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LOOP 2017: Winding the Clock Back

— A Contemporary Archaeology of Video

Eugeni Bonet, 'Photomatons', 1976, 3 min. Courtesy the artist

Following the precious advice of local curators Eugeni Bonet and Antoni Mercader, on the occasion of its 15th edition LOOP winds the clock back and reviews the early days of video art.

The desire to look back in time always seems to be associated with certain nostalgia, a feeling of slight pleasure that stems from the recollection of memories. However, from a historical perspective, the act of calling up a gone by past discloses a precise intention that reaches beyond the simplistic feeling of longing: that of tracing a temporal development that is at once ontological, political and cultural.

Yet, in a fast-forward society that tends to evolve according to a frenetic pattern, the effect that is produced coincides with an essential “shrinking of time” – to say it with German sociologist Hartmut Rosa –, that in fact opposes the linear consequentiality of past, present and future tenses[1]. As a result of this constant rush towards “the new” (exemplified in the hectic technological progress and the annihilitation of cultural knowledge), every attempt to look back in time is immediately dismissed as a braking obstacle and, while individuals grow accustomed to desire always novel and disposable futures, they seem oblivious of the past.

But how are things really supposed to be going forward, if we are constantly estranged from ‘what is gone’ and consistently obsessed with ‘what is going to be next’? By translating these questions in the realm of artistic production, on the occasion of its 15th  edition LOOP will then wind the clock back and review the early days of video art. In accordance with the belief that a retrospective look not only is key to a well-rounded history, but also a means to shed light upon the present, the upcoming edition will feature a selection of moving image artworks that as challenging as they were at the moment of their creation, still maintain a critical interest today.

Coming into play in the mid-‘60s, when portable recording devices where being launched in the US, video promptly entered the range of artistic means at hand. First promoted by the overruling industry of television, during the ‘70s and ‘80s it imposed itself as an independent tool in the constellation of the so-called “new media”. Subject to the sweep past of artistic forms, video underwent constant transformation: over a period of four decades it indeed not only adapted to the rapid swifts in technology production, but its manifold uses also testified to very different social and political climates.

No matter how short if compared to any other medium’s history, to review the trajectory of video both in Spain and abroad then proves to be of primary interest. More than disclosing a wistful affection for the past, LOOP’s retrospective posture will then reflect precise intentions that could be defined as: the will to rewind, to pause, to slow down the pace in order to allow for a contemporary archaeology of the present; the desire to look back in order to revive past video works that got locked away by the medium’s hasty evolution; the possibility to interpret current production in the light of early creations and, ultimately, provide the platform’s longstanding engagement with the moving image with an even stronger background.

The festival main selection will be put together with the precious advice of local curators Eugeni Bonet and Antoni Mercader. Eugeni Bonet works with film, video and digital media. Being an artist and curator, he moves between research and creative practice. Antoni Mercader is an art historian and curator, specialising in the study of new media and audiovisual art. Together they edited Entorno al video (Barcelona: Gustavo Gili, 1980), the first Spanish publication dedicated to video art.

[1] H.Rosa, Social Acceleration, A New Theory of Modernity, Columbia University Press, 2013