[Written with my co-editor, Nelson Henricks]


By the Skin of Their Tongues: Artist Video Scripts, Introduction


By the Skin of Their Tongues is an anthology of texts adapted from Canadian artists' video. In choosing the works for this collection, no attempt was made to provide a thematic or historic overview of video art in Canada. Instead, this book gathers together adaptations of works we felt would be well-served by being made available in print form. In other words, our selections were governed by the pleasure these text or monologue-based videos gave us. So this book was conceived as a literary anthology: it's meant to be a good read. But beyond this, the book will also serve as a resource for the study and dissemination of the video works.

Our initial inspiration came from reading texts transcribed from film and video works (including our own) and seeing how they worked as writing, as literature. Being video-makers, we're keenly aware of the differences between the spoken and written word. Still, we were surprised at how each transcript opened up new vantage points — they invariably sent us back to the videos with and greater understanding and appreciation.

Of course, the scripts in this book weren't originally conceived for the page: they are the artifacts of another medium. So we've invited some of the artists to write about the differences between video as video and video as it appears in print. These writings are in a section at the end of the book called, for lack of a better term "Essays." We tried to imagine these essays as leading simultaneously inside and outside the scripts, the way a footnote leads both inside and outside a text.