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"Me calling him-him calling me"-Tom Sherman's recent video work

Langill, Caroline (2011) "Me calling him-him calling me"-Tom Sherman's recent video work. C Magazine (112). pp. 16-21. ISSN 1193-8625


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If one tracks Tom Sherman's YouTube posts/ presentations/screenings retrospectively, there is a series of works that predate the archive that also focus on the fishery industry but which are set in Alley 9, a karaoke bar in Liverpool, Nova Scotia. In these videos, Sherman and Jan Pottie document members of the local community singing pop and country hits : 3 Mikes sing Purple Rain (2010), Luke sings Another Brick in the Wall (2010), Don Don sings House of the Rising Sun (2010), and so on. There are also videos posted of a local band called The Cransons, as well as a heartfelt tape of a senior couple singing an original song (Doin' Country: Dale and Sue Verge perform We Believe in Happy Endings 2011). This parallel archive of video art that focuses on local community singing is curious, but it provides an opportunity for reflection back by local folks, and for building trust in the artist. In any case, the assorted footage of individuals in the bar is moving. Well shot and edited, these works create a joyful and tight- knit community backdrop for the advocacy work that deals, with the fishing industry. When Sherman and Pottie finished a single-channel work ûeà Alley 9 (2010), based on the first of their karaoke documentation nights, they sent stacks of dvds to the staff at the bar, and sent copies to everyone they knew who appeared on the video.18 Over a hundred copies were also distributed around Liverpool, After this initial influx, Sherman and Pottie began to post "singles," including the aforementioned works, on YouTube and Vimeo. The effects have been numerous, with the dvd being played at living room parties all over Queen's County. As Sherman has observed, "People here know they sing well and know how to have a good time. We are simply representing this cultural phenomenon in media."19 But Sherman acknowledges that the videos land within a deep and broad culture based on families, their stories, personal histories and music. The impact of the karaoke videos shows, as well as the reaction to the videos focusing on the fishing industry, alignment with Jean-Luc Nancy's iteration of community as something that is "gifted." But, as he explains, it is "a gift to be renewed and communicated, it is not a work to be done or produced."20 Nature is the foil to the machine. But for Sherman, in a perpetual homage to information theorist Claude Shannon, the delivery system for his mode of communication is as significant as its content. He has vehemently defended video as his medium of choice based on its "complete integration of acoustic and visual space."3 For Sherman, "Video is like an x-ray technology. It sees through fiction."4 More recently, Sherman's video works have been posted by the artist on VouTube and Vimeo, signifying a strategic expansion of screenings in art galleries and physical venues. In her recent publication, Learningjrom YouTube, Alex Juhasz stresses that media praxis "must integrate theory and practice with the local andglobal."s For Juhasz, activists working with digital processes "...should lead and learn from conversations in real communities about the impacts, meanings and power of the media."6 But Juhasz's strident statement begs the question of how one defines community, how it inheres, how it is produced. In The Inoperative Community (1991), Jean-Luc Nancy deeply considers the production of community. As iterated in the opening epigram, a community is bound up with the presentation of its "mortal truth," and Nancy notes that, although the world has changed, no new figure of the community has been proposed and "perhaps this in itself teaches us something."7 He also asserts, "It is a matter rather of thinking community, that is thinking its insistent and possibly still unheard demand, beyond communitarian models or remodelings."8

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Art, Art exhibits, Museums And Art Galleries, Photography, Video art, Visual artists
Divisions: Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences
Date Deposited: 11 Jul 2016 20:54
Last Modified: 20 Dec 2021 19:46
URI: https://openresearch.ocadu.ca/id/eprint/1048

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