For our second cross-post from the Guggenheim’s The Take blog, inspired by YouTube Play. A Biennial of Creative Video, Jaime Davidovich pontificates on YouTube as “public access gone ballistic” and how the 21st century artist might deal with the site’s cacophony of image and sound.

Davidovich was one of the first artists to recognize cable television for its potential for contemporary art, producing
The Live! Show, a weekly public-access television program that featured avant-garde performances, artwork, political satire and social commentary. He’s currently working on pieces for his YouTube channel, as well as “video paintings,” or video images projected onto a gestural painting surface. You can read his original article here.

In his recent book Feedback: Television Against Democracy (2007), David Joselit challenges artists with a manifesto that echoes a sentiment common among us: "How is your image going to circulate? Use the resources of the 'art world' as a base of operations, but don't remain there. Use images to build publics."

I have been practicing Joselit's principle since 1976, putting art into the public arena through public-access television. One of my first programs was The Live! Show, a satirical variety show about the art world, which ran from 1979 to 1984 on New York cable television.



In the series I appeared as Dr. Videovich, my alter ego, interviewing artists such as Eric Bogosian, Tony Oursler, and Martha Wilson, as well as Marcia Tucker, founder of the New Museum, and the present-day director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation, Richard Armstrong. The idea of The Live! Show was to showcase art on a popular medium — TV — allowing people to watch these works in the comfort of their homes.

Continuing the first-come, first-serve spirit of public-access TV, YouTube, with the tagline "Broadcast Yourself," is the current medium for circulating art outside the pristine walls of the art gallery. YouTube is public access gone ballistic — an anarchist brain on steroids. While public-access television was one channel at a time, YouTube features dozens of channels at the same time, and they are not listed anywhere, but found by user searching. And while public-access television was low tech and a 30-minute format, YouTube is all tech and features short clips with a maximum length of 15 minutes. I currently have a work on YouTube that is a close-up video of a delete key with audio accompaniment. The concept of this piece is to provide a break in the cacophonous overload of YouTube images and sound.



I am a conflictivist, an artist who explores the conflict between high and low culture. The artist of the 21st century cannot live solely in the art world or the “real world.” Rather, he or she should commute between the two.

How should artists today deal with new forms and media? Please comment below (note comments are moderated due to spam) or directly on The Take.