Early video artists, such as the Americans Joan Jonas and Nauman, used video to bring performance art to a wider audience. Jonas’ Organic Honey’s Visual Telepathy (1972) and Funnel (1974) and Nauman’s Slow Angle Walk (1968) and Stamping in the Studio (1968) all entailed theatrical, often impromptu performances within studio or installation settings. Recently, the UK artist Lucy Gunning took up this particular baton when she created her classical video work, Climbing Around My Room (1993). In this video piece, which being a time-based work is measured in minutes and seconds (seven minutes and five seconds) rather than linear dimensions, trained dancer Kim SÃ¸borg climbs around Gunning’s empty room, circumnavigating it without touching the floor – a whimsical childhood activity which is, nevertheless, strenuous in the extreme. The camera steadfastly follows the course of this feat as, with gymnastic agility and poise, SÃ¸borg navigates her way around the room exploiting the narrowest of shelves and ledges, the merest protuberances, door-handles, a coat hook, a picture hook, in a faultless performance. The viewer’s perception of the room is transformed, its volume becomes distended, its surfaces less remote, its whole geometry inverted.
Lucy Gunning’s work is on show in Belvedere, which continues at the Henry Moore Institute, 74 The Headrow, Leeds LS1 3AH, until 30 April.