Critical Writing Index

Comic Horror: The Presence of Television in Video Art

by Bob Riley

The Arts for Television, 1987, pp. 85-98

Amsterdam: Stedelijk Museum, 1987

With respect to the short history of video art, Bob Riley discusses the televisual medium's influences on North American video artwork in terms of introducing and innovating comic horror within video narratives. Using the video work of hallmark video artists (i.e. Richard Serra, Martha Rosler...etc.) as springboards for discussion through a cultural criticism perspective, Riley states how the humorous appropriation of televisual images, codes and conventions within video art generates social commentary of the moving image as a mass medium.

Citing the 1960s ande 1970s as a period of video art innovation, Riley believes that the concurrent domination television as social mediator, home entertainment and consumption triggered contemporary "video humorists" (94) of the 1980s to actively challenge its viewership through detournement of its commercial form and content. The subversive and satirical appropriation of television in video art raises questions of its representational objectivity, privatization, social mediation (of family relationships and daily practices), consumer interpellation and spectator-subject formation.

ITEM 1987.079 – available for viewing in the Research Centre

Videos, Artworks and Artists Cited

Global GrooveNam June Paik

Television Delivers PeopleRichard Serra

The Games (Olympic Variations)Michel Auder

TV AmericaMichel Auder

Technology/Transformation: Wonder WomanDara Birnbaum

Grimoire MagnetiqueJoelle de la Casiniere

Great Mother (Sachiko)Mako Idemitsu

If It's Too Bad To Be True, It Could Be DISINFORMATIONMartha Rosler

More TV StoriesIlene Segalove

Death Valley DaysGorilla Tapes

Shut The Fuck UpGeneral Idea

Joan Does DynastyJoan Barderman

KillerGusztav Hamos

Slogans (American)Antonio Muntadas

Kobolds' GesangeKlaus vom Bruch

Das DuracellbrandKlaus vom Bruch

AzimutKlaus vom Bruch

Secret HorrorMichael Smith

Slogans (American)Antonio Muntadas