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Standards or autonomous use?

This was the approach at first: you must appropriate–for artistic purposes–technology that happens to be available. On the other hand you must always work against the limitations and format guidelines imposed by the equipment. So if video signals can be recorded on audiotape, as was possible for example with the Fischer Price toy camera Sadie Benning used for her first video works, this is not an anti-electronic attitude, but a genuine media-artistic approach. In fact Nam June Paik had similarly tried a whole variety of apparatus constellations beyond mere disturbance of a given device, in this case the television image, in the «Exposition of Music–Electronic Television» in 1963. To this extent, one frequently asked question–and this was the case even before the video camera and the video recorder were invented–is always directed at the artists and their specific relationship with the technology used, at craft art as opposed to concept art: can they use a camera or not? Or in today's terms: can they program or do they get someone to do it for them? Artists like Zbigniew Rybczynski are vehement


exponents of the first approach, and others like Fabrizio Plessi are the complete opposite. This dualism runs through generation after generation of ‹artist models.› Behind this is a complex relationship with the question of autonomy and dependence, which motivates contemporary media art towards a practice that is autonomous but also collaborative, which on the other hand corresponds with the do-it-yourself approach of the amateur who gets hold of his software as open source on the Internet.

But subsequently to Nam June Paik and E.A.T. there has been a whole new range of apparatuses invented that has either been imitated later by industrial standards or that simply expressed a concrete task to be performed, without having any further effect. The poetics of machinery and their ultra-rapid entrance into history could be admired and tried out at Ars Electronica in Linz in the «Eigenwelt der Apparate-Welt. Pioneers of Electronic Art» exhibition in 1992. The artists/curators Steina and Woody Vasulka did not just accumulate all the old apparatuses, they were also responsible for presenting

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