News — 20 Jul 2007

Visual media, of which television is the most established, common and vivid, inundates us with a steady flow of images, which overlap with or even displace reality. Using this premise as a starting point, Sean Snyder (1972, Virginia Beach, US), known for his work with photography, video and text works that question urban and media space, analyzes ways in which we consume within the torrent of image production. 

What kind of experience/reality emerges from the chaotic and blurred visual consumption of the televisual image? How does television generate a sense of reality if catastrophes are interrupted by no less spectacular images of consumer products, or other random information given the ease of the remote control and the inexhaustible number of satellite channels? 

Snyder attempts to approach these questions with his most recent video project Schema (Television). Over the last two years, he has confronted this subject with an ongoing video project. With the presentation in Docking Station – the project space for contemporary international art in the Stedelijk Museum CS – the final result of the investigation will be shown. 

Schema (Television) has been produced using a satellite television and consumer editing software. Its material composed and commented on by inter-titles, is broadly thematic: from minimal static signals to news footage, weather reports, game shows and culinary programs. The editing technique references both the remote control ease of switching channels and the montage model of Dziga Vertov’s newsreels. Vertov, the Soviet film pioneer who made ground-breaking films as well as developed his own editing theory, constructed out of filmed material what he called ‘Kinopravda’ (cinema truth), which exceeds the truth of reality. Schema (Television), scripted and edited in collaboration with Olga Bryukhovetska, constructs structures out of diverse forms of media imagery.

This project is a further exploration of the techniques of media representation. Previously, in Analepsis, Snyder extracted ‘blank’ archival location shots used in news programmes that lead us to believe that what we are seeing is the truth. These carefully selected sequences are part of the closed presumed realistic narrative code of television, which needs to visualize its (and the viewer’s) presence at the place of event. With Schema (Television), Snyder considers the extent to which lack of control over imagery by producers offers for the art context a fresh look at the interpretation of images.

To conclude the presentation of the work at Docking Station, Snyder presents archival material and notes illustrating the process at various stages. In 2006 and 2007, versions of the work were exhibited in different exhibitions, first at the 5th Busan Biennial (Korea) and most recently at the Lisson Gallery, London and at the Sala Rekalde (Bilbao). 

The Stedelijk Museum Bulletin (September issue) will publish an essay on the project.