Althea Thauberger

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Make-Up: Conversations about Medium

Kerry Tribe, Althea Thauberger & Melanie O'Brian
X-TRA. v.10 no.1, p.7-15 | 2007

Melanie O’Brian: In the hopes of instigating a lively conversation about the notion of “medium,” I might start with a shorthand definition of the term. Medium could mean an interface, a means of communication, a substance, a platform, or a tool of cultivation. Medium is often an easy way for a practice to be approached; a practice can be simply defined through its mode of communication such as photography or sculpture. There are limitations to what the notion of medium can tell us about a practice but this presents the opportunity to widen the discussion.

Both of you have been described as video artists. Althea, your work might be also be described as performance, community collaboration, music, and photography. Kerry, your work has been categorized as collaborative, photographic, and installation-based. Your use of a variety of media might prompt someone to categorize your practices, as interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary, or under the rubric of “relational aesthetics.” However, there seems to be an inherent inadequacy in these terms with regards to the specificity of process (which is often, in the case of your practices, crucial to the work’s subject). In Kerry’s work the use of video (and film) implicates its own histories and structures, and that becomes part of the subject matter—for example the repeated “retakes” in Near Miss (2005).

Maybe we can begin by taking the notion of medium and turning it toward a discussion of process. Kerry, could you discuss the way you work with the structural elements of media?

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