Directors are constantly adjusting their methods and styles to suit the changing demands of the audience. In recent years, this is reflected in the increasing usage of documentary elements even in narrative forms. Filmmakers such as Alexander Kluge, Harun Farocki, Peter Watkins, etc have helped create a movement in this respect. The invoking of documentary features is in part recognition of lack of serious intellectual discourse in video art. It is a response to the perception that video art is ineffective for social change. The medium is thus seen capable of instigating “an exchange with an audience about the status of ideas such as truth or authenticity….the increasing interest in the unstable and reflexive aspects of documentary is seen as ‘aesthetic journalism’”. (Chris, 2006) Elements of documentary are intertwined with the subject of realism, though the latter is genre finding application across art forms. Contemporarily, video art has embraced political subjects in an unprecedented fashion. The subjects they touch on range from “the trauma of language and identity in Kosovo, to the relationship between Malaysian skinhead subculture and British colonial history, to the promises and betrayals of talk shows and reality TV.” (Collins, 2011, p. 44)
Finally, modern video art is as much a product of technology as it is of the artist. The experimental approaches witnessed in the genre “through specific exploration of devices like repetition, partial repetition, review and reworking, permutation and system, prefigures many of the structural principles inherent in the technology of Random Access Memory”. (De Bruyn, 2003) Thus technologically empowered, the filmmaker’s challenge is in exposing his audience to these new capabilities. ‘Non-linearity’ in narrative structure is a particularly modern phenomenon in video art. The filmmaker will have to remember that from the point of view of the spectator, the experience (the journey itself in the end) can only be linear because our lives move only forward through time. Maya Deren has contributed to theories related to such structures – which he classifies into horizontal or vertical planes of development. The aesthetics of this format are built around a few fundamental principles: “the drama moves forward on the horizontal plane–the narrative. Layers of meaning are added by repeating the same sequence of events with changes–the vertical plane. We end up with a matrix.” (De Bruyn, 2003) In this way, the experimental is indebted to the digital. A new area of concern for directors handling digital filmmaking technology is that of ‘interactivity’. Hereby significant new issues are created “for the understanding of the relationship between the work and the spectator and for the concepts of authorship which may be seen as intrinsic to digital media” (De Bruyn, 2003)
- Chris, Cynthia. “Video Art: Dead or Alive?” Afterimage3 (1996): 4+.
- Collins, Phil. “A Place for Reflection: Political, Questioning Art Film Is a Vital but Threatened Form, Writes Phil Collins.” New Statesman (1996)9 May 2011: 44.
- De Bruyn, Dirk. “Malcolm Le Grice Experimental Cinema in the Digital Age.” Metro MagazineFall 2003: 202+.
- Joselit, David. “The Video Public Sphere.” Art Journal2 (2000): 46+.
- Springgay, Stephanie. “Corporeal Pedagogy and Contemporary Video Art.”Art Education 2008: 18+.