Feedback suggests that video art generates a twofold reflexivity (and so TVTV is a true double entendre): it reflects the viewer (“narcissism”), and in doing so, reflects the mass media apparatus (CCTV is “actualism” insofar as it is CATV writ small).
Joselit appears to take these processes as not only simultaneous but synonymous: Wipe Cycle “[represents] and [pluralizes] the monolithic ‘information’ of network TV through a spectator's unexpected encounter with her or his own act of viewing;” (93) Time Delay Room 5 “simultaneously [dramatizes] the line between witnessing a spectacle, as audience members do when they watch one of the monitors, and becoming a spectacle.” (105)
But if video art is preoccupied with reflection (several of the selected works even simulcast their spectators), then why does Joselit focus on the asymmetry of television's production and dissemination, and not on the concomitant understanding of mass media as a “great equalizer,” per Warhol (“All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it”) or Father John Misty (“Rich or poor / the channels are all the same?”)
I find Joselit’s lens—video art as critique—pedestrian without a deeper look at “broadcast optimism” (e.g.. the psychology of The Big Chill; Shamberg’s comments on “mass media therapy”). Joselit is right to regard television as “prohibitively capitalized” and “ostensibly public [yet] impossible to enter” —but the “childishly naive […] fantasies of revolution and subversion” (xii) merit further interrogation, if only because they have recurred post-YouTube.
For a broader critique: is culture-jamming (hthe disruption, co-opting, or misuse of dominant circuits) art only because it “virally” inserts our politics into the same old machine? (Or reproduces it anew?) I am not convinced that 1.) intrusion within or 2.) reproduction of such circuits to suffice as critique (if it did, then why not write on the 1987 Max Headroom hijacking and call it a day?)
What interests me is the role of time—or, more precisely, delay—in Joselit's selcted works.
For one thing, delay seems to answer the Burroughs project (as in The Ticket That Exploded—discontinuous or anachronistic sound as alienation from oneself). If delay is displacement in time, then it also prompts comparison with the readymade and its displacement in space—that is to say, that it becomes “art” once removed from flux and situated in the gallery. (This is especially noteworthy since the attention Joselit pays to inscription w/r/t the readymade seems to fall short of explaining how television is so inscribed.)
Everyone has a television in their living room—but as Joselit aptly notes, “narrowcasting” compartmentalizes us into focus groups via the schedule, i.e. it “runs on time.” To quote Paik: the question is then “not capitalism versus socialism but the conflict of human time versus machine time.”
Why does video art model itself after CCTV and not Nielsen Ratings?