"Text and Commentary," 1976-1977
Five-channel video installation, black and white
with weavings, drawings, pictographic video notations
33 min, stereo sound
Installation dimensions variable
8x12' video wall with five 26-inch flat-screen monitors, masked 21" windows
Five weavings, linen and wool. Each 154.9 x 61 cm / 61 x 24”
Five weaver’s notations, graphite and colored pencil on paper. Each 49.5 x 58.4 cm / 19.5 x 23”
Six pictographic video score notations, on Photostat paper. Each 55.9 x 40.6 cm / 22 x 16”
Recognized since the early 1970s as a pioneer of video art and of multiple channel work in particular, Beryl Korot explores the physical mark of human history and the programmatic structures of data that convey it. The rhythmic impulse in her compositions embraces text, weaving, and video.
“The thing that attracted me to the loom was its sophistication as a programming tool— it programs patterns through the placement of threads, in a numerical order that determines pattern possibilities,” said Korot to Grace Glueck in a 1977 New York Times article. “It’s like the first computer on earth.”
An active player in New York’s then emergent video art scene, Korot had, by 1977, been featured in exhibitions at The Kitchen, the Leo Castelli Gallery, Everson Museum of Art, the Whitney Biennale, Documenta 6, and several important traveling shows: Circuit Invitational, Radical Software, and ICI’s Video Art USA in the Sao Paulo Biennial. Korot’s first multiple-channel works, “Text and Commentary” and “Dachau 1974”, are groundbreaking efforts that moved the video medium beyond the television’s frame and into a vocabulary of installation, both of which were featured at the Whitney Museum of Art in 1980.
When “Text and Commentary” debuted in 1977 at the Leo Castelli Gallery, Jeff Perrone of Artforum described the installation’s systematic approach: “Process was reduced to a small set of actions repeated in space (repeated diamond designs in each hanging, and on each screen) and time (repeated in the work in the loom and repeated on the tape). The patterns in drawing, in making, in editing, in form and design—all converged little by little, after close scrutiny, creating a unified work which reflected a larger reach of human time¬— from primitive loom to modern video”.
The installation is illuminated by two scores, also on view in the exhibition. Instructions for Korot’s five-channel weavings are marked on graph paper in pencil. A pictographic notation indicates the rhythm and pacing of her video editing, which was recorded and edited on ½” reel to reel tape.
As with many artist’s videos of the 1970s, “Text and Commentary” is a reaction against television. The three-dimensional form of a cathode ray monitor, its dials and buttons, are intentionally masked by a recessed wall. The piece also takes a radical approach to time, running 30 minutes in length, and challenges the authority of a single-channel linear narrative. It expands the video frame into a multiple-channel viewpoint. By banding a horizontal strip of video screens together, the visual structure references celluloid film (which was typically cut by women who were film editors, another reference to handiwork such as weaving).
Please note that this is an excerpt.
Video courtesy of the artist and bitforms gallery nyc.
To learn more about Korot's work, please visit: