Artwork Detail

Pop-Pop Video: Kojak/Wang
1980
American, b. 1946
Color video with sound
University purchase, Bixby Fund, 2017
WU 2017.0003 b
Highlights
As part of the first generation of video artists to appropriate and critique television imagery, Dara Birnbaum recombined popular television footage with the aim of exposing the medium’s embedded ideological meanings. For her two Pop-Pop Video works of 1980 she used the technique of the intercut, a type of edit that juxtaposes two contrasting scenes, set to precisely calibrated sound mixes. In the analytic “music video” General Hospital / Olympic Women Speed Skating, the popular daytime soap opera and the 1980 Winter Olympics are intercut to a soundtrack including original music by Dori Levine, Robert Raposo, and Sally Swisher, and a Donna Summer disco song. The fusion highlights the polarities of balance versus imbalance, victory versus defeat, and physical versus emotional exertion. In Kojak / Wang Birnbaum intercut fragments from the 1970s TV crime drama with a commercial for Wang Laboratories—an early personal computer company—along with a television test pattern. A driving guitar solo punctuated by gunfire from a shoot-out in Kojak creates a volatile counterpoint to Wang’s portrayal of a female secretary at work as rainbow-colored beams fire into her computer. This conjunction suggests the violent potential of technology, especially when wielded by corporate America and commercial television. [Permanent collection label, 2017]