Pop-Pop Video

1980, 9 min, color, sound

In the dynamic Pop-Pop Video tapes, Birnbaum appropriates standard television genres — the soap opera, sports event, action drama — to deconstruct the idiomatic meaning of TV's structural codes and conventions, such as the intercut and reverse shot.

General Hospital/Olympic Women Speed Skating is a fragmented collage that cuts between two sources of off-air television imagery — the TV sports event and the soap opera — to analyze the syntax and gestures of what Birnbaum terms "TV treatment" — in this case, the cross-cut and the reverse shot. The "cross-over" in an Olympic women's speed skating race is juxtaposed with daytime drama General Hospital's "whites" in reverse angle shots. A couple tries to reach an understanding. Skaters continuously return to the starting line. Frustration and exertion combine with originally scored soundtracks of disco, rock and jazz. The female soap opera character's emotional stress, her gestures and rhetoric of paranoia and self-doubt are countered with the pure physical performance of the female sports figures.

Layered with a tension-laden crescendo of rock guitars and gunshots, Kojak/Wang is a volatile pastiche of fast-paced, repeated images from Kojak (commercial TV), an ad for the Wang Corporation (TV commercial), and color bars. Birnbaum equates the violence of the crime drama shoot-out and the violence of corporate America, as signified by the telecommunications industry. Images and music burst in a staccato rhythm as she cuts back and forth between rapid gunfire, Kojak interrogating a criminal, candy-colored lasers and a woman at a computer. Within the ritualized violence of Kojak's gunfire and Wang's lasers, a condensed narrative dialogue between cop and criminal is articulated in shot/counter-shot images: "No! No! Listen... I did wrong. I'll take the blame for that. But don't ask me to give you his name." "I'm asking."

General Hospital/Olympic Women Speed Skating: Vocals: Dori Levine, Sally Swisher. Instrumentation: Robert Raposo. Disco: Donna Summer.

Kojak/Wang: Instrumentation: Rhys Chatham.

Ordering & Fees

Educational Rental
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Digital File
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