Yesterday / Today

  • 1975
  • Dan Graham
  • concept for a videowork
  • Location not on view.
  • Acquired in 1978
  • Inventory number 816

The Van Abbemuseum Collection consists of over 2800 artworks. We publish texts and images on an ongoing basis, but this record is currently in the process of being documented.

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Graham described his video installation 'Yesterday/Today' with the following text: “A video camera shows the visual activities which take place (live) in a second room at that moment. This second room has a characteristic quality, the everyday activities of people have a particular rhythm there and a dialogue is spoken. The images on the monitor are accompanied by an audio playback of sounds which were recorded a day earlier in the second room, at exactly the same time of day. As this room is very close, the viewer can go there immediately. The installation is repeated every day for an indeterminate period into the future.” During every presentation of this work it is possible to opt for a different location.

This artwork is not a tangible object and it is not a planned recording of image and sound like a film. 'Yesterday/Today' is a complex installation in which the image and sound constantly change under the influence of the public. Because the sound was recorded 24 hours before the image that is projected, the image and the sound are not synchronized, but as the behaviour of the people in the recorded room follows a particular pattern, it could be that the image and sound do appear to correspond at certain times. The place where the monitor has been positioned is a place where art is presented. The place where the camera is positioned has a different function, e.g. a library, restaurant or bookshop. This place, with the public that is present there, forms the image that can be viewed. When the viewer leaves the room with the monitor and enters the room with the screen, his role as a viewer changes to that of someone who is being viewed.

Dan Graham has been working with media such as film, video, performances and installations since the late 1960s when these were experimental media. He gave a new meaning to the concept of an artwork. He was often concerned with the processes of observation in which the social and psychological aspects of the interaction between art and the artist, the public and the environment plays an important role. In 'Yesterday/Today', Graham explored the subject of the relationship between an artwork and the viewer. In addition he was playing with the contrast between real space and recorded space and with the relationship between image and sound. As thinking about art and the way in which it operates has a central place in Graham’s work, it can be considered as Conceptual Art.

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