Though he lies in Germany now, when he was living in the Bay Area in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Terry Fox "was a central participant in the West Coast performance art, video and Conceptual Art movements." In 1974, he created Children's Tapes, originally for his own child. The work was recognized, though, as "a classic early video work, a seminal investigation that translates the aesthetics of minimalism, performance, perception and real time into the vernacular of the everyday."
Fox composed video still lifes of little physical science experiments using ordinary household objects--matches, a candle, a fork, pots and pans. The scenes build dramatic tension as he sets them up, and produce bits of joy and wonder as the results unfold.
I saw Children's Tapes at the Getty, where it's included in California Video, an excellent show of the massive holdings of the Long Beach Museum of Art, which was a very early supporter of video art experimentation. The Getty has a segment of Children's Tapes on their hard-to-link-to website. But they also have invisible "no photography" signs, and draconian guards who went from zone defense to man-to-man when, instead of writing the artist's name on my sweaty palm, I took a photo of the wall label.
So thanks for saving the video art, Getty, and for having your goon stalk me. You can watch the entire Children's Tapes on Ubuweb.
California Video, Mar 15-Jun 8 at the Getty Museum [getty.edu]
Terry Fox, Children's Tapes, 1974, 30 min. [ubu.com]