“VIDEO” Exhibition an the NRW Kulturforum

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In 2004, Hermann Vaske shot the official opening video for the “VIDEO” Exhibition “25 Years of Video Aesthetics”. The exhibition took place at the NRW Forum in Düsseldorf and was curated by Ulf Poschardt. The section “Art Videos” was curated by Axel Wirths, the section of music videos was curated by Thomas Sabel from MTV and the section of advertising was curated by Hermann Vaske.

The exhibition was presented on more than a hundred plasma screens in the NRW Forum. As part of the exhibition, NRW Forum also showed also films by Matthew Barney, Chris Cunningham and a retrospective of Andy Warhol, as well as Hermann Vaske’s “Directors That Do Both: Features and Commercials”.


Malcolm MacLaren’s speech from the Hermann Vaske film for the “VIDEO” Exhibition:

Hi. I’m Malcolm McLaren and I would like to welcome you to “VIDEO: 25 Years of Video Aesthetics, Art, Advertising, and Music”.

The exhibition entitled “VIDEO” takes a look inside the workshops and video archives of imagery of the avant-garde. It documents the most important contemporary trends and offers a crossover of the different creative disciplines.
The “VIDEO” Exhibition puts videos back on screen. From art, and the art of advertising, to music; it offers a comparative view of the new aesthetic imagery of our time.
The “VIDEO” tour begins in the 1980s, the decade during which (where) the first great battles of the new video age were fought and the place where the great aesthetic disputes took place.
On the threshold of a media and social revolution characterized by the birth of private television channels and the launch of music television.

Back in the 1980s, David Bowie had this to say about videos ‘The video is the logical fulfillment of the merger of art and technology. I consider it to be an artistic enrichment. I can see the day coming when a completely new type of artist will be born on the interface between music and video.’

The music video quickly developed into an art form in its own right and gave birth to its own aesthetics and new imagery. The music video became a truly Warholian manifestation of the Zeitgeist. ‘Music video aesthetics’ was the derogatory term used to describe films or programs that were made using this new imagery.

‘Videos are my favourite program. They are all so artistic,’ enthused Andy Warhol, who later made a series of programs called ‘Andy Warhol’s 15 Minutes’ for MTV.

Advertising people are making feature films, and feature film directors are making commercials: Music video and film directors like Marty Scorsese began directing ads, while ad makers and music video directors like Adrian Lyne, Ridley Scott, Tony Scott and Tarsem Singh were swallowed up by the film industry.
All of this contributed to an unprecedented new process of aestheticization and the convergence, or even penetration, of existing genres. Borders became fuzzy and the walls between the different creative disciplines began to disappear. Everyone began quoting everyone else.
Take, for example, the Duracell Bunny who became part of David Letterman’s ‘Late Show’ or the ‘Duracell Band’ created by the German artist Klaus vom Bruch, who used the Duracell ad as an analogy for consumption and violence.

In Nike’s ‘free-style’ ad campaign, which was both shown as a regular ad campaign on television and in its own right on MTV, advertising mutated into a pure media event. The sound for this campaign was composed by Afrika Bambaataa, the inventor of hip hop.

Since everybody’s started to quote everybody else, video helped giving birth to what I call a “Karaoke culture”. We live in a karaoke world, where people mouth the words of others and take no responsibility for those words. And when the ‘performance’ ends, it is a world where all views have been made into non-views. The museum has been replaced by the department store. Shopping is our entertainment and shopping is our art. Too often, of course, we are disappointed with the results and so have to return to the store for more.

Like no other television channel before it, MTV’s programs and schedule were heavily based on self-marketing. Paradoxically, the MTV logo ‘art breaks’ is one of the most successful artistic experiments in the history of television. Artists like Dara Birnbaum and Jenny Holzer were behind these features.
The video captures the transfer between all social and aesthetic contexts. In a video, consumption and reception become forms of cultural exchange.
Since 2001, the MTV series ‘Becoming’ has given middle-class girls the chance to dress up as doubles and imitate their heroines Christina Aguilera, Beyoncé or Pink in their videos.
‘You look just like her’ is just about the greatest compliment these Middle American girls could wish for. The “Girls Next Door”, as the Playboy centerfold philosophy would describe them.

The protagonists of new digital aesthetics don’t necessarily have anything to do with reality any more. In 1999, for example, artists Pierre Huyge and Philippe Parreno bought Annlee, a Manga figure. By acquiring the rights to Annlee and her image, they were able to process this animated character as they liked.

The video has long since divorced itself from its forced marriage with the television screen. Directors like Chris Cunningham have long since brought the aesthetics of music video culture into museums while the powerful images in Matthew Barney’s art video films have long since conquered cinemas and exhibition halls. ‘Art breaks’ by artists like Jenny Holzer or Dara Birnbaum has long since brought art to commercial television channels and artists like Pierre Huyge have long since taken avatars from the world of kids’ games and imported them into an artistic context.
Video has become the medium of everyday culture. The digicam has made video part of our private environment and invented democratic filmmaking while the security camera has brought it into the public realm. Video is a “laboratory for our vision”.

The “VIDEO” Exhibition focuses on the most influential examples of new video aesthetics. It is a collection of 100 videos drawn from the fields of art, advertising, and music, and dating from 1980 to 2003. All videos were selected by a panel of renowned curators.
The “VIDEO” Exhibition includes music videos by Godard, a television program by Andy Warhol, and the MTV series ‘Becoming’. Each of these features shows that anyone can be famous with video. As Andy Warhol said: ‘In the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes.’
The “VIDEO” Exhibition uses a feature by Hermann Vaske to illustrate the influence of video aesthetics on cinema. The film is called: “Directors that do both: features and commercials” and documents the traffic that goes on between Hollywood and Madison Avenue.
“VIDEO” extends the exhibition with a series of films in the Blackbox Film Museum and a selection of videos every Friday evening in the NRW Forum.

I see, therefore I am!

“Highly recommended.”


“The exhibition shows how video aesthetic influenced the related discipline film and media art.”