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License

2018, 11:50 min, color, stereo sound

Made in collaboration with composer and artist Gryphon Rue, License modifies a video forensics report by The New York Times that reconstructs the October 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas, the deadliest in U.S. history. John Cage’s infamous 1952 composition 4’ 33” (Four Minutes and Thirty-three Seconds) was the catalyst for our intervention. An emerging form of big data journalism, the audio and visual second-by-second account is organized by the shooter’s twelve bursts of gunfire. By erasing the intermittent voiceover that substantiates the timeline, silence punctuates the mayhem––mapped with intel gathered from cellphones, social media posts, police audio and bodycams––and allows the real of the havoc to resonate. Gambling, the gunman’s motive, the increasing body counts, and the structure of the Times report can all be correlated as a “numbers game”. By underscoring this logic, License shows algorithms now occupy the place of the Name-of-the-Father, the guarantor of patriarchal institutions, e.g., law, family, church, state, markets.
C1aca1d6b3 license.5
Made in collaboration with composer and artist Gryphon Rue, License modifies a video forensics report by The New York Times that reconstructs the October 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas, the deadliest in U.S. history. John Cage’s infamous 1952 composition 4’ 33” (Four Minutes and Thirty-three Seconds) was the catalyst for our intervention. An emerging form of big data journalism, the audio and visual second-by-second account is organized by the shooter’s twelve bursts of gunfire. By erasing the intermittent voiceover that substantiates the timeline, silence punctuates the mayhem––mapped with intel gathered from cellphones, social media posts, police audio and bodycams––and allows the real of the havoc to resonate. Gambling, the gunman’s motive, the increasing body counts, and the structure of the Times report can all be correlated as a “numbers game”. By underscoring this logic, License shows algorithms now occupy the place of the Name-of-the-Father, the guarantor of patriarchal institutions, e.g., law, family, church, state, markets.

Slide / Show

2016, 24:26 min, color, stereo sound

I first presented Slide/Show as a PowerPoint program at the Columbus College of Art and Design (CCAD), May 12, 2016, in conjunction with the exhibition “Robert Beck/Robert Buck: States of America” at the Pizzuti Collection in Columbus, OH. The slideshow of salient works traces the arc of my evolution, including the transformation of my father’s name by a single vowel, from Beck to Buck. In this context, my self-nomination operates as a cut in the continuum of my artistic development, inviting a reconsideration of my earlier work and metamorphosis après coup. As Jacques Lacan states, “One can do without the Name-of-the-Father on the condition that one makes use of it”.
3.26
I first presented Slide/Show as a PowerPoint program at the Columbus College of Art and Design (CCAD), May 12, 2016, in conjunction with the exhibition “Robert Beck/Robert Buck: States of America” at the Pizzuti Collection in Columbus, OH. The slideshow of salient works traces the arc of my evolution, including the transformation of my father’s name by a single vowel, from Beck to Buck. In this context, my self-nomination operates as a cut in the continuum of my artistic development, inviting a reconsideration of my earlier work and metamorphosis après coup. As Jacques Lacan states, “One can do without the Name-of-the-Father on the condition that one makes use of it”.

Nine Years Later (“Panic”) – Remix

2001, 11 min, color, stereo sound

When the superficial, yet real, cutting of my forearm in the 1996 Nine Years Later (“Panic”) triggered visceral reactions, I revisited the work. In Remix, the hinged structure is reversed, with my performative affront following the outtakes, inter-titles and voice-over rehearsals. Combined, these elements recalibrate the evolution of video technology and its corporeal effects. The cut of montage is experienced more acutely in the re-edited version, and the process of sublimation is explicit. The Theater of Cruelty, Grand Guignol, Robert Bresson, punk rock and George Romero’s 1978 film Martin, influenced my dramatization of troubled youth. The mirror has an edge!
Panic.1
When the superficial, yet real, cutting of my forearm in the 1996 Nine Years Later (“Panic”) triggered visceral reactions, I revisited the work. In Remix, the hinged structure is reversed, with my performative affront following the outtakes, inter-titles and voice-over rehearsals. Combined, these elements recalibrate the evolution of video technology and its corporeal effects. The cut of montage is experienced more acutely in the re-edited version, and the process of sublimation is explicit. The Theater of Cruelty, Grand Guignol, Robert Bresson, punk rock and George Romero’s 1978 film Martin, influenced my dramatization of troubled youth. The mirror has an edge!

