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Joan Jonas, Organic Honey’s Visual Telepathy

Joan Jonas’ work Organic Honey’s Visual Telepathy is a central and obvious example of early video artists work with telepathy. Susan Rothenberg says of Jonas’ work “What I think she was doing was changing the world of sensory perception. You went to a Jonas [sic] work to see one of the excruciatingly odd minds of that time [late 60s and early 70s] make a window into her world, that would in a few hours make a window in yours.” [1] Jonas mirrored herself, the surroundings and the audience. She used mirrors, masks and the monitor to create a double reality for the audience. Live activity accompanied the video image, and the gap between the two created a third image. Jonas said “The performer sees herself as a medium: information passes through”[2]. Jonas said:

“Organic Honey’s Visual Telepathy evolved as I found myself continually investigating my own image in the monitor of my video machine. I then bought a mask of a doll’s face, which transformed me into an erotic seductress. I named this TV persona Organic Honey. I became increasingly obsessed with following the process of my own theatricality, as my images fluctuated between the narcissistic and more abstract representation. The risk was to become too submerged in solipsistic gestures. In exploring the possibilities of female imagery, thinking always of a magic show, I attempted to fashion a dialogue between my different disguises and the fantasies suggested. I always kept my eye on the small monitor in the performance area in order to control the image making.”[3]

Mona Da Vinci, an artist contributor to Gregory Battcock’s anthology on video art in which Krauss’ seminal work on telepathy in early video appears, also recognizes telepathic aspects of video art. She describes video art as a “mental rather than a physical process,”[4] and observes “Transferences in performances: from life to stage, from one medium to another.”[5] Telepathy is also apparent in the work of filmmakers such as David Blair, Tarkovsky’s Solaris [6] as well as David Cronenberg’s Scanners [7].
 
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[1] Susan Rothenburg, “NY City 1969,” Joan Jonas Works 1968-1994, by Joan Jonas et al. (Amsterdam: Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, 1994) 24.

[2] Bruce Ferguson, “AmerefierycontemplationonthesagaofJoanJonas,” Joan Jonas et al., Joan Jonas Works 1968-1994 (Locust Valley: n.p., 1993; Amsterdam: Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, 1994) 13-21, 21.

[3] Joan Jonas et al., Joan Jonas Works 1968-1994 (Amsterdam: Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, 1994) 42.

[4] Mona da Vinci, “Video: The Art of Observable Dreams,” New Artists Video; A Critical Anthology, ed. Gregory Battcock (NY: E. P. Dutton, 1978) 11-23, 11.

[5] Da Vinci, 11-23, 14.

[6] J. and L. Wilson, “In Stereoscopic Vision,” 6-15, 11. Jane and Louise explain:“We were very interested in the Russian film-maker Andrei Tarkovsky. The free floating figure in Stasi City refers to his film Solaris.”

[7] Peter Schjeldahl, “V.I.: Jane & Louise Wilson,” Jane and Louise Wilson, by Peter Schjeldahl, Jane and Louise Wilson, and Lisa Corrin, ed. Lisa G. Corrin (London: Pale Green, 1999) 4-5, 3. For David Cronenberg’s telepathy see Scanners (also called The Sensitives) as it particularly highlights Cronenberg’s overall obsession with paranormal activity by focussing on familiar fictions of telepathy and telekinesis. See Dominic Lee, Would you buy some New Flesh from this man? 6 July 2002 <http://www.cronenberg.freeserve.co.uk/cr_veil.htm>.