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Stuart Marshall

This is but one line of enquiry running through a body of work that also included multi-monitor installations and environments that performed important examinations of perception, time and space, in other still-developing media that were - and are - themselves as equally uncharted and as much in need, still, of a more significant historical reassessment than the one standard art history currently provides.

Rosalind Krauss's essay 'Video: The Aesthetics of Narcissism' was published three years before Marshall's article in Screen in the American journal October (Vol. 1, Spring 1976). Krauss focusses on video works that utilise (feature, figure) the body of the artist or incorporate the body of the spectator, combined with some kind of actual or implied feedback mechanism (aural, visual or temporal, actual in real time or re-presented). She replaces what in modernist criticism would be the self-reflexive, physical characteristics of the art object (such as paint on a canvas for example) with those of a (self-reflexive) psychological situation, such that narcissism becomes the medium of video, over and above any material characteristics of production or exhibition apparatus.

In certain works of Vito Acconci, Richard Serra, Bruce Nauman, Linda Benglis, Joan Jonas and Peter Campus, Krauss describes the monitor screen as various kinds of mirrors, reflecting the artist or the spectator into the feedback loops that they variously exploit, "the very terms of which are to withdraw attention from an external object - an Other - and invest it in the Self." At one point Krauss connects this instant replay mechanism to the artworld's general Pop-art inherited excitement at communication via the mass-media, or "between the institution of a self formed by a video feedback and the real situation that exists in the artworld from which the makers of video come." [emphases in this and the following quotations are mine] Regardless of how the artworld had, according to Krauss been so "disastrously affected by its relation to mass-media," video art was implicitly like the mass-medium television and this kind of television was uniquely, perfectly related to the cultural and economic climate of the (predominantly New York) artworld in America in the 1970s.

Stills from Distinct by Stuart Marshall (1979)
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