4th International Conference
Digital Culture & AudioVisual Challenges
Interdisciplinary Creativity in Arts and Technology
Hybrid - Corfu/Online, May 13-14, 2022
Video as a medium is as diverse as any other nameable art form – e.g. painting, sculpture, dance, etc. – but very often inscrutable at its core. This can be attested to the fact that we are accustomed to seeing the video or television screen as inherently programmable and commercialized. Video Art asks us to look at work as proprietary to an individual screen or surface; you would not expect to see another painting sharing the canvas upon which the Mona Lisa was painted: That canvas and the painting upon it are intertwined and inseparable. With Video, we are being asked to see the work wholly integrated with the screen – or screens – in a similar fashion. And in the same way that the canvas used in paintings can be petite or massive, visually stretched into diptychs and triptychs, or prepared in all manner of ways, so too are the ways in which Video Art can be installed and presented.
I fell in love with the technology behind video design and installation while in college, and have continued to work in the field – in a variety of forms – ever since. I'm particularly drawn to the integration of Video with other mediums, particularly with live performance and multichannel synchronization. The form in itself has proven to be profoundly malleable, despite – and at times because of – its often overbearing technological presence and needs.
In 2017, I was asked by Mountain Time Arts in Bozeman, Montana to help Northern Cheyenne Indian artist Bently Spang with the video aspect of what he was then calling a Video Warshirt: A massive metal sculpture in the shape of a Crow Indian ceremonial Warshirt, upon which 27 screens would be hung, 21 of which would be synchronized. The piece, ultimately titled Warshirt #6, premiered at a small church in Belgrade, Montana, and would later be displayed at the Missoula Art Museum before settling this past fall at the newly-constructed Native American Hall at Montana State University in Bozeman, MT.
Working on this project was a true turning point in my work in Video Design and programming; It was the first time I felt the full emotional impact of playing some small part in bringing to life a profoundly important piece that – at the start – was far beyond my own conceptual (and even technical) abilities. Since then, I've worked on several other projects, including two large-scale productions with Mountain Time Arts, and a live, video-dependent production of Benjamin Britten's opera Turn of the Screw at the Vizcaya Museum in Miami.
I would like to speak in detail about a few of these productions, from the view of one artist working with the grand (and ever-evolving) ideas of another. My own work – outside of teaching and video – is primarily in painting and animation, two processes that – for me, at least – require long stretches of time to myself. For this reason, the collaborative work I do in Video is profoundly fulfilling, as it allows me to step directly into the processes of another's imagination, with the goal of bringing some truly great creative visions to actual, physical life.
Stephen St. Francis Decky is an artist and filmmaker whose paintings and films have appeared in galleries, festivals, and museums both nationally and internationally. As a technical collaborator, he has worked for over a decade on projects across the U.S., specializing in multichannel video installation and video design. Stephen has taught film and animation courses at several schools, including Tufts University, Moore College of Art and Design, and Lycoming College. His fiction and non-fiction have appeared in multiple publications, and his little novella Make the Bear Be Nice was published late last year by Frayed Edge Press in Philadelphia, PA.