by Liz Kotz from "The Museum of California", a publication of the Oakland Museum, May/June 1990.
Working at the other end of the technology spectrum, Barney Haynes explores how video can be used to create and collect sounds and images. "Thought Crimes in the Satiation Pools" (1988), a collaboration with Barry Schwartz, and "Bifurcating Crux" (1990), situate video in a decayed industrial landscape. Composed from elements of a larger installation/ performance pieces, the videotapes work in an aesthetics territory closer to the worlds of industrial music or the machine are of Survival Research Labs than the slicker, television-oriented look of much image-processed video art.
The two videos seem inspired by futurist and early modernist explorations with sound, noise, and everyday objects. rather than using post-production technology to reformulate visual and audio information, Haynes plays with the capacities of video as a recording device: hitting the camera with a plank, submerging a monitor in water, documenting sounds made by dragging an abandoned piano from the back of a truck. Working with the video medium physically, mechanically and materially, Haynes pushes the camera to its limits.
" Thought Crimes" manipulates everyday objects and familiar materials, using them to create unexpected powerful effects. The possibilities of vibration and sound are explored through a range of scavenged materials: old bed-springs, metal coils, piano strings, heated metal bars, dropped into water. In the tape's most striking image, a burning chair twists and turns from a cable, as if a symbol for some unexplained spontaneous combustion of domestic objects. While the video uses an almost process-oriented approach, showing the concrete techniques, which create each sound and effect, the elements are brought together in a composition that is almost musical.
In "Bifurcating Crux" the tape moves in and out of industrial and domestic landscapes. Household technologies such as cooking are probed for their unexpected artistic possibilities as Haynes tosses meat onto burners and drips water onto a heated metal surface. In the tape's logic, virtually anything at hand can be turned into a musical instrument or visual curiosity. Familiar objects-a TV screen, a cheap bottle of whisky-float through murky water. The video, beginning in a cemetery, moves through images of household and industrial waste, liquids and solids, while hinting at political undertones.
In his live performances, Haynes has played with the range of sensual effects he can create, incorporating smell, touch and physical vibration as well as images and sound. Walking around with a portable camera mounted on his shoulder, Haynes tinkers with and explores the scavenged materials, contraptions, and devices assembled in his installations. Pre-recorded video images are combined with live footage as different layers of experience are presented simultaneously.
At one of Haynes' performances, you can smell the meat sizzle and the bourbon dribble onto the burner, or walk on bedsprings miked for sound that musically reproduce your movements. these two rapidly cut and rhythmically edited videos offer a more linear journey through his industrial landscape, a fantasy territory of basement science experiments and late-night escapes, where mechanical tinkering becomes a pleasure in itself.