Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Distraction and New Perceptual Terrains (Attention and Distraction: On the Aesthetic Experience of Video Installation Art)
What I found most interesting about this article is the author's philosophical take on distraction and how it serves as a sometimes intended element in video art. What with the rise of digital media in urban settings, our patterns of attention are shifting immensely. Several artists including Andy Warhol and Wolfgang Staehle toy with viewers' attention spans, creating pieces in which the subject matter remains almost entirely still for hours on end. This is known as surveillance art and it often speaks of the "standardization of the structure of everyday life". This type of art creates an odd phenomenon in which the viewer experiences both sensory overload and sensory deprivation: they suffer from both too much and too little stimulation simultaneously, paired with discomfort and distraction. Artists who aim to achieve this effect on viewers use video because still images cannot evoke quite the same reaction. If a work is time-based, the viewer is prompted to stay for an extended amount of time to watch, and so they innately expect to have their attention held. Without this, there is not much room for distraction, and so distraction becomes a theme almost fully unique to the realm of video art.