Martha Wilson

1972, 01:33 minutes, B&W, English


I am dramatizing the performance aspect of human behavior by reading a script in front of this video monitor. Individuals play at being themselves in order to realize themselves, so in a sense, all human beings are performing in front of video monitors or audiences, fictive or real, at all times. What this means for the concept of “self” is that the self does not exist as anything but a dramatic effect. The self others deal with is the image we project into a scene of action, and what is at stake is whether this image will be credited or discredited. For example, I am playing at being an artist in front of a video monitor, and what is at stake is not whether I am here, but whether I am successfully convincing my audience that I am an artist. Even if I were a con-artist, I would have to use techniques everyone uses to convince my audience of my sincerity. What is most important to this piece is not what I am saying, but what I am not saying: what the audience reads from my eye-movements, tone of voice, gestures, mistakes and so on. If this were a real-life situation, the audience might exercise tact, protecting me from any hint that my performance is not going over. I am not being negative about play-acting. A good performance transforms style into self, or style into art.

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