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Reading: Michael Fried and Beholding Video Art


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Research Article

Michael Fried and Beholding Video Art


Ken Wilder

Chelsea College of Art & Design, University of the Arts London, 16 John Islip Street, London, SW1P 4JU, GB
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In this article, I consider Michael Fried’s recent contribution to the debate about the experience of video art, made in relation to the work of Douglas Gordon. Fried speculates that issues of antitheatricality may in fact be key to specifying the medium of video installation. While Fried’s position on awork’s to-be-seenness offers a useful way of framing the relation with the beholder in video art, I question his notion of ‘overcoming’ theatricality – preferring to see the theatrical/antitheatrical dichotomy as a dynamic at play within individual works. I welcome what seems to be an explicit acknowledgment from Fried that the position of the spectator is a contributory factor in what he terms empathic projection, but relate this to the notion of a figural presence. I argue that video art, as a spatial practice, offers a distinct mode of reception by problematizing the position of the spectator in relation to two-dimensional figurative space to which she is excluded.
How to Cite: Wilder, Ken. “Michael Fried and Beholding Video Art”. Estetika: The Central European Journal of Aesthetics 49, no. 1 (2012): 5–25. DOI:
Published on 15 May 2012.
Peer Reviewed


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