on IDEAS, pt. 3

March 6, 2008


Video brings what happened into the what’s happening.

Louise Poissant positions the role of video in her article Video: Writing History as “an electronic pen … [that] makes events” (Poissant 190). She distinguishes a pre-video “era” by a specific ideology that “separated a deed and its description, reality and fiction, history and history writing” (Poissant 190), which boundaries the introduction of film and video blurred, confused, and even erased. There is an immediacy inherent in video that lends itself to this end.

Poissant also suggests that video “manages to open up space” through “installations and … video environments” that re-position the viewer into the world brought into being by the medium (Poissant 191). The She also touches on the “fragmentation” encouraged by video as it allows for the articulation of multiple (and sometimes simultaneous) subjectivities, and opens a discourse for many points of view to be witnessed and expressed (Poissant 192).

More critically, if video is as Poissant states “a tool used by many artists to introduce and explore something different, slices of other cultures … [to write] segments of histories” (Poissant 193) then what is to be believed, and whom or what information is to be trusted? And if video can be used as a “tool … by … artists” cannot it then be used as a weapon by ideologues to control and construct information and subsequently wield power over a group or nation?

Optimism is a good thing, and like Poissant I believe in the power of video to build identity, define relationships, and unite peoples and groups (Poissant 194). Video gives the individual the ability to re-evaluate her “limits and borders” (Poissant 194) and to deconstruct those limits and re-position himself over such borders, if not altogether to make them disappear.


Cited:  Poissant, Louise.  “Video: Writing History”  Video Re/View: the (best) source for critical writings on Canadian artists’ video.  Eds. Peggy Gale & Lisa Steele.  Toronto: Art Metropole, 1996.


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