Television Delivers People brings together single-channel video works from the 1970s to the present that examine how an individual viewer is shaped by television’s structure and content. These videos also suggest the possibility of an active approach to viewing which remains relevant even as the physical experience of viewing changes.
The exhibition takes its title from Richard Serra’s video Television Delivers People (1973), which pairs a Muzak soundtrack with a scrolling list of statements describing the manipulative strategies and motivations of corporate advertisers embedded in television. Works from the late 1970s and early 80s by Dara Birnbaum and Joan Braderman extend Serra’s media critique by using strategies of appropriation to deconstruct specific television genres and programs. Videos by Michael Smith and Alex Bag adopt a performative approach in responding to television, acting out characters whose lives are shaped by cable and its endless programming choices. The exhibition also includes videos by a number of young artists who have created experimental narratives reflective of a dense Internet culture, where diverse content from television, film, and music is immediately accessible and available for manipulation and response.