The Immature Medium

Chuck Close

When I walk through the Museum of Modern Art in NY, some of the art does not effect me in the least. I can walk past and feel nothing. Then, there are the pieces with which I resonate. Who can say why?

Those paintings communicate with me in a very direct and visceral way.  I see what the artist has created, but I also ‘feel’ something much deeper that the artist is trying to say.  Gursky works on me this way. So does Close. So does Rauschenberg.

I often think of art as a kind of time machine. Even though an artist is dead, the painting still continues to project that which they were trying to communicate.

Painting has been with us since 3500 BCE Jericho.

Television has been with us since 1939 New York World’s Fair. Television is just getting started.

In the world of paintings, we have Picasso and Michelangelo and DaVinci – examplars of genius in the medium.

In the world of television, we have nothing that we can point to as the paragon of what the medium is capable of.  That is because television is an immature medium; it has only just started. And until now, television was so expensive that almost no one got a play with the medium, except a very very few, and only then through the filter of a technician.

If you wanted to be a painter, it was fairly simple to get your hands on a brush and a canvas.  You tried. Maybe you were Picasso, maybe you were nothing. But the cost of trying and failing and trying again was little more than your time.  The same held true for writing or music.

Now, this universality of access is available for video, for the first time.

As more and more people get their hands on video cameras and edit software, we will begin to see video enter the realm that other art forms have always inhabited – the world of cheap access.

There will be many many many disasters – the video equivalent of your aunt Minnie taking up painting flowers.  But there will also be a few moments of genius – something so far sorely lacking in the world of TV.

Perhaps, one day, we will see the work of the Picasso of video.


But even more interesting, perhaps, with enough work, video may start to enter the realm of painting – a place where one may watch a piece of video and not just learn how many earthquakes there were in Los Angeles, but also ‘feel’ what the maker wants to both capture and communicate.

Now  there would be an example of ‘must see TV’.


One response to “The Immature Medium

  1. this is the exact goal i hope to achieve with video and film! i believe it has been done nicely by some but there is always another interpretation of life’s nuances that is waiting to be articulated using video as the medium.

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