Dara Birnbaum (New York, 1946) is an American artist
whose video works brought her notoriety since the 1970s. Television had an
enormous influence in people’s lives as society’s most powerful source of
information (now amplified by the internet). Birnbaum carries out a critical
analysis of the television universe, often using TV broadcasted images that she
interrupts, repeats and edits. From the 1990s onwards, Birnbaum began creating
large-scale video installations with multiple television screens.
A special commission for Documenta IX Kassel,
Transmission Tower: Sentinel (1992) examines the influence of television on
American politics, in this case during the First Gulf War of 1991. Eight video
screens, mounted on sections of a transmission tower, form a line that follows
the trajectory of a bomb dropped from a plane. Each screen broadcasts images of
George Bush addressing the 1988 Republican National Congress. At the same time,
images of poet Allen Ginsberg reciting his anti-war poem Hum Bom! written
during the Vietnam War and rewritten for the Gulf War, at a Students’
Convention in 1988, stream across the screen totem.