Children's Tapes

1974, 30 min, b&w, sound

Children's Tapes is a classic early video work, a seminal investigation that translates the aesthetics of minimalism, performance, perception and real time into the vernacular of the everyday. With ingenuity and wit, Fox constructs phenomenological dramas from the science of the quotidian. Suspense and surprise suffuse a series of anecdotal episodes that demonstrate basic physical phenomena. Fox builds dramatic tension and mystery with an extreme economy of means, focusing a stationary black-and-white camera on ordinary household objects. With the camera close to his still-life subjects, Fox constructs a series of elementary experiments that illustrate fundamental principles of physical science: A piece of fruit is placed under a tin lid held up by a single match, as an unsuspecting fly approaches the bait; a spoon, balanced on a fork, holds a piece of ice until the melting water topples it; a candle in a pan of water is extinguished when a pot is placed over it. The intimate scale, magnified view, and suspenseful unfolding of minute events in real time all serve to intensify the viewers' perceptions and expectations in these engaging mini-narratives.

Produced by Art/Tapes/22.