Song Poem ("Trips Visits")

2001, 6 min, color, stereo sound

Song Poem ("Trips Visits") is composed of excerpts from VHS videotapes I found in thrift stores. It was created for "Song Poems", a show inspired by a 1960-70s mail-order sensation, in which consumers, for a fee, could have their poem set to music and returned as a “single.” The show's curator solicited lyrics from twenty-seven writers and artists, invited musicians to turn them into songs, and then asked artists to transform the songs into videos, posters and LP covers. The Pony Express, an alternative New York rock band, composed the song for "Trips Visits", with lyrics by the show’s curator, Steven Hull. The private lives of others littered at second hand stores, and later online, is the first inkling of the evolution of civilization calibrated to the obsolescence of technology. Here is life in the alethosphere.
Sky  1
Song Poem ("Trips Visits") is composed of excerpts from VHS videotapes I found in thrift stores. It was created for "Song Poems", a show inspired by a 1960-70s mail-order sensation, in which consumers, for a fee, could have their poem set to music and returned as a “single.” The show's curator solicited lyrics from twenty-seven writers and artists, invited musicians to turn them into songs, and then asked artists to transform the songs into videos, posters and LP covers. The Pony Express, an alternative New York rock band, composed the song for "Trips Visits", with lyrics by the show’s curator, Steven Hull. The private lives of others littered at second hand stores, and later online, is the first inkling of the evolution of civilization calibrated to the obsolescence of technology. Here is life in the alethosphere.

The Memorial Screening (1974)

2000, 11 min, color, stereo sound

The Memorial Screening (1974) is a fabricated video memorial comprised of photographs and home-movie excerpts of me and my family. Intentionally set to mawkish 1970s pop tunes, the funereal video presents a portrait of me as a teenager in the wake of my presumed death. I'm remembered from three familial points of view, brother and sister, mother, and father. The fictional portrayals exploit the connotative nature of photography to insinuate a tragic and emotive story. An installation version of the work was the focal point of a larger exhibition titled "Nature Mort", inspired by a post-Columbine “kids who kill” culture.
74  gun  2
The Memorial Screening (1974) is a fabricated video memorial comprised of photographs and home-movie excerpts of me and my family. Intentionally set to mawkish 1970s pop tunes, the funereal video presents a portrait of me as a teenager in the wake of my presumed death. I'm remembered from three familial points of view, brother and sister, mother, and father. The fictional portrayals exploit the connotative nature of photography to insinuate a tragic and emotive story. An installation version of the work was the focal point of a larger exhibition titled "Nature Mort", inspired by a post-Columbine “kids who kill” culture.

Untitled (Dec. 29, 1993)

1999, 3:30 min, b&w, stereo sound

Untitled (Dec. 29, 1993) haphazardly records two seemingly simple tasks, the operation of a home-video camera and the safe use of a firearm. The lens-cap is mistakenly left on the camera, and the often tense exchange between the father and son participants is not seen but heard. With the camera on auto-focus, their actions, abstracted by the plastic lens-cap, create a pulsating orifice, aperture or target of shadow and light. After successive shots are fired, the son flees the scene with the camera, and the turbulence of the impaired image seems to express the unsettling implications of the event. While the image fluctuates, the on-screen date-stamp remains invariable.
Dec.4  1
Untitled (Dec. 29, 1993) haphazardly records two seemingly simple tasks, the operation of a home-video camera and the safe use of a firearm. The lens-cap is mistakenly left on the camera, and the often tense exchange between the father and son participants is not seen but heard. With the camera on auto-focus, their actions, abstracted by the plastic lens-cap, create a pulsating orifice, aperture or target of shadow and light. After successive shots are fired, the son flees the scene with the camera, and the turbulence of the impaired image seems to express the unsettling implications of the event. While the image fluctuates, the on-screen date-stamp remains invariable.

