"I still think the social function of art is that kind of negative aesthetic. Otherwise there’s no social function for it."
Beryl Korot was born in 1945 in New York, where she continues to live and work. An early video-art pioneer and an internationally exhibited artist, her multiple-channel (and multiple-monitor) video-installation works explored the relationship between programming tools as diverse as the technology of the loom and multiple-channel video. She has commented: “Just as the spinning and gathering of wool serve as the raw material for a weave, so the artist working with video selects images to serve as the basic substance of the work.” For most of the 1980s, Korot concentrated on a series of paintings that were based on a language she created that was an analogue to the Latin alphabet. Drawing on her earlier interest in weaving and video as related technologies, she made most of these paintings on handwoven and traditional linen canvas. More recently, she has collaborated with her husband, the composer Steve Reich, on "Three Tales," a documentary digital-video opera in three Acts and a Prologue. It began in 1998 with Act 1, “Hindenburg.” While the Prologue contains biblical text about human creation, Act 1 begins with documentary footage of Paul von Hindenburg, the last president of the Weimar Republic (who named Hitler Chancellor in 1933), and ends with footage of the Hindenburg zeppelin and its explosion at Lakehurst, New Jersey, in 1937. Act 2, “Bikini,” is based on footage, photographs, and text from the atom bomb test on Bikini Island and the subsequent removal of the Bikini people. Act 3, “Dolly,” explores the issues revolving around the first cloning of a sheep in Scotland, in 1997. Together, the three individual acts form a progressive investigation of the way technology creates and frames our experience. In the context of Korot’s body of work, which began with her early video tapestries, "Three Tales" extends and deepens her interest in both technology as a material in which to make work—video, weaving—and as a relevant exploration of history in which to base her work. She lives in Vermont and New York.