The possibility of video as an installation or the contemplative, non-narrative video project or using video for transforming a space.

We talk about the use and possibilities of video and our tendency to think of video as a story telling device (comedy or drama), or a public service delivery device (propaganda), and at its worst, a way to sell products through commercials. There is also video as a means of documentation that usually begins and ends with taping school life, football games, or talent shows...or family vacations. Our vision of video is largely formed and limited by our relationships with the culture of mass-media (spectacular culture) and tends to reflect that culture without critique.

We talk about the school art show and the way it transforms the school lobby while it is up. Talk about the way video has been used in the art show in the past. (Most of the work shown was music videos the students made for well known corporate rock bands.)

We talk briefly about installation art (book: ARTSPEAK: a guide to...). Define/describe: site-specific. Introduce and describe Tony Oursler and Adrian Piper as artists who integrate non-narrative video with installation. Show stills from their work.

An important aspect of building student commitment to collaborative projects is to let the class decide on the scale, scope, theme, and site of the project. Admittedly, the samples and ideas shared by the teacher will have a strong impact on student decisionmaking, but nonetheless, there is a real difference between presenting options and facilitating group choicemaking and simply assigning a particular task.

When creating art installations, logistics need to be considered as an integral part of the planning process. (Think Christo.) In this case, rather than working directly in the school lobby (site of the art show), we needed to create a piece that could be brought into the

Conduct a guided visualization. Students close their eyes and picture the space. Ask a series of questions, such as, “What is in the space? What do you especially notice?”

To get the students imaginations flowing, suggest unusual or bizarre changes in the space. “Imagine it all painted bright pink. Imagine it filled with water. Imagine a large creature in the space…” Then let the students relax and let their minds wander.

The students imagined the lobby with the art show set up:
Picture the security desk. (Now this is the point when you should exercise your imagination.) Someone saw an oversized cartoon-looking video camera pointed right at you. In the two-foot diameter lens is a video projection of a single eye looking around the room. The video edits and there is another eye--someone else’s with a different expression--again looking around the room, another edit, another eye, another expression, you get the idea….

We talked about how the large video camera would change the feel of that space. We talked about how people might read the meaning of the work. What was the viewer intended to see or feel under normal circumstances in the space? How would our installation change the ambience?

Then we came up with more possible projects that incorporated video into an installation. Many ideas were inspired by the work of Tony Oursler. A large stuffed figure with images of a face projected onto a balloon head. A series of stacked monitors, which would each contain a 1/3 of a figure; each monitor would change or mix up the parts of the body.

The ideation process alternates brainstorming, visualization, and discussion. The visualization can include brief drawing or video sketches so that students can more effectively share ideas with each other.

Decide when you’ve reached maximum output in terms of free flowing ideas, review possibilities and decide on which projects to develop and make. Don’t set up a competitive decisionmaking process between student ideas. Think yes/and, not no/but.

Here the only limitations are skills, available, materials, and time.

Our installation was created using video cameras and editing stations. We also used many common art supplies such as hot glue, cardboard, paint, and matte board. For finishing touches, we used black masking tape and stick-on lettering.

Often time and logistics makes it difficult to “test” the installation ahead of time. If possible, rehearse problems with hanging or mounting back in the art room.

Because of the time factor, we only knew these were going to be in the art show, not the exact placement of our pieces. It was their presence in the mix of work that mattered most to us. When the art show happened the placement of the pieces was perfect. The large camera was pointed at the security desk and the ID piece was next to the desk. The involved students really felt like they made a difference to the energy and interest of the show and they did. We did.

Click here to print out process plans for the Video as Installation project.