Workshop 06: Video Installations

Isaac Julien, Stones Against Diamonds, 2015

In this workshop, we will examine the contexts for screen installation works: expanded cinema, video art, and video installations. We focus on how space is used to stage screen works, and how techniques and formats of installation are employed to expand the medium into space and time. Specifically, we will be investigating screen-based installations by re-creating existing works.

Expanded Cinema and Screen installations:

[Anthony McCall, Line Describing a Cone, 1973]

  • question what constitute cinema, the cinematic experience, and the screen
  • experiment with the expansion of  2 dimensional space into 3 dimensional space
  • incorporate the audience as participant/ producer of the experience
  • consciously incorporate the spatial with the temporal experience of the work/ image
  • performative aspect

Discuss:  expanding screen medium/ technologies

What are some common screen display formats?

  • Computer screens: on stands, on plinths, wall-mounted
  • Television screens: digital LCD flatscreen, CRT monitors
  • Projector (what type?)
  • small independent screen displays screens, digital photoframes
  • tiny screens ipad, ipod, iphone, small personal portable screens

What are some delivery/ presentation platforms?

  • Webcast
  • Broadcast
  • DVD or other disc-based media
  • Portable screen devices

What are the technical considerations?

  • Resolution (screen size)
  • Aspect ratio
  • Data rate
  • Compression/ decompression (i.e. codec)
  • File format (i.e. ’container’)
  • medium: tape, disc, digital file
  • Focal length
  • Ambient light

What is interlace display/ progressive display?

  • Interlace: upper and lower fields (sets of lines)
  • Only half the image is displayed (at 1/50 sec)
  • Progressive: all lines are displayed
  • CRT television – interlace display
  • Computer – progressive display

What are the aesthetic considerations?

Nam June Paik, TV Garden, 1973 recreated at the Guggenheim 2000


Discuss: Projection as a medium

Joan Joans, Light Time Tales, 2014

Working with a video projector

  • handling equipment (e.g. transporting, lifting, securing, caring for equipment)
  • introduction to OHS issues
  • technical run-through (e.g. turning on and off, input, output, focal length/ focusing, placement, front versus rear projection etc.)

Bill Viola, The Veiling, 1995

Working with projection surfaces

  • translucent surfaces e.g. shower curtain – back/ rear projection
  • mirrors – reflection
  • water – projecting onto a medium
  • screens – framing
  • glass

Hiroshi Senju, Forest of Water, 2008

Working with video screens

  • different types of screens (computer LCD monitors, digital photoframes)
  • set up (on stands and plinths, hanging on walls)
  • working with multiple screens (dual screen display, connection to computer etc.)
  • video files: rendering, data-rate, timing

Working with installation

  • What are the parameters? (e.g. size of projection, angle of projection, surfaces of the screen materials, reflective surfaces, number of images, multiples, opacity, the architecture of the exhibition space etc.

Eija-Liisa Ahtila, The Hour of Prayer, 2005


Exercise: Re-create an Existing Video Installation work

In a group of 3-4,  research the following seven artworks and nominate one to re-create using the equipment provided. There will be sufficient equipment to create one of each of the four artworks.  Source or create the content for this exercise (for example shooting similar content, editing the footage into a loop for display, and exporting for installation).

At the end of the class, present your re-creation and address the following:

  • What is the central concept of the work?
  • How does the spatial installation relate to the concept?
  • Why the choice of the screen technologies? Does this choice help convey the concept?

1. Gary Hill, Up against Down, 2008 (gallery)

2. Douglas Gordon, Confessions of a Justified Sinner, 1995 (gallery)

3. Tony Oursler, Underwater (Blue/Green), 1995 (gallery)

4. Bill Viola, Small Saints, 2008 (gallery)

5. Nam June Paik, TV Buddha, 1974 (gallery)

6. Runa Islam, Assault, 2008 (blackbox)

7. Bruce Nauman, Live-taped Video Corridor, 1970 (classroom corridor)


  1. Document your re-staging of the artwork in this workshop.
  2. Write a post on your blog that details your research, re-staging process, and reflection.
  3. Work on Research Essay.
  4. Begin research work on Major Project.

One thought on “Workshop 06: Video Installations

  1. Links for research material:

    1. Gary Hill, Up against Down, 2008 (gallery)

    2. Douglas Gordon, Confessions of a Justified Sinner, 1995 (gallery)

    3. Tony Oursler, Underwater (Blue/Green), 1995 (gallery)

    4. Bill Viola, Small Saints, 2008 (gallery)

    5. Nam June Paik, TV Buddha, 1974 (gallery)

    6. Runa Islam, Assault, 2008 (blackbox)

    7. Bruce Nauman, Live-taped Video Corridor, 1970 (classroom corridor)

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