Videotapes and video performances

The Star Spangled Banner 1982: My first video: no editing, one take. I projected a slide of Neil Armstrong with a flag on the surface of the moon onto my hand which I moved and bent my fingers to make the flag wave.

Teeth Tape 1982: With no way to edit, we "edited" in camera by pausing the camera while replaying the tape on a monitor and taped SX70 images of my journey with braces on top of an image playing back. By adjusting the monitor, I was able to do "processing" to make the image look more interesting. I used music and the sound of a bolt being driven into a piece of wood by a ratchet. This simulated the sound I heard in my head when my teeth moved when the braces were tightened.

A Letter from My Sister 1982: A reading of the letter about the birth of my niece Nicole with images laying over the letter. Made from still images.

A Love's Dilemma 1984: A slow-scan video performance piece. With video cameras in two separate places, she reaches for him, he disappears as the scan puts her image over his. When he reaches for her the same thing happens. When they are ready to kiss, the scan moves across the screen and wipes her out before their lip meet. The sound of a telephone answering machine hints at missed opportunities.

From my earliest work, I sought to tell the story of who I was and how I observed the world around me. While mostly working as a photographer, my work often followed whatever media was needed to tell the story.


More often than not the video work was not freestanding to be shown in a darkened room with a seated audience. Instead it was part of a larger idea project where sculptural and photographic elements filled out the story. If you look at the installation page, you will see other places where I incorporated video into the pieces.


For me video has filled in where there needed more information, or was the only way for me to tell the story. Take the slow-scan video performance where we had use of the equipment for a day or two. The idea came from some personal relationship issues and I convinced my friend Roger Lang to act it out with me.


In 1984, I spent a semester on sabbatical at my alma mater The School of the Art Institute of Chicago learning how to edit videotape. When I got back home, I sold my house and bought a new place with studio space and used part of the money for video editing equipment, my computer, scanner and was frustrated because technology had not caught up with my ideas. It seemed that I was always wanting more than could be delivered from the equipment I had. However, when re-looking at these, I feel the ideas were solid and probably ahead of their making.

A Book of Family Tales 1987: As part of a sculptural stage, three stories are told. 1. Joyce and Nicole: Joyce tells how she could not stand to watch her baby daughter eat and get food all over herself. 2. Mom Mooning: Three versions of her daughters telling the story of mom mooning them while riding in a car, then telling them it's got to be a secret from Dad and their brothers. 3. The Inheritance: I go to the bank to collect our inheritance from our father and the bank turns out to be the can bank and the inheritance turns out to be a station wagon filled with beer cans.

barbara@barbarahoughtonphoto.com                   all contents © barbara houghton 2017