Thursday, January 27, 2011

Beryl Korot, Text and Commentary, Babel: The 7 Minute Scroll

Text & Commentary, 1977

Although this work is from the earlier side of the video art spectrum, it is nonetheless important. Beryl Korot is one of the most renowned video artists and she was a trailblazer in many ways. She is interested mostly in communication, especially with the tools that we use to communicate to one another. She came up with a magazine in 1970 called Radical Software that looked at different types of communication tools and formats (i.e. video). We must remember that in her time, this was groundbreaking work and scintillating concepts. In this particular video Korot uses the loom to weave together a narrative over 5 video channels. She draws parallels to the loom and hypertext as both exist in a linear fashion.

Korot says of her work: "In 1974 I found myself working in 3 media simultaneously: in print (Radical Software), in video which I began to explore in 1972, and the handloom, the first computer on earth in that it programmed patterns according to a numerical structure. A silk weaver at the beginning of the 19th century invented the Jacquard loom, really the first punch card computer to create complex textile works through punch card programming, which also increased the speed with which this work could be made. I was drawn to the handloom after being involved in print and video because I was fascinated by the multiple channel genre in video and the loom offered clues about programming multiple channels. But what really fascinated me is that the information in all 3 of these media is encrypted in lines...In video the electronic camera reads an image at 30 frames a second, line by line; we read printed material line by line...pattern on the loom is laid down line by line, or thread by thread. Time is an important component of this linear structuring in terms of how quickly and effectively information is received and stored. Instant storage and retrieval systems characterize modern technology while tactility and human memory remain earmarks of more ancient tools."

Babel: The 7 Minute Scroll

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