The Trophy

1998, 4 min, color, stereo sound

Set in a taxidermy shop, The Trophy records a single action. A taxidermist flays the head of a deer for its preservation as a memento of the hunt. Framed at the torso, à la Robert Bresson, with his back to the camera, the taxidermist in turn falls prey to a dismemberment, albeit imaginary. I emphasized the cut, elliptically editing the image to ensure the taxidermist occludes the grisly sight of the buck's butchered head. Of course, this obstruction spurs the imagination. Bearing witness to the labor involved in preserving the algamic object of one’s desire, even at the cost of the thing itself, is it any wonder I chose as the soundtrack Al Green’s “I’m Still in Love With You”?
Trophy.2
Set in a taxidermy shop, The Trophy records a single action. A taxidermist flays the head of a deer for its preservation as a memento of the hunt. Framed at the torso, à la Robert Bresson, with his back to the camera, the taxidermist in turn falls prey to a dismemberment, albeit imaginary. I emphasized the cut, elliptically editing the image to ensure the taxidermist occludes the grisly sight of the buck's butchered head. Of course, this obstruction spurs the imagination. Bearing witness to the labor involved in preserving the algamic object of one’s desire, even at the cost of the thing itself, is it any wonder I chose as the soundtrack Al Green’s “I’m Still in Love With You”?

Cruising (Back to Front)

1998, 101 min, color, stereo sound

In 1998, twenty years after production began on William Friedkin’s 1980 notorious, gay leather underground crime thriller, Cruising, I reversed it scene by scene. The “from behind” approach was suggested by the logic of the film itself. The narrative dissonance of the original film is amplified in Back to Front, the reciprocity of law and desire patent. Moving in reverse, outcome cruises cause, with often queer effects. For instance, straight intercourse isn’t an anodyne for gay sex, but a push towards it, and hetero-normativity yearns for sexual lawlessness. The act that haunts my redo is the one that incites it: Karen Allen donning Pacino’s S&M leather gear and lurking, “dragging”, up behind him on the soundtrack. Upshot: Feminine desire, non-localizable, not-all, betrays the underlying, real, phobia in Friedkin’s quasi-horror film. “How would you like to disappear?”
Allen cruising.2
In 1998, twenty years after production began on William Friedkin’s 1980 notorious, gay leather underground crime thriller, Cruising, I reversed it scene by scene. The “from behind” approach was suggested by the logic of the film itself. The narrative dissonance of the original film is amplified in Back to Front, the reciprocity of law and desire patent. Moving in reverse, outcome cruises cause, with often queer effects. For instance, straight intercourse isn’t an anodyne for gay sex, but a push towards it, and hetero-normativity yearns for sexual lawlessness. The act that haunts my redo is the one that incites it: Karen Allen donning Pacino’s S&M leather gear and lurking, “dragging”, up behind him on the soundtrack. Upshot: Feminine desire, non-localizable, not-all, betrays the underlying, real, phobia in Friedkin’s quasi-horror film. “How would you like to disappear?”

Nine Years Later (“Girlfriend In A Coma”)

1998, 12 min, color, stereo sound

In the three-part series "Nine Years Later", I revisit video performances I created nearly a decade earlier to songs by the British pop band The Smiths. I betray the apparent effortlessness of my original single-take performances by setting them against the numerous, often self-conscious and painstaking attempts they took to create. With inter-titles, voice-over and repeat-edits, I calibrate my performances according to the outdated video technology I used to record them. In these reappraisals, the body, in its accommodation of the perpetual evolution and obsolescence of technology, is ultimately represented as an enjoying substance. Whether portraying a vindictive martyr in Bigmouth Strikes Again, a suicidal loner in Panic, or a comatose drag queen in Girlfriend In A Coma, I bring the misanthropy, irony and malice in lead-singer Morrissey’s lyrics to life.
Coma.9 copy
In the three-part series "Nine Years Later", I revisit video performances I created nearly a decade earlier to songs by the British pop band The Smiths. I betray the apparent effortlessness of my original single-take performances by setting them against the numerous, often self-conscious and painstaking attempts they took to create. With inter-titles, voice-over and repeat-edits, I calibrate my performances according to the outdated video technology I used to record them. In these reappraisals, the body, in its accommodation of the perpetual evolution and obsolescence of technology, is ultimately represented as an enjoying substance. Whether portraying a vindictive martyr in Bigmouth Strikes Again, a suicidal loner in Panic, or a comatose drag queen in Girlfriend In A Coma, I bring the misanthropy, irony and malice in lead-singer Morrissey’s lyrics to life.

