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The Aesthetics of the Ambient Video Experience

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Author(s): Jim Bizzocchi

Journal: Fibreculture Journal
ISSN 1449-1443

Issue: 11;
Date: 2008;
Original page

Keywords: video art | ambience | ambient video

ABSTRACT
Ambient Video is an emergent cultural phenomenon, with roots that go deeply into the history of experimental film and video art. Ambient Video, like Brian Eno's ambient music, is video that "must be as easy to ignore as notice" [9]. This minimalist description conceals the formidable aesthetic challenge that faces this new form. Ambient video art works will hang on the walls of our living rooms, corporate offices, and public spaces. They will play in the background of our lives, living video paintings framed by the new generation of elegant, high-resolution flat-panel display units. However, they cannot command attention like a film or television show. They will patiently play in the background of our lives, yet they must always be ready to justify our attention in any given moment. In this capacity, ambient video works need to be equally proficient at rewarding a fleeting glance, a more direct look, or a longer contemplative gaze. This paper connects a series of threads that collectively illuminate the aesthetics of this emergent form: its history as a popular culture phenomenon, its more substantive artistic roots in avant-garde cinema and video art, its relationship to new technologies, the analysis of the viewer's conditions of reception, and the work of current artists who practice within this form.

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