Video virtually overwhelms Turner prize

The Tate’s annual Turner Prize for contemporary art is both firmly screen-based, and politically charged this year. Tagged as a shortlist of buildings and battles by The Guardian, they seem to miss the point that it marks the clear renaissance and reinvigoration of video art, while also in the case of Langlands & Bell–whose work includes a virtually crafted interactive tour of The House of Osama bin Laden (2003)–finally incorporating computer game design.

While Langlands & Bell are already Bafta Interactive Awards Winner 2004 for their recreation of Osama bin Laden’s dwelling, how long before machinima and digital imagery take over from the current, and predominantly linear, screen-based trend at Britain’s most prestigious arts prize?

The Turner Prize exhibition 2004 can be seen between 20 October 2004 – 23 December 2004 at Tate Britain. The winner is announced December 6.

Information on the shortlisted artists from the Tate website:
Langlands & Bell have recently gained recognition for a diverse collection of work shown in The House of Osama Bin Laden, a project commissioned and shown at the Imperial War Museum. In October 2002, they visited Afghanistan for two intense weeks where they investigated the aftermath of war in the twenty-first century. The lack of military presence in the resulting works is conspicuous. The focus instead is on what happens once the international forces and the world’s media move on. Responding instinctively to the post-war environment, Langlands and Bell explore the ubiquitous nature of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) operating in Afghanistan. Their interactive animation investigates their dangerous expedition to the eerie isolated house occupied by Osama bin Laden in the late 1990s.”

Jeremy Deller‘s Battle of Orgreave is a powerful digital video recreation of a key conflict in the UK Miner’s Strike (revealing hidden histories). “His film Memory Bucket 2003 uses documentary techniques to explore the state of Texas, focusing on two politically charged locations: the site of the Branch Davidian siege in Waco and President Bush’’s home town of Crawford. Archive news footage is collaged with interviews, juxtaposing official reports with personal narratives.”

Kutlug Ataman’’s work is poised on the boundary between documentary and fiction. Ataman’’s new work Twelve (2004) shows six individuals recounting their experience of reincarnation. It was filmed in south-east Turkey, near the border with Syria, in an Arab community trying to make sense of horrific loss. They accept as a fact that everyone is reborn, although only those who have suffered violent or untimely death remember their past lives. Other work includes Women Who Wear Wigs (1999). His style is deliberately modest in technique, retaining the immediacy of home movies despite being presented as multi-screen, multi-layered installations.

Yinka Shonibare‘s works challenge assumptions about representation by playfully blurring the boundaries between stereotypically Western ideas about ‘high’ art and traditional categorisations of ‘African art.’” A more traditional video art approach.

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