|When it seemed that television was about to end, an end it supposedly met in the onslaught of interactive media and their splitting up of large, homogenous audiences through the proliferation of small, constantly connected screens, it may just emerge again. And so it does: a medium has been created in the white cube through a selection of programs, inhabited by speculative exercises on the visual, spoken, and dramatic conventions that make us see something as real, as almost-real, or unreal through televised sound and image.|
When it seemed that television was about to end, an end it supposedly met in the onslaught of interactive media and their splitting up of large, homogenous audiences through the proliferation of small, constantly connected screens, it may just emerge again. And so it does: a medium has been created in the white cube through a selection of programs, inhabited by speculative exercises on the visual, spoken, and dramatic conventions that make us see something as real, as almost-real, or unreal through televised sound and image.
Television is a sophisticated form of theatricality, ruled by sets of exact conventions that at the same time situate us in an eternal dream where we think what we see corresponds to a reality. The objective of the exhibition Are You Ready for TV? is not to judge the value of the medium, but to study the morphological structure of televised narration, a structure that manifests itself across the works and collaborations of artists and philosophers.
In this way, Are you ready for TV? is an exhibition that explores the paradoxical aesthetic and public space that contemporary art and philosophy produce once they leave the museum and academia, and get shown on television. It is a project realized from television’s point of view and from the space it inhabits, in order to nourish an experimental imagination that departs from our cultural present. The result is an unusual reading of television in ten sections that form an itinerary to unlearn what we know about the medium and shift discursive positions, cheat the senses, and escape the duality of transmitter and receptor:
1. The Insatiable Joker
2. Television as Ruler, or the Realm of Television
3. Dead Air: We Are Not Broadcasting
4. Site-Specific Television
5. On TV: The Spirit of the Mime
6. Place/Presentation/Public: Television and Politics
7. The Shock of the New: “From the Astounding Possibilities and the Generally Mediocre Realities of the Critic”
8. The Lonely Tribunal
9. The Greek-Latin Matrimony: A Long Distance Vision
10. What’s My Line? (Who Am I?)
Artists and philosophers whose programs for television are included in Are You Ready for TV? are, among others, Martha Rossler, Jean-Luc Godard, Anne Marie Miéville, Jeff Cornellis, David Lamelas, Guy Debord, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Richard Serra, Carlota Fay Schoolman, Chris Burden, and Andy Warhol. The importance of presenting this material in a museum of contemporary art is that they were, or are, outside of their time. The common trait of the work is that they cannot be deducted from their era. On the contrary, these ways of re-creating the world were at their outset imagined to be different from their era. Are You Ready For TV? investigates what we today can learn from these hypothesis, and in what form they contribute to interpret not only the medium of television, but also the museum as a medium.
When art, philosophy and television merge, something very interesting occurs. None of them are really themselves anymore. Art on television is somehow never quite television, nor is it ever quite art. A hybrid or an assemblage results from their interaction. Once it is mediated, a strange aesthetic and form of perception occur that force artists to introspectively investigate every element of their practice. Philosophy is the next best example of a discourse that television forces to experiment with itself. As living text, the discipline of philosophy is made neither for explanation nor for commentary, so once it is aired on television it looks odd and the philosopher ceases to be a teacher like in the classroom, but becomes an important performer of mental space as the origin of the public.
A sense of estrangement ensues when two elements meet: one, the logic of a medium conceived to be accessible by all; two, materials such as art and philosophy, which invariably endeavor to be one step ahead, and escape formulas and categories. This estrangement produces discomposure and urges us to forget habits related to art, thinking, and televised information in equal measure, and to tackle an experience that has a very particular relationship to the real where the spectator is situated. This situation of indeterminacy seems productive in a historical moment where, due to changes in the economic system, we are obliged to generate languages and forms of interaction in culture that are still to be discovered.
The collaboration with the artist, Dora García, who has extensively researched the relation between performance and television, has been fundamental to the development of Are You Ready For TV? We have also collaborated on specific contributions from the cinematographer, Albert Serra, who has realized a work-program for the show; the artist and filmmaker, Johan Grimonprez, who in recent years has worked on the relation between television and the construction of the political; and Isidoro Medina, who has proposed a hypothetical catalogue with which to think through basic ingredients of what we consider the televised.