“Global Groove” Revisited
Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI) is a New York-based resource dedicated to fostering the creation, exhibition, distribution and preservation of moving image art. EAI’s archive of almost 4,000 moving image artworks spans the 1960s to the present, from seminal video art works by pioneering figures to digital works by new generations of artists.
This program, drawn from EAI’s archives, features two artists—Jacolby Satterwhite and Nam June Paik— and two works—one digital, one analogue–separated by and encompassing a span of forty years.
The theme of this year’s FUSO programming—“sustainability”—can be approached from multiple angles, and this program considers its relation to cultural and social diversity, as seen through the lens of these two disparate artists and works. Both posit the connection of diverse cultural and social communities through the artists’ interventions in mass media technologies and their creation of densely layered “media landscapes of tomorrow.”
Paik’s iconic 1973 Global Groove is one of the most well-known and influential works in video art history, an electronic collage of pop culture, avant-garde artists, and technical manipulation. Paik posited the then-groundbreaking notion of adopting and then subverting the language and techniques of television to create a global mash-up: Japanese Pepsi-Cola TV commercials are juxtaposed with performances by John Cage, Merce Cunningham, and Allen Ginsberg; dancers moving to Devil with a Blue Dress On are intercut with traditional Korean performers. For Paik, who presciently coined the phrase “Electronic Super Highway” in 1974, the idea was to suggest a far-flung global community joined by art and technology.
Forty years later, the young multi-disciplinary artist Jacolby Satterwhite creates his own densely constructed landscapes that reference the current media language of video games, internet memes, and digital interfaces. Satterwhite’s computer-generated realms—layered with proliferating drawings, objects and performances—encompass animated narratives of personal and cultural memory and identity. In the 2012 Country Ball Satterwhite’s fantastical digital landscape is populated with costumed avatars of himself, performing 100 times in front of a “green screen.” Personal home movies and hand-drawn computer renderings of his mother’s writings are integrated fluidly into the architecture of his dreamlike digital space.
As much as Paik’s analogue Global Groove reflected an almost utopian optimism for the connectivity enabled by the coming digital age, Satterwhite’s born-digital landscape seeks to connect communities through the insertion of the analogue: home movies, drawings, writings, the artist’s body: Two visions of a “global groove,” each anticipating the future and each speaking to their own time.