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Gerry Schum
«Letter to Gene Youngblood»


Dear Mr. Youngblood,

I m afraid, this article or letter will be the late-late-late show for your book EXPANDED CINEMA. Sorry, we were terrible busy working with the catalogue for the TV show LAND ART. I hope I am not too late with this letter.

You wrote me, you will print everything, I send you. For me it is a bit difficult, to write an article for your book. I think my English is not accurate enough. Perhaps you correct it or rewrite the whole thing.

The easiest way to explain my conception of art and TV is to give you some facts about our TV gallery, specially the LAND ART show, which recently was transmitted by the nationwide TV system. That means that I have the chance to speak about realities and not about theories, which are more or less only hopes for the future of art and TV. I think up to now the TV gallery is a unique form of art reception amoung all the various forms of art shows in TV. The recent TV art exhibition we made was the LAND ART show in the TV gallery.
In the LAND ART film objects of the following artists were shown:

Name of artist Object Location of realisation
Richard Long Walking a straight 10 Dartmoor/England
Mile Line
Barry Flanagan Hole in the Sea Scheveningen/Holland
Dennis Oppenheim Time Track Fort Kent, Timeborder
Robert Smithson Fossil Quarry Mirror Cayuga Lake, State N.Y.
Marinus Boezem Sandfountain Camargue, South France
Jan Dibbets 12 Hours Tide Object with Dutch Coast
Correction of Perspective
Walter de Maria Two Lines Three Circles Mojave Desert, California
on the Desert
Mike Heizer Coyote Coyote Dry Lake, Calif.

First I will give you some facts about the TV gallery. TV is in German «Fernsehen».
So «Fernsehgalerie» means the same as TV gallery. I choose the expression TV gallery to make the TV audience aware of the new form of art show which the Fernsehgalerie represente. The first situation which I have to explain is the fact that there is no real gallery room. The TV gallery only exists in a series of TV transmissions, that means TV gallery is more or less a mental institution, which comes only into real existance in the moment of transmission by TV. It is no place to show real art objects, which you can buy and carry home. One of our ideas is communication of art instead of possession of art objects.

This conception made it necessary to find new system to pay the artists and 1 to cover the expenses for the realisation of art objects for the TV show. Our solution is, that we sell the right of publication, that means a kind of copyright to the TV station. The TV production covers the costs of the film-making itself and the expenses of the realisation of the art objects and pays the fee to the artists. I cannot see a reason why any museum, gallery or similar institution or in this special case a TV station should be allowed to show art objects without paying a fee to the author: the artist. In a time where publication of art by printlag or transmitting becomes more and more important – besides selling of art objects – the artist should have the same rights, which every writer, actor, composer etc. naturally can demand for.

Today more and more art objects are not created for art-dealers or galleries or for any kind of private property. This specially occurs the objects of the Iand-artists or the ideas of the «conceptual art». I believe there is a general change from the realisation of objects to the publication of projects or ideas. This of course demands a fundamental change in dealing with art. I think one of the results of this change is the TV gallery. There are equal conceptions like the ideas of Seth Sieglaub in New York and Givaudan in Paris, to give only 2 examples. To cite Harald Szeemann of Bern, the traditional triangle of studio, gallery and collector, in which art up today took place, will be destroyed.

According to these ideas the TV exhibition LAND ART is no documentation of an art-event that exists in any way out of the exact time and place of transmission. Instead of the documentation of art events in TV, which were created for a different medium like for instance a gallery show in the TV gallery everything is specially planned according to the medium film or TV. This means the art objects and art ideas come to existance only in the moment of transmission. After normally 6 months of working with artists and TV there is nothing left but a 1500 feet film reel. There is no object that can be seen «in reality» or could be sold as an object.

The work of art is the film itself. The film is result of idea and realisation of the artist and my work as director and cameraman. In practice the artist has an idea which more or less includes already the fact that the reproduction by the medium film or TV is part of the realisation of the object itself. The object as «Symbiose» between the artistic idea and the medium film.

Resuming: the first spacific base of the TV gallery is the fact, that all objects transmitted during a show of the Fernsehgalerie are specially created for the reproduction by the medium TV. The only way of communication is the transmission by the TV station.

The process of filming and transmitting is a fundamental part of the work of art shown by the TV gallery. Two examples: Richard Long who took part in the LAND ART show only used the filmcamera to mark a special part of a landscape. The title of this object was: WALKING A STRAIGHT 10 MILE LINE FORWÄRD AND BACK, SHOOTING (filming) EVERY HALF MILE. I believe, regarding the ideas of the TV gallery Richard Long created the most consequent object in the LAND ART show. To mark his ten mile line he used neither chalk nor digged a trench. Only the camera filmed every half mile six seconds of Iandscape shooting in the direction he walked. Long himself was out of the cameraframe.

The second example is Jan Dibbets‘ object of the LAND ART show:
12 HOURS TIDE OBJECT WITH CORRECTION 0F PERSPECTIVE! In front of the film camera a bulldozer draws a trapezoid on the sand somewhere on the dutch coast. The bottom of the trapezoid near the camera was nine feet long, the top was 90 feet long. This relation between bottom and top was found according to the perspective correction of the camera wide angle lens. The smaller side of the trapezoid was in front of the camera. The result was, that the trapezoid seen by the camera – and this was the only way of reception it was created for – became a perfect rectangle according to the frame of the camera. Jan
DIBBETS made similar objects before using a still camera. Now with the moviecamera, he made the process of drawing and in the same object its destruction by the incomming flood-tide visible. The whole time the camera had the same position. No intercuts, the different shots were edited by fading in and out.

In the LAND ART film none of the artists was to be seen as an acting person. I think this is another specific point of the TV gallery. The idea of the TV gallery is to show only art objects. I don‘t believe there is any sense in showing faces or hands of artists in close-ups or filming the «atmosphere» of a studio. The only thing to be seen is the work of art. Änd there is no commentary. Dring all the 38 minutes of the LAND ART show there i no word spoken. No explanation. I think an art object realised in regard of the medium TV does not need a spoken explanation.

Generally I regard the TV exhibitions of the Fernsehgalerie as an autonomous kind of an art event, not as a documentation about an art event, which took place out of TV. There are very few artists today, which I think are aware of the possibilities which could result from
a co-operation between art and TV. Some f them today work with photographs or postcards or any kind of printed communication stuff. ln the possibilities of communication of art objects or art ideas our situation can be compared with the situation of literatur in the time before Gutenberg invented the printing machine. Works of literature are multified in millions of books, works of music you can buy in millions of discs, but art objects are generally unique. Up today artists did not succeed to find a modern system of communication. The onlv chance for the Fine Arts I see is a deliberate use of the medium TV. And this does not mean, to rake a filmcamera and make a movie about artists and art objects. Artists and film-makers
– possibly united in one person should look for an – as near as
possible – co-operation for a new kind of art objects or projects
which are communicable by the medium TV.

Art should no longer be made for the privacy or exelusivness of dealers or collectors. For TV stations this would mean a change from documentations of art events, which take place in galleries or museums, into art productions, which are specially made for the medium film or TV and are transmitted with the full responsibility for form and content of the TV stations.


[Source: Fernsehgalerie, Gerry Schum, Ursula Schum-Wevers, Land Art, TV Germany Chanel I, April 1969, Hartwig Popp, Hannover 1970 (2. Aufl.), S.4–5]