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Stuart Marshall

Without denying his own significant interest in psychoanalysis, Stuart Marshall proposed a different response to different works (notably by artists that have not since been canonised in/by the artworld) based more upon contradiction than theoretical cohesion. In 'Video: From Art to Independence - a short history of a new technology' (Screen, Winter 1984/5) Marshall accedes video (art)'s initial need to be understood within the modernist tradition. It had to not only claim a place within the visual arts generally, but would, by "being recognised in its specificity" strategically "guarantee the survival of the current means of production [that in the UK was primarily within educational institutions] and the future support of the state funding bodies."

What disrupted the relationship between video and modernism for Marshall is what serves its psychological situation for Krauss:

The video image only comes into being at the moment of playback. As a stored image its materiality consists of a complex pattern of invisible electromagnetic charges on a reel of magnetic tape. Modernist work in film involved a direct working upon the image/acetate surface.

However interested video artists were with exposing the technology they were using, they were snared in a vicious circle of only ever re-presenting its (visual) effects, rather than its (invisible) physical material: "there was an inevitable and constant confrontation with illusionism and representation" [SM]. And representation for Marshall was precisely the stuff of television. In Marshall's notes on 'Video: Technology and Practice' (Screen, Vol. 20, no. 1, Spring 1979) television is "the site of production of representations - as both an industry and a signifying practice." Remarkably different from the language of art, television is the medium from which the language of video derives (for both makers and viewers) : "[all] televisual 'literacy' was established and is controlled by the television industry." To make images from the effects of its technology, video art inevitably challenged television's "dominant modes of representation." Marshall embraced this radical contradiction if not as the medium of video art then as a reassessment of video's relationship to modernism, "At the heart of [which] lay the seeds of a new oppositional practice."

Stills from The Streets Of... by Stuart Marshall (1979)
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