Site Specifics: Tank.tv
By Jesse P. Finnegan
For a while now the focus of Site Specifics has been the cinematic enterprises and varied modes of moving image that are somehow indebted to, born from, or entirely made possible by the potentialities of this Internet thing. This issue, we give props to an old-media style of exhibition repurposed for—and thriving in—the ether of the Web: Tank.tv.
Ostensibly the haute vlog of slickster culture quarterly Tank Magazine, since 2008 Tank.tv has distinguished itself amidst the online video din with a simple premise: to operate like an art gallery/ cinematheque for streaming video. Assembling roughly eight programs a year—solo exhibitions, group shows, and compilations by guest curators—the site boasts consistently curiosity-piquing work by video artists and experimental filmmakers with impressive exhibition histories (within, that is, the earthly walls of a brick-and-mortar cinema or gallery space). One advantage Tank.tv has over more corporeal venues is that its collection never goes into storage: the site’s entire back catalogue of collections is always on view.
Though seemingly a perfect alternative pair, the Internet and avant-garde cinema have been uneasy bedfellows thus far, with many major artists clinging to the now-traditional models of once-radical screening practices, and resisting the Web as viable ground. But as celluloid (and its rituals and requirements) loosens its hold on the avant-garde, the medium’s venerable adherents have less and less reason to ignore the Web. If anything, the photocopy-quality uploads of experimental work on YouTube, UbuWeb, or even Artforum.com, beg for established film artists to stake some online territory. Tank.tv finds itself in a unique position. Showcasing efforts by the likes of Ken Jacobs, Paul McCarthy, Michael Robinson, Steve Reinke, and William E. Jones, the site’s repertory is an implicit endorsement of the computer monitor as screening space. That’s old-school new media.
Go to Tank.tv.
© 2012 by The Film Society of Lincoln Center