Nine Years Later ("Panic")

1996, 13 min, color, stereo sound

In the three-part series "Nine Years Later", I revisit video performances I created nearly a decade earlier to songs by the British pop band The Smiths. I betray the apparent effortlessness of my original single-take performances by setting them against the numerous, often self-conscious and painstaking attempts they took to create. With inter-titles, voice-over and repeat-edits, I calibrate my performances according to the outdated video technology I used to record them. In these reappraisals, the body, in its accommodation of the perpetual evolution and obsolescence of technology, is ultimately represented as an enjoying substance. Whether portraying a vindictive martyr in Bigmouth Strikes Again, a suicidal loner in Panic, or a comatose drag queen in Girlfriend In A Coma, I bring the misanthropy, irony and malice in lead-singer Morrissey’s lyrics to life.
Panic.7 copy
In the three-part series "Nine Years Later", I revisit video performances I created nearly a decade earlier to songs by the British pop band The Smiths. I betray the apparent effortlessness of my original single-take performances by setting them against the numerous, often self-conscious and painstaking attempts they took to create. With inter-titles, voice-over and repeat-edits, I calibrate my performances according to the outdated video technology I used to record them. In these reappraisals, the body, in its accommodation of the perpetual evolution and obsolescence of technology, is ultimately represented as an enjoying substance. Whether portraying a vindictive martyr in Bigmouth Strikes Again, a suicidal loner in Panic, or a comatose drag queen in Girlfriend In A Coma, I bring the misanthropy, irony and malice in lead-singer Morrissey’s lyrics to life.

Nine Years Later (“Bigmouth Strikes Again”)

1995, 11 min, color, stereo sound

In the three-part series "Nine Years Later", I revisit video performances I created nearly a decade earlier to songs by the British pop band The Smiths. I betray the apparent effortlessness of my original single-take performances by setting them against the numerous, often self-conscious and painstaking attempts they took to create. With inter-titles, voice-over and repeat-edits, I calibrate my performances according to the outdated video technology I used to record them. In these reappraisals, the body, in its accommodation of the perpetual evolution and obsolescence of technology, is ultimately represented as an enjoying substance. Whether portraying a vindictive martyr in Bigmouth Strikes Again, a suicidal loner in Panic, or a comatose drag queen in Girlfriend In A Coma, I bring the misanthropy, irony and malice in lead-singer Morrissey’s lyrics to life.
Bigmouth.12  1   1
In the three-part series "Nine Years Later", I revisit video performances I created nearly a decade earlier to songs by the British pop band The Smiths. I betray the apparent effortlessness of my original single-take performances by setting them against the numerous, often self-conscious and painstaking attempts they took to create. With inter-titles, voice-over and repeat-edits, I calibrate my performances according to the outdated video technology I used to record them. In these reappraisals, the body, in its accommodation of the perpetual evolution and obsolescence of technology, is ultimately represented as an enjoying substance. Whether portraying a vindictive martyr in Bigmouth Strikes Again, a suicidal loner in Panic, or a comatose drag queen in Girlfriend In A Coma, I bring the misanthropy, irony and malice in lead-singer Morrissey’s lyrics to life.

Summer, 1993

1994, 7 min, color, stereo sound

“Shamelessly sentimental and lush, this music video recalls a young man’s summer now over: beautiful boys, his father’s car, the beach and the water.” “'Summer, 1993' lyrically reveals the blossoming of new love”. “a birthday gift, a love affair.” These were among the promotions for Summer, 1993 when it was first shown, primarily in gay and lesbian film and video festivals. Opening with an excerpt from Rainer Maria Rilke’s “The Second Elegy” and set to Sade’s “Kiss of Life”, the works manifestly romantic content is inseparable from the 8mm film on which it was shot. Again in my art, material precipitates meaning, and the semblant quality of the work and the idyl it captures can be felt.
Summer.16 copy
“Shamelessly sentimental and lush, this music video recalls a young man’s summer now over: beautiful boys, his father’s car, the beach and the water.” “'Summer, 1993' lyrically reveals the blossoming of new love”. “a birthday gift, a love affair.” These were among the promotions for Summer, 1993 when it was first shown, primarily in gay and lesbian film and video festivals. Opening with an excerpt from Rainer Maria Rilke’s “The Second Elegy” and set to Sade’s “Kiss of Life”, the works manifestly romantic content is inseparable from the 8mm film on which it was shot. Again in my art, material precipitates meaning, and the semblant quality of the work and the idyl it captures can be felt.

The Feeling of Power

1990, 8:42 min, color, stereo sound

"Beck’s new promotional purpose is evidently to reveal that image technology is a double-edged sword, with the potential to both reinforce and undermine the status quo. The purpose is also to make the case that inadequate establishment response to the AIDS crisis necessitates the utilization of the technology’s subversive and activist potentials. […] Beck manages to construct a substantial and complex treatise on the contrasts between traditional use of image technology and suburban American culture and the new uses that present conditions demand, as well as a provocative meditation on the myriad interrelations among commerce, technology, labor, American social organization, and the politics of race, gender and sexual orientation.” – Adam Knee
Buck feelingofpower umatic2 small raw01.2 2
"Beck’s new promotional purpose is evidently to reveal that image technology is a double-edged sword, with the potential to both reinforce and undermine the status quo. The purpose is also to make the case that inadequate establishment response to the AIDS crisis necessitates the utilization of the technology’s subversive and activist potentials. […] Beck manages to construct a substantial and complex treatise on the contrasts between traditional use of image technology and suburban American culture and the new uses that present conditions demand, as well as a provocative meditation on the myriad interrelations among commerce, technology, labor, American social organization, and the politics of race, gender and sexual orientation.” – Adam Knee

12/19/88 (for Pete)

1988, 3:35 min, color, stereo sound

I used the macro lens of a Hi-8 video camcorder and a Videonics Mx1 video mixer to abstract my Greenpoint, Brooklyn, bedroom into extimate realms. Reflected in the concave brass knob of my closet door, my sparse room is inverted and abridged. The knob bulls-eye yields to another scene wherein a man’s perforated shirt curtains the camera lens and beats with synthetic light and evocation: dragonfly wing, amphibian skin, caterpillar web. The wavering lattice surges against the void it betrays. I mixed to music by Stephen Vitiello. Diptych, poem, exercise – the sketch was made for my younger brother. The fourth and last tape in an ad lib series of music video birthday gifts, in which the recipient was given a VHS copy of the U-matic original. PLAY LOUD.
Pete.7
I used the macro lens of a Hi-8 video camcorder and a Videonics Mx1 video mixer to abstract my Greenpoint, Brooklyn, bedroom into extimate realms. Reflected in the concave brass knob of my closet door, my sparse room is inverted and abridged. The knob bulls-eye yields to another scene wherein a man’s perforated shirt curtains the camera lens and beats with synthetic light and evocation: dragonfly wing, amphibian skin, caterpillar web. The wavering lattice surges against the void it betrays. I mixed to music by Stephen Vitiello. Diptych, poem, exercise – the sketch was made for my younger brother. The fourth and last tape in an ad lib series of music video birthday gifts, in which the recipient was given a VHS copy of the U-matic original. PLAY LOUD.

11/22/88 (for Kimono)

1988, 4:09 min, color, stereo sound

11/22/88 is a diptych that utilizes two then state-of-the-art pieces of video equipment, a Hi-8 video camcorder and a consumer-grade video synthesizer. The improvisational work moves from a domestic interior, drained of color and screened from view, to an arboreal and sensuous exterior domain. Yet beyond the physical realm is one seething with chromatic luminosity, an ulterior dimension of excess. Here is a world in which life is either too near or too far. The third in an impromptu series of video birthday gifts, given as a VHS copy of the original U-matic tape. With music by the Sugarcubes, “Christmas Day”. PLAY LOUD.
112288.2.1
11/22/88 is a diptych that utilizes two then state-of-the-art pieces of video equipment, a Hi-8 video camcorder and a consumer-grade video synthesizer. The improvisational work moves from a domestic interior, drained of color and screened from view, to an arboreal and sensuous exterior domain. Yet beyond the physical realm is one seething with chromatic luminosity, an ulterior dimension of excess. Here is a world in which life is either too near or too far. The third in an impromptu series of video birthday gifts, given as a VHS copy of the original U-matic tape. With music by the Sugarcubes, “Christmas Day”. PLAY LOUD.

2/12/88 (for LG)

1988, 8:30 min, color, stereo sound

Wearing the clothing from and set against the backdrop to a Stephen Sprouse fashion video we styled and shot, two friends and I made a music video birthday gift for my girlfriend at the time. Incarnating the technology of the era, we’re caught on tape by two cameras, dancing, jumping, pushing, pulling to Metallica’s “Orion”. In post-production, using the search-knob on a Sony U-Matic VO-5800 VTR, I slowed, sped, advanced, reversed, arrested, and released our movements. With an ISI 902 video mixer, I doused the scene with synthesized colors and switched between the two recordings, snapping our bodies near–far, left–right, he–she, you–me. The analog manipulations are the effect of a later choreography, my hand at the controls. The cascading frames index the freedom and spirit of youth and young love. The second in a chance series of video birthday gifts, in which the recipient was given a VHS copy of the finished U-matic tape. PLAY LOUD.
Lori.8
Wearing the clothing from and set against the backdrop to a Stephen Sprouse fashion video we styled and shot, two friends and I made a music video birthday gift for my girlfriend at the time. Incarnating the technology of the era, we’re caught on tape by two cameras, dancing, jumping, pushing, pulling to Metallica’s “Orion”. In post-production, using the search-knob on a Sony U-Matic VO-5800 VTR, I slowed, sped, advanced, reversed, arrested, and released our movements. With an ISI 902 video mixer, I doused the scene with synthesized colors and switched between the two recordings, snapping our bodies near–far, left–right, he–she, you–me. The analog manipulations are the effect of a later choreography, my hand at the controls. The cascading frames index the freedom and spirit of youth and young love. The second in a chance series of video birthday gifts, in which the recipient was given a VHS copy of the finished U-matic tape. PLAY LOUD.

Born to Be Wild (for K. Wilder)

1987, 4:21 min, color, stereo sound

After The Space Program, I spontaneously created a series of music video birthday gifts for friends, which I made alone or with others. Contingent on the burgeoning accessibility and versatility of video technology, and edited off-hours at Electronic Arts Intermix, where I was working at the time, the clips resist immediate classification: home movie, video art, performance, party favor, keepsake. On each occasion, the friend was given a VHS copy of the finished U-matic tape. For K. Wilder, two friends and I clowned around for a camera to The Cult’s 1987 cover of the 1968 Steppenwolf hit “Born to be Wild”. In post-production, I “scratched” the footage to the song with the search-knob of a Sony U-Matic VO-5800 VTR, and drenched it with pigments using an ISI 902 video switcher. Subjected to the laws of video mechanics, our bodies, teeming with Crayola colors, tick with time – fast, slow, still, go. Here is unbridled youth. “Fire all of your guns at once, and explode into space”. PLAY LOUD.
Wild.6
After The Space Program, I spontaneously created a series of music video birthday gifts for friends, which I made alone or with others. Contingent on the burgeoning accessibility and versatility of video technology, and edited off-hours at Electronic Arts Intermix, where I was working at the time, the clips resist immediate classification: home movie, video art, performance, party favor, keepsake. On each occasion, the friend was given a VHS copy of the finished U-matic tape. For K. Wilder, two friends and I clowned around for a camera to The Cult’s 1987 cover of the 1968 Steppenwolf hit “Born to be Wild”. In post-production, I “scratched” the footage to the song with the search-knob of a Sony U-Matic VO-5800 VTR, and drenched it with pigments using an ISI 902 video switcher. Subjected to the laws of video mechanics, our bodies, teeming with Crayola colors, tick with time – fast, slow, still, go. Here is unbridled youth. “Fire all of your guns at once, and explode into space”. PLAY LOUD.

W/hole: "I Dreamed Another Man Dreamed Me"

1987, 6 min, color, stereo sound

As I wrote when I made W/hole: “An advertised masculine ideal, fabricated and fetishized, is incarnated most explicitly in the delirium and dynamics of the cologne commercial. Sign exchange value is achieved with exalted images of ecstasy and ejaculation in an obscene reification of a mythic male. Odor transpires as commodity aura through a fantastic and frenetic transformation of body fluid into fragrant liquid into commercial flow. Seduced and transfixed by this mediated model I evaporate with His two-dimensional appearance, transmuted via the televised". The title is a reference to "The Circular Ruins” by Jorge Luis Borges. The tape was inspired by an installment of The Space Program.
Chanel  1
As I wrote when I made W/hole: “An advertised masculine ideal, fabricated and fetishized, is incarnated most explicitly in the delirium and dynamics of the cologne commercial. Sign exchange value is achieved with exalted images of ecstasy and ejaculation in an obscene reification of a mythic male. Odor transpires as commodity aura through a fantastic and frenetic transformation of body fluid into fragrant liquid into commercial flow. Seduced and transfixed by this mediated model I evaporate with His two-dimensional appearance, transmuted via the televised". The title is a reference to "The Circular Ruins” by Jorge Luis Borges. The tape was inspired by an installment of The Space Program.

There Is a Light That Never Goes Out

1986, 4:04 min, color stereo sound

On a New York City summer night in 1986, listening to and motivated by The Smiths’ song of the title, I aimed a video camera at a street lamp across Waverly Place from the second floor window where I was standing, the loft where Electronic Arts Intermix was located at the time. I zoomed-in on the mercury vapor lamp to exploit the ghosting caused in low light conditions by the camera’s vidicon picture–tube. I wheeled, bounced and swung the camera to the music, and kindled comets, serpents and spirals of tumescent light. The song elapses and time vaporizes in the arabesques of mercurial illumination, though total abandon is only sideswiped: "But then a strange fear gripped me and I just couldn't ask". For like the drive circling its elusive object, there is a light that never goes out. PLAY LOUD.
Light.4
On a New York City summer night in 1986, listening to and motivated by The Smiths’ song of the title, I aimed a video camera at a street lamp across Waverly Place from the second floor window where I was standing, the loft where Electronic Arts Intermix was located at the time. I zoomed-in on the mercury vapor lamp to exploit the ghosting caused in low light conditions by the camera’s vidicon picture–tube. I wheeled, bounced and swung the camera to the music, and kindled comets, serpents and spirals of tumescent light. The song elapses and time vaporizes in the arabesques of mercurial illumination, though total abandon is only sideswiped: "But then a strange fear gripped me and I just couldn't ask". For like the drive circling its elusive object, there is a light that never goes out. PLAY LOUD.

Learning from "Dynasty"

1986, 8:16 min, color, stereo sound

Originating from an installment of The Space Program, the video is titled after the 1972 groundbreaking architectural study that inspired it, “Learning from Las Vegas” by Denise Scott Brown, Steven Izenour and Robert Venturi. Learning from "Dynasty" “reconstructs” buildings that appeared weekly on the popular 1980s primetime soap-opera series “Dynasty”. By combining the exterior shots of the shows recurring locations, the work indexes the “po-mo” architecture and filmic patina of the time. While the various establishing shots are rote, save for the jolt of a zoom or pan, the accompanying snippets of thematic music betray the drama of the episodic narratives. The taxonomy of TV facades concludes abruptly with the brute reality of a black-and-white surveillance camera POV from within a building lobby, where an encounter occurs.
Dynasty
Originating from an installment of The Space Program, the video is titled after the 1972 groundbreaking architectural study that inspired it, “Learning from Las Vegas” by Denise Scott Brown, Steven Izenour and Robert Venturi. Learning from "Dynasty" “reconstructs” buildings that appeared weekly on the popular 1980s primetime soap-opera series “Dynasty”. By combining the exterior shots of the shows recurring locations, the work indexes the “po-mo” architecture and filmic patina of the time. While the various establishing shots are rote, save for the jolt of a zoom or pan, the accompanying snippets of thematic music betray the drama of the episodic narratives. The taxonomy of TV facades concludes abruptly with the brute reality of a black-and-white surveillance camera POV from within a building lobby, where an encounter occurs.

The Space Program

1986, Twenty-six 28-minute videotapes originally cablecast on Manhattan Cable TV

"Originally broadcast late night on Manhattan Cable Television, The Space Program is an early, largely unconsidered work in the artist’s career. The series, a catalytic work for Beck/Buck, undertaken before he participated in the Whitney Independent Study Program in 1993 and emerged on the visual art scene in the 90s, should be considered alongside such artistic television interventions as Gerry Schum’s TV Gallery, Chris Burden’s TV commercials, and Alex Bag’s Cash from Chaos / Unicorns & Rainbows for its use of television as a staging ground for artistic experimentation. Broadcast regularly for the better part of a year, Beck undertook each half-hour episode as a conceptual performance, using duration, the context of television, and video technology as expressive tools. Beck’s programs—one composed entirely of establishing shots from prime-time soap operas, another composed of the artist’s blurred face accompanied by sounds of a shooting rampage—were likely encountered by accident, with no context other than the haphazard surrounding programs, emphasizing art’s capacity to unsettle the known and open up a path into the unknown." – Rebecca Cleman, Electronic Arts Intermix

List of The Space Program Series
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"Originally broadcast late night on Manhattan Cable Television, The Space Program is an early, largely unconsidered work in the artist’s career. The series, a catalytic work for Beck/Buck, undertaken before he participated in the Whitney Independent Study Program in 1993 and emerged on the visual art scene in the 90s, should be considered alongside such artistic television interventions as Gerry Schum’s TV Gallery, Chris Burden’s TV commercials, and Alex Bag’s Cash from Chaos / Unicorns & Rainbows for its use of television as a staging ground for artistic experimentation. Broadcast regularly for the better part of a year, Beck undertook each half-hour episode as a conceptual performance, using duration, the context of television, and video technology as expressive tools. Beck’s programs—one composed entirely of establishing shots from prime-time soap operas, another composed of the artist’s blurred face accompanied by sounds of a shooting rampage—were likely encountered by accident, with no context other than the haphazard surrounding programs, emphasizing art’s capacity to unsettle the known and open up a path into the unknown." – Rebecca Cleman, Electronic Arts Intermix

List of The Space Program Series

Untitled

1979, 7 min, b&w, mono sound

This was my first video work. I made it using a half-inch Sony Portapak reel-to-reel deck and AVC-3400 camera as an undergrad student in the first course New York University offered in video production. Concurrently, I had been taking photographs of my new life in the city with a Kodak Colorburst 250 Instant camera. In Untitled, these time-based technologies face-off. The Kodak 250 generates a picture of the Sony 3400, which surveys the development of its pictorial mirror image. While the photo of the video camera is caught in time, it emerges over time, and creates a perceptual illusion. In this unassuming meditation on cognition and metaphysics, science concedes to magic. The sounds of random late night TV shows traverse the space of this techno-science time-warp single-take.
C5194a1a8a untitled
This was my first video work. I made it using a half-inch Sony Portapak reel-to-reel deck and AVC-3400 camera as an undergrad student in the first course New York University offered in video production. Concurrently, I had been taking photographs of my new life in the city with a Kodak Colorburst 250 Instant camera. In Untitled, these time-based technologies face-off. The Kodak 250 generates a picture of the Sony 3400, which surveys the development of its pictorial mirror image. While the photo of the video camera is caught in time, it emerges over time, and creates a perceptual illusion. In this unassuming meditation on cognition and metaphysics, science concedes to magic. The sounds of random late night TV shows traverse the space of this techno-science time-warp single-take.
Works distributed by Electronic Arts Intermix https://www.eai.org/

View the make-up of The Space Program here

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