Joan Jonas. Twilight, 1975

Anne M. Wagner

Video as Messenger

Date 3/17/03

Affiliation Art Historian, University of California, Berkeley


Prof. Wagner's talk will revisit Marshall Mcluhan's understanding of media: in particular, his mythical notion of social change as sensory change. She will consider Mcluhan's anchoring of history to transformations of the media on which western civilization has been progressively dependent. What is particularly interesting in this context is McLuhan's idea that media exact a bodily toll: their transformation both wound and provoke numbness as the relations of the human sensorium undergo what McLuhan (euphemistically) terms "extension." With these ideas in mind, the talk will offer a reconsideration of early video as it understands the abuses that the body and the senses suffer via contemporary mediations, where both the artist's experiences and those of the viewer are clearly in play.


Anne M. Wagner is an art historian whose interests are focused on issues of gender and address in 19th and twentieth century art. Since 1988, she has been a professor in the Department of History of Art at the University of California, Berkeley, where she is a member of the Editorial Board of Representations. Recent essays include studies of Andy Warhol's Race Riot, Rosemarie Trockel's drawings, and the rhetorical anxieties characteristic of video and performance, c. 1970. Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux: Sculptor of the Second Empire, appeared in 1986, and Three Artists (Three Women) was published in 1996. Her third book, Brave New Womb: Modernist Maternity and British Sculpture is nearing publication.

-- As of 3/17/03

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