The Possibility of Video in High School as Installation Art
The Contemplative Non-Narrative Video Project
Using Video for Transforming a Space

This project was created by Robert Moriarty, art teacher, and his students at Morton West High School as a project of the Contemporary Community Curriculum Initiiative.
Student artists: Mario DiSandro, Dan Houdek, Dan Johnson, Tim Lopez, Ed Majka,
Steven Mandujano, Bryan Manzie, Elizabeth Martinez, Marek Nawrocki, Dan Romanelli, Adam Simpkins, and Kimberly Welebir.

The first group worked from our guided visualization brainstorming session to create an oversized mock video camera with a video of a scanning eye in the lens. We decided we would hang the camera from the ceiling above the security desk right over the guard’s head. They broke into groups with one group working on the production of the camera and another producing the eye video.

The second class developed an idea to create an oversized student ID. A video monitor would be in the place usually reserved for the student photo. We created a mock mug-shot station. Students marched one by one into the frame, showed their IDs, turned to show profiles, and then left the frame. We used Pink Floyd's Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2 as the soundtrack. "...we don't need no education, we don't need no thought control..."

We worked really hard for just over a week to produce both pieces. A few students would stay during their lunch or study hall to work. The level of enthusiasm was incredible. After the first session of production, students assumed roles and responsibilities. Unfinished tasks were promptly resumed the next day.

We finished both pieces on the day of the Spring Art Celebration. The success of the installation was largely due to the students' commitment to create something real (art).
The video work transformed the show. The students seemed to appreciate the critical appearance of their work. Even when security nixed the idea of installing the camera over their heads, we gracefully adapted and pointed the camera directly at the desk.
Although we experienced a few technical difficulties, many students commented on how the video work made the show seem cooler. The art show was extra crowded and several non-art teachers commented on the level of energy. “They (the students) seem happy and excited to be here,” commented one Humanities teacher almost in amazement.

Many teachers commented on, or spent time looking at, and presumably thinking about, the two video installations. A Spanish teacher thought the video camera was Andy Warholesque. An administrator, with no intent to linger, was halted in his steps when he noticed the video camera watching him.

Students approaching the ID often cheered at the anthem-like Pink Floyd song, but would quickly dissolve into thought after contemplating the oversized ID with student pictures.

Some students found the video camera strange, or weird, but spent time to talk about its meaning:

It’s looking at the art show. No, it’s looking at the security desk. Oh, no! It’s looking at me!