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Watch This! New Directions in the Art of the Moving Image

May 1, 2013 – February 15, 2015

Image for Watch This! New Directions in the Art of the Moving Image

Bill Viola, The Fall into Paradise, 2005, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase through the Luisita L. and Franz H. Denghausen Endowment © 2005, Bill Viola

The Smithsonian American Art Museum’s collection of video and time-based artwork examines the history and the latest developments in the art of the moving image. In 2010, the museum established a permanent-collection gallery dedicated to media arts that extends the range of contemporary art on display and allows for the presentation of the full spectrum of media art practices. The intent of these rotating installations is to recognize the importance of the moving image throughout the history of 20th-century art and into the present.

This installation of Watch This! New Directions in the Art of the Moving Image, the third in the series, features artworks that survey the complexities of space and time both structurally and conceptually, expounding on unique properties inherent in the moving image. Single-channel videotapes are presented alongside files that have been transferred to digital formats and are projected in the gallery. Pioneering video art and recent digital media installations are represented, illustrating the multiple-media technologies that artists have engaged with since the 1960s.

The four featured artworks are: John Baldessari, Six Colorful Inside Jobs (1977); Bruce Nauman, Walk with Contrapposto (1968); Charlemagne Palestine, Running Outburst (1975); and Bill Viola, The Fall into Paradise (2005). Michael Mansfield, associate curator of film and media arts, selected the works.

Dedicating a permanent collection gallery to time-based art is an important aspect of the media arts initiative at the museum, which includes acquisitions, exhibitions, educational programs, and archival research resources related to film, video, and the media arts. In 2009, the museum acquired the complete estate archive of visionary artist Nam June Paik. The first exhibition to draw on the resources of the Nam June Paik Archive was Nam June Paik: Global Visionary, organized by John G. Hanhardt, senior curator of film and media arts and the leading expert on Paik and his global influence.

The James F. Dicke Family Endowment generously supported Watch This!