Monday, May 02, 2005

(Not Quite A) TV Getaway

I've been away from the blog for a few days for some rest, relaxation and a family gathering in Pittsburgh. I was busy enough not to spend much time in front of the TV set, except briefly in the morning and as a wind-down at night. (I didn't see a newspaper for a couple of days, either.) But I never felt very far away from TV.
It isn't just that we've all become used to seeing TV sets in bars, some restaurants and hotel lobbies. It was also walking into a shopping mall in Monroeville, Pa., and encountering a play area based on ''Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood.'' (Fred Rogers and his show were based in Pittsburgh.)
And, during a visit to the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, I came across an exhibit of video works by artist Dara Birnbaum. Birnbaum is noted for reconfiguring pieces from regular television (the Carnegie shows included short works from the late '70s involving ''Wonder Woman'' and ''Hollywood Squares'') in ways that make you rethink the images before you.
Or, as one Birnbaum-admiring Web site put it: ''She used rigorous tactics of deconstruction and appropriation to dismantle television's codes of representation. Among the first artists to apply these strategies to subvert the language of television texts, she turned its vocabulary back on itself in a powerful critique.''
OK ...
I just thought it was interesting to see television presented not as art but as the raw material for art.
It also echoed in the viewing I did on Sunday morning, a little channel-flipping while packing. I saw story after story about the so-called ''runaway bride'' but very little about the latest troubles in Iraq. TV was using its own images to provide a specific view of the world. Do you suppose that means the news channels are also video artists?

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