Columbus Museum highlights video art for the first time in a full exhibit

Although the Columbus Museum has used video art in various exhibitions, video art hasn’t been the star of an exhibit until now.

The video art exhibit “Magnetic Landscape” is on display through June 7.Also new is the collaboration between the museum and the Columbus State University department of art.

“Almost two years ago, I had this idea of a video art exhibit,” said Hannah Israel, the CSU gallery director and assistant professor of fine art.

She started talking to Kristen Miller Zohn, the museum’s curator of collections and exhibitions, who had a similar idea.

The two women put their heads together and started calling artists and collectors.

“This is an easy entry for people who are not familiar with video art,” Zohn said.Israel and Zohn chose the theme of landscapes because everyone is familiar with the idea and has seen paintings of landscapes. And everyone is familiar with television.

In fact, Korean-American Nam June Paik, who died in 2006, an early video artist, predicted video would replace canvas in the art world as early as the 1960s.It hasn’t happened yet, but many artists, young and old, have turned to the new art form.

Among the emerging artists is Jennifer Steinkamp, an adjunct assistant professor in the design/media art department at University of California, Los Angeles, whose “Dance Hall Girl — 3 daisy,” is a computer-generated high-definition video projection of four colorful “dancing” flowers.

The piece is part of the exhibit, which is serendipitous, Zohn said. A group of collectors was touring the museum, and Zohn mentioned that she was hoping to get in touch with Steinkamp so she could borrow a piece for the exhibit.

A woman from Florida said she had a Steinkamp video in her private collection that she would loan to the museum for the exhibit.

Networking works, Zohn said with a smile.

Rodney Graham, an early video artist who has been working with the medium for 20 years, made “A Little Thought.” He made the film in Super 8 film format, then transferred it to a DVD. Graham also wrote the music and performs the song in the installation.

Diana Thater is another video art pioneer, whose “Shilo” was made for MTV. It shows a wolf standing on a platform, listening to his trainer. Thater used six video cameras to film the wolf, then spins the shots.

The reason for the success of video art is simple, Israel said. Video cameras are very accessible, and much less expensive than film.

The museum’s design team placed benches in front of many of the videos so people can sit and watch the screens.

“The works we have chosen show an attachment aesthetically to the audience,” Israel said.

“Beach, California” by Monica Duncan and Lara Odell show the two women standing on a lifeguard tower. In the 10-minute video, you can watch the sun set and lights come on as cars go by in the background. The women stand still the whole time.

Zohn said one must watch this video in its entirety to appreciate the piece.

Israel and Zohn liked working together on this exhibit so much that they’re already discussing future collaborations between the museum and CSU. Perhaps a glass exhibit will be next, they said.