have looked at four contemporary artists. But I would like to end
my little presentation by looking back at the work of Arnie Zane,
who died in 1988 from AIDS, just before the blossoming of the digital
revolution. I curated a major show of Arnie’s work in 1999
at the museum.
In the early 1970s Arnie Zane was a photographer decidedly interested
in projections and cinema who later dropped most of his work in
photography as his activities as a choreographer and dancer with
his partner Bill T. Jones increased. Bill has always had deep regrets
that Arnie was unable to find a way to integrate his two obsessions:
photography and dance.
In the early 70s Arnie’s ingenious attempts to merge photography
and dance utilized projections, audio tape and video, but this amalgamation
was technically awkward. More significantly, there were few precedents
to synthesize these media, and no single instrument that could bridge
their differences and discontinuities.
are looking at a series of lantern slides made up from pieced and
taped together photographs entitled First Portrait which derive
from Arnie’s first solo performance work. Arnie performed
this dance, dressed in white and balancing on a stool to the voice
of Enrico Caruso singing “la Donna Mobile”
before a back projection of lantern slides of rooftop self-portraits.
As in all his work Arnie was interested here not in the mandates
of dance, which would emphasize progression and narrative, or the
mandates of dance photography, which would emphasize the athletic
moment, but rather visual order, repetitive geometric structures,
chance juxtapositions, and precise psychological timing.
Using early video equipment Arnie then attempted another transformation
of this material into film. Here is a recently rediscovered video
First Portrait Drawing from the early 70s.
T. Jones, in his miraculous dance from 1993, Still Here, with the
technological and conceptual aid of the computer and digital technology
was able to pick up where Arnie left off.
Here integrates dance, projection, photography, video, and the theatrical
around the emotional, social, and political counterpoint of youth
and age, disease and vitality.
Still Here, Bill is able to explore the complex relationships of
exchange that exist between the frame of the stage and the frame
of the photograph, between observer and object, spectator and dancer,
and between the dancer as performer and the dancer as spectator
of the projected image. Arnie Zane, unfortunately never fully realized
this integration in his own work, though Bill is thoroughly convinced
that if Arnie had only had a computer, or lived into the digital
age, that he may indeed have realized his dream of media synthesis.