never heard a talk of craft in the context of video. There are different artistic strategies in dealing with that. Take two second-generation artists, Bill Viola and Gary Hill. Both are superb craftsmen. One denies the manifestation of the building material in his work the other promotes it. Video promised the freedom from craft, which many explained as freedom from tradition. Many willingly accepted the theory of the black box as the final formulation, this attitude that now promotes art made by "office machines", which is what computers really are. I think that Gillette summarized this in his early speech at MOMA (1974) when he said: "Here comes everybody." On the other hand, this ambiguity of the craft must be maddening to the competitive artist. I love my colleagues when they come and say, "I am probably the best." They tell you that with such naked honesty. I love it because it is impossible to know if you are the best; there is always some bastard out there that you do not know about. There are so many aspects of the craft that we don't recognize as such, like a circuit board, which may from the long view of history, become the most significant factor.
D.F. The most essential thing for you is just keeping the system open.
W.V. Time to time I try to be didactic about it. It mostly manifests in forms of photo essays as summaries of what I have learned. The first essay was titled "Didactic video" (1975) with a subtitle: "Organizational Models of Electronic Image." It addressed the basic definition of the state of "time/energy objects", as I called them at that time, in an analog state. The second essay came two years later under the title "Syntax of Binary Images." It dealt with image in a state of digital code. I am convinced that the second half of this century was about learning systems and new patterns.
D.F. I think it is probably important in a certain sense because there has to be almost parallels to any kind of evolution and technologies and a certain amount of attempted formalism periodically, to see if in fact you can do it. After a while you reject it, you realize that there is no formalism almost by the nature of the thing.
W.V. Yes, there is something in this, this longing for stability in form. One could even eventually become so conservative as to attempt a masterpiece. But it does not seem a part of today's vocabulary.
D.F. Well, we stop at a certain point in the evolution of the thing and say, okay, this is the language, and now I want to communicate with that language. Three years later that language is completely passé. One of the things I have said in classes, when I have been presenting your work is that the two of you for me are artist's artists. I mean, I really consider that in the last twenty years of your work, you're basically training the art world. And a lot of the work that you have done would mean that if you hadn't done it, some of the video art that we see today would not exist.
W.V. It would be nice if this would all be true (Laughs). See, there is already
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