Judy Radul addresses the increasingly obsolete medium of television by way of the medium of the book―by extension commenting on media's continuous changes of form and format. The book thematizes television as a cultural container, both in its format as a “box” for content and as an ideologically saturated apparatus for reception
Judy Radul, This Is Television, Sternberg Press, 2019.
Television as cultural container, and as intermedia interface with the book as medium.
This Is Television addresses the increasingly obsolete medium of television by way of the medium of the book―by extension commenting on media's continuous changes of form and format. Through an interplay of theory and artistic research material, the book extends Judy Radul's ongoing investigation of media with an idiosyncratic perspective on television―while still feeding off collective experience. The book thematizes television as a cultural container, both in its format as a “box” for content and as an ideologically saturated apparatus for reception. With sections titled Craig, Oral History, Moon, Display, Landing, End of Analog etc., the book charts our identification with specific media and a nostalgia connected with the obsolescence of technology. Springing from a desire to engage intermedia form by way of a book about television, and to commit to the ambiguity of its title's announcement, This Is Television is organized around three central chapters: “This,” “Is,” and “Television” are individually interpreted in newly commissioned essays by Honor Gavin, Ana Teixeira Pinto, and Diedrich Diederichsen, with additional short texts by Judy Radul.
The experience of the current exhibition, This is Television, by artist Judy Radul at Daad Galerie emulates the experience of viewing and utilising television, while providing a historical context.
When the viewer walks into the space the atmosphere is similar to a cinematic experience. The 16mm projected film is turned on and Judy Radul’s silent video work, This Is Television, plays. The sound of the projector fills the darkened room with the nostalgic sound of the film reeling through the projector. The work combines quotes from Walter Benjamin’s Berlin Childhood around 1900 along with footage of the lunar path and ceramic objects lit by a flickering blue light.
References to Walter Benjamin relate to the destructive effect of media. The excerpts taken from Benjamin’s writings are poetic; “nothing more remained of the world than a single, stubborn question. It was: Why is there anything at all in the world? why the world?.” Such questions take on added significance in the immersive environment, associating Benjamin’s past experiences with moonlight shining upon objects within a room to the work.
Rudal’s Video Still is a large-scale print with layered stills from old television footage including reporters in the Gulf War, a game show, and an interview with David Lynch on a late night talk show. The layered images create an abstract vestige of the aesthetic of television. In this piece the phrase, ‘Things in the air,’ is placed to look like subtitles for the imagery that was once ‘on air’.
In the other room of the space is an interactive installation, titled A Container Containing Not One TV, with three televisions. Two televisions are placed opposite each other, one with a program curated by Sven Lütticken of German video artists and the other with a local television signal where the viewer can flip through the channels. On the third, screenshots and excerpts of the two other televisions are displayed, taken from cameras placed above the televisions. The content is layered in a different way to the print, through a live video feed onscreen. - Jazmina Figueroa
Judy Radul: People Things Enter Exit, Presentation House Gallery, 2010.
This publication is the first comprehensive catalogue on the practice of Vancouver artist, Judy Radul. This richly illustrated, 176-page, hardcover book features in depth essays by critics Christopher Eamon and Monika Szewczyk, an overview by Helga Pakasaar, and conversations between Radul and local artists, Stan Douglas and Antonia Hirsch, and writer Jeff Derksen, that provide further insights into her rigorous aesthetic strategies. new way of seeing someone we thought we knew.
The adjective shared by most of the work in this exhibition is "dramaturgical." So I want to stage this review in three different "acts," each of which deals with some aspect of the exhibition.
Act One: Theatricality. The original impetus of "People Things Enter Exit" was to put the work of Judy Radul and Geoffrey Farmer into dialogue. Both artists work in what might be called a "theatrical" way, and Radul, specifically, has written about her own work contra Michael Fried’s use of the word to critique minimalism. Other artists were then included in the exhibition to give both historical and contemporary context, an inspired inclusion that not only opened up how one thinks about Farmer’s and Radul’s work, but also how all the works relate to each other. Each of the works here has some connection to theatre or performance and, in that way, can be seen in the context of this critique of theatricality.
Act Two: Objects. Another way to think about the exhibition is through its objects, none of which presuppose the existence of a spectator. Or, rather, if the work does position a spectator, it implicates him or her as one thing among many. The exhibition asks a simple question: how do objects perform? In Client and Workers (2011), which centers around two video monitors and surveillance cameras, Radul, for example, has scattered interventions throughout the gallery: strips of colored tape between the photo-documentation of Guy de Cointet and the silkscreens of Janice Kerbel, a mirror on a wall, or thin sheets of copper, painted in bright colors and crumpled up behind the gallery’s exposed piping. Spectators end up positioning themselves in relation to the cameras and objects, while, at the same time, watching video footage on two monitors. Radul creates Byzantine installations and her objects infiltrate the space much like the camera infiltrates the spectator’s experience of the video: spectators become objects, and objects become spectators. Conversely, Geoffrey Farmer’s installation, Metal Will Stand Tall (A Single Image Is Not a Splendor) (2011), is an object without an audience. A number of metal pipes were soldered into the form of a tree, and on its "branches" hang cutouts from books, similar to Farmer’s recent work at Casey Kaplan and RedCat. Here, Farmer presents an object that is not exactly a prop or actor for an imaginary play, but the poetic list tacked onto the wall makes it look as if it might be following commands from a hidden director.
Act Three: Contextual Thinking. The use of one medium, genre, institution or practice to consider the properties of another is neither metaphoric (sculpture as dance, for example) nor "post-medium." Quite simply, these works have métiers that are thought through, developed, complicated or transgressed. Daria Martin’s Minotaur (2006), for example, is a short film about choreographer Anna Halprin. Shot in Halprin’s home in northern California, Minotaur is the restaging of a dance that reinterprets a sculpture. Here, experimental film is used to think through dance or theatre. In this case, the film moves between shots of Halprin flipping through a Rodin monograph while the dancers mimic the sculptures seen in the book. "Selection from Act 1" (2011) is a series of silkscreens Janice Kerbel developed out of Kill the Workers (2011), which she has described as a "play for light," and, in this way, it shares an unexpected affinity with Farmer’s recent work. These abstract silkscreens, originally produced as stage directions for the only actors in Kill the Workers—the lighting—are presented here as autonomous works. They are not only intricate studies of light, but also a way of thinking about what kind of script something non-sentient like light might read in order to act. The implications are rich.
Photographic documentation from Guy de Cointet’s Tell Me (1979) depicts scenes from said performance, which could be thought of as a "choreography" of language or as a "theatre" of concepts. If only a complete restaging of de Cointet’s piece would have been possible! Ulla von Brandenburg’s piece, Das Versteck des R. M. (The Hiding of R. M.) (2011) brings us back to the idea of an exhibition of objects without a spectator. The work is a piece of fabric dyed twenty-six times and rolled up, so that the viewer can only see a few yards of it and the colorful fringes of the roll. It also relates to the larger series of works von Brandenburg has been doing surrounding a fictional character called "R. M." Here the work is concealed, unavailable to us, much like the secret character von Brandenburg has created.
So while "People Things Enter Exit" sets out to address theatre or performance in some way, and, as a result, critiques the established relationship between spectatorship and objecthood, perhaps what is even more generative is the way in which these works engage in contextual thinking. If you want to do something, do something else. If you want to write a novel, dye fabric. If you want to stage a play, make sculpture. If you want to write stage directions, draw. If you want to make a sculpture, film a dance. In other words, allegory. - Aaron Peck
Judy Radul’s latest works involve an original computer-controlled system for live and pre-recorded video. Her practice also includes sculpture, photography, writing and performance. Recent exhibitions include: a solo exhibition at Witte de With Centre for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam, 2017; Contour Biennale 8, Mechelen, Belgium, 2017; Bienal de Nicaragua, 2016; a solo exhibition at Agnes Etherington Art Centre, 2015; Berlin Biennale 8, 2014; a solo exhibition at DAAD Galerie, Berlin, 2013. Her large-scale media installation World Rehearsal Court (2009) has been shown in Vancouver, Vienna, Seoul, Oslo and Moscow. Related to this project, with Marit Paasche she co-edited a book of collected essays and images A Thousand Eyes: Media Technology, Law and Aesthetics (Sternberg Press, Berlin, 2011). She has a B.A. in Fine and Performing Arts from Simon Fraser University and a MFA in Visual and Media Arts from Bard College, New York. She is represented by Catriona Jeffries Gallery, Vancouver and teaches at Simon Fraser University, Vancouver.