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Blog: From “Test Tube” to YouTube



Welcome back to the eighties in a mirage of VHS quality. In Test Tube we see an experience of the artist in the era of the mass media, a happening of bright colours in test tubes. The gritty VHS quality has managed to survive the forces of disintegration. In a cross between a laboratory and a bar it considers what kind of attitude that an artist should assume in order still to be effective in a culture which is overloaded with mass media images and values.

Test Tube, by the Canadian group General Idea and made while in residence at De Appel in Amsterdam. Is not only a testament to a plight that was relevant during the eighties but seems as relevant today with the expansion of mass media in cyberspace. What is the role of an artist within the confines of this newly constituted world? Are contemporary artists doomed to compete with Youtube fads and overly marketed brands? Or should they embrace these elements and work with them to create a higher form? Revisiting this work form 1979 might provide us with an answer or deepen our discussion.

This video is part of the Jailbreak Programme 2, on November 5th , but as a warm-up check out this 30 second fragment: