, were connected by their shared interest in new media as a response against object-based practice. But unlike Fluxus and its distant collaborative performances or mail art networks, Schum's network existed only by virtue of his lens and the broadcast and distribution system that allowed television transmission and, later, video distribution.

In Schum's first television broadcast, Land Art (1969), Richard Long conceived and executed his first work on film in Dartmoor, England, while Barry Flanagan, Jan Dibbets, and Marinus Boezem instigated impressions in other European land and seascapes. …

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