Diana Thater. Deconstructing Video

Diana Thater, Untitled (Butterfly Videowall #2), 2008. Video installation.
installation of five tv monitors and 2 neon orange lights laid in a circle formation on floor with cords and outlets exposed
Diana Thater, Untitled (Butterfly Videowall #2), 2008. Video installation. San José Museum of Art. Museum purchase with funds provided by the Acquisitions Committee with additional funds provided by the Lipman Family Foundation, 2016.05.

Through multiple projections and screens situated in various spatial configurations—as in the monitors arranged lying on the floor in Untitled (Butterfly Videowall #2) (2008)—Diana Thater’s video art installations shift viewing perspectives to change the way we experience video in relation to space. In her early work, the artist was interested in deconstructing the basic components of video by dividing images into red, green, and blue, the primary colors of light;1 as the artist says, “once you find the limitations of the language, you can exceed them.”2 In Untitled (Butterfly Videowall #2), Thater breaks apart the wall of monitors that would together show a comprehensive image; placing them upturned on the floor, they mimic the position of monarch butterflies resting on the ground at the El Rosario Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary, the preservation site in Mexico where the video was shot. Seen at our feet, their fractured images of a butterfly slowly flapping its wings alter how viewers see dimensionality in video, suggesting that the experience of space, like images, is constructed.

  1. “Diana Thater: The Artist’s Museum,” The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, filmed 2010, video, 4:11 minutes, available at vimeo.com/16326381. ↩︎

  2. Diana Thater, in Lynne Cooke, “Interview with Diana Thater,” September 14, 2014, published in Diana Thater: The Sympathetic Imagination (Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art; and Munich: Prestel Verlag, 2015), 22. ↩︎