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Pieces I Never Did

David Critchley
1979
35 mins Colour Video

Pieces I Never Did

By 1979 when Pieces I Never Did was made, colour cameras, U-matic cassettes and a wider range of colour monitors were available. Consequently I was able to visit many performance, film, video, installation and sculpture ideas in the work.

Talking to camera, I described ideas that had never got beyond a note in a sketchbook. Paradoxically, I was able to resurrect on video these items of personal performance that had been edged out by the structuralism of early video art, such as shouting the words "Shut Up!" until I lost my voice, having objects thrown at me until I changed colour, and proposing to end the piece by blowing myself up. I intended the piece to be colourful and action packed - far removed from the forty-minute single-take of 'Changing' in 1973.

Pieces I Never Did was probably the last piece of work I made which tried to reconcile some of the material differences in the various media and methods I was using, and at the same time presented a self critique and by inference a critique of other video art work going on at that time. The work was intended to be screened on three monitors, and the thirty or so sections of all three tapes were edited to run in analogue sync for the thirty-five minute duration. This differed by fractions of a second from one screening to another depending on how the pause and start buttons were pressed, in turn resulting in a very different sound environment for the visuals to work in.In various combinations this work put together about eighteen propositions for art works covering performance, film, video, installation and sculpture.

The complexity of the video recording and editing in the making of this piece went far beyond anything I had done before, yet was not the primary focus of the work. It is more about the reading of each distinct piece as realised on video in one minute sections against the justification for making them, or even thinking of them in the first place. It is about why we make art at all. D.C.

FOOTNOTE 1 Pieces I Never Did was first screened as an installation of a work in progress in a London Video Arts show at the Acme Gallery, Covent Garden (February 1979) Ian Bourn showed Lenny's Documentary at the same event, and Helen Chadwick selected both pieces for the 1979 Hayward Annual which was curated by several artists. Kevin Atherton had been selected by another artist to show video, but when we saw the arrangements for screening the video component of the exhibition - a small screened off area with a thinly spread programme - Kevin and I objected and asked the Arts Council's representative for equal billing with painting and sculpture in the form of a continuous display of each video piece. This was seen to be too difficult technically, so Kevin and I withdrew our pieces from that years Hayward Annual.

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