Brian Jacobson

Internet killed the video star

By - Oct 25th, 2007 02:52 pm

2007-11_kimberlymillerKimberly Miller could be seen as a backward artist in a digital world where YouTube, Metacafe, and Google are the standard mediums of delivery for video art. But due to the omniscient control of the internet viewer, a piece of experimental art or an installation viewed online is kind of safe. It doesn’t help that some of Miller’s pieces incorporate a live element, requiring her to be present. But what is conveyed is so much stronger in person than when someone is home alone, crouched in front of a monitor.

While it’s not easy to describe or interpret her work, the viewer always feels something, however ineffable. More questions are raised than answered. If you were having a conversation with Miller she might say “It’s like, you know?”

Then you say, “Yeah. It’s all …you know?”

This Friday, October 26, at 7 p.m., Kimberly Miller will present selected works on film at Woodland Pattern, where she is hosted and spotlighted by friend and filmmaker Sarah Buccheri. The presentation of selected works and the reception that follows will give the audience a better chance to ask questions and negotiate with Miller regarding her art – which is exactly what she wishes to encourage with her body of work.

VS: Is the presentation Friday reflective of what you’re currently working on, or a collective of past and present work?

Kimberly Miller: The screening on Friday will show a selection of my video work from the past few years, including a video I made last week. The work represented will be a section of videos and performances-for-the-camera. There will be a live performative element as well, but a bit of a toned-down one. The emphasis will be on the videos. So on a scale of performance from subtle to Vegas-style flashiness: Sequins and glitter? Maybe. Live doves or flying daggers? Probably no.

VS: What is your artistic purpose?

KM: In my work I’m trying to … grasp certain things, figure them out. What, if any, role can art play beyond cultural production? Does art have the ability to affect change? Is there such a thing as a radically democratic art experience, and if so, what does it look like? Does action determine the actor, is identity determined by what we do, what we say, some combination thereof? I don’t know the answers to these or any other questions, really, but I’m interested in reframing them again and again and attempting to put out some kind of response to the questions.

VS: Why did you choose these mediums to convey them?

KM: The forms of video and performance are structured within and around language, and for me this is a place where public and private may intersect. Language is public because it is shared; our conception of language is shaped by its use. Yet each of us must come to an individual understanding of language. Language shapes meaning, and may be a place where viewer and artist meet. I try to establish certain parameters within which the viewer may wander and hopefully stumble across something of meaning or value to them.

There is a kind of utopia in the way I’m talking about things that I recognize and sit somewhat uncomfortably with. I’m hopeful about the world and the human potential, and this hope may prove invaluable in the face of evidence to the contrary about the human condition. Humor is also a component of the work, and may be a powerful tool when used in capable hands.

VS: How do you know Sarah Buccheri?

KM: Sarah Buccheri is a performer, artist and filmmaker, and coincidentally, a dear friend. We performed collaboratively together in a kind of vaudeville-like performance troupe and toured together. This relationship of artist/curator is a new one for us, and we’ve talked about how to honor that dynamic in the show.

VS: What do you have on your plate currently?

KM: I’m beginning to write a longer, more complex piece that may or may not eventually involve performance, text, movement, lights, objects. I’m planning a winter tour and am an artist-in-resident in New York City in December. I’m also looking forward to teaching a class on performance and action at UWM in the spring entitled ‘Action! Determining the Actor.’

VS: What can you say about the pieces that will be shown Friday?

KM: The work examines various cultural relationships and attempts to poke at them, to see how they work. Is it possible to politicize these relationships? What kind of power lies within these structures? How is the identity of a subject constructed? Obviously I have thoughts and opinions on some of these matters. I’m ever hopefully and enthusiastically moving towards a radical democracy, with the full knowledge I may never get there. Or, perhaps, as I create the work I create the viewer. VS

Kimberly Miller as presented and interviewed by Sarah Buccheri starts at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 26 at Woodland Pattern Book Center located at 320 E. Locust Street, Milwaukee WI – admission is $2 at the door. Seating is limited. A reception will follow nearby at Buccheri’s house. Visit or call 414-229-4758 for details.

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