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Three Transitions

Peter Campus (American, b. 1937)

1973

Medium video; color, sound; 4:53 min. Measurements No Measurements Credit Accession Number 82.8.7 Location Not on View

Narrative

These four videotapes by pioneering video artist Peter Campus involve simple, task-like performances in which the human figure is doubled, altered, or placed in apparent risk. Each of the Three Transitions uses the technology of chromakeying to superimpose two pictures of Campus in the same frame, a doubled presence with psychological undertones. In Four Sided Tape, images of parts of the body—feet, torso, head, hands—are manipulated electronically and through camera angle. In East Ended Tape, a woman obliterates the image of her face with the shadow of her own hand, and Campus solemnly wraps his head in a roll of Saran Wrap, effacing his image as we contemplate the dramatic danger of suffocation in his matter-of-fact performance. Third Tape features three performances by John Erdman as he abuses his appearance until he is hardly recognizable. The emphasis on the human face in these works, inviting us to consider the emotional states that lead the actors to their actions, reflects Campus's early studies in psychology.