(left) Thomas Demand, Gangway 2001. John Kaldor Family Collection at the Art Gallery of NSW © Thomas Demand/Bild-Kunst. Licensed by Viscopy, Sydney (right) Nam June Paik, TV Buddha 1976. John Kaldor Family Collection at the Art Gallery of NSW © Nam June Paik Estate.
Photography and video
Although photography and video art are closely related art forms that revolve around the use of a lens to capture an image from life, there are significant differences in how the two are experienced. Photographs are still images that freeze a moment in time, whereas video art centres on the moving image, which allows the artist to evoke the passage of time and the sensation of movement, as well as explore ideas of change.
Both photographic and video artworks may suggest a documented reality; however, artists recognise the ability of the lens to create rather than simply record.
The ‘reality’ that appears in Thomas Demand’s photographs, for example, is in fact a highly-constructed fiction. Demand recreates life-size sets in paper, which he photographs and then destroys, as in Flare 2002 and Gangway 2001, leaving behind only the image.
TV Buddha 1976 by video art pioneer Nam June Paik also leads us to consider the lens’ role in creating iconography. Here a Buddha statue stares at a television screen showing a short-circuit image of the statue itself, as the icon and the camera confront each other in real time.