Conjunction/Opposition was a series of four evenings of evolving video performances, with Aysha Quinn, consisting of black/white live & pre-recorded video with sculptural sets, at Site, San Francisco, CA.
“The two performances of Conjunction/Opposition (1976-77) serve as catalogues of Sturgeon’s ideas, as they represent a synthesis of figurative subject matter and formalist attitudes only now on a large scale. Thematically the narrative remains the same as the Trilogy (1975-76), with the addition of a few signs and symbolic references. The work gains strength from the particular uses of sound and video, together with the introduction of spoken language. Our ability to perceive the overall spatial reality of the work is altered by the isolated specific details of the drama contained within a succession of video images. Through the mixing of live and pre-recorded images Sturgeon distorts our sense of time and space. The performances engage the spectator in questions concerning his position in front of the picture plane, an issue that has faced artists throughout the twentieth century. That is not to imply that Sturgeon, as with many other contemporary artists, is applying a new technique to ‘maintain continuity with the modernist intentions of the rest of the visual media’.* To the contrary, we are not asked to comprehend a parody of abstraction, but to confront our hierarchical frame of references. Innovative work forces us to establish new terminology and redefine our descriptive methods to correspond to the new object of our attention. In Conjunction/Opposition II the texts not only serve as aesthetic devices but also provide reference to the importance of language within the work. In this way John Sturgeon pays homage to the origins of his questioning.”