I saw an armadillo yesterday, and it was a lot like early video art. I’d seen armadillos before – I spent a lot of time growing up in Florida’s Green Swamp, where they’re the go-to rodent – but it’d been a while, and the newness and weirdness of the thing made me follow it around the block for a few minutes. To the outside observer, it wasn’t the most rewarding use of my time: all the armadillo did was sniff some car tires, scratch itself, and do a bit of scurrying. To me, though, it was fantastic; it’s the sort of experience that sounds dumb in words, but that produces some kind of teensy-tiny knowledge-like thing that affects how I see the world. Weirdness produces a kind of attention that’s more focused, more open, and less tangible than the attention of labor or the attention of pedagogy. It’s beautiful. And it’s the objective of a lot of art.
Video used to be weird; there’s no other excuse for all the ten-minute films of an artist picking his nose. There’s a weirdness to seeing your own body on video that, in an age of webcams, we’ve lost, and the fact that it’s not weird anymore kind of ruins a lot of it. Reintroducing that weirdness is hard, but failing that, maybe we can at least make it acceptable YouTube material. So here’s Bruce Nauman sashaying to Drake’s “Shut it Down”.
Business/Pleasure is Will Brand’s new daily column of the best of Video Art and YouTube crap. Most days will have one business video and one pleasure video, but you gotta admit this one was a gimme. Got a tip? E-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org.