Single-channel at the Des Moines Art Center is a program dedicated to the exhibition
and interpretation of important single-channel video by contemporary artists. Historically,
video’s relationship to film and its inherent documentary qualities have allowed artists to
explore the art form from either a formal or narrative point of view since it’s inception in
the mid-1960s. Nan Jun Paik is generally regarded as the pioneer of this medium, although
artists such as Andy Warhol and Wolf Vostell have also been identified as having
experimented with video during this time period. Unlike conventional cinema, a video does
not necessarily have a plot, dialogue, or any other resemblance to a literary convention.
In some cases video is the primary vehicle for the articulation of an artist’s vision, while in
others, it serves as a visual counterpoint or analog to their object-based or photographic work.
The single-channel format has also inspired artists to work with alternate opto-mechanical
devices such as overhead projectors or slide carousels, thereby linking video with a visual
tradition that goes well back into the 19th century. While embracing these structural differences,
Single-channel deliberately adheres to the single frame format for its absorbing, psychological
potency and its ability to both challenge and mirror perceptions of reality.
Each year-long Single-channel series is dedicated to a specific theme explored in unexpected
and surprising ways by artists from diverse cultural and geographic regions. The exhibition
format presents one video for a period of six to eight weeks in the video gallery of the
Richard Meier building, followed by others in the series to total one year. Single-channel is
accompanied by didactic and interpretive materials. Invited guest lectures by artists and critics,
educational programs geared to both school-aged children and young adults, as well as for the
general museum going audience, may also be presented. Single-channel is organized by
Gilbert Vicario, senior curator and Laura Burkhalter, associate curator.