"Recent Li" (1980, 5:06, NTSC analog video de-interlaced for Vimeo) was created using a Paik/Abe video synthesizer and Cohu video switcher.
The conceptual and technical aspects of "Recent Li" are interdependent. In defining the Chinese term 'li', Joseph Needham has written, "In its most ancient meaning, it signified the pattern in things, the markings in jade or fibers in muscle . . . it acquired the common dictionary meaning 'principle', but always conserved the undertone of 'pattern' . . ." . The forms in "Recent Li" originate from the 'li' of video feedback . Video feedback is the result of of a video camera scanning its display output. This recursive process creates a narcissistic oscillation of an image of the image. If the camera image sensor frames the full display screen area from edge to edge (no larger, no smaller), it is analogous to placing two mirrors face to face in direct contact: there is no space between them, and simultaneously there is an infinite space between them. The compulsive drive toward the union of opposites is hinted at in this process. The simple dualism inherent in the video feedback process may be shifted through rotating the camera/display orientation 90 degrees from the matched horizontal relationship, the horizontal/vertical order which this rotation establishes produces an image in the form of a quaternity figure. The quaternity figure appears cross-culturally throughout the ages as a powerful symbol of unity, of wholeness of self. This symbol and its associated meanings form the core of "Recent Li".
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