The term essai—literally “attempt”—was coined by the sixteenth century philosopher Montaigne to describe a literary form of inquiry and exploration. In positioning the essay as an engaged mode of individual expression as opposed to a detached mode of information sharing, it turned asking questions and seeking answers into an art form. The twenty-first century video essay, a hybrid visual and rhetorical form, represents an appropriately speculative next step in this progression. Produced and situated in the open source digital world, and thus freely available, the video essay utilizes audiovisuality—appropriated images, words, and sounds in montage—to explore contemporary issues.
Hyper Text: The Video Essay and the Expanded Field of Audiovisuality is a series of exhibitions that experiment with the presentation of open source video essays within the context of an art institution. The series is organized in three thematic chapters that put video essays in dialogue with works from the MSU Broad collection. The video essays and museum artworks in conversation mimic digital hypertext by linking, layering, and connecting related information. Through this lens, Hyper Text complicates established criteria, histories, and genre boundaries within literature and visual arts.
Artists: Tracy Cox-Stanton, Coco Fusco, Chloé Galibert-Laîné, Kevin B. Lee, Charlie Shackleton, Hito Steyerl
Hyper Text: The Video Essay and the Expanded Field of Audiovisuality is organized by the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University and curated by Georgia Erger, Assistant Curator. Lead funding for this exhibition is provided by the Eli and Edythe Broad endowed exhibitions fund.