NEW YORK.- Television Delivers People gathers together video works from the 1970s and 80s as well as more recent examples, which examine the relationship between television and the viewer. The exhibition, organized by curatorial assistant Gary Carrion-Murayari, went on view recently in the Whitneys second-floor Kaufman Astoria Studios Gallery, through February 17, 2008.
The eight artists whose works are included are Alex Bag, Dara Birnbaum, Joan Braderman, Keren Cytter, Kalup Linzy, Richard Serra, Michael Smith, and Ryan Trecartin. Works by Birnbaum, Serra, and Smith will be shown continuously on monitors, while the other works are projected, also continuously, on screen.
The exhibition borrows its title from Richard Serras video Television Delivers People (1973), which playfully pairs a Muzak soundtrack with a scrolling list of statements describing the manipulative strategies and motivations imbedded in television by corporate advertisers. Works from the late 1970s and 1980s by Dara Birnbaum (Technology/Transformation: Wonder Woman, 1978-79) and Joan Braderman (her 1986 work Joan Does Dynasty will be shown) extend Serras media critique by using strategies of appropriation to analyze specific television genres and programs. These are some of the earliest examples of works in which artists acknowledged television as a primary medium for cultural communication and as a subject worthy of sustained analysis.
Videos by Michael Smith (whose work will also be included in the upcoming 2008 Whitney Biennial) and Alex Bag offer responses to television, in which characters lives are shaped by cable and its infinite programming choices. In Smith's video, It Starts at Home (1982), his hapless alter-ego, Mike, has his relationship with television inverted when his daily activities are broadcast to the world. In Bag's recent videos, she adopts a shifting persona that parodies numerous television genres and programs. Her videos demonstrate an awareness of her immersion in a media environment and suggest the possibility of a viewer who is continuously adapting and responding to changes in popular culture.
Younger artists like Keren Cytter, Kalup Linzy, and Ryan Trecartin adopt a similar approach in their short narrative videos, and also draw on a dense internet culture, in which diverse content from television, film, and music is immediately accessible and available for manipulation and response. This is the first time the Whitney will be showing the work of Alex Bag, Keren Cytter, and Kalup Linzy, and both Bag and Linzy will be showing recently completed new videos. Ryan Trecartins work was exhibited in the 2006 Whitney Biennial.