My experience, however, is that you can't manage to think about things simply by deciding to, and that the mind's deeper currents often need to be surprised by indirection, sometimes, indeed, by treachery and ruse, as when you steer away from a goal in order to reach it more directly or look away from an object to register it more exactly. In that sense, thinking anything adequate about commercial television may well involve ignoring it and thinking about something else; in this instance, experimental video (or alternatively, that new form or genre called MTV, which I cannot deal with here). This is less a matter of mass versus elite culture than it is of controlled laboratory situations: what is so highly specialized as to seem aberrant and uncharacteristic in the world of daily life -- hermetic poetry, for example -- can often yield crucial information about the properties of an object of study (language, in that case), whose familiar everyday forms obscure it. Released from all conventional constraints, experimental video allows us to witness the full range of possibilities and potentialities of the medium in a way which illuminates its various more restricted uses, the latter being subsets and special cases of the former.

File type: video
Info: MTV First Day Of Broadcast 8/1/81
Original Url: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZuWDSnHWQbY
Edit Delete

Visit url Edit

Even this approach to television via experimental video, however, needs to be estranged and displaced if the language of formal innovation and enlarged possibility leads us to expect a flowering and a multiplicity of new forms and visual languages: they exist, of course, and to a degree so bewildering in the short history of video art (sometimes dated from Nam June Paik's first experiments in 1963) that one is tempted to wonder whether any description or theory could ever encompass their variety. I have found it enlightening to come at this issue from a different direction, however, by raising the question of boredom as an aesthetic response and a phenomenological problem. In both the Freudian and the Marxist traditions (for the second, Lukács, but also Sartre's discussion of "stupidity" in Sartre Journal of the Phony War), "boredom" is taken not so much as an objective property of things and works but rather as a response to the blockage of energies [whether those be grasped in terms of desire or of praxis). Boredom then becomes interesting as a reaction to situations of paralysis and also, no doubt, as defense mechanism or avoidance behavior.

Source type: picture
Info: Nam June Paik - Zen for TV - 1963 / Altered television set
Original size: 929x1280 px. Edit