Video and New Media Gallery

This gallery is equipped to display the Museum’s growing collection of video and new media art. The term “new media” is commonly understood to encompass a wide range of artistic practices that engage with emerging technologies, including the internet, computer animation, virtual reality, and a variety of other interactive digital data tools and applications.

Video is often considered a separate but related category to new media art. Developed as an analog technology in the counter culture of the 1960s, video provided artists with new creative options, as well as easily portable equipment. Contemporary artists continue to explore this medium for its conceptual and aesthetic possibilities in formats that include digital technologies. Videos range from single-channel works—using one electronic source (such as a DVD), one playback device, and one display mode (a monitor or projection)—to complex, multi-channel installations.



Mass Ornament

On view March 17–July 9, 2017

Natalie Bookchin. American, born 1962
Mass Ornament. 2009
HD digital video with five channels of sound
Purchased with the Rebecca Morris Evans, class of 1932, Acquisition Fund
SC 2016:42

Running time: 7 minutes 12 seconds

In Mass Ornament, a video installation from 2009, I edited videos of people dancing alone in their rooms, to create a mass dance reminiscent of historical representations of synchronized masses of bodies in formation, from Busby Berkeley to Leni Riefenstahl. I wanted the work to continually shift between depictions of masses and that of individuals. The dancers, alone in their rooms, seem to perform the same movements over and over as if scripted. But at the same time their bodies don’t conform to mass ideals, and their sometimes awkward interpretations undermine the ‘mass ornament’ produced by synchronizing their movements. I added sounds of bodies moving about in space, thumping, banging and shuffling, as well as ambient sound emphasizing geographical differences, from crowded urban dwellings to the suburbs. Dancers push against walls and slide down doorways, as if attempting to break out of or beyond, the constraints of the rooms in which they seem to be encased.—Natalie Bookchin




Image credit: Natalie Bookchin. American, born 1962. Mass Ornament. 2009. HD digital video with five channels of sound. Purchased with the Rebecca Morris Evans, class of 1932, Acquisition